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I went to Chicago for a day

…sort of.

I spent a day on the set of City Lights Theater Company’s production of CHICAGO, directed by Donna Scheer. What was I doing on set, you ask? Well, not acting, unfortunately. I was contracted to shoot/edit some of the supplementary video that’ll be part of the show. I guess that makes me the video designer (?)…I think that’s what that position is called -I’ll have to double check.

Initially I thought I was hired to produce a promo video, but I quickly learned this was an entirely different direction. During a pre-production meeting I did some rough storyboard panels to help get a sense of what we were tying to accomplish, visually.

I showed up on set with Amy, my assistant director for Just Like That. Since this was a much lighter work load, I had her helping with audio capturing and general camera work. The day started with a promising bite into this bagel.

And here’s to starting on time!

A little drilling here, and a little drilling there and we were set to shoot the first scene of the day. It’s pretty neat to see the different/similarities from the storyboard pieces (which were done weeks prior) to the reality of the set (which was still being built).

I gotta hand it to the cast and crew that was out there that day; Outside of the warming lights, the set stayed relaxed and relatively stress free. That was my assessment, at least. And to top it off, we were pretty much on time the entire time!

Snagging a different angle using whatever was available to me…

Even with the minor adjustments with lights, camera, set pieces, and costumes, we didn’t stray too far from what was originally scheduled. I beamed with pride in offering a proper time estimates as a result from previous experience -hey, all this time on set is actually paying off in different ways!

I tip my hat to my experience working as a spot op on San Jose Repertory Theatre‘s production of Spring Awakening for educating me on lighting design and terminology. It definitely came in handy in communicating with this project’s lighting designer. I spent less time saying “light thingie” and more with words he’d actually understand.

I also found it exciting to construct some of the scenes! It’s one thing to have an actor talking at a camera, it’s a whole other story to make it feel like the character is living and breathing in the space. In this case of the photo above, accenting the foreground with a lamp really helped layer the frame with depth. For me, there’s the obvious cue of her environment (news room). But deeper, and probably more for me, a sense that she aims to illuminate the truth -to put it public.

OR maybe I’m thinking about it too hard…

We wrapped by six and just a hair earlier than what we scheduled for. Yes! The actors did a terrific job with each take and it was fun concentrating primarily on DPing (Director of Photography) while Donna worked her directing magic.

The show opens this week and I urge you to go and see it. If you’ve seen Chicago before, go again, this will be a whole different experience. If you haven’t seen it before, treat yourself to a night (or matinee) of theatre!

Website: Twitter: Follow @citylights

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