Sunday, August 19, 2012

Blowers and Mowers and Planes! Oh, My!

The first week shooting on any film set has its own challenges: it's often the first time the entire crew is actually working as a team and getting individuals to synch and realize their best efficiency level takes some time. Fortunately, my co-producer and I had assembled a gang of seasoned professionals that came together to work as if they'd been a team all along. 

The real challenge came from shooting on location. On a sound stage, you can control everything: the light, the acoustics, the climate; everything can be exactly as you need it at every moment. But in the real world, you are at the mercy of the sun which is always on the move and messing with your light and--in our case--turning our cozy cabin into a pressure cooker. 

But that was all bearable: we had air conditioning to help keep the heat from being unhealthy and we had a lighting crew that could bathe our room in whatever light needed at any time of the day. The factor that foiled us throughout the shoot came in the form of man-made noise machines. 

Day one of the shoot happened to take place on gardener day. One by one, each neighboring house was visited by various men bearing lawn-mowers, leaf-blowers and other loud machines that would inescapably be heard in our cabin, ruining take after take. It sounded like a special Doo-Dah Parade of gardeners--all afternoon.  I found myself wishing our executioner's axe was not a prop.

Day two only had one straggling gardener. But it became a heavy plane day. Planes also ruin the sound of a take, because--like mowers and blowers--they never sound the same throughout the scene: they're in one shot, but not the following; then they're back for a shot--only to disappear again. Planes plagued us throughout day two. But we had heard nothing, yet.  

Day three, a big rig accident on the neighboring freeway exchange prompted hours and hours of low-flying, hovering helicopters. Our remote cabin in the woods now sounded like a tent in a war zone. What could we do? We kept filming. We only had the location so many days and the other locations were booked on the days following. So we forged ahead. The show must go on--even in Armageddon.

Sound issues aside, the week was a terrific success:  we got some beautiful footage with gripping performances; I've no doubt we've got the makings of an excellent movie.  I'll leave you with this photo of me taken near the end of day three. It kind of looks like I'm looking ahead.

Perhaps I am.

Gregory Blair
as seen through the lens of Joshua Patterson