Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Shooting An Affair: Day Twelve (Power is our friend)

Just another crazy night on the set of "An Affair"...

I woke up around 2:30 this afternoon, still recovering from our long night in the vacant lot. I didn't feel well all day; my head was pounding, and I just couldn't seem to get it to stop no matter what I took. It finally started to clear after an ice pack, with only an hour to go before I had to leave the house.

I met with the actors before the shoot to go over a few things, including a title change for the film. We have been discussing this on and off since we started writing. "An Affair" was always intended as a bit of a placeholder. I think we've settled on a new title, but I'll make a bigger announcement of that soon.

So tonight began two nights in a restaurant shooting a long dinner scene. We were very fortunate to get permission to shoot in the Elite Circle Grille (so named because it is situated on Waco's only traffic circle). It's a great place with a long history in Waco. We had to wait til closing to start, of course, so we couldn't get in until about 9:30pm. This was also one of the nights when we needed a lot of extras to fill out the dining area and make it look like it wasn't just our two lead actors by themselves. These extras of course had to commit to being there all night with us - we were very fortunate to have some brave souls commit to this! One of them decided to be an extra as a way to write a piece about the film (and his experience of being an extra) for the local magazine, The Wacoan.

We knew there was going to be a thunderstorm tonight, but of course we were safe inside, so we weren't worried.

And then the storm rolled in at 2:00am or so. And got worse. And worse. The rain and thunder really weren't impacting us, and the power flickered a couple of times but wasn't a problem. That is, until 3am, when the whole area went dark. We were in the middle of a take when everything died. The restaurant was pitch black.

So we all sat quietly and waited to see what happened while the Asst Producer called our restaurant contact to see if he had any numbers at the city we could call.

3am turned into 3:20am. We were hoping it might come back on, so we took our meal break. Everyone sat in the one room with emergency lighting. I sat alone at the bar because I just didn't feel like talking.

After everyone had finished eating, and we had already discussed strategies since the lights were not coming back - and after I said, "Excuse me" to a potted plant because it was so dark in there - the lights flickered and came back on. 4am. We immediately got back to work.

Fortunately, the extras in this shot had stuck with us (and the extras we needed for later shots agreed to come back tomorrow!). We managed to finish a good bit of the scene and get out of there before dawn.

All of the craziness aside, we really are getting great footage. That's because our actors are ready to go all the time. Tonight, it was a wonder to watch Cora Vander Broek - we were shooting her medium shot when the power went out. When it came back, we picked up right where we left off, and she didn't miss a beat. And then we moved on to her close up, and as we were nearing 5am, she was still giving a great performance. I watched her bring this beautiful sadness to her scene, and Cora is not a sad person. She is sweet, funny, happy, and thoughtful - and then she clicks into character and just creates this awesome melancholy; it's a treat to watch. I am thankful they are so dedicated and committed. And I'm not leaving Matt Brumlow out; it's just that he gets his turn tomorrow when we shoot his coverage.

I'm also thrilled at the way the crew snapped back to attention after the lull of the power outage. We were back up and running in no time. Good work, Baylor FDM students!

Finally, I remembered to take some photos tonight so I could post them. Here, Keith Lindley (right, first AC) and Jordan Crumpler (left, second AC), prep the camera for our next shot.

Actors Cora and Matthew discuss their scene. It only looks like Matthew is eating a light bulb...

This is the setup for the food that is brought to their table in the scene. This has to be replicated for each shot, so continuity is important. And when the actors begin to eat it, we have to keep track of where things end up.

The next two shot show the "behind the scenes food" - the stuff that our props department has on standby to replenish the plates on the actors' table after each take. As you can see, it takes a lot of food to shoot one dinner scene (and this isn't all of it - just a sampling).

And finally - you get a look at something very few people get to see. This next shot shows you what producers look like when they "work." Look at how they lounge with such intensity.

I am kidding, of course. Brian Elliott (left, Producer) and Lauren Woodruff (right, Asst Producer) are the reasons that we are getting this done in spite of the bizarre and challenging occurrences. They are there to smooth things over when police drive up and challenge the fact that we have closed the street (with permission from the city, though the police say they should have been told, even though we were never instructed by the city to do so), or to call the restaurant contact when the power goes out at 3am, or whatever is needed at any time. I am so thankful for their hard work and commitment. Nothing ruffles them, and that is more valuable than you can imagine when chaos is all around you.


Blogger Jonathan said...

Enjoying all your posts, Chris; glad I don't have to deal with all the tribulations like you and your producers. You're doing great and I admire you all for putting up with all the problems.

You know what would make a fun entry--write about the food, in detail. A little bit about who gives you food each day / night. And especially about the food in the restaurant. Is the food in the movie the actual food that is served in the real restaurant or is it brought in from somewhere else? Do the actors and extras have to keep eating and eating and eating all night, or are there tricks? Is each bite of food carefully choreographed and must the prop people know exactly where on the plate each bit of food is and must it be replaced for each take? Is the restaurant in the story the same as the real restaurant, or is it a fictional restaurant, and if so what changes did you have to make to the real restaurant?

Whenever I watch "making of" featurettes, they never talk about food--either in front of or behind the camera--so I think an entry on food issues would be very interesting.

6/22/2011 8:54 AM  
Blogger Chris Hansen said...

Good thought, J. Maybe tonight will go really smoothly, and I'll be able to post about food :-)

6/22/2011 11:57 AM  
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1/02/2012 12:25 AM  

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