Day 1. (pictures comming soon)
First time I ever shot film. I had a grin ear to ear when I rolled up the film for the first take. We had everything in place, and we got to the scene (in the alley outside the TV station I work at) and I decided that no light control was needed at all. It was the most beautiful light I had ever seen in that location (and I see it every time I have a smoke during work). We shot in the shade of the building on 7217, 85b filter rated at 160t, so 100d. The light registered a 4.0 in the shade, and 5.6 in the sun. The light held for the longest time in perfect stability. Clouds and trees broke up the direct light beautifully allong the road behind our actress. I could not have designed it better.
We were shooting a scene between Karen (the lead) and a bum. In a strange enouter she becomes frightened. What was ironic was smokey joe, a local homeless guy who hangs out around our station was chillin on the corner. I didn't want to ask him to leave, so I talked to him and told him what we were doing. It was actually pretty cool, he was all about it, so we left him in the background.
We finnished that scene with only one problem, the film (first roll) rolled out without me noticing. I knew the last time I had checked the gate, so I knew that we probably lost 2 takes at most so we just covered that to be sure and moved on. blunder one of two so far.
Next we moved on to the scene between the detective and karen. We got there around mid-day. In Alaska in the winter, the sun moves more toward the horizon rather than overhead. So when we got there I decided to move the location entirely. We were going to shoot along the side of the cafe, but I knew a spot just a block away that was perfect. It was a strange frame, in the foreground was a downtown side road, and in the background was our harbor and mountains behind that.
For light I placed a large 1 stop scrim, with a smaller 2stop to slowly feather the backlight on the detective. There was a short dialoge shot along with a bit of action (we made our lead run a lot in the first day) And finally moved on. By this point we had been outside for almost 5 hours. Its getting around 30-35 these days, so it meant lots of time warming up in cars. In the biggest blunder of the day, I let the one of the guys drive off to prep the next set with the film. We lost the last roll 15 minutes before he came back. It was a good time to warm up, but we only had 3 shots to shoot when it did roll out. With a skeleton crew like this I suppose that sort of thing happens.
I gotta give props to my co-director Briant Mainard. I am not really the sort to figure out actors. Its a block I sort of have. I know what I want to see, but can't convey it to them. I talk with him and he coaches the actors in the minutia and has been doing an excelent job. He directed the last movie I worked on, 'Beekeeping' so I knew he was good. The performances have been excelent we do 3 or 4 takes and move on.
Just got done with it, and I am feeling even better about the movie today. We shot a quick scene at one house for the bedroom of karen. We shot for daylight and darker contrast, so lighting was minimal. the Window was opened to let light in, and was augmented with 2 Arri 650s with softboxes and CTB. fill was taken care of by the spill from the soft boxes. I was looking for a contrasty scene, so it took little fill to set that in. We added a hairlight with 1/2 CTB on a 150 fressnel.
This day went better because it was all inside. much warmer. We moved from the house posing as the bedroom, to another house posing as the downstairs and shot 2 scenes. The first was a talk between the detective and lead. I blocked them very far apart and shot the detective on the far corner, and the lead very small and meak in the background. She had a window behind her which I did not gell (we were shooting with no filter) but there was a woven blind that was cool, so I put that up. I figure you will see deep blue in the small holes in the the blind, but it would work with the overall look. Karen had a high side lighting with 1/2 CTB. The detective was lit with less contrast, a frontal light with hairlight. Fill was provided by one tota pointed towards the ceiling. Small adjustments were made when the detective moved closer towards her near the fireplace.
The next scene involved two FBI agents talking in her living room. I had the actors dress in black suits and let them wear IFBs I got from work. We shot with an arri 650 with 216 and 1/2 CTB over the barn doors behind them, providing backlight. The back of the agent that did not get key light was filled in with a 150. Tota was pointed towards the ceiling again to provide base.
The reverse of Karen watching the two talk was shot at the bottom of a two-stage staircase. She was lit from the side, to project bars accross her face as she peeked through. Behind her the wall was lit dimly with a 150 from the bottom of the stairs. A tota in the hallway beside the staircase dimly lit the entrance to the staircase. By this point I was feeling much more confident in film, and was able to more quickly made decisions.
We finnished the day back in her bedroom, this time with a nurse at her bedside. This was the first night scene I had ever done on film, so I was very nervous about shooting it. I decided to provide much softer light than the mornings shot so I bounced a tota with 1/2 CTB, and put a 650 outside high above the window, and back a bit. an ungelled 150 provided minimal fill. I was actually very surprised to see how bright the room was. I have never shot with a camera of such low sensitivity (well, sometimes 100 film outside in the sun with my SLR). Usually my movies are video, and so around 320-400, with a chance to see the result before recording.
We shot a few dream sequences, and nightmare awakes, one culminating in sobbing. Its what I was worried about most when going into this, but I was blown away by what our actress could do. She was amazing. I kept wanting to do takes because it was so good, but I had to keep it reasonable. We also shot a few minor, but emotional plot points. Again big ups to Briant throughout the day he was getting awsome performances out of the actors. Much better than I could have done. I am calculating sort, so to give direction to actors becomes nothing much more than giving blocking and maybe explianing the story subtext as I see it. I see how I want to cut it, so I am working to get them to fit in that structer, bu Briant can actually talk in the actors languadge (being an actor himself) and does a great job getting the nuance in their performances, while I worry about the big picture.
We wrapped that location and will start again tommorow with the crux of the film. The confrontation between Karen and her stalker. Another outdoor scene, but hopefully we will be done within 4 hours, and also hope it doesnt snow tonight. After that we move to the cafe where a large portion of the film will take place. That should go fairly quick, since its 3 scenes with minimal blocking, simple lighting and page-and a half dialoges. I am up to speed with all I have to do now, and the actors at this point has the whole script memorized, its only 11 pages, so thats pretty easy.
Small problems, esp on day one, but none of the mistakes have been too costly to correct. We are starting to click as a team, and have been rocking out the script. About 1/2 is shot, and we have gone through 2040 feet. We have a total of 4200 feet to start out with. I am falling into a groove with the shooting, and am really looking forward to tommorow and the next saturday when we wrap. Check back here for pictures, probably around tuesday or wednesday.
I look forward to seeing this, if you do post it online.
May I ask where you found the script?
I put announcements on IMDB boards, and a few writting boards, and sent emails out saying I was looking for a short scipt and was willing to pay. I found 'Sleep' in over 200 submissions written by Ben Clarke in the UK, and fell in love with the story immediatley. I don't like shorts mainly because they try to do too much. Its like they want to cram a feature into 20 minutes. 'Sleep' was definatley up my alley, in terms of story, and best of all it was a one act film with 3 defined parts, and strong archetypal charecters and roles. I think it does about as much as anyone can do in 15 minutes. It has a slow build up and great ending.