Set Diary [Last Words]

I’ve decided to post a little re-cap of the goings-on from set yesterday while shooting “Last Words.” It’s fun to recall all the little moments (good and not-so-much) and to give y’all an idea of what it’s like to work on an indie film set, if you haven’t ever had the pleasure of doing so yourself. (Please forgive my grammar; my verb tense bounces all over the place.)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

10:00 – Wake up and begin the arduous process of preparing to be on camera. (This process actually begins the night before and includes sleeping in my retainer, using whitening strips, piling on the face cream, coating my hair in a night repair mist, giving myself a mani and doing some push ups for last minute toning, not to mention packing wardrobe for the shoot and making sure I have directions to all locations ready to go.) First order of business is usually making a tall, stout coffee. Haha. Rarely is a call time later than 9am, so I lucked out today with a noon call time. On this particular shoot, we have amazing MUA (make-up artist) Chelsea Lee, so all I have to do is throw on some comfy clothes and make sure my hair is 90% ready. The rest will be taken care of on set.

10:45 – Head out to North Richland Hills and prepare my lines during the commute. This is when I like to listen to some good music to get me in the mood for the scenes I’m shooting that day. (Plus, I’ve always got my iPod on set to keep me in the mood, especially if I’ve got a tough scene ahead of me.)

12:00 - Arrive on time to the beautiful home in which we are shooting; this is the first of two locations for the crew today. I have just enough time to grab a cup of coffee from craft services before Chelsea starts on my make-up. While I am getting my pretty on, wardrobe takes a look at the options I’ve brought and chooses what I will wear in all 3 scenes today, including accessories and shoes.

13:15 – I am called to set for lighting and sounds tests. This generally takes a while as the DP and Director have to consider lighting and background from all angles on a shot, which is especially tricky during a pan shot or movement of any sort. Now, luckily for me, I am cold-natured (yet more evidence that I may be a vampire, but that’s another blog entirely…) because in this scene I am watching TV and working on my laptop while on the couch under a blanket. During filming, the A/C at the location has to be shut off to avoid background noise. It was about 86 degrees outside when we were shooting yesterday, so between the heat outside, the hot lights on set and all those moving bodies, it gets funky quickly. Hence, naturally being a couple of degrees cooler than everyone else is a huge advantage. We shoot the action multiple times from about five different angles, each time having to adjust furniture and lighting around us. Meanwhile, I have to do my best to keep my hair, movement, placement, etc. consistent. Scene goes well and director seems to be pleased!

15:30 (-ish…this is where the day turns into a blur, so timing at this point is an approximation) – I run upstairs (literally) to change into my second outfit, change up my hair a bit while running back downstairs, grab a swig from my coffee, and double check with Chelsea to make sure I haven’t made a mess of my face. I am also able to join some of the others in watching behind-the-scenes footage from another local film that some of the crew also worked on (”Carried Away”) before I’m called to set. Then I jump back underneath my blankie, now in a large red love seat where I am presumably reading (imagine that!), let them adjust lighting, and shoot this scene a few times, again from multiple angles…all the while Michael’s vampire mic clip is earning its name by cleaving to the skin on my chest. (But really, who doesn’t love a good vampire mark?)

16:30 - Again, run back upstairs, hop into another outfit, search for my wayward coffee, and beckon Chelsie to come upstairs and change makeup for my last scene of the day. I am exhausted, hungry and sweaty at this point (blankie caught up with me), so Chelsea, being a doll, distracts me with a fan and pulls up the SNL “Barry Gibb Talk Show” clip on her phone. I am in stitches as she freshens me up, and Michael Gonzalez straps my mic harness in place and partakes in the hysterics. We are caught goofing off by 2nd AD Paul Meyers, who is kind enough to see our need for a moment of silliness, and promises the Unit Production Manager (the incomparable, wonderful Carolyn Hodges) that we are nearly ready. A minute later, we are headed downstairs to block the action and dialogue for the next scene. I am working with the beautiful, talented Anna Terry in this scene, and it is refreshing to have an actual person to react to in this scene (as blank TV screens and prop phones do not make for the most thrilling scene partners). We get through our takes, though I am consistently a little disappointed with how flat and simple my performance is striking me. It didn’t help that one of the dogs that belonged to the owner of the house actually started barking and howling right in the middle of one of my ECU (extreme close-up) takes. Haha! Anna takes note of my frustration and does her best to get me back on track so we can pull it out for some great takes. After that it was smooth sailing, and next thing I know, it’s a wrap! (Well, for the time being at least…I still have to shoot my confrontation scene in the jail, which is one of the locations we lost on Friday at call time.)

18:00 – I’m always so overwhelmed after a day of shooting; partly because I am tired andsore (you wouldn’t believe the positions you have to hold to make sure you don’t have the dreaded double chin or buffalo arm on camera…or maybe that’s just me), but mostly because I am just so overcome with joy from spending a whole day doing what I love more than anything, surrounded by amazing, talented people who share that passion. It really is the coolest thing I’ve ever experienced! I gather my clothes and try to put back everything that I have commandeered during the shoot. I say my goodbyes as I head toward the door, trying to stay out of the way as the crew frantically breaks down to head to the next location as they are running behind schedule, which is almost inevitable on a film set. So many variables, it’s crazy. Chelsea and I start plotting for a wrap party (”Hide the Rum!”), and I leave set, looking forward to the next time I am blessed enough to see all these faces again.

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