The third weekend of production had been tough. There were a lot logistics to deal with, a lot of plates to keep spinning. So I thought that we were returning to a much more manageable set up. There were two new major variables to consider about this weekend though. One: we began shooting scenes with the Doyle character, played by Shawn Dempewolff. While Shawn had given a great audition, this would be the first time he, Ian, and Alex would be working together, because our limited budget and time table had not afforded us a rehearsal period. Two: there was a conflict with our usual camera so we had to shoot this weekend with a different one. While it was a Canon 7D, like our usual camera, it was also several years older. Turns out it would be the second one that would become a problem.
Saturday required a bit of running around. A skeleton crew assembled at my house consisting of Kaitlin Walsh, our DP, Sam Ejnes, our sound mixer, Shawn, Ian, Alex, and me. We were going to head out to a park near my house a shoot a few scenes before meeting up with the full crew later on. It should have been a quick, easy scene to shoot. The camera angles weren’t difficult and it was a relatively short film. However, we ran into two problems: a basketball game and the sun. We were shooting outside of a recreation center, which happened to be having a youth basketball game at the same time we were shooting. This meant buzzers would go off in the middle of scenes and parents would walk by with their kids dressed in basketball jerseys. But that was only an occasional disturbance and not something we had any control over so we worked around it. If a buzzer went off, we shot again. If a family walked though frame, which only happened once or twice, we shot again. It really wasn’t a big deal. The sun was a different story.
Los Angeles is a typically sunny place. And it is usually warm. But the day we shot this scene, it was a blazing fireball in the cloudless sky that relentlessly shone down on us. It didn’t help that we were standing on asphalt, which only drew in the sun’s heat, making it even hotter. The heat was bad. It was early morning and the temperature was already in the nineties. Now, this may have been unpleasant for us, but it was destructive for our camera. The camera had no protection from the sun and began to overheat and shut down. We had to take the camera into the shade for 5-10 minutes so that it could cool down enough for us to shoot another take or two before it would overheat again. It was frustrating to say the least. But we all just had to stay calm and focused and not let the heat get to us. We managed to get through the scene but we were behind schedule. The rest of the crew had arrived at the other set and were waiting on us. I called my 2nd AD Janet Rojas and told her to have the crew start lighting the kitchen for the next scene while we headed over.
Little did I know that we would get stuck in an unexpected motorcycle parade. I’m serious. That happened. We were delayed for another half hour as traffic jammed up on streets all around the parade on our way to the second location. Once we finally got there, we fortunate enough to not find a disgruntled crew. Instead, we found a scene that was completely lit and ready to shoot and lunch ready to eat. We had lunch so that we could all get refocused and then began to shoot the two kitchen scenes. But it was still very hot and we had a bunch of people inside an apartment with the air conditioning turned off and the windows closed so we could get the best sound recording possible. This made it very hot inside and our camera began to overheat again. Fortunately, it was as often as it had been earlier. The camera would overheat once or twice an hour instead of every five minutes. Also, we had a refrigerator to put the camera in to help it cool down faster. The crew was, as usual, great and patient with the process and we all had a good time shooting the scenes.
Sunday had less motorcycle parades to contend with but had a lot more scenes to shoot.
We began Sunday outside again. Fortunately, it was in my back yard so we didn’t have to worry about a basketball game. Unfortunately, it was still incredibly hot outside. This time we were aware of the danger of the camera overheating, so we battled against the sun by keeping the camera in the shade when possible and holding an umbrella over it when we couldn’t. It seemed to work pretty well as we managed to shoot the three scenes involving burning things in a fire with the camera overheating only once.
With the fire put out, we moved inside and began to shoot Doyle’s introduction scene, which is a very long scene with a lot of dialogue. But Shawn, Ian, and Alex were up to the task. They sat in the chairs as for several hours as we shot the scene over and over, from different angles and trying it out different ways. They were awesome. The crew and I couldn’t help but laugh after every take. A lot of the time, I was trying hard to hold it together during the scene. They really took the material and ran with it and the results were hilarious. Once we finished shooting this scene, the crew headed home for the night. Well most of the crew. Kaitlin, Sam, and I still had two scenes to shoot with Shawn and Alex.
It was still daylight and we needed to shoot these scenes as night, so we got frozen yogurt as we waited for night to fall. Once it was dark enough, we piled into my car and drove around Los Angeles at night to steal some shots. We managed to shoot a short scene of dialogue between Doyle (Shawn Dempewolff) and Stuart (Alex Salem) in front of the Hollywood Bowl during a concert. It was pretty thrilling moment and I am so excited that we were able to get the shot and how it came out.
It was exactly the right way to end the weekend to get me excited about shooting our last weekend, which would have more material than any other weekend we had shot.