1.12.98

Call: 6:30 AM

Making Cherry
a romantic comedy starring Shalom Harlow
"Every filmmaker is independent at heart, as surely as each human being is alone, finally, in every activity that has any personal meaning."
--Lenny Lipton
You've Got Questions? Cherry Has Answers
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Locations:
Muffin Shop

Sunrise: 7:19 AM
Sunset: 4:49 PM

Weather: Mostly cloudy w/ 40% chance of showers. HI: low-mid 40s

Principals:
Leila, Dottie, Darcy, Customer

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Opening Day

Shalom throws out first pitch; homers

At 9:30 AM Shalom declaims, "Nellie’s is killing us," steps in front of the camera and the first take of Cherry begins.

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Call was at 6:30 AM, and since then the actors and directors have blocked the scene, the gaffers (with Phil) have fine-tuned the lights, the grips have set up scaffolding in the streets, and makeup and hair and wardrobe have done their bits to get the actors into character.

Oh, and props has made trays of muffins and pots of coffee that look good enough to eat, though in fact we have to go around the corner to the craft services table, a groaning board of its own, if we want coffee and juice and cereal and vitamins C and A and E and dried fruit and fresh fruit and reduced fat peanut butter. You get the picture. The muffins and coffee here are props for the movie.

The first scene of the first day of shooting happens to be Scene 17, which we watched Joe and Phil shotlist back in "Making Cherry’s" early days. And the first shot of Scene 17 is the reverse master, picking up Leila as she passes by the table at which Darcy and Dottie are doing the tarot.

Back during shotlisting, looking into the spare white model of the muffin shop, it seemed as if there was plenty of room in the shop. But what the tech scout hinted at, and the lighting prerig last week confirmed, is that Leila's muffin shop is not a big space for a full film crew.

In the entry area of the shop, behind big white scrims and tucked among cleared tables and chairs and the video assist cart and a couple of banquettes, are the various departments working the shoot.

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And yet everybody makes do and seems to do well. Makeup and hair are moved from the front of the counter to the back to accommodate the sound boom, and onlookers who are only peripherally involved are given the boot into the street. But if there are chairs to be climbed over or if one’s view is blocked, well, that will have to be okay. The tight quarters do encourage a certain amount of friendliness.

"Settle down," Elizabeth calls out more than once. "No talking." Even the slightest bit of idle chatter resounds, and this muffin shop is a place of business.

"Quiet please, we’re rehearsing," she calls and the room goes very quiet.

On "Action!" Shalom launches into the scene, and Leila moves easily from coffee pot to table to stove to display case and back to the table. I don’t have my script with me, and don’t know if, when she spells out the letters, "O-B-G-N-Y," it is scripted, an improvisation or a mistake, but it is funny.

On the next rehearsal she spells it right, that is she spells it "O-B-G-Y-N," which isn’t funny but also isn’t distracting. It is a minor point, and it doesn’t seem anyone is paying attention to it. The discussion is about other things, details about blocking and pace, which help camera stay in focus and on Leila’s motion around the room.

And then Elizabeth calls out, "Last looks, picture’s up," and Patrick calls out, "We’re going to picture," and everyone scrambles. And after the last bit of hair is adjusted and any lint removed from Shalom's costume and they’re all done and clear and the final "Quiet please" is heard, the slate comes out and a welcome sound is heard: "Apple 1 Scene 17 Take 1" and then a resounding clap.

There are no obvious mistakes in the first take, but it isn’t quite as energetic as the last rehearsal. And to my ear the line about the OB/GYN is funnier when she misspells it, which she doesn’t do on this take.

It turns out Jon thinks so, too. He asks Shalom from this point forward to misspell, and he nails the reason why it’s funnier: It is her pause, as if she’s trying to figure out how to spell it correctly, not because she's dumb but because she’s na´ve. It is discordant and yet keeps her in character. "When she fishes for it and gets it wrong," he says, "that’s funny."

That’s Shalom as Leila being funny.

They do two more takes and each has its high points. There are some inconsistencies in the way the scene is replayed, but Jenna, the continuity person, says they will not present any problems.

"Checking the gate," the camera assistant calls out. I can't see it, but I know that the camera is being opened and the gate, a finely-crafted track through which the film is transported past the lens, is being inspected. The danger is that a piece of hair or other detritus got caught in the gate. If something  is found there it is assumed to have scratched the film, and another take is done to insure there is a clean, usable visual.

"Gate is good," the assistant chimes, and Elizabeth’s face beams. "It’s a good gate!" she says happily and emphatically.

"First shot, just 3 takes," Jon says with a smile. "Eddy’s got to be happy."

Eddy smiles at that. He is happy, to be started and under way, but he’d prefer it was earlier in the day. In fact, Eddy’s job is such that he would almost always prefer that it were yesterday.

If only. 

  Mail the Cherry Web ManPeter Kreutzer  

 

Tuesday

 

(c) 1998 Peter M. Kreutzer