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Saturday, we were shooting on a road out in the boonies that the producer found where we could shoot a scene that was a bit more complicated than any other scene in the movie. He told us that “nobody EVER comes out here.” Well, maybe on any day except this one. Hahaha. It still makes me laugh as I’m writing this. To his defense, there’s no way he could’ve known—at least in the timetable we had to find a location and shoot.

So after finally finding the location, we did a quick scout of the road. Three or four trucks drove by in our two minutes out on the road. As the rest of the crew showed up, we figured all would be well—a couple of passers by we could deal with. While we’re setting up the camera rig on the pickup truck, a couple of random cars came by into the parking lot we had setup as base camp (it was an old military camp cemetery). Okay, no big deal. We think, “Nobody ever comes out here, huh?”  Little chuckles. (more…)

On Thursday, our “day” started at 6pm and we ended up wrapping around 4:30am—not bad, actually, considering we couldn’t start shooting until 7:30 at our first location and we even had to do a company move at midnight. Regardless, after midnight, there was a lot of napping and yawning going on by the crew. Not by be, of course. Well, maybe a little bit of yawning. LOL

Our first location was a bike shop. We got there at 6pm but couldn’t shoot until the store closed at 7:30. Even then, we couldn’t really shoot until the last customer left the store. In the meantime, we prepared for the first shot which was looking out the windows at the front entrance. Everything was fine; we had our 1200W HMI setup inside for fill through our 4×4 216 frame, the outside was perfectly overexposed and balanced well with our fill. Sunset was at 8:30 so we had until then to get the shot. So I thought. Then our light started going away… FAST. A huge dark cloud decided to roll through our sunlight. I told everyone we have to go NOW or else this is going to be a night scene. We scrambled to get our three shots before we lost all the light. With each take, the light outside got darker and darker until it was almost too late. We got the last shot off before it became unacceptably dark to pass off as a day scene. This is the last shot before it went away. I suppose it still looks good, as long as you don’t compare it to the original setup, which we never got a take of. The fill light ended up being the key light.  Oh well—it still works :) (more…)

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:

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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.

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Our first shot of the day was the opening shot of the film. Notice Evan’s fine dolly-leveling skillz. I just ask for it and it happens. Thanks, Evan!

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. (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. (more…)