Production Day 1

Today was a special and magical day. As I sit here, reflecting on the days events while sipping on some Basil Hayden a dear friend got me for my birthday, I have to say it was an incredible (and super fast) day.

Watching a feature production kick into gear is not unlike what I imagine watching a giant mechanical creature with countless arms and moving parts crawling across a cityscape would look like. Every crew and cast member is trying to achieve one goal: to make the film the very best it can be. And in order for one person to do their job, 7 other people have to do their own job, and each job affects the other. This isn’t that much different than any other business, but the time sensitivity is such a factor. And light. Light is SUCH a factor.

The location we’re shooting in this week (and we get to shoot in one building complex all week, which is so fantastic) has very strict hours. We can’t get there any earlier than 9am, and we have to be done by 10pm. Our art department needs time every day before the G&E and camera departments come in to set up the set. Then we start lighting and blocking. Sometimes when you light and block something, it’s incredible, and then the clouds move and the earth rotates and the actors fly onto set, and everything has changed. Then flags and silks and so many other things have to be tweaked to get a new, still great looking shot.

This is the gentle give and take of production. The intricate dance each department performs around the other departments. And let’s make no mistake: everyone wants to make a great film, so everyone tries to accommodate the other departments, but, as with anything, everyone is trying to make sure they are doing the very best job in their own department.

And then there’s time. That sweet, always moving vampire. She moves and sneaks and hunts and then flees, and you’re watching as she refuses to take into account what you’re trying to do. There is no stopping time.

I mentioned to several today that making a feature film is a marathon. I’ve made several short films in my life, and they are pure sprints. Sometimes you shoot an 18 hour day and you have 1 day to capture everything. We’re shooting for 18 days over 4 weeks. You have to pace yourself so you don’t fall over after just a few intense days of production.

I can’t believe how incredible everyone on this team is. The actors are giving so much. It’s such a treat to see these characters I love coming to life by actors I love. And we’re only one day into this thing. I look forward to watching them discover, every day, what the characters are thinking and doing and they will react to what the other actors bring.

Our set and art direction today was beautiful. I did everything I could to shoot every inch of it. I can’t even begin to tell you how important these teams are. The lighting and camera angles and food and people telling us where to go and how much time we have left and the everything. I’m kind of overwhelmed, but in the best possible way.

When the sun started going down today, we had to move fast. After having such an unbelievable first half of the day, I was shocked at how fast everything happened at the end of the day. Our plan for today was so ambitious, but we got it. We got everything we needed. I would love to have had a few more set ups and takes by the actors on some of the scenes, but we got what we needed. And that’s more than some. AND we did it on time.

I cannot begin to express how humbled and excited I am to be making this film with these people. I’m also so so so excited to go to bed.

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