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The Sophomore


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#1 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 02 September 2007 - 03:09 PM

Final week shooting at Bayonne High School.

The first two days were spent in a tiny classroom that connects two metalshops on both sides where they teach welding and whatnot. The little connecting room has windows on both sides that look out onto the welding shops. This space was used as a Detention / Suspension Room in our story. We wanted the room to look dreary and industrial so I lit it with Cool White fluorescents, but in order for the lights to read as cyan on film, I had to gel the outer welding shop windows with Full 85 and light the outer rooms to 3200K so that the inbetween room's Cool Whites would be blue-green in contrast.

We put a small Lightning Strikes inside one of the welding booths to simulate flashes of arc welding going on off-camera. Other times, we had an efx guy grinding some metal to create showers of sparks in the b.g. but this could only be done with non-dialogue shots since it was so loud.

We spent the third day picking up pieces of pep rally scene in the main cafeteria, the one originally shot on the day I came down with gastro-enteritis and left early. We also had a 15' Technocrane there to do a pull back to reveal the entire room filled with students taking their SAT's but we had a hard time getting a good rise and pullback due to the miscoordination of the boom, telescoping arm, and operating -- the problem was that I asked for a 30' Technocrane but was told that it would not fit up the large stairwells of the school (and definitely not the tiny elevator). So we ended up with a 15' Technocrane and tried to make the big move work on that but it wasn't precise enough for my tastes.

Day Four had me running around on the far end of the building while we ran a second and third unit shooting needed tableau shots of the school plus inserts. I was lucky in that the director asked commercial/music video DP Max Goldman to come in and shoot the still life shots of the school (with little dolly moves, in natural light) and he did a fantastic job. Usually I rarely get second unit footage that looks as good as it would if I had shot it (sorry to say that) but not in this case -- Max did some wonderful shots.

Day Five, the last day at the school, was spent mostly in the basement picking up scenes in the locker rooms, showers, and a driver's ed classroom.

Everyone on the camera crew has been great -- 1st AC Frank Rinato in particular should be singled out for praise -- he's a real pro and his focus-pulling has been excellent despite the fact that I've been shooting most of the movie in the T/2 to T/2.8 range on longer lenses.
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After being on "Big Love" with a great HBO crew that worked like clockwork, it's been somewhat disappointing to come back to what I consider a more typical indie feature type of crew. Lots of little things get missed due to lack of organization and whatnot and the effect is that I lose time everyday trying to catch up. The problem isn't one department in particular, it's just a mix of people scattered in different departments (I'm talking about the whole production, not just the three departments that work under me).

I wrote down some examples of poor thinking that has been screwing up my own work -- plus costing me time -- but I erased them. I don't want to go into details and make people feel bad.

I don't like complaining about people who are working very long and hard hours, but some people have got to start thinking smarter so they can work a little less hard and go home a little earlier...
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#2 Matthew Buick

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Posted 02 September 2007 - 03:15 PM

Sounds cool. Are you feeling better yet?
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#3 Hal Smith

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Posted 02 September 2007 - 03:19 PM

I wrote down some examples of poor thinking that has been screwing up my own work -- plus costing me time -- but I erased them. I don't want to go into details and make people feel bad.

Maybe when you've had a chance to relax and think about this crew's working practices you could reframe the negative "don't's, dumba**es" etc. as positive "do's and working smart's" and post them.
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#4 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 02:25 AM

Dave, I've never heard this term before "tableau shots", so I looked it up and think I know what you're talking about now, basically a cinematic portrait or still life, but just so I can understand it better could you post some examples and describe their artist use and function if you wouldn't mind and of coarse have the time to. Thanks-Steve B)
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#5 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 02:35 AM

Thinking about it I would guess several scenes in Barry Lyndon and the scene of the Last Supper in M*A*S*H where examples of Tableau vivant on film, am I correct?
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#6 Logan Schneider

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 03:33 PM

I may have missed you answering this, but are you able to post any stills?
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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 04:53 PM

I only have a couple of minor snapshots, nothing too interesting, and they are on my still camera which I left with the camera department.

We used the word "tableau" but it's not an official film term. It's a series of establishing shots & non-specific (to the plot) details to capture the atmosphere of the place, what some people call "b-roll" or "second unit" footage.
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#8 Christopher Wedding

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Posted 03 September 2007 - 07:26 PM

David,

I have to share with a new goal in my five year plan: To be a 2nd unit DP for you!
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#9 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 02:00 AM

Wow, that's weird, I actually found it when I Googled it. Of coarse I don't doubt what you say about it not being an established film term but if it isn't a recognized film term it should be. It, like so many French film and stage terms, has a great way of explaining the shot without defining it.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tableaux_Vivant

I even found some examples of it in both movie and still photography

images.google.com/images?svnum=10&um=1&hl=en&q=Tableau+vivant+in+movies&btnG=Search+Images

images.google.com/images?hl=en&q=Tableau+vivant+in+film&um=1&sa=N&tab=wi

Established term or not, I intend to use it A ) because it is SOOO cool sounding and makes things SOUND cooler than they really are and B ) it makes me sound smarter than I really am. :D

Edited by James Steven Beverly, 04 September 2007 - 02:05 AM.

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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 08:08 PM

Like I said, I don't have any interesting photos. Here's a set-up in the locker room -- I used Cool Whites in the central passageway and 3200K Kinos in the locker areas. I hung a 4' 4-bank Kino above the actor for the closer shots for a softer effect than the hanging shoplights in the room.

Posted Image
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#11 Adamo P Cultraro

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Posted 04 September 2007 - 10:24 PM

Just tuned in, but tons of very useful information. Thanks, David.
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#12 Logan Schneider

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Posted 05 September 2007 - 12:02 AM

I appreciate you putting the picture up, whether or not it is great. I think I learn more from seeing that reading, even if I don't learn from every photo. Good luck with the rest of your shoot David.
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#13 timHealy

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Posted 06 September 2007 - 05:02 PM

hey David,

Speaking of the crew, correct me if I am wrong, but did you start Big Love during the second season? If I recall that correctly, then they would have had a year to gell as a crew than your current production. Also, If I understand correctly, The Sophmore is a low budget union production where the pay is lower than union norms. So you currently have the disadvantage of a short time period for the crew to work together in a more cohesive group, and you may have less experienced people due to the lower budget.

Just a thought.

Good luck on the rest of the shoot.

Best

Tim
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