Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Jan 10 2005


People would ask me, “How long do you think the warehouse scene going to take? It’s only cutaways, after all.” And I would say, “A long time,” for several reasons: 1. I’d never been there, 2. we needed to arrange and light it, and 3. there were lots of props. But even I didn’t think we’d need until 3 in the morning.

I set out at around 2 in the afternoon to meet Darrell at Taipei Main Station. I was running late due to a last-minute cleanup of lightbulb shards on my living room floor. Darrell and I missed each other at the subway station, as we were on completely different platforms. It was well after 3 by the time we made it to Xinpu Station in Banqiao, where Dean and Maurice were waiting. April was even later, as she was sick with a cold and loopy from the medicine.

We adjouned to Maurice’s rooftop abode, where we enjoyed a banquet of cheese, wine and bread as Maurice picked out his wardrobe. I probably drank a bit too much, considering I was directing.

We piled into a couple of taxis, everyone loaded down with props and other equipment, and arrived at the little electronics factory right around sunset. We squeezed through a labyrinth of doors and assembly lines to find the darkened stairway to the roof, three floors up. The upstairs felt as if nobody’d been there in years. Spooky.

The attic space was even smaller than it looked in the pictures, and littered with various old tv sets and the inevitable jogging machine. Fortunately there was a line of windows along one side that might suggest a larger space all around the main part of the set if I lit it right. After Paul showed up with the boom, mic and a couple of the lights, I decided to make the lights the ones the characters in the script were using, hiding them in plain sight, as it were. It seemed to work ok, and make the cramped space look a bit more roomy. Aluminum foil from a nearby 7-Eleven helped make the lights not shine everywhere we didn’t want them to.

After we set up all the wonderful props like the suitcase radio Dean made and the computer interfaces designed by Darrell and Dean, we got down to shooting. April was feeling really bad, so she went downstairs to sleep while we did everthing that didn’t require her there.

The shoot took a bit longer than expected, in part because Dean and I had differing ideas on some parts of the scene, and garbled communications had led to some false assumptions on both out parts. In the end we worked through it, though. Everyone did a great job in a tough situation. Darrell held the boom and got great sound. All the actors put a lot of effort into their performances, and I got some really good moments. It looks good, too, considering the space we had to work with.

Still, it took a while to get though everything. Dinnertime came and went; we were all munching on the cheese and bread Maurice had brought with him, and Darrell had some mouth-freshener strips that kept us going after midnight. At one point I needed a dolly, so Paul went downstairs and got a cart thing to use. It worked pretty well. April came up and went through her shots like a real trooper. Maurice turned in some really good stuff, and Dean provided volumes of material for the outtakes.

We wrapped up at around 3 a.m., a dismal time to be in Banqiao even in good weather, and the weather was miserable. Wearily we put everything back where it was, more or less, made sure we patched up the hole in the roof Dean had poked when trying to run wires over the support beam, and made out way back down to the street level. From there we all went our seperate ways, Dean back to the city, Paul and April to Paul’s car, Maurice to his house, and Darrell and I in a cab back to Jingmei and Xindian.

It’s good to be shooting again, and I think it’s going to look great, but that was a difficult shoot considering how quickly it’s going to go on screen.

As for what’s next: we could do the conference room scene at Zheng-da, or the control room scene if I can find a proper control room that’s available on weekends (that’s the only time the two actors we need are available). We’re still looking for a museum-like setting for April’s big screen entrance.

Sean Scanlon wrote and asked me if the movie would be done by Urban Nomad in March, but I had to tell him that it was impossible. I did tell him I’d try and have a trailer to show, though, made from what we have so far at that point. I’ve had films at every Urban Nomad since it started; I really should have something to show there after all.

posted by Poagao at 3:44 pm  

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