Saturday, January 16, 2010

The Last Supper: Day 4 hits the books

Today was GetItDoneDay. We moved fast and furious through all the coverage shots we needed.

I had fallen asleep at the end of Day 3 so there was no Call Sheet and no Shooting Schedule. So from 10:30 pm to 11:30 pm I reviewed the daily schedules, eliminated what we had done, reviewed the script, and listed all the people and shots we needed for the day. This was it. If we didn't get it, it wasn't going to be in the film. By 12:15 am on Thursday I was on the set going over the final shots with AD Wyatt Norton, Gaffer Art Phelps and DP Mike Epple.

I walked in and had my own little issue: Why didn't I have the actors look at the camera during the hallucination scene? It wasn't going to work! People tried to reassure me, but it took me an hour or two to get over it. Day 3 was done. There was nothing I could do anyway.

We set up in the middle of the room to shoot all the coverage we needed first. Vikki was late so we pulled in Jennifer to shoot her key final scene. She looked beautiful. I told her it was HER scene and she was perfect. Editor Scott Daigle showed up. Glad he could see the back end of the hallucination scene. Vikki was just stunning. So perfect for the part and the best hallucination reactions. Wow.

In the middle of this I kept going. Energy was flowing. I was in it. All those years of observing, production, looking at details on the screen, made me eminently qualified to do take after take. Every flair, detail. I saw it. Get it right or why bother.

I focused. Didn't take a damn picture all day. Before I knew it the clock said 5 am. We set up for the other POV and broke for breakfast. Morning waffles. Biscuits and gravy. Mushroom sauce. Very tasty. By 7:15 am we were shooting the coverage of Holly Nugent (bride #1, Helen) in THE gown. Then we moved to the corner to shoot the other coverage we needed.

Time started to slow down. We wanted to get outside by 10 am, but then we weren't done getting coverage. I started to get wound up. We had two big scenes to shoot outside, THE KEY SCENES around which the whole movie revolves, and we hadn't set them up yet.

The Angel scene -- the money shot -- took 45 minutes to set up. It was gorgeous. A full frontal, so to speak. The chorus of angels was singing. Loved it.

By noon we were outside. Two hours later than planned. Overtime. Shooting the scene wasn't ideal. Light was changing. Shadows and light played over their faces in different places each time we pulled the camera down the dolly tracks. A big red alarm sticker was driving me nuts. I told Sam and she said she had nothing left to give. So I got a Starlet Bridal sticker and taped it over the alarm logo. We kept changing the lighting set-up. No one could remember when she picked up the cigarette. The actors flubbed their key lines. Both of them. Sirens blared during every other shot, almost every time I said, "Action." Airplanes flew over. People kept walking by yakking loud on their cell phones or gawking in the background of the shot. One guy revved his motor in the parking lot. Another guy was blaring his Texano Spanish tunes while cruising for a parking spot. Key moments blurred in and out of focus. It could have been funny, but we were all toasted. 4 straight night shoots. All on-set brains were fried. We had hit the wall.

So finally the shot was set up. Sunlight was still and mellow. We're ready to call it, and suddenly Vikki disappears to go to the bathroom. It was the only moment that Mike nearly lost it. I saw him put his hands on his head, then he suddenly sat down and meditated in the sunlight. Bless him. I screamed, "Who told her she could go to the bathroom?!" but no one copped to it.

So we ran it. The combined scenes 13/15 are long. But we got something to use. Not ideal. I have no idea what we can cut away to. But hopefully enough is there, and in focus. We got close-ups. By 2pm, we were wrapped. It was done.

It took over an hour to clean out the green room and load up the van. When I got home, my uncle showed up from Long Beach and we went to watch O's volleyball game. We had dinner with O at Don Pancho's (the best Mexican food in Petaluma) and I came home to get a phone call from my mother that my grandmother, the lovely Elizabeth Sundeen, was dying. That night I said goodbye to my grandmother on the phone. I cried. Then I slept for 12 hours. She passed away on Friday morning, January 15, the day after production wrapped. She was the best grandmother you could ask for, with the biggest heart of anyone I've ever met. The world has lost a beautiful soul.

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