Woke at the crack of dawn filled with nervous energy, and roused the crew. After a delicious continental breakfast we headed out in a fog lifted directly from a Tarkovsky movie. I couldn’t use it, otherwise I would have started shooting there in the hotel parking lot. This was the start of a theme for this shoot; remember this for next time. I now know that in late summer/early fall there can be a lot of fog in the mornings in Point Pleasant, WV. Mark that down.
We set up the few interior shots first, taking over my dad’s house and sometimes forcing him to stand across the street with the dogs to keep them out of the shot. The house is so small that there was nowhere for my dad and step mom to hang out that would have been out of the shot. It didn’t help that I was shooting wide shots that would play with the claustrophobic nature of the space. In all I really liked the beginning of the shoot. I did make myself pick up the pace at one point, though in the end time was never an issue.
Break for lunch and start shooting exteriors in some of the most beautiful weather I’ve seen in the area, then drive to another location and shoot more walking shots. Do it again. Do it again. Until the final shot at the river.
Without spoiling the movie, the final shot is the money shot and without it the piece doesn’t work. I knew this and planned on ending both shooting days with a take. This eventually morphed into it being shot at sunset, which made for a beautiful shot. It’s fun to have this pressure packed moment and have no control. Boats come into the shot, motorcycles zoom by, fishermen are jabbering… all we need is quiet. I like it especially when it works.
I learned so much from this day. I am planning on shooting another movie in the area this February, so part of this film was a location scout for the next one. I also felt like my I let my energy get too low. I know that directing a film can be an exhausting task, but I could see my concentration slipping as I got more and more tired. Roger Corman said
…prioritize your shots; rehearse while the crew is lighting the set; chase the sun; use foreground objects to enliven a dialogue scene; bring in movement to stimulate the eye; wear comfortable shoes; and sit down a lot.
I put the last part in bold because I was doing neither and it would have helped me stay more alert.
So much of it was a learning experience, more so than my film school shoots, that I can’t wait to get on to day two and to the next film, and the next film, and the next film…