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...

After that rehearsal I was feeling pretty confident. These actors were fantastic, I thought to myself; and we all happened to be dressed like we live in the NW. Go figure. So here was the defense attorney, the prosecuting attorney and the star witness, Dr. Pavlov. All looking and smelling good.

Onto the second rehearsal. 03 23 2018 Friday bloody Friday. We scheduled a rehearsal at the Pythians in Tacoma, the traffic was sheer hell, but God bless the Pythians. A big shout out to Steve and Adam! You guys saved my bacon. (I'd rather be eating it, but regardless) Second rehearsal came and our friendly actors from the first rehearsal were there, as well as Adrienne Jordan, Jon Palms, Doug Johnston and our new Judge, a wicked actor by the name of Mark Lanz. I believe he showed all of us who the real judge is.

Rehearsal 03 23 2018 Adrienne Jordan, Doug Johnston, Chris Burrows, Sean Gill-Macdonald,Mark Lanz, Ira Katz, Jon Palms and Ira again. 
Again, we had us a fine rehearsal, as well as a nice visit to México Mágico afterwards. Awhhh... México Mágico where the indigenous shamans run free and the peyote runs wild. Ok, actually its a nice restaurant and Catina on Broadway, it's good, you should check it out sometime.

Time to face reality. In two more days was the big shoot. I knew there would be no more rehearsals prior, and more than likely camera decisions would have to be made on set at the time of the shoot. I didn't feel like I could make a true shot list due to my unfamiliarity with the location, I  just had rough ideas floating around my head of what I wanted to see. My buddy (Director of Photography and co-conspirator) Chris was keeping it cool and calm. He had been busy taking care of the props (as well as securing the courthouse building to begin with) and many other things. Chris is truly the Yoda with the mind of an engineer. I tend to be the pants on fire sort.

As I said, we were now two days away, the actors were rocking it, but the big looming structure of concrete and steel would soon rise from A street and digest us. I still did not know how many extras we would have, I still did not have a shot list, and Mercy's (hero shot) blue dress had not arrived in the post. Yes my pants were on fire.

To be continued...

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