Challenge On Stage

In Notes From the Set by Rod SantianoLeave a Comment

I’m watching a rehearsal of JONAH AND THE GREAT FISH, a musical stage production of the well-known Bible story. The production is an unusual break from the norm for the production company that has already made eight other scripture-stories-turned-musical. This is the ninth installment of the LIKEN THE SCRIPTURES series. The first eight episodes were produced for direct-to-DVD sales. I was fortunate to be involved as DP for all of them. They’re different, but have a charm of their own that I’m proud to have been involved with.

Previously, all musical portions of the episodes were shot on sound stages and converted warehouses. I used to complain about those spaces in the past, but with the situation of this episode, I’m longing for the good ol’ days. For this episode, we are shooting on the actual stage that the stage production is being performed on. A stage that is small even for the stage production itself. I have the challenge of making it work on film (er… HD video) as well. We will be shooting during the days without an audience and actual performances with an audience will be happening at night.

The sets are amazing for a stage production and somewhat inline with the sets from previous episodes of Liken. The challenge will be space, time and lighting. We will have a CamMate jib, operated by Glenn Fisk, for four of the days and another camera on sticks and/or a dolly. I’m watching the rehearsals of some of the scenes tonight and realizing the true challenge this will be.

The director, Dennis Agle, and I have discussed embracing the fact that it is on a stage and not being shy about it. This will make things infinitely easier, but doesn’t solve all the problems. Things will have to be restaged for the film version and the stage lighting will be changed and altered considerably from what I’m looking at. I am going to try and use as much of the stage lighting as possible for time and money’s sake.

I have a few more nights of rehearsals to figure this all out before we start shooting on Saturday. My biggest concerns are the scenes in which our background is a simple white screen that will have light projected onto it as our “landscape.”

We’ll do the best we can…

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