Almost immediately it starts raining. Welcome to Seattle.
The dock we’re on is maybe 5 feet wide. There are no posts securing it in the corners–just a big post at the end–and the entire thing pivots on a line from the shore to the post like a big see-saw. So picture that dock and how, um, unstable that could be. Now, put a RED camera on it, along with six people, actor Paul Vitulli on a chair, sound equipment, and a monitor. In a misting rain.
Well, make that five people, as it took Eric the sound guy exactly 30 seconds to decide he’d be much better off just standing in the ankle-deep water. I’m not sure I blame him.
Luckily, it’s not a complicated scene, so we’re in and out (out and in?) pretty quickly. And most of that stuff discussed in the video? That whole discussion about match cuts? Tossed.
But isn’t that essentially what figuring out a scene is all about? You come up with the scene when you write it, and in your head it looks perfect, but your DP sees it differently in his head. Your actor too. And in order to get everyone on the same page, you go through the scene, beat by beat, trying to figure out the best, most efficient way to do it. Very often you’ll have 3 or 4 versions of that. Sometimes (rarely) you get it right the first time. But the important thing is the process, because it’s there that you really dig into the scene. The deeper you can dig, the richer the final product will be, even something as simple as a guy sitting on a dock at sunrise.
If you’re working a film like THE SUMMER HOME, where there’s fewer than 5 lines of dialogue, then it becomes even more important. There’s no exposition scene where Character A tells Character B something Really Important, so you really have to know not just what narrative points you’re trying to get across with a scene, but whether or not they’ll be noticed by the audience. Easier said than done.
For the rest of the day we’re pretty much in the bedroom. The location has a garage, which we’ve cleaned out to function as a staging area, so while the house is small, we’re able to at least move around more or less freely.
Plus, we’ve got a fiery Executive Producer who demands attention at every opportunity. Seriously, Falcor has more energy than the rest of the cast and crew combined.
It’s a long day, wrapping late in the night and the turnaround is short, which is far from ideal, but it’s the film everyone signed up for. And Wonder Russell brought lots of beer.
You can ask a crew to do a lot if you supply beer.
Filmmaker Lucas McNelly is spending a year on the road, volunteering on indie film projects around the country, documenting the process and the exploring the idea of a mobile creative professional. You can see more from A Year Without Rent at the webpage. His feature-length debut is now available to rent on VOD. Follow him on Twitter: @lmcnelly.