So we are 2 days into production on The Good Soldier and everything is going well. Not that I am entirely sure what it is really supposed to feel like because I would not consider myself an expert on film production shoots, but by the accounts of the cast and crew people seem to be pleased with our progress. Apparently I’ve done a good job in getting my shit together and being somewhat organized in terms of pre-production. Sustaining that organization through production has been the primary role of our script supervisor, Lisa, also my wife. I knew she would do great at that.
Driving to the film shoot early Saturday morning I remember thinking: by the end of the day I’m going to know what it feels like to shoot a movie.
That morning we started off pretty slow. At the outset we had forgotten a couple of important items that we had to make special trips for and there was some time spent in just gearing up and establishing the scene. It was a good idea to just work with the main character on the first day, and we made good progress. Still, we were somewhat behind schedule – based on my overly ambitious shooting schedule. It was really my fault for beefing it up so much. But in retrospect there were no major screw-ups and we made it from shot to shot quite nicely. By days end I was completely and utterly spent. I clearly had not anticipated the physical and mental stamina required in maintaining the constant attention to the camera, the lens, the shot, the scene, the acting, the continuity, the pace, the script, and all the technical aspects of lighting, sound, and props. It was a groundswell of information to process.
It wasn’t until arriving home late Saturday night that I was really able to reconsider what I’d done. I realized there were shots I missed and shots I wanted to change – but overall I felt satisfied with the process thus far.
I want to share some things, outside of this basic documenting of what happened for those thinking about filming their own movie and for those that just want to know what it feels like. The concept of making a movie is glamorized and romanticized. So many times the daily work that goes into making a movie is filtered out almost as if the movie goes from idea, to story, to film, to theater. As simple as that. But what happens on a set is that each person has a specific role and everyone is reliant on each other to get the job done. So in that sense it feels like work. You’re setting up heavy and oftentimes cumbersome equipment, positioning lights, moving props around, making sure each thing is consistent from shot to shot and scene to scene. Then you’re working with the actors to make sure they know what their moves, lines and emotions are. All this might happen in the course of fifteen minutes then you move a bunch of stuff around and do it again, and again, and then again. And all the while there is a constant attention to two major things: exposure and focus. Is the light level correct for black and white film? Is the action in focus?
It didn’t feel glamorous. It didn’t feel romantic. At least, not on the surface. But then again….I have to be honest. I have loved every single second of it. It’s everything I’d hoped and thought it would be. Now I know this is why people want to make films.
Sunday, today, felt easier than yesterday. We got started faster. We bounced from scene to scene and even picked up a couple of extra shots that will tie things together better. We had some big scenes today – shot a lot of film. I’m blazing through these 50 ft rolls. I’ve shot 21 rolls so far.
At one point I had a sinking feeling that we just were not going to finish based on the schedule I created. It was just too much for two days. So I began to get a little overwhelmed with the amount we have remaining to shoot. And though we were planning to shoot on Monday evening in Norman I hadn’t thought of another time to shoot the scenes we’d missed. But then there was some discussion and someone asked, “Well, what are you doing tomorrow?” Before I knew it people were volunteering to shoot during the day on Monday in order to catch up. So it looks like we are continuing the shoot as a make-up day tomorrow.
Tomorrow will be a FULL day of shooting but I am anxious to get going.
There are tons of pictures from the shoot and some video to share but it will have to wait until there is time to mess with all of that.