So, I know, I know…I haven’t posted on my trip to Madrid and Barcelona, nor my jaunts to North Carolina (stunning!), Houston (hot as balls), Vegas (it’s Vegas! Love it!). Soon, my darlings, soon.
Why have I been so behind? Well, last week I was jumping behind the camera to direct a fun romantic comedy piece for Open Style Productions – and it contained some challenges I’ve never had to work with before.
So, it all started about 3 weeks ago. I met with the two producers on the film, and we hit it off famously. I could tell in our first meeting that our vision for the piece was nicely lined up, and the thematic story arc would be a fun one to execute. But then, the challenges. See, I wasn’t the first director on the project. They had started the project with another director whom they had to fire. So I was coming in to a piece which was partially shot. And some of the footage couldn’t be reshot. (location and actor issues) Combine that with the fact that all the actors were already cast, and many of them were already established in the footage that couldn’t be reshot.
That’s right – I was walking in to a situation with a group of actors already cast for me, and having to match footage close enough that the former directors footage could seamlessly integrate with what I was shooting. uhhh…ok. No problem. Sure. Easy. Done.
First I met with the Director of Photography. Now, while I have my DPs that I work with and like, this DP was on the first part of the shoot, so working with him was going to be critical to make all of the footage go together. After all, he knew exactly what the last director had used from lights to lenses, and it was his handheld work that was going to have to match up. As we sat down to coffee and started talking, a wave of relief flowed over me. This guy was good. I immediately knew he was on top of his game, knew his equipment, and yet was fairly laid back (an unusual and much sought after quality in a DP)
Next up…actors. As everyone knows, a big part of directing is getting the right actors who can actually do the roles. Now, the fortunate thing is that the actors were actually fantastically talented. As I scheduled the rehearsals for each scene, I relaxed more and more. These guys were good, and able to give me what I wanted. The jokes popped, and none of them were afraid to attack the physicality I wanted to add in to make the scenes work even better. Another sigh of relief.
Now the actual shooting. Our small crew gelled quickly, and we were able to move through the scenes at a nice pace. Shooting outdoors in LA can be tricky, but the days were semi-cloudy creating a great lighting situation, without having to throw up silks. A couple bounce boards, and we were good to go. The sound…well, we had to stop gardeners, cut shots for fire engines, and wait out a tow truck in one of the locations. But that’s the nature of shooting here.
The most stressful part was the morning of the second day. We had a firm time for taillights out of our second location, which meant we had a limited period of time in our first location also in order to make our day. We all arrived at the first location ready to be up and shooting in 20 minutes, only to find it locked. WHAT? About a half hour later, someone finally arrived to unlock it – and then spent the next 1/2 hour meticulously going through the location cleaning it before we could shoot. We stood around, helpless and frustrated. Everyone got all the gear ready, and the minute we were able to, we had camera up and rolling. Did we make it? Well, we weren’t QUITE taillights out of our second location at the allotted time, but we were very close.
So now, the editor has all the footage, and I’m waiting on the editor’s cut – which I’ve been promised by end of this week. Time to see how everything comes together in a charming piece which I know everyone who worked on it is going to be proud of. Well, I think. Ok, I hope. All right – let’s just go with fingers crossed for the moment