3. Day One Continued: Problems One & Two
Problem One: The Kitchen Hue
The first scene of Crash & Burn Stories is dependent on having a sun-bathed kitchen, and while the kitchen was lit, it was definitely not "bathed." With a zero lighting budget to create the atmosphere we needed for our opening scene, we had no choice but to move on with our schedule and hope for better light later in the day.
Problem Two: No Sound Person
Next, I looked down at a text from our would-be crew member, which read, "Sorry be there around 10." Problem two had arrived. I could feel befuddlement numbing the corners of my mouth. A half a second with a blank look on your face in the middle of production is a bit like Eeyore on downers. Andy and I immediately set to giving a crash course in sound to our sixteen-year-old intern, Bretta. We equipped her with a boom mic and an H4 Zoom Handy Recorder, set her levels and went back to work.
Back to issue one. The plan: reset for a scene we had expected to shoot later that day. Andy went to work moving our set from the kitchen to the living room while I took some time to consult with the actors.
For weeks the actors had been expecting to begin shooting on one of our longest and most emotionally challenging scenes, and we were asking them to shift gears rapidly. Try to imagine you're headed to a funeral and once you've arrived you find out they've canceled the service and decided to have a birthday party instead. For the actors, it takes some time to prepare emotionally, and they need a chance to look over their lines, not to mention change wardrobe, and the list goes on.
Some part of me always wants to embellish issues that take place on set as if every problem is serious. Some are. Everything about filmmaking is problematic; it's a puzzle of some kind. So, your first few corrections are crucial; the trick is to find the rhythm in your mistakes and enjoy the problem-solving.
By the end of day one, Bretta had filled in nicely as an impromptu sound person, the sun eventually bathed the kitchen and we were feeling good and rightfully so. We wanted to shoot thirteen pages, and every page was in the can. Unfortunately, not all the sound was in the can; I'll get back to all that when we talk about postproduction. That said, every opportunity you have to celebrate on set, take it. The days are grueling.