Friday, May 7, 2010

The Night Shift: First day of shooting

The Night Shift is the on-set diary of Fighting Owl Film's new independent supernatural-adventure-comedy of the same name currently in pre-production in Mobile, AL. Over the course of the next several weeks and months, you'll get an insider's peek at what it's like for filmmakers to craft a new entry of paranormal pop culture from Erin Lilley, a producer and actress on the film.

First Day of Shooting

The good news is we're pretty much on schedule, and have some downright fantastic looking footage. The bad news is: It hasn't come easily. Not by a long shot.

When I think of Saturday, and our first day of shooting, the word "disaster" comes to mind.  "Catastrophic" and "plagued" are right up there with it. Now, I could sugarcoat this or pull some PR spin tactics and tell you that it was a learning experience, or that we're referring to it as a dress rehearsal, but I respect you too much to do that. Besides, this is a blog about filmmaking, and rough days happen, so here you go.

For starters, the weather that's been absolutely gorgeous for weeks decided to turn on us with gray skies and tropical storm force winds. Then the camera decided to act up, which led to several hours of phone tag with the Director of Photography (DP), who was called out of town at the last minute with a family emergency.  The girls on the crew had a blast watching my cute, curly hairstyle fall and tangle into a mess that no hairbrush could handle, despite the use of three different anti-humidity hair products, one of which was so strong that it will literally take the color off of your hair if you use too much. The icing on the cake was when Herbie, our robotic skeleton, broke.

Not the robotics, but the actual skull, itself ...

Around lunchtime, Thomas made the executive decision to cut our losses for the day. Timothy, our robotics genius, took Herbie to fix and Thomas and I went home - along with Khristian (lead actor) and Soren (asst. DP/Herbie) - to figure out our next move. After talking with the DP and taking the camera apart and putting it back together, we were able to fix the technical issues.

The footage looked beautiful. It was shot with a 35mm lens adapter, which captures the image upside-down, so we all got to stand on our heads to look at it, but it was gorgeous. Unfortunately, the camera problems prevented any of it from being salvaged.

In the end, we wound up with zero usable tapes. However, we did learn a few things:

1)  Thomas knows a lot of curse words, and can use them in imaginative ways.
2)  We have a very supportive, understanding cast and crew.
3)  In a good gust of wind, spaghetti can fly.

Fortunately, Sunday proved to be a much more productive shoot.

By the time I got to the set, Thomas had already made up a couple of shots from Saturday, and was actually running ahead of schedule on the shots for Sunday. The prosthetic appliance for the day not only went on well, but looked stunning in person and on camera. Herbie was also back and ready for his close-up.

I wish I could tell you more of how the actual shoot went, but once my hair was fixed, I was under strict orders to stay in the car, out of the wind, until time for my scenes. I played a lot of sudoku. I could tell you how that went, but I doubt you'd find it very interesting.

When we did get around to my scenes, they went very well. We remembered our lines and the practical effects worked. All in all, I can't complain.

Well, I can complain a little. While most of us were off shooting, the crew back at our home base witnessed a streaker hopping over headstones in the cemetery. Where was he while I was bored playing sudoku?

I've seen the footage, and it all looks really good. I mean, I'm impressed. Granted, I'm biased, but I think this has the potential to be a very special film, and I'm excited to see how the rest of it turns out.

Over the next couple of weeks, I'll fill you in on the first of the night shoots, moving on to our second location, and heading inside the crypts. I'm interested to see how the plywood doors stand up to being kicked in. Oh well, if they break, I'll save a piece for my kid brother, Curt. He painted them.

In the meantime, follow Fighting Owl Films on Facebook and Twitter by clicking on the icons at www.thenightshiftmovie.com.  You can also follow the film on Twitter @NightShiftMovie.

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