My last entry, documenting for posterity the first day of shooting, was well received by the members of the cast and crew. In other words, I managed to not offend anybody, which probably just means that I should try harder.
In a sense, I'm doing this as a semi-surrogate journal for Oren Kaplan, since he hasn't had time to do any sort of journaling himself.
When you watch the making-of videos for a movie, there's always the love section. Everybody tries to tell the viewers all of the nice things about the cast and crew, glossing over any applicable fights and annoying characteristics, and generally why they love the person they had an argument with about 3 hours prior. Even the actors who didn't want to be there but were contractually obligated to be there loved absolutely everybody. In one of the Kevin Smith DVD's they actually had a heart bouncing around the screen during this part.
Well, Oren, as a director, is quite pleasant to work with, to a fault. Oren was informed that he's not assertive enough, which could be said is true. Oren realizes that most everybody is doing this for no real compensation, we're all doing it because we like Oren and would like to see the movie made. Well, except for me, who is mostly doing this so I can sneak pork into his dinner. ;) Dan the Man mentioned that if the director doesn't have enough of a vision, he can accidentally end up running the production. But, even though every request out of Oren is phrased as a request, not an order, Oren's got his vision and we all respect this.
I forgot to cover this yesterday, but Dan drives an original VW bug. New to the cast this time around was Dan's... err... little man, Chris Bautista, who happened to be taller than I, who was doing gaffer and grip duties.
I also forgot to mention in yesterday's entry that three of us were standing around while we were dealing with a battery problem. I ended up telling, or perhaps inflicting, a really really really wretched shaggy dog story.
I showed up a little late, again. I need to stop doing this, but it ends up that most everybody else shows up late as well, so nobody really notices. I thought that I would be having time to be a grip or gaffer or the like, but, in the end, I spent most of the shoot cooking. I cooked some insane number of eggs and an entire loaf of french (or perhaps liberty? ;) ) toast for breakfast. I made coffee and tea, to make sure that everybody was properly caffinated. I had my floppy chef's hat on.
Oren asked me in the morning, after showing me some of yesterday's dailies, if the adapter was worth using for the whole film. Since the shooting in the golf course was all flashback, we could keep it soft and move to not using the adapter for the rest of it. I talked it out with Oren and mentioned that I loved the soft focusing effect, but I had my reservations about how good of an idea it was, simply because it seemed like it was a real annoyance to work with. Oren eventually decided to keep using it.
While we were working on Saturday's filming, Oren's stepdad Shlomo was fixing up our manufactured wall, building the chalkboard, and otherwise helping construct stuff. He also raised up the wall panel a little bit so that the door would fit better. This continued on Sunday and was a great great help. He had a workshop behind the fake wall where he reconstructed the depth of field adapter so that it would work a little better than the original cardboard-and-duct-tape version, which made it more practical for Oren to use it.
Here's where I'm supposed to tell you that my little inconsequential role in the movie has got to be the most important thing for it, the secret weapon that Oren uses to make a movie. Everybody has to say these sort of things. But yeah, I did have some sort of important role in all of this. I was there with a cup of hot bouillon or coffee when folks came indoors from the cold outdoor photo shoot. I was there to stuff people with good food so they wouldn't think that they were getting the short end of the stick, either working for free or not that much money. I was cheaper than ordering out for even cheap foods like burgers or pizza, which helped the budget a lot. And the "real" productions are all professionally catered by a staff of people, so we were just making things be a little more professional and a little less random-nobody.
I got surprised looks when I'd bring folks their drinks on the set, but I'm figuring that little 2 minute trips to the kitchen could add up and mean that things took longer than they should be taking.
Oren, the little weasel, got his counters scoured twice. First, after cooking breakfast, I figured that it would be a good idea to make sure that I knew how clean the counters were or were not (some number of guys, none of them with culinary instincts, make your own conclusion ;) ), so I grabbed the can of Comet that I packed specifically for sanitation, cleaning, and scouring, and went at the kitchen counter. Then, later on, we needed to do a scene in the kitchen, so stuff got cleaned out again.
I was chiding Miss "Here comes J-lo" Dara, mistress of the makeup for not properly showing her female influence on the apartment. There wasn't much in terms of cooking hardware available for me to work with. I thought enough to bring my own broiler pan, skillet, and a bunch of other random stuff, but I forgot stuff still. They don't have a can opener, for example. At least she had put fabric on top of her plastic furniture items in her room. I brought some of my stuff because I'm just so used to the gear I've got, which is a definate sign that I'm often too hardcore about my cooking, but also because there just wasn't the right sort of stuff there. They had mostly nonstick pans, which wouldn't hold up for my chicken recipes, so I was happy to have brought my own gear. Worst part? No can opener!
One makeup concept that I've been using for my personal amusement is pores. Ever since I saw a pore-minimizer product, I have been fascinated with those pore things. So I'd call Dara, mistress of the makeup, over and tell her that Sam's pores were showing. She threatened to hurt me when I started arranging her hair the same way she was arranging the actor's hair.
Funny bit of acting by John Jamieson: He did a drop-dead funny bit where he was clucking like a chicken and then acted like a chicken that had just discovered that its brother was skinned, plucked, seasoned, and sitting on the kitchen counter.
Again, John was great. He goes from pleasant, affable guy to an evil father, in a matter of seconds. Very cooperative and very good about not screwing up his lines.
I made sure that my food rocked folks' worlds to compensate for the astonishing lack of loyalty to their chef that they displayed on Saturday, preferring Sandy's cookies to my wonderful muffins. Ugh. What a lot of ungrateful wretches, liking Sandy's cookies. (Note to Sandy: I'm only kidding ;) )
After my sleeping in the corner the previous day, I started to refer to that area of the set as "my corner". When people would yawn, I'd tell them that they could sleep in my corner if they wanted to.
Over the course of the day, I served up 3 pots of coffee that looked as if it was strong enough to be eaten with a fork and spoon (just the way that Sam "Any coffee is good, as long as it's coffee" Child likes it), 3 pots of Indian tea, 2 packages of turkey sausage, a head of cabbage, 1 cup of chicken broth, and 3 chickens. Just to give random figures on the staples I remember. I did manage to prepare too much food.
Ari Zagaris, who played Shinui-Chaim, was new to our set on Sunday. Ari's a trip. He apparently was involved in a movie that sounds like it's going to be an absolute blast. They eventually settled on giving him a hat that made him look like a Jewish Rabbi, which was the point, given that he was supposed to be a born again Jew. He improvised bizarre lines on the spot. One of the examples that I remember was he commented that Matzo goes straight to his legs.
The best part of this was when he and Sam were doing their scene together. Sam wines about not wanting to change. A bunch of us were silently mocking the scene in the other room while they are shooting, mouthing the words. And then Ari makes some sort of comment about doing something to "your mother". We were all dying with laughter after that take.
They had to carefully select the right pieces of groceries to put in Sam's hands for one scene, so that it would look like groceries. Some of the ingredients I was using would get borrowed for this sort of thing so that the bags of groceries would look right.
We had to force Oren to eat. If I remember correctly, Jennifer, first assistant director (Or perhaps Dara, neither Oren nor I actually remember) was the one who grabbed some food and made Oren eat, because, as all of us creative folk go, it's a burden to need to eat while in the creative mode.
The one thing that sucked was I wasn't able to inflict my deserts on the crew. But then again, there's this weekend's shooting. Overall, we got less shooting done than we were supposed to, so we have to take up another shooting day over the weekend.
**Update:**In a true blogsphere cliche (which I actively try to avoid as much as possible) here's a backlink to Sandy's weblog, where she also writes about this experience.