So after over a year of work, the first weekend of shooting finally arrived. I had written the scripts, rehearsed with the actors, and held a party to raise money. Now came the time to step on set and direct. And I was nervous.
It’s been a while since I’ve directed something. So I was worried about being rusty. Also, The Idle Quest is definitely the most ambitious project I have taken on. Given the length of the scripts, it is equivalent to directing a feature. And I’m working on a much shorter time frame than I normally work on. Given all that, I was a little rattled. Fortunately, there is an incredible cast and crew working on this project. Once everyone arrived to set, it became clear that the only thing I was going to have to worry about was watching the actors and guiding their performances.
The first day we shot several scenes that took place in the Living Room of Max and Stuart’s apartment. I thought I would share some set photos with you all, which were taken by our grip/amazing set photographer, Kosuke Haga.
Kaitlin and Domenic, along with our 1st AC Alex Lizotte, are my eyes on set. They had some challenges to overcome on this day, like how do you block all the daylight in a room that is almost entirely made of windows. But they did it, and they did it well.
Will and Janet made the first day so easy for me. I didn’t have to worry about things happening on time. Any time I did, Janet informed me that she had already taken care of it. Will was there to push me along on the ambitious first day of shooting, which we finished ahead of schedule. Something we would go on to repeat during day two.
When you are working on a low budget shoot for free, the food better be damn good. That’s been my philosophy. I’ve never been able to provide food like this before. On the first day, our awesome cook Sean Carlson provided a bounty of food that was incredible for next to no money. This included burgers for lunch which he handmade and seasoned and bagels for breakfast, which came with cream cheese mixed with chives and lemon zest. As the only vegetarian on set, Sean made me a grilled eggplant burger that I devoured greedily.
Natalie and I worked together a lot during pre-production, where I would give her some vague direction about a prop and she would create something that was exactly what I wanted. Basically, she read my mind. On the first day of production, she came to a set that was nothing but blank tan walls. She transformed it into a space with colour and personality in virtually no time. It felt like I stepped out of the room to toast a bagel and get some orange juice and came back to a beautiful set.
Then, of course, there are the actors. My two leads, Ian and Alex, came to the first day ready to go. They had plenty of energy and were happy to talk about the scene and try different takes on it. Also, they were willing to smoke an awful lot of herbal tobacco.
For our second day of shooting, we ran all over the greater Los Angeles.
We shot underground in a parking garage in Burbank. Which I thought would be a challenge, but I did not anticipate the guy in the white Honda that would park next to where we were shooting and blast really loud hip hop while he just sat there. For no discernable reason. Presumably he just parks there every Sunday afternoon to have a one man rave. After a little while, he left and we managed to get what we needed and were on to the next scene, which we shot inside a moving car.
My car to be more exact. I thought this scene would be one of the more difficult ones. It’s really hard to shoot scenes inside a car when you can’t afford to close down streets or use stabilizing mounts. But Kaitlin shot the scene beautifully and we finished that scene in less than 15 minutes. It was pretty incredible.
Then, on to North Hollywood, where we met up with the rest of our crew that were setting up lights and dressing the set. Our Production Designer, Natalie Groce, couldn’t be there that day, but we had the work of our Art Director, Ellen Jaworski. When I got there and saw Ellen’s work I was very pleased. She really brought the set to life.
You can see her work in these set photos:
Danielle plays Janine in the first season of The Idle Quest. She met us at the location in North Hollywood and we got to work shooting a phone conversation. Danielle nailed the scene and we headed out of there to our last location.
We headed to West Hollywood and shot an altercation in an alley. I’d go into more about it, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise.
The first weekend was a complete success. I can’t wait to continue shooting with this fantastic cast and crew. However, this was the easiest weekend. They only get more difficult from here on out.