2002-11-18 - 7:19 p.m.
Yesterday I was making movies. For those not in the know, I was acting in an independent short film. There's no pay, there are no stars, there is probably very little chance that it'll ever be seen by many people.
But it's fun as hell to make.
See, the great thing is that the people behind this film are three buddies. They all have day jobs, and they do this for fun, and because they have a passion for it. They're good at what they do. The whole budget for the film is under $1000. But they've got some good equipment, and they know how to get things accomplished.
Here's the first thing I've discovered about working on a film. Be prepared to wait. There is a whole lot of sitting around to be done before anything really happens. You have to be there, and get make up done (annoying but necessary) and then just kind of sit until the setup is ready. There is a ton of setup to be done, and a million little details that have to be dealt with before you can actually start shooting. And as an actor, there's not too much you can do to help. I mean, this is a small production, so pitching in is generally appreciated. But everyone has their job to do, and they are generally the most qualified to do it. Staying out of the way is often the best thing you can do. Having worked as crew once before, I understand this and tried to be helpful without being a nuisance. Mostly I just stayed out of the way.
Here's something else I've discovered. Having two cameras is an enormous benefit. I estimate it would have taken us three times as long to do all the shots we did yesterday if we'd had only one camera. The tear-down and re-setup time is huge. Having two cameras gave us so much more versatility in the kind of angles and shots we could get.
The whole film will be about twenty minutes long. Yesterday we did master shots and medium shots of the whole thing. Next Sunday, we'll be doing close ups and steady-cam shots, and some reverse angles. The nice thing about the way we did this is that once the cameras were set, we didn't have to move them at all. It also allowed us to do some long takes.
See the story pretty much occurs all in one place. Which means that once we got rolling, we were able to just keep going. There were two or three times when we did takes that were ten minutes or more. As an actor this was a blessing, because it allowed us to build our way into some of the more intense acting bits naturally. There's very little that's harder than jumping straight into an emotional scene. Being able to follow the story and allow the characters to move naturally through the script helped immensely with the performance.
Speaking of, I'm very impressed with two of the actors I'm working with. They're doing a great job. I just hope that I can keep up with them. I felt like I was doing okay, but it's hard to say.
What I haven't said yet is how much fun the whole thing was. I got up early (for me) to get down there, and on the way I thought to myself "there isn't anything I'd rather be doing right now". Also, I really get along well with everyone involved in the project, which is great. It was basically like hanging out with friends for nine hours, and occasionally shooting some film.
The best moment of the whole thing was the crap we pulled on the pizza guy. Pretty much spur of the moment, we all decided to pretend that we were making a porno. The director and one of the actors, who are engaged to one another started making out, and our other female actor kept inviting the pizza guy in to "stand in" for someone. The look on the guy's face was absolutely priceless.
I was so completely wiped out last night, yet I didn't sleep well. Today I am still a bit groggy. More details later.