Filming: Weekend Seven

My plan to have the picnic set double as craft services backfired Saturday when this happened:

Should lunch meat be silver?

If you can’t tell from the picture, that’s a pound of turkey and a pound of ham, both purchased around 7:30 AM. By 10:30 AM, both meats were the same color, a mysterious bluish-silver shade of grey. I suppose the stuff just didn’t agree with the weather.

No meat? No problem! Let’s tear the shrinkwrap off the veggie tray and holy crap what’s that smell? Yup, the veggies were bad, too, despite also being labeled fresh (I assume the difference between its printed expiration date and its actual, much earlier expiration was some belated April Fool’s gag on behalf of the grocer). Standing downwind from the picnic table became a work hazard.

The chips, meanwhile, were all good. God bless Grippo’s.

As for the shoot itself, Saturday was rough, but not for the usual “I’m out of my groove” reasons. Among the problems: We were missing some of the regular crew, most notably sound guy Jim, who had injured his hand the day before, requiring stitches and a cast. The shoot featured none of the regular lead cast – although a few showed up to help out as crew, because they’re wonderful – which meant the familiarity and shorthand established over the past two months didn’t count here. (Among the “new” cast were some familiar Fu faces, so it’s not like I was dealing with strangers, but still.) Some of the cast needed to leave earlier than expected, forcing a reshuffle of the shots and a mad rush that left us unable to get some of the coverage I had planned. One of our actors couldn’t make it at all due to a schedule mix-up, leaving his replacement less than a day to learn lines. (He came through, though.) And a key practical effect didn’t quite work as expected, focring us to burn too much time on shots I’m not entirely sure will cut together well. Oh, and it was bitterly cold and overcast all day, with some rain here and there, making the entire “great day for a picnic” dialogue seem downright lunatic.

But the day was far from lost. Spirits remained high (or at least high-ish), with the “new” actors getting into the spirit quickly and improvising some very funny moments. A second key practical effect worked beautifully, thanks mostly to Kayla (who served as puppeteer) and Shane (a Fu vet whose entire cameo centers on a gruesome fate). The extras – not all who promised to show actually did, but enough arrived to not leave us with an embarrassingly small crowd – were eager to play along, especially the kids and teens, most of whom were eager to get killed by the Creature (this erasing any concerns of “should we kill some kids in this movie?”) in creative ways all made up on the fly.

Sunday had a few problems as well, all of my own doing (I totally screwed up on the craft services end, leaving the crew with little food and drink all day, and by late afternoon, the time crunch made me at times a d-bag of David O. Russell proportions), but overall, the day was smooth and fun and (whaddya know!) sunny and warm. We were able to stick to the schedule for once. And the entire cast was on top of their game, despite sleep deprivation and sunstroke: Jake, having being awake for something like 36 hours straight, plowed through his monologues with gusto; Kayla nailed her Monologue From Hell (essentially an entire page of rambling) repeatedly; Don (playing the last surviving expendable Army guy) managed to whip up an all-new, all-funny ad libbed monologue of his own; and so on. Everybody delivered.

By the way, Don’s monologue mentions a visit to a video store. This may top rotary phones and space capsules as the most outdated reference in the film.

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