Yesterday was the first day of the shoot and it can be summed up as being good and bad. We had scheduled about 26 pages worth of stuff to do on the one day and it was only possible if we could breeze through everything and nail first or second takes. We had a bit of a rough start and it took a while for everyone to get their bearings. The sound mixer, Matt, had to familiarize himself with new equipment while Sean and Andy had to work out some kinks with their cameras as well. So despite call being at 6am, we didn’t get a shot off until around 8, or more or less the time when we were supposedly moving on to the next scene. After that, though, we did get rolling and found a groove. George and Meg nailed their scenes in two takes and by lunch time we were only a little bit behind schedule.
By the end of the day, we had shot everything we needed to shoot and even wrapped a little bit early. It was an incredible accomplishment for everyone to cover 26 pages in 12 hours and to cover them satisfactorily as well. I was feeling really great at the end of the shoot and thought that despite all the rehearsals that could have worn them out, George and Meg performed the scenes the best they ever had while the cameras were rolling. Mike Muldoon, Chad Richardson and I also took a couple takes to get rolling but by the end were gelling really well together in our scene and it’s gonna be a really fun one to cut/watch hopefully. On top of all that, Steve Basilone, Kern Saxton, Mike Montgomery and Smokey Cloud all put their unique stamp on little bit parts that will really help make the movie feel alive.
At eight o’clock last night though, I went over to Sean’s house to watch the footage and this is where the bad news comes in. We watched everything we shot and to our dismay, found that all of the sound was virtually unusable. It was recorded way too high and every line peaks and distorts. I’m pretty sure this is every independent directors worst nightmare and it was absolutley devastating. Sean guessed that the problem was a result of a miscalculation while setting the camera levels to the sound mixer’s levels and that it was nobody’s fault really, just something to chalk up to not knowing the equipment that well. Good old hindsight tells us we should have tested this, but we just didn’t have all the equipment in one place before the actual shoot. The only ray of hope from watching at Sean’s was the fact that the second camera recorded sound with the onboard mic and was somewhat usable (although the camera was typically pretty far away from the action and it’s all very soft). The other positive was that the footage looked absolutely great. Andy Reed and Sean both did a phenomenal job lighting and shooting these scenes.
So, I got home and imported the footage into Final Cut to give one last thing a try. As is the norm, we recorded one channel of audio a bit lower than the other and so I thought if we just erased the main track and left the second one, it might be a bit better. Turns out, that was the case and track 2 of the audio is pretty good. It still peaks and distorts at points and is by no means perfect, but it’s at least good and usable and doesn’t mean we wasted our time and money. We should be able to fix this problem for tonight’s shoot and the rest of the movie will hopefully sound great. Needless to say, the whole thing is a dagger in the heart of an otherwise really amazing first day. Four more to go and then it’s on to post.
Here’s some pictures from day one.
Sean McElwee lighting our first scene by the photo booth.
First A.D. and Renaissance Man Charlie Dugan snapping some photos.
Sound Mixer Matt Boese and Script Supervisor Anne Walls (and way over in the left Andy Reed)
Meg, George and I running through a scene.
George and Meg before another scene.
Sean and gaffer Nate Brown.
Mike Muldoon and Chad Richardson waiting for their close-ups. Mike plays Scott and Chad plays Josh.
Mike, Chad, me, Meg and George running the scene. I play Darrell.
I don’t really know what the hell is happening here.