We were working in our lead character’s bedroom today shooting many journal-writing and praying scenes (among other scenes as well). Yesterday we also shot in her bedroom but all day interior scenes. Today was pretty much all night scenes, with the exception of one day scene we started off with. For the most part, we stuck to the same lighting setup but changed the lenses and dolly moves for each scene. Here are a couple of shots:
Okay, so only those of you that know the song will know how to sing the title of this post. Among the many scenes we shot today, we shot a few segments for a montage that will be in the film. I really liked what we got. I think because there is no dialogue to worry about and I knew this would be a montage, the shots came out a little more stylized than others. Here are a few shots plus a bonus video clip because I couldn’t find a good still frame that showed the shot well enough.
So day 7 of the Uphill Battle shoot was a series of flashback sequences. I wanted to make sure they looked different enough from the rest of the film so I took everything about the scenes we’ve been shooting so far and flipped them to their opposites—or at least changed it. Seemingly obvious, but effective :)
For example, all shots have been on locked off on sticks or on a dolly; so handheld we went. The lighting and contrast ratio has been pretty natural; so I went with higher contrast. Color saturation has also been pretty natural but black and white for these flashbacks seemed wrong; so I went somewhere in between and desaturated the colors. Also, we have been lighting scenes to be as natural as possible but still look pretty. For these flashbacks, I tried to make the lighting as imperfect as possible without looking totally ugly. That’s a difficult task for me since I always want to make things pretty. I’m not sure if I accomplished that because, I’m looking at the shots and… they still look pretty… in a natural way… hmmm.Read More
My oldest son with the slate.
(Do It Yourself Director of Photography Assistant Camera Digital Imaging Technician Assistant Director)
Saturday was not an originally scheduled shoot day but was a backup day to be used as a contingency in case we were falling behind. A lot of the crew must have had other commitments, though, so it became a sort of Do-It-Yourself kind of day.
Fortunately, I still had my gaffer and key grip—awesomely referred to as “E-squared.” All I need to do when I need them is yell out “E-squared!” and they come running, without fail. Yeah, they rule. We did lose our 1st, 2nd and 3rd ADs, set photographer and my camera assistant. We also lost our hair and makeup artist, but she found a replacement. There were also less people on set in general. Oddly, the day was actually more chill than any previous day. Still trying to figure out why. I think maybe because we had less to shoot—which certainly helped.Read More
Split days are when you start later in the day so you can work into the night. This is usually done so that night exterior shots can be done along with whatever else might be scheduled during the day. Today we were shooting all night interior and exterior scenes. We, of course, couldn’t shoot outside until it actually got dark. Here in Utah at this time of the year, it doesn’t get dark until about 8:30pm or so. While we were shooting the last few shots inside the house, my key grip and gaffer were working on lighting the street outside the front door according to what we had talked about. They got the 1200 HMI lighting the house(s) across the street, another HMI bouncing into a 4×8 foamcore for fill and another tungsten unit across the street acting as a rim light to supplement the street light outside.Read More
Never-ending lawnmowers and edge trimmer noise from neighbors along with random birds and, of course, airplanes and drive-bys… shooting outside is always a challenge. Competing and working with the moving sun as your main light source is always a challenge—especially on a budget. After a full day of exterior shooting, we had a backyard party scene that was a bit of chaos but we managed to get all the scenes we needed, even some that the director didn’t think we’d have time to do before we lost the sun. It was fun—a bit chaotic and tiring—and I even got to wear my Indiana Jones fedora hat all day!
Making movies is fun :)
Today we had over 13 pages to shoot but didn’t quite make it in our 12-hour time frame. I think we could’ve gotten our day if we were able to go a little longer. It just means we have to shoot on Saturday, which is what I was planning on anyway. No biggie. We finally got our video village situation sorted out. By mid-morning, we had a 20-some inch monitor for the director to watch. It was so much nicer and easier, I’m sure, for her.
On the Day 1 post, I mentioned how there were no f-stops on the Nikon lenses so you have to jimmy-rig a system to “know” what f-stop you’re at. On the YouTube video tutorial of the Nikon mount (starting at about 3:30), they go through a process of how to mark one-stop intervals on the Red’s histogram chart on the monitor. It consists of a piece of tape and some pen markings. Here’s a photo of mine, although I think I could’ve done a more thorough version, but it suffices. It really is a pain, but at least it’s something.Read More
The weather wasn’t so bad today but we were inside anyway. Although, I never really stepped outside during the whole shoot so maybe my key grip and gaffer had to deal with some elements that they didn’t tell me about. The shoot went pretty well today. I like my key grip, Evan Brown, because he just LOVES laying down dolly track so I’m never hesitant to come up with dolly moves—unless the schedule doesn’t permit it. My gaffer, Ephraim Smith, is great to work with as well. I tend to want to do things in a way that would be easiest for my tiny crew, but he’s up for (and encourages) any challenge that I can give him.Read More
Day 1 of Uphill Battle is done. Despite being rained out of our exterior shots, we managed to get a good day in. Shooting on the Red One MX with a video village system that wasn’t working so the director had to watch our little camera monitor the whole day. Problem should be resolved tomorrow. Skeleton crew, super low budget, pulling focus myself for the most part. Shooting with Nikon still lenses because we couldn’t get the Zeiss primes I wanted. Hate it. Focus marks never stay put on the follow focus ring. Pointless to get marks. My ENG/documentary experience comes in handy right about now. Also, no f-stops. Have to make educated guesses for stops. Fun times! But, it was a good day and working with great people. Glad to be on the project!
Here are a few frames from today’s shoot: