Brackish Waters Filming

Lights, camera, and missing pants (Brackish Waters Film Post #4)

Filming happened on Sunday out at the home of the director of Brackish Waters (Shelly Curtain). I had been invited along, not to act today, but to come as a writer. She wanted me to meet the other actors of the film, and to blog about the process in a day of filming. I opted to give a little blow by blow of the day so that those of you who have never worked in film get a sense of how a film project might be. 🙂

2:10 PM Despite my best intentions to be on time for filming on Sunday, I was early. By a full 20 minutes.  Oh well, I’d rather be 20 minutes early than 5 minutes late.

The cast began showing, in makeup, around 2:40. They had been off site at Linda Gibbons-Bets salon getting their hair and makeup done. As soon as they arrived they began to feast upon the proffered cookies and coffee (actors do love to eat.) While I sat in the kitchen, the six actors in the day’s shoot proceeded to get into costume. With only one bathroom and a schedule to keep, the cast did what casts do. They drop trou and get into costume wherever they stand. Modesty isn’t something afforded when you’re an actor. It only takes one 30 second full costume change backstage to get over that shyness.

Once the cast was assembled under one roof it was time to hurry up and wait. Costumes needed tweaking, lights needed adjusting and lines needed to be rehearsed.

Tony Rolfe, Hoyt Hutchins, Nolan Ellsworth, Dena Sozio, and Cora Hutchins

3:02 The coffee pot is done, making a few of the younger cast members happy. The crew is still futzing around, while the actors are still in the kitchen downing food (in costume…gasp!) That had my theatre training up in arms, but this is not the theatre. And I am not the costume mistress. I will bite my tongue.

3:20  A quick line run through before going onto the set. While the actors ran their lines, the extras were excused to grab some lunch. Guess the cookies and donuts weren’t enough.

While they run lines, the photographer (Dena Sozio) goes through the shots she took of the actors in costume.

3:40 The actors came back with their chicken making the entire set smell like a KFC. (Now I want mashed potato and gravy. Mmmm)

3:43  A full hour past call time and we are about ready to rock. I tucked myself into a corner of the room where we’d be filming along with the sound operator and photographer.

Asha Kirkland ran the sound today so Cora Hutchins (the normal sound op) could play an extra, Nolan Ellsworth ran the clapboard so Hoyt Hutchins could perform his role and here’s Dena with her trusty camera.

3:55 pm Actors are in place. Lights are up. Camera in position. Sound/clapboard ready to rock…Wait, hold the phone. There is a second table in the shot. That means it needs to be set.

4:04 First take of the day. (2 pages in this scene to film)

4:08  Take two

4:13 Take 3

4:17  Starting to get a rumbly tumbly of my very own…Hope it doesn’t pick up on the boom mic a few feet away from me.

4:22 Take 5

4:28 Take 6 That’s a wrap…For that angle. Now they need to set up to do the same shot but from a different position so that when it’s edited together by Tim Pugliese (who also plays Darius and is the film’s co-producer) the action is broken up by multiple angles.

The extras are being sent home as they won’t be in this shot.

While we were breaking I went to sneak one of the cookies to calm the hunger monster but alas, they had all been eaten. Sad panda.

4:39 Take One (Same scene new angle) Boom. Nailed it in one take. Ta da!

4:44 Prepping for the next scene. Lights rearranged, camera reset. New actors coming in.

More food that isn’t mine is being consumed by those around me. Hungry Panda.

Ah poo. Our daylight fell. Not the sun in the sky. That’s still where it’s supposed to be. But the filter that was attached to the window to dull the intenseness of said sun, slipped and fell to the floor. Luckily, it fell after a take but it does mean a few minutes to retape it back up.

I opt to go out in the kitchen to stretch my legs…I look out side and see one of the actors is getting a haircut. But of course. His hair had grown since the last time they shot. Consistency is key in film. Thank goodness Seamstress Shari John was on site with her trusty scissors!

4:58 I FOUND 2 COOKIES!!!!! All is well with the world again.

5:00 Ready to rock again.

5:02 Well, almost ready to rock…resetting

Director/producer Shelly Curtain giving Tony Rolfe, Tim Pugliese and Cora Hutchins some notes before filming

5:07 Take 1

5:09 Boom. That take was in the bag. Resetting to Winter! We’re cruising now! Or we will be once we turn the summer set into a winter one. A few set pieces get moved around, lights adjusted… and then, while things are being set up, the entire cast/crew (not me-cause I don’t sing) breaks out into A Whole New World from Dinsey’s Aladdin. Naturally. Theatre (and apparently film) peeps are cool.

5:14 The room gets oddly quiet as we hear from the kitchen: “Shelly where are my pants?”

5:19 Pants have been located by the actor (and put on in the middle of the kitchen) as we do a quick line through before filming begins. There are four pages to this scene.

5:26 Take one

5:28 Take two. While it sounded/looked good from my viewpoint the actor was not in shot.

5:30: Regluing one of the actor’s mustaches. (It keeps coming off because Tim enjoys delivering really BAD puns. A few are so bad you can’t help but chuckle. One side effect is that it also loosens Spirit Gum…(the glue used to hold on fake mustaches)

5:37 Take four (I’m not sure where take 3 went. I missed it!)

5:45 Take 6 (Take 5 was full of off camera sneezes) The mic they are using is good. It picks up EVERYTHING though. Even that sneeze from the assumed safety of being outside.

aaaaaand we just discovered that the 6 takes we just filmed have to be scrapped. There was a light tree in the way. This one:

Naughty light!

5:46 Take one-again.

It’s an emotional scene with lots of lines. It must be hard to stay focused with so many people watching you. Toss in the fact that you have to also make sure you’re in the shot and don’t hit any of the things around you…I’m glad I wasn’t filming today. Lots of pressure. The actors did well to stay on task.

5:55 Take 9 winner, winner chicken dinner. That one was a good one!

We now need a close up on the actor delivering his emotional monologue but before we do that…

6:01 We pause for a few posed photos before the photographer needs to leave for the night.

6:12 Take one of the close-up.

6:15 Take 2 (stash fell off)

Stay on stash! He needs to get ready for his close-up!

6:16 Take 3

6:21 The last shot of the day needs to be done before we call it a wrap. My hunger has mercifully wained itself into submission. The director blocks out the scene, which has to be done in a small space so they run it a few times to get the feel of it.

6:30 Take one-The cast is getting a little punchy. It’s been a long afternoon.

6:33 Take 2- Good except the end of the scene the actors got out of the shot. Movement is soooo limited in film. You can only move as far as the stationary camera goes. (We don’t have one of those mounted camera do-hickeys)

6:35 Take 3-Action tweaking. A few acting notes.

6:38 Take 4- almost there…

And one of the actor’s suspender’s snapped. Whoops.

6:43 Take 5- And that did it.

And that’s a wrap! For that day anyway!

With the announcement that we were free to go, my hunger came back a new, so I gathered my things and walked out through the kitchen to get to my car, passing a few of the actors in a mid-costume change in their underwear.


Until next time…


Danielle Bannister, Author, and behind-the-scenes-secret-spiller





2 thoughts on “Lights, camera, and missing pants (Brackish Waters Film Post #4)”

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