Call time this morning was 8pm. There is a real problem with a good sized cast and crew in a small location. I knew things were off to a shaky start when everyone began tromping inside to claim a space for their department or personal station. I have two rooms — bedroom and living room — which are supposed to be the set, and a tiny breakfast nook (my office) off an equally tiny kitchen. I had assumed that craft service, make-up, wardrobe, and equipment staging would all be set up outside.
I was one of the major contributors to confusion, as I had thought we were shooting several indoor scenes. I thought that because our first camera set-up was an interior. So I was constantly moving lights and props out of or into the shot.
And then, I realized that most of the day would be spent outside. It was still rather chaotic. Personally, I had already resigned myself to people moving my stuff all over the place — I was okay with that. But I was getting jittery as all those light stands, and cables, and electric cords became all jumbled up, and store where they stood from a prior set-up; what we really needed was a clear plan of coordination. People were constantly shifting to make room for one another. A certain amount of chaos is to be expected. But I feel we were struggling and tripping over ourselves unnecessarily. Were it not for the versatility of Kevin, Mark and Erin, who, in addition to their specific crew positions, did double-duty as the lowly production assistants, when needed, we would have drowned. Actually, Mark is that one person all successful productions have. The secret weapon. That individual who is always in motion. Two steps ahead of whatever you need to have done. He knows how most every piece of equipment works. And if he doesn't, he figures it out faster than it would take for you to tell him. The Marks of world are almost always taken for granted. But take them out of the equation, and everyone suddenly wonders why they are having to work twice as hard.
From what I could see, we got some great footage. You can't go wrong with Anne Gerber. She's. of course, a breathtaking beauty. And she always gives a playful quirkiness to every take and every set-up. She can give more just standing and looking off into space than most other actors can generate in an entire feature film.
Our three boys were on top of things throughout the day. They are fascinating to watch interacting. And Rick Carillo gave us some strong performances throughout the day. Working with him was truly one of the rewarding things about the Garrison production. Here, he's playing a much more lovable character. He oozed charm. Ezme even gave him a cool mono-chromatic tattoo which was revealed in his shirtless scene … which quickly followed his trouser-less scene (well, semi-trouser-less, seeing as they did remain around his ankles).
I made the mistake of applying sunscreen after the poisonous rays of the sun had already done their ugly work. I'm feeling it now, and expect it to be worse tomorrow. I'm amazed that other fair-skinned people were unaffected. Robin and Erin seemed none the worse from their exposure. It's not fair.
I'm beginning to appreciate just how cool my neighbors are. After Cara headed out in the mid-morning, she invited us to park in her driveway. Matt and Jackie were fine with us hogging their driveway with the prop car, a sweet 1971 Sedan DeVille. Jerry, across the street, waited until our lunch break before firing up his weedwacker. And my next door neighbors, Marlys and Michael, decided to put off repairing their fence this weekend so the noise of electric saws and hammering wouldn't screw with our production. If there is an asshole on my block (other than myself), her or she is stewing in dark anonymity.
George Cisneros dropped by the set during the afternoon. I think he uses my street as a short cut to his studios over on South Presa.
Nikki was on set to coach our kid actors. The day started out pretty chilly, and never got really hot. She remained in a long draping sweater that fit her in a very flattering manner. On her down-time she had found her way into Ezme's make-up chair. So, of course, she was looking pretty damn glamorous. Even more than usual. I should have taken a photo of her. But I had my video camera out, and got some footage. As I was following her across my front yard, one of the kids (I think it was Cameron) looked up and breathlessly told Nikki that she looked like a vampire. Can there be higher praise from an adolescent boy? And then it struck me that Nikki would make a great sexy and sophisticated vampire queen. Why had I never made that connection before? Hmm…? Maybe I need to write a new script.
As the sun came close to dropping behind the mansion across the street, we took our dinner break. Me and Russ set up a jib shot, which panned my bed, where Anne's character and her three boys are sleeping, all piled together. The script called for Anne's character to get up and meet her current lover and get it on with him in the other room. One of the boys is supposed to awaken, and give us a sour expression as he hears the sounds of passion from the next room. As we shot the close-up of our actor Dallin blanching and then covering his ears, I was in the bedroom with Russ, looking at the monitor to gage if the shot had enough light. When Robin shouted, “Action,” I heard someone, in the other room, making moaning noises to give Dallin something to react to. I don't know why, but I immediately knew it was Nikki. First off, I should point out that it wasn't even close to being realistic sounds of love making. It was so unexpected that no one said anything. It sounded like an octogenarian's adenoidal whimper when he discovers that the cafeteria has replaced his favorite carrot and marshmallow salad with lime jello. I assumed that Nikki was trying to avoid the whole sex thing. I mean, you know, they're kids. And with the second take, where Nikki did it again — and this time the cast and crew did their best to suppressed giggles — I grabbed up my own video camera. But as I maneuvered around through my kitchen to surreptitiously record Nikki, she made some comment about how she'd keep quite for this take so that Rudolfo could get could record clean audio.
“Dammit,” I said, and all eyes turned to me. When everyone saw my camera poised hopefully on the mono-pod, the laughter just let loose. “Yeah, well yuck it up. That was supposed to be on my next video blog.”
After Nikki and our kid actors left, we did the final scene, where Anne and Rick's characters get PG-intimate on a faux moon-lit sofa. After we shot all the video we needed, Anne and Rick gave us the audio only of sweet love-making. Take one, Anne began cracking up. Take two, we cut, because the ceiling fan was squeaking. For the next take, I snuck around, again, with my video camera for some behind the scenes footage. Anne realized what I was planning, and her expression of uncomfortable disapproval made me back away but quick. That take was the keeper. The overhead lights were off now, so Anne and Rick didn't feel so uncomfortable. In fact, they were getting creative. Anne was scratching at the fabric of my sofa as she moaned. And Rick was breathing hard and heavy. And when Rick began kissing the back of his hand to really sell these sound effects, I found myself grinning like crazy as I watched Robin shaking with suppressed laughter.
This is just the sort of perfect moment that should end all long and successful days of shooting. We met our page count and only went 25 minutes over our intended wrap time. And we wrapped on a laugh.
A day well done, Robin and company!