Sunday, June 15, 2008

Bush Pigs – Principal Photography Day 2, Friday June 13th

When I initially read the Topler/Champoux script for the short film “Bush Pigs” I had two major concerns. The first of which was the opening scene which takes place in a small African village; a place where relief workers and locals live together in whatever shelter they can manage. Tents are the major source of shelter and we had to somehow create what looked like a large area where people are gathered. The planning of this had been in the works for over a month but I still had my doubts they could pull it off. Those doubts were erased when I pulled onto the set at 6:00 on Friday evening. The location that we picked out ended up being perfect (and much dryer than I expected given the record amounts of rain we’ve experienced over the last month). With a dozen military pup tents, over a half dozen make-shift dome tents, and one incredible hero tent (props Frank), we had the perfect location for our action to take place.

When I arrived Frank was working his chainsaw cutting wood that would later be used in the four campfires that we would build. A lot of the wood washed up from the small creek that two days before was completely out of its banks and blocked the entrance to the area where our set was located. There was a small army of volunteers on hand that were helping move wood and creating the look of the village. I did a quick tour with the directors and Neva (set decorator) to look at all of the shots we had planned and I knew we were in great shape to have a really good looking opening sequence.

When the camera showed up we started building the crane and placing all of the lights. We needed to create a moon for our general lighting scheme so we had a huge light that we gelled and placed on our highest stand. Since we were out in the country, we had no AC power so everything had to be run off of a generator so we placed that away from the action (for sound reasons) and ran about a half mile of stingers that needed to power the entire village. Make-up was another fun project as we needed to make two of our actors look like they were almost dead. Props to our make-up gang for again doing a great job.

After the camera and lighting were all set, all we needed were Africans and nightfall. Topler had made contact with someone that found us nine Sudanese folks so Julie took the van to pick them up and when they arrived, we had the perfect set of extras to populate our village. One of my favorite comments of the evening was when one of them mentioned that our set “looked just like Darfur.” High praise indeed and I couldn’t help but smile.

As the sun set, we started lighting the fires and working through the action that we’d need when it got dark enough to shoot. By the time we were able to get our first shots, the action went pretty smoothly and we were able to get a great look. It didn’t take us long shooting all of the exteriors once everything was set and all of our extras did fantastic and we moved well from shot to shot. The tents, the fires, the lighting, the extras… very cool.

After getting all we needed outside we sent Julie and the van full of extras away and we moved inside our main tent to get the close-ups and follow the action of our two main actors, Matt Harwell and Ben Chrystak. The interior of the tent was absolutely perfect (thanks to Frank’s excellent construction and Neva’s excellent setup) and we ended up getting some of the coolest shots using the Red Rock Micro system. The performances by Matt and Ben were excellent and Robbie did a fabulous job of moving the camera. I’m really looking forward to seeing all of these shots in the film.

The last shots of the evening involved more crane work, a Jeep as a prop and one of the best actors I’ve ever worked with. That’s right, I played a small role in the film. I believe my character’s name was “Driver.” You know it’s an important role when the character doesn’t have an actual name, just their action in the script. And the good news, my character is a smoker and the main action is him lighting a cigarette. So having never smoked in my life, I spent the next hour plus lighting and smoking cigarettes. I am now the proud owner of a brand new habit. Kidding. There was a bottle of water on stand-by the whole time and every once-in-a-while I had to stop and rinse. Ugh. Fun fun.

On the call sheet:
Set call time: 6:00pm, end time 1:30am. Actual end time, 4:30am - ouch


Blogger brian said...

Looking forward to seeing those redrock shots! - Brian/Redrock Micro

1:05 PM  

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