The day has arrived. The first (of two) shooting day.
I woke up at 4:30am from my starchy motel bed with modest relief from the thoughts that bombarded me all night. Across from me, Richard is up too. He’s managed to prop himself upright and concerns himself with the act of waking up; So far he’s doing a good job. Within 15 minutes I was showered and helping Rich pack ice into the coolers, two in all.
It was about this time when I received a text from my assistant director, Amy. which read, “Wakey wakey, eggs and baccy”. Pleasant thoughts of sizzling meats crossed my mind. But I had more important things to worry about, mainly the doubts that raced through my mind: Am I really going to manage to get through this day without cracking? Will I find that bit of artistry I was craving? Will I be able to fulfill the story that has marinated in my mind for so long, to its fullest?
Amy, Joel and I arrived on time, a very 6:00a crew call. Who’s the idiot who decided to only have two days for shoot ten pages? (Hint: Me). We didn’t roll on our first shot until 8:00a though -I can’t say I didn’t see that coming. It wasn’t until I’ve called action –then cut, that it finally sank in…we’re making a movie!
By 7:30p, our actors were on set and were in the make-up chair. The camera crew was starting to find their rhythm and the coffee pot was on its second round.
Everyone did a wonderful job really clearing space around the flower shop to get the shots we needed.
By 11:00a, a couple of lessons were sinking in. We were more than a few shots behind schedule and it was starting to get really toasty in the flower shop. Why, oh why did I think we’d be able to manage 5 pages in one day? Oh well, too deep in it now to stop. So, onward we went. I’m thankful for everyone’s positive spirits and patience, without which I don’t know how I could have made it to lunch.
As this was my first time actually working on a shot list, I have to say, it can be rather daunting searching through it to see what was next. Luckily, Amy did a wonderful job keeping me updated and on track. New lessons continue to pile up. Not the least is that an AD who is on top of it is invaluable to LIFE!
We broke for lunch at noon and I was pleased to see that all the food items were taken care of. A shout out to Janely and Richard for taking care of those arrangements.
2:00p came quicker than expected and we were still a few shots behind. At this point, I’ve had to consolidate some of my shots –which, I felt really compromised some of my vision. But at this point, there’s not much I can do (who’s the idiot who only allotted two shoot days for ten pages? -hint: Me, again). Lesson learned. I can’t say enough about how thankful I am with the people who were there to help out. Each one of them brought me a measure of comfort.
Still, my brain was racked with self doubt and anxiousness. I didn’t want to fail myself, my vision, and these wonderful people. And there was still another day of shooting weeks down the road!
We wrapped Ron, who played the Busker in the piece, just before noon. I’m glad he decided to stick around to chat and perform some songs on the accordion. I very much enjoyed his energy, spirit and friendliness towards everyone. Did I mention he’s got one mean Polka spin? Well, he does. And it’s marvelous to behold.
The final stretch came around the 4:00p…we were still a bit behind but finally on the verge of catching up. At this point, my brain felt like scrambled eggs. I started to lose track of what was essential and was regretting the lack of time I was able to share with my actors. By 6:00p, I’d realized what a serious undertaking I was enduring (along with everyone else). Was I too ambitious? Yes. Was what I was trying to do impossible? By no stretch of the imagination, it wasn’t…but it was a downright challenge!
By 7:00p, I felt the energy take a shift. It was time to really get things wrapped up. The last 12 hours had humbled me in positive ways. Future productions will benefit from the day’s toils. And for that, I am grateful. Even more, I was grateful that I’ve had a chance to work with some fine folks. Though there were times of difficult decision making, some of which may affect my story’s effectiveness, I felt there was still plenty to work with.
We wrapped the day by 8:00p and had a quick debrief with some of the crew. Richard and I encouraged cast and crew to pack some of the leftovers. I’m glad they obliged. We quickly cleaned up and re-organize the shop the way it was when we arrived. Frank (the owner), would be happy, I was certain.
We were off no later than 8:30p and I found myself, for the first time, consciously sitting. I sat, fairly quiet, all the way back to San Jose. There was a lot to digest. I answered one of my questions, will I manage to get through this day without cracking. Yes, I did. At least I feel I did. The other two questions will continue to be unanswered until we wrap day 2 in a few weeks.
Until then, it’s back to working on that shot list and using some of the lessons I learned on day 1 to ease into the final stretch of the script. I couldn’t do this without the great people who are involved. My heart goes out to them. I’m glad most will be back for day 2…
But for now, I can’t wait to look through the footage and prep for the road ahead. Onward and upward.
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