SHOOT A SCENE
was for EvenHand to be in production by October/November, but that
was a bit overly ambitious. We have two Cherry
screenings and two festivals
to attend in the next couple of months (not to mention the
Millennium). Our current, more realistic schedule calls for
pre-production to begin in late November for production in
mid-January. This will be preceded by a scout to Texas to
visit the three or four most likely cities for our location shoot.
The most interesting EvenHand news is that we shot
four scenes last week in upstate New York. The sequence was
about ten pages from the middle of the script -- a great series of
scenes in which Francis and Morning respond to a call for a man
with a gun. The man, Winston, turns out to be a retired cop
who is going a bit nutty. His adult children have finally
convinced their mother that it's time for him to go into a home or
hospital, but he has become increasingly irrational and they
reluctantly call the cops to help get him out of the house (the
script pages were recently posted on this site, but removed at the
request of the screenwriter).
Morning adjusts his spotlight
We shot the Winston scenes on digital video, a first for me.
We are thinking about filming the entire script on digital and
consider this a test of the medium. The primary purpose of
this little shoot, though, was to have a promotional short to help
raise additional funds and attract interest from talent.
After two days of filming with a crew of four and a cast of
five, I have to say that I am a big fan of digital. We shot
ten pages in twelve hours (14 camera set-ups spread over two
days), which would be impossible on a 35mm shoot -- there are too
many people on set and too much stuff in the way to work that
fast. On our best Cherry days we managed 3 1/2 or 4
pages a day. When you can move one light a little and do
your next set-up within five minutes of the last, the day goes a
great deal faster. And, most importantly, your actors
don't lose the emotional intensity or forget the blocking.
Even the ability to view the dailies the next morning (hook the
camera up to the prop TV and hit "play") made it
possible to recognize that we were missing a shot and get the shot
at the beginning of the next day without a huge hassle.
Tape stock is incredibly cheap, too (unlike film) -- and
there's no lab processing. This means that you can shoot the
rehearsals, allowing for the spontaneity that you sometimes get
on the first take.
Now, I haven't yet edited the material into a series of scenes,
so the process isn't entirely completed, but I have seen the
footage and it looks good, and I have enough experience in the
editing room to know that it will cut together pretty well.
The shoot itself was different in character from anything I
have experienced on a 35mm film set. There were only twelve
of us, including Sgt. Shetsky, who stayed with the police cruiser
that the Hudson NY Police Department kindly lent us. We all
ate dinner together, sitting around one table, instead of the six
tables typical of a meal on a film set. This meant that
there was no director's table, no grip table, no actor table, no
prop dept. table; there was no sense of hierarchy or status.
One of the actors and an intern cooked dinner; the Sergeant and I
After fifteen years working exclusively on 35mm
film, I am ready for the digital revolution.
Francis, Winston & Morning manhandle the director
- Joseph Pierson
A Learning Experience
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