Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

May 04 2003

It’s been a busy weekend, and it ain’t over yet. W…

It’s been a busy weekend, and it ain’t over yet. We met on Friday night at the antique shop for shooting. I was the first one there, fortunately, so there weren’t strangers just wandering in and setting up. The old guy who runs the place was in his chair and seemed fine with everything, while his daughter and his caregiver were watching TV. Da Shan showed up with a whole range of professional lighting in a rented van, and we set up the lighting in the front of the shop while the family ate in the back. Dean and our shop owner actor arrived. The actor, a man in his 70’s, was very excited to be a part of this thing even though his last and only experience was on stage five decades ago. This, however, didn’t deter him from offering all kinds of advice on how to say lines, etc. During the first setup, while the family was eating behind the camera, Dean would come in and say his line, which was “Hey old man!” in Chinese, and every time he did this, unbeknownst to me, the old man at the table would turn around, thinking Dean was talking to him. Da Shan’s lighting was very nice, though, and really brought out the atmosphere of the place. I stayed behind after everyone else to get some close-ups.

The next day, Saturday, we met at Starbucks at 11 a.m., and then proceeded to the Yongjing Temple in Jinxi Street. The temple groundskeeper (I think that’s what he was) was very nice and offered us tea and food while we were shooting. I kind of wish I could include more of that place; it’s really quite striking, but I’m glad we could avail ourselves of the exterior and doors, anyway. Maurice and Dean went through their lines with no problem, Tall Paul aka Norman Szabo held the boom and helped with tracking, and we were done just after 1:00 pm.

After an extremely filling lunch at a Greek cafe, we went back to Dean’s place to prepare for the night market scene. I was a bit worried about this one since I didn’t know exactly which part of the market we would be using. It turned out ok, though, as we found a stretch near a Dou-hua stand that turned out to be relatively uncrowded. I walked backwards in front of Dean and Dolly, holding the camera, with Maurice behind me holding the boom mic over my head and watching for traffic. I couldn’t see, but apparently we came pretty close to hitting things a couple of times. It took several takes, and it might still take some looping, but I think we got it. I will have to go back with Dean some other time for the shots with just him, though. Dolly was excellent. She really is a good actor. All of my actors are good actors; I’m very lucky in this respect.

During the night market shoot, despite the fact that I was filming Dean in a tux and Dolly in a chipao exchanging what will hopefully pass as witty banter, many of the onlookers thought we were doing a SARS news piece. “Taiwan doesn’t have SARS!” they shouted as we passed. Amazing.

We retired to Dean’s pad to drink vodka mixers and watch an Austin Powers movie. I was exhausted, but I needed to come down a bit after shooting. Today I met with some potential actors for the car chase sequence, one of which, Vincent, is actually a producer. It turns out we have many mutual acquaintences in the business here. His girlfriend even works for Ogilvy (no, I don’t think she’s one of the Vampires). One of our problems for the car chase is that one of the days we’re shooting it is Mother’s Day, and all of our hoodlums want to spend the day in a very un-hoodlum-like fashion, i.e. with their mothers. So I suppose we’ll have to shoot their scenes on Saturday somehow.

Tonight we took a very nice car over to CKS hall to shoot there. Maurice’s scooter provided the lights, aided by Da Shan’s wax paper for a filter. All of my worrying about the mall security was for nothing, as they paid absolutely no attention to us, even though at one point we had two large lights set up and a whole crew there. I even went up to the top of the stairs to ask some guy practicing dancing to rap music to shut up so we could film. Now and then a police guy on a scooter would zoom through the square, but they didn’t even look at us. It was amazing. In New York you need a permit to catch a sneeze on film, but here it seems you can get away with filming anywhere. Maybe we should base part of the movie in the presidential office tower, just to see if we can.

Everything went so smoothly we were out of there by 10:30pm. I’m still a bit excited, though. Whenever things go that smoothly I think I must be doing something wrong, or not doing enough. I heard once a theory that procrastinators put everything off until the last minute because they feel they need a challenge. Eh. As long as if works on the big screen, or even the little one, it should be fine. So far the footage has turned out beautifully. If I can put it together correctly, it’s going to be a very nice piece. When I’m capturing footage, however, I keep getting a “Your disk is too slow” error messages. Anyone know what that’s all about? Is my hard drive too slow? Damn, I just need a Mac, I do.

I also need a weekend. Unfortunately, tomorrow’s Monday, back-to-work day, fill-your-stomach-with-your-day-job day. Can’t say I didn’t have a fun weekend, though.

posted by Poagao at 3:10 pm  

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