Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

May 23 2005


The last shoot was difficult; this one would be even worse, logistically. Dean had to arrange everyone’s schedules just so we could get dozens of people to converge in a smallish laboratory on the NTU campus the weekend before last. Pleas were made. Deals were stuck. In the end everyone stepped up. I’m usually impressed by the fact that everyone is so enthusiastic about helping us out, but I was reminded anew of just how fortunate we are to have the friends we have on this shoot, which we wouldn’t have been able to pull off without the help of a great many people.

“Norman Szabo” had secured a lab on the fourth floor of the building (the “fourigner floor”, as some call it in Taiwan due to the fact that Westerners don’t have the same superstitions concerning that particular number as Chinese people do, resulting in many foreigners living on that floor). The place was a mess when we got there; it’s hard to believe people actually conducted experiments. It wasn’t at all like the labs you see on TV or in the movies.

We had to make it look something like that, however. We moved boxes and crates into the back room, wondering all the while if we were destroying valuable experiments. A pair of red trashcans were pull of piping, the contents boiling vigorously, so we left those alone. I tore down the “Don’t touch this! Toxic!” signs from a couple of places, and hoped nobody would take the red mixture in the fridge for Kool-aid.

Actors began showing up, as well as our commando team, all set to infiltrate our lab, which was shaping up. I’d borrowed some gels from Da Shan so we could simulate an alarm situation, as well as the eerie green effect of the Gozen engine. Dean had brought some revolving lights, the kind you see at construction sites. I put the camera on a lab table, took out a couple of ceiling tiles and stuck it up there to get a nice wide angle while Peter, no doubt nervous as his wife was about to give birth to a baby girl at any minute, went through his fight moves with Shirzi before getting into it with Dean and the commandos.

We went through the invasion several times. At one point Dean used a sparkler to simulate another door-breaking-through. By the time I yelled cut the door was on fire. We chipped away the burned parts and sanded it down so that (hopefully) nobody would notice.

Keith and Dave, our guards, were real sports, doing their death scenes over and over for the camera, and helping us move things about in the meantime. Joshua, April and Emily also did their fair share of running around. For one shot we needed Josh being shot at, so Shirzi sat on top of the lab table and threw firecrackers at him as he reached for a dead guard’s gun. I also got a shot of April running for cover and one of Emily hiding.

We needed some other scientists for the lab, and since Gordon Freeman wasn’t available, we got Dean’s classmate Lisa and Shirzi’s friend Gina to put on the white coats and try to look serious about whatever was under the microscope. Lisa turned out to be an expert seeker of cover. She ducked-and-covered like a pro.

When the commandos were done in the lab and Maurice had arrived, Darrell took them, Joshua, April and Dean up to the roof to get the shots we needed up there, as well as in the stairways. As usual, the commandos looked great, even up close and personal. The major actors looked great as well.

It was a relief to be able to leave all our gear in the lab on Saturday night. Sunday we left for dialogue, some effects, and the final squib shot.

Dialogue took longer than expected on Sunday, however. I got some cool shots of Dean’s robotic hand, powered by cigarette smoke, as well as some shooting and reaction shots, while Darrell shot empty lab bits we could use to destroy 3D objects in later. Dean also lit off a firecracker on his hand to simulate being shot at. By the time we’d set up the squib shot, it was already dark outside. We did it anyway, and sprayed the walls with fake blood after a couple of false starts. Between the burned door and the blood everywhere, it was a good thing nobody was keeping too close an eye on us.

I looked at the footage and decided we’d better get the squib shot with light outside the windows, so we went back the next weekend for another try. This time, after several false starts, much cursing, and an alarming amount of staggering on Paul’s part, the squib finally worked.

And how. The blood went everywhere, covering the camera and tripod, me, Dean, the floor, the ceiling, and walls. It took me half and hour just to clean the camera up. Darrell, wisely, covered his with a 7-Eleven rain poncho. We did the shot twice, so the place was covered in sticky fake blood, but we got the shots we needed.

This was a major sequence, and I’m glad we have it behind us. After we get a few more shots, I think we’ll be about halfway through with principle photography, surely a giant step. Next weekend April, Dean, Maurice and I will be shooting on a cruiseship, which should be a welcome break.

posted by Poagao at 5:47 pm  

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment