Friday, August 24, 2007

gone but not forgotten

So I'm in LA working on a movie being 1rst AC ( Assistant Camera ) DA ( Digital Acquisition ) and a whole bunch of other stuff like clacker guy and fix electronic computer stuff when it breaks guy. The shoot is bigger than I thought it would be. The movie is co-written and directed by a couple of friends of mine and is considered a "micro-budget" by SAG ( Screen Actors Guild.)Somehow they managed to score a 40 person crew, not including actors / actresses and catering. They also swung camera goodies like a jib, dolly and things I usually associate with bigger shoots.

It's turned out to be more work than everyone planned for. We knew 12 hour days six days a week for a little over three weeks would be tough but forgot about baking in the so-Cal sun, hauling heavy gear, interpersonal meltdowns, technical failures and on and on. Since it's usually an hour to and from set and I end up setting up and tearing down in addition to the daily grind then loading footage onto hard drives and setting up batteries and laptops to charge at the end of the day I usually end up flying out of bed around 6:00 AM, quick shower and off to set, getting home to the 600 square foot studio apartment I'm sharing with a couple other guys, loading footage, maybe go for a quick walk for alone time and asleep by eleven or midnight to get up and start all over again. That explains the lack of posting on the blog...

Here's a couple pictures I snapped for the blog to show an example of a typical scene. Everyone will get hauled with all their gear to a scene location, the DP ( Director of Photography - my boss in my AC role ) will jump around with the directors and frame shots by looking through their boxed in fingers with squinty eyeballs like in the movies about making movies. Then I prep the camera with my assistant Theo who I've taken to calling Thor. When the shot angles are worked out then I set up all my computer stuff while gaffers come in and set up lights, a generator, scrims, flags, beadboard and all kinds of lighting mish mash. I'm usually up and running and sharing my space with the video assist guy in "video village" where a cable is run straight out of the camera and into a monitor so the director can see what's being framed up and shot on a monitor out of the way of the actual action.

Next to me when I'm wearing my DA hat is the guy running the video assist, the director, the script supervisor who makes sure there's continuity between shots and people are in the right scenes with the right lines, there's also wardrobe, hair, makeup and other pertinent people, often crowded into a tent to protect equipment. Inbetween downloading footage and caring for the camera with different lenses, settings, etc. I'm running in front of the talent ( actors and actresses ) themselves and hitting the slate or "claker" when the AD ( assistant director ) says action. So far I've gotten to get up close and personal with Vanessa Branch our leading lady who has been in several movies including most recently Pirates of the Caribbean 2 and 3 but you might know her best as the Orbitz gum girl in te commercials ( dirty mouth? Fabulous! ) also Carlo Roha who was has a steady TV show in Canada and was in Boondock Saints, a movie I enjoyed but not for the faint of heart and other productions. In fact, I've actually gotten to spend some time with lots of great talent who I haven't recognized of gotten pictures with until it was too late.

My biggest role is to collect, analyze, sort and check all our footage. We're shooting with my camera in HD so it's my butt if something breaks, gets lost r deleted from the camera or back up hard drives. Sounds easy but it's harder than you'd think and I've already had to tell the whole cast and crew we lost a scene and had to set up and reshoot it. Not a popular occurance, especially when we were pushing to get all our scenes shot at a mansion in Malibu that costs $5,000 a day to rent for a location. Well, off to bed before a shoot tomorrow in a set made to look like a jumbo jet. I'll take lots of pictures.


At 6:08 AM, Blogger Christine Smith said...

super fabulously interesting -- thanks for the update :)

At 1:11 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for the update, you are working too hard but sounds like you are having some fun. Go buy some sunscreen and aloe ok? The weather should be cooler just about the time you will be finished : ) Of course it has been 80's here in the bay area this week so I can't complain : )

At 7:43 PM, Blogger Christine Smith said...

i am chuckling about your comment about my rebel heart because it takes one to know one, right!!??

At 6:19 AM, Blogger D@nielle said...

Sounds really interesting and exciting to be a part of. Thanks for sharing !

At 8:34 PM, Blogger CyndiAKADisneyqueen said...

Cool. My daughter has started taking production courses. Less just say she comes home with some interesting comments about learning behind the scenes stuff ( she likes being in front of the camera).


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