'Storybook' - Principal Photography Days 1 & 2

We just finished almost half of our shoot for the 'Storybook' short. We're shooting three more days in November on the Elaine 16mm camera. I can't believe two whole scenes are in the can already. Pre-production felt like forever.

I am dying (dreading) to see dailies. I love seeing dailies... But I hate the few moments when the projector just starts to roll. It's the most anxious feeling ever.

First day we were shooting at Denver East High for a scene that takes place in the 70's. Art department made an amazing banner reading "Ryland Homecoming 1973 - GO WILDCATS!"
This seemed hilariously appropriate because just the night prior I had gone to see High School Musical 3 with a friend.

The most pressing issue of this shoot was that the sun rose from behind the school, and we literally had a line of light chasing us closer and closer against the building until all our shadow was gone. It was kind of like that Mayan ballgame that ended when the sunlight reached the end of the court. Maybe only 3 shots from wrapping up, we ended up having to bring in the 12x12 silk to soften the light.

(The bright sunlight we were trying to avoid on the right. Our pretty actor on the left. GO WILDCATS)

We had two big dolly moves and a fairly novice dolly grip. He caught on fast with the help of our key grip and gaffer and did a fantastic job.

We didn't run into any real trouble. We were shooting on the Aaton XTR, and a couple of times the registration pin seemed to have trouble catching the sprocket holes on the loop. It's weird, but I know my fair share of weird camera noises, and knew we hadn't lost the loop. It's a funny, instinctual feeling. Also, I totally trust my 2nd AC/film loader with my life (if my life depended on a film mag being loaded properly.) My camera crew totally rocked, and we ended up only shooting one 400 foot roll out of the 2 rolls allotted for the day.

The second day was a lot more difficult, but went extremely well. We were shooting in the afternoon, this time chasing the light instead of running from it. We had a jib shot and two dolly set ups, which ate up a lot of time rehearsal-wise (but the dolly and jib were up and ready at an incredible rate. I can't believe how on-top-of-it our grips were).

The scene was set in the 50's and we were shooting in an old neighborhood in Englewood that was built around that time, and preserved to keep its historical look. For a while I was really frustrated with the light (the shadows of two enormous trees seemed to be deliberately blocking the very area that I wanted to shoot) but by the time we got to the important shots, we had a totally gorgeous spot of sun. We got a bounce in there and it was beautiful.

At one point, I was both tilting the camera as we were jibbing up, standing on my tiptoes, looking down at a tiny monitor while my AC pulled focus. Personally, I hate monitors, but there are some things you're just gonna have to do when you're too short to move with the eye piece. This camera move caused me the most stress on set, as I could barely see what was on the monitor and was almost shooting blind while my body was contorted in a weird angle to both see the monitor and to direct the camera.

(Low on the jib for an insert)

Thing I learned about myself on set: When I get stressed, I tend to get really conservative with camera. I go into my Assistant Director mode and get really picky about time and efficiency. Later on in the shoot I was actually was arguing to keep things simple (for time and safety rather than image) when the director wanted it to be more elaborate. Usually I'm the one wanting things to be "extra pretty". Good to know. I caught myself when I realized I was giving up a prettier shot for the sake of just a few minutes time. Thank goodness. I think that shot is gonna look fantastic.

Also, it's been interesting working with a crew that I really don't know yet. I've spent the last four years on set with people I consider family, and I know they can deal if I get grumpy and vice versa. I'm being careful to make sure I don't let my nerves get the best of me around my three AC's, because I am not sure how they feel about me yet. I think they're awesome and they've never been the source of my stress. Luckily, one of the two directors on this show, Chuck, said if I need to bitch at someone when I do get annoyed, I can bitch at him and he won't care. And I'm extremely grateful for that. Because most of the time I end up snapping at J, our other director, who goes out of his way to make me happy when he probably should start snapping back.

Those yellow fingerless gloves are amazing. It was FREEZING out.

First day we shot on 50D 7201 (for the highschool scene) and the second day we were shooting on 200T 7217 with both an ND3 and an ND6 filter. I'll let you know how dailies go.

Photos were taken by Justin and Nate. I hope they don't mind me posting them here.

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