Sunday, May 6, 2018

The First Big Shoot Part Three

It was an early morning and the chill of Pacific Northwest blew through downtown Tacoma. But there I was, parked next to the ominous building that would mark our first official shoot for the film, Mercy's House. Another one of the actors, Craig had already arrived and a moment later, Chris came pulling up in his Star Wars inspired road machine known as Sithlord, then efficiently pulled around the building finding the perfect spot to land, closest to the entrance. I didn't want to get back in my car and re-park, I would hoof it, the cold air would do me good; taking the place of the empty spot in my psyche that normally coffee would be filling. The local Starbucks wasn't open yet. A damn shame.  

Adrienne Jordan and Sean Gill-Macdonald

Soon we were inside, Mike, Shea and Charlcee were there and we set about getting everything ready. The actors and the extras began showing up, and the rest of the day is mostly a blur now. A good blur though. 

Chris filming with the extras, photo courtesy of Charlcee Davis

There was about 30 extras which was great! Some of my awesome friends showed up, as well as friends from some of the actors. I was deeply appreciative of this. I thought I would start our first shoot off with a bang and address the courtroom audience as they sat eagerly in the seats. 

Hi everybody, thank you for being here. I introduced the lead actress Adrienne, and began. "This is Mercy, shes a small town girl with a some big problems." Then going through the rest of the cast explaining their motivation, to finish off with the crew on hand. I thought it was a great way to start things off, as if we were putting on a show for the extras/audience, which in one way, we were. 
My buddy and fantastic actor Bill Read Jr played the part of the prosecuting attorney. I think he had brought a number of friends to play the extras, he was pretty amazing and as always a joy to have on the set. I was lucky to have him in my previous film "Waiting For Exit". Here's a shot of him and Charlcee (without whom a lot of these "behind the scene" pictures wouldn't be possible) 
Charlcee Davis, Bill Read Jr and the obligatory clapper picture. Photos courtesy of Charlcee Davis. 
You wouldn't go this whole blog post without seeing the obligatory clapper picture. That picture alone is money in bank. The only thing during the shoot that really gave us any problems was the old radiator system that would start acting up in the middle of shot. We were not prepared for this. It was like a ghost from the past was banging on the metal from beyond. A lost soul who missed the glory day/ hustle and bustle of the old courtroom wanting one last chance to see a trial in action. 

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

The First Big Shoot Part Two

Saturday the 24th Chris and I met up, we'd been doing weekly coffee at a shared destination. This is where Chris and I discuss our journey into the wild unknown forests of feature film making. Picture us, in the months to come if you will, huddled together at a small campfire in the woods struggling for survival and fending off wild hyenas who keep trying to steal our canned goods. Or, more truthfully, Starbucks, bullshitting about our favorite films while smooth jazz plays in the background. Hyenas always make things more interesting though. I'll try to work them in later.

Today was different, this was the day before the big shoot. This was a very important coffee date, even the smooth jazz seemed more intense. Chris still had a billion things to look after, and I realized I would try to come up with at least a rough shot list, as well as make some nifty lanyards for the crew. As for the crew we had asked Mike West, Shea Vanlaningham and our old buddy Dave Ewing to come along for the ride. On top of being awesome dudes, we knew we could place our trust in them. A last moment addition was Charlcee Davis and thank goodness she accepted. Meanwhile, Mercy's (Adrienne Jordan's) Blue dress still hadn't arrived, and I knew an unpleasant trip to the local print shop for lanyard graphics was looming. I looked down into my ominous cup of coffee and it seemed to spell out a message in the dissipating cream.

Shortly I arrived at the print shop with a bulging thumb drive in my pocket.

"Would you like a color copy?"
"Yes." I said hesitantly.
"That will be 300 dollars."

Nifty lanyards for the crew
With the rising price of ink, this scenario always plays out in my head, and it comes down to, A) buy a new color cartridge and get screwed, or B) go to the print shop... and get screwed. I got screwed but left with lanyard graphics. Oh yes, these graphics were going to be put into a plastic sheath and hung from a soft cord; and that is money in the bank. You offer someone a lanyard they're putty in your hands.

The dress that never was
If only...

Anyway, the day progressed and I got word from Chris that the blue dress had arrived. With a mighty Woot Woot, I texted Adrienne to let her know that she wouldn't have to wear a pretty horrible blue mess I had a bought in desperation a few days earlier. Ok, lets forget the fact that it was far to shear for a courtroom. Lets just focus on the determination of a fearless filmmaker who would brave the womens section of a thrift store.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The first Big Shoot Part One

And it so began on 03 25 2018. Actually it began before that, but I like opening with drama. It was a cold Sunday filled with BIG hopes, and not only the first shot for the film "Mercy's House," but the BIGGEST one at that. We were shooting down on A street in Tacoma WA at a place called Court House Square, that oddly enough had an old court house inside. The building itself is a very big old, somewhat imposing hump of ornamental concrete and steel, that would probably scare the jeebers out of some one who was fresh from Smurfsville.


We would be filming the quintessential scene in which the main character (Mercy) is sentenced. This was to be the scene where that special kind of crazy that Dr. Pavlov would manically spew, would first be seen. With the anticipation of a courtroom full of extras, this would also be the scene where "living room" filmmakers would become public filmmakers. (as well as grow hair, and other things... etc.) 

Unfortunately we had some real big unknowables going into the shoot, which quite frankly caused an untold number of stress goblins to begin dancing on the wings of my airplane.

1) I hadn't been able to get the cast into the shoot location for rehearsal. The same for blocking, camera set up and testing, etc, or for even that good old feeling of familiarity before entering the jaws of the shark. 

2) The unknowable amount of extras that we would wind up with. It could have been anywhere from five to three hundred. The amount of extras would greatly impact how we would be shooting the scenes. Would it turn into a quaint courthouse? or would it be a grand courthouse? Oh yes, the goblins were dancing and the little biplane was wavering.

Lets go back.

I had held two rehearsals before the big day, thank you to the incredible people at Sanford and Sons Antiques and the Knights of Pythias in Tacoma. I love you guys.

Rehearsal 03 18 2018  Joe, Bill Read Jr, Ira Katz and Sean Gill-Macdonald
First rehearsal on 03 18 2018 Sanford and Sons, went very well and we all had a good time. But you can plainly see how things that start off as normal can easily turn pretty ugly. Lol. Jokes aside, these guys are truly talented folks. Note: My buddy Chris the omniscient director of photography was there too. ... taking the pictures of course...