Seattle + Family Portrait

September 11th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Zach here. Bright and way too early Tuesday morning, Luc and I rode the bus up to Seattle to shoot a scene starring Julia that she could use in her reel.

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It was a fun exercise for me to shoot something in a “conventional” way after having spent so much time riding the boring-ass-artsy-long-take wagon. The scene itself was also fun. Somehow we finished it all in an unexpectedly smooth and brief manner. Wrap-party around a peach cobbler.

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I stuck around for the night and spent the next day shooting an installation piece for my friend Vicci that centered around some large papier-mâché heads she had crafted. Julia came around to return the boom pole I’d left at her house and to drop off a file to be included in her reel. When it was time to go she gave me the good old goofy “well shoot, I hope I see you again someday” goodbye. It’s weird to be exchanging such long term see-you-laters with these people with whom I’ve been sharing this project for the past several months.  Which brings us to today’s reflection.

When we first met with Julia, it was because our friend Lucy (as seen in the fundraising trailer) had dropped out due to a too-busy work schedule. We decided she seemed right for the part, when all of the sudden Lucy changed her mind on us and asked to rejoin the team. This created an uncomfortable situation. We were upfront with both of them by admitting that we were seeing someone else, and asked for a week’s deliberation. On the day that the principal cast was made official, we took this photograph for the blog and yet somehow never got around to posting it. I think it’s nice.

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The Dusty Track

September 6th, 2009 § 0 comments § permalink

Zach here. I just uploaded a new video to our YouTube Channel. It’s a clip of us testing out something known as “the Dusty track”. Here’s the back-story:

One day, early on in production, Nandan, Dusty, and I were lounging around watching one of my favorite no-brainer popcorn flicks: Antonioni’s The Passenger. Naturally, we got to talking about that famous penultimate shot (you know the one) and how it was done. I figured it was just a steadicam or maybe a dolly and the only tricky part was splitting apart the bars in the window once the camera was close enough. We looked it up. So much more complicated. Apparently there were all kinds of complex gyroscopic devices involved, and the camera was actually transferred mid-shot from dolly to crane via a mounted hook. Antonioni directed the scene by radio from a van with multiple video monitors.

Dusty’s mouth was watering. He started speculating about all of the complex trick shots that we could rig up. Later that afternoon we were scheduled to shoot the backseat makeout scene, so we joked about the idea of the camera starting outside the car, moving in through one window, tracking across the backseat, and exiting through the opposite window. I explained that the camera moves one time throughout the entire movie – it doesn’t even pan – so such a showy shot would look ridiculously out of place. Dusty was bummed. Sympathetically, I offered him a generous budget of $30 to let him design whatever shot he wanted. We would shoot it, and whether or not it remained part of the movie would be determined later on.

Three weeks later, the Dusty track had been perfected. It was a drill-powered (seriously, drill-powered), camera-mountable, 20-foot-long 2×6 covered with all sorts of screws, pulleys, ribbons, and other things I don’t understand. It was designed to sit across the open windows of my car to track in one side and out the other. We’d been watching the thing grow slowly the entire time. An earlier, undeveloped prototype had come along on our Oregon road trip. I remember being parked on the side of a deserted rural road to shoot a breakdown scene and seeing Dusty making adjustments to it the entire time. Then there was the day we were unable to shoot our scheduled scene for some reason or another and tried to shoot Dusty’s shot instead only to find that the thing still wasn’t ready. Here’s the only image I could find of the track, taken by Rob on that same day:
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The track didn’t ever work until the gray, drizzly day that Dusty left. But it worked great. To all of our regret, it was never used for the movie, but we shot some test footage, which is now up on YouTube.

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