Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Jul 25 2006

Garage fight

Maurice, Dean and I met up on Saturday last weekend to get a pick-up shot of Milo, supposedly in Iraq. The only remotely middle-eastern background I could think of was the Taipei Grand Mosque next door to where I used to live, so we went there. After being thrown out of my own apartment complex last time, I was a bit wary of filming in front of a mosque, but luckily we didn’t have any trouble. The sun even cooperated now and then while we were shooting. Maurice used my 20D as a prop camera. It was just one shot, and we went to a local restaurant for lunch afterwards. Nice and easy.

The next day, Sunday, Dean and I met Azuma and Jane near CKS Hall to use their apartment’s stairwell, elevator and parkade that we didn’t get last time at my place. I’d never seen the place, though Jane had mailed pictures, so I wasn’t sure if we’d need lights. I really wish we had a lighting expert on the crew, but even if we did, we never have enough time to spend setting up lights. It’s just part of this type of filmmaking: Do what you can in the time allotted, and often that means sacrificing production elements such as lighting, on-site sound, and even performance. The former two you might be able to correct for somewhat in post production, but without performance you’ve got nothing, even well-lit and good-sounding nothing. Alas, sometimes even nothing has to do, and you end up hoping you can string bits of stuff over the nothing so it doesn’t show too much. The fact is that we just have too much to get done, and everyone on set is there out of the goodness of their hearts alone. No unions, no rules, no catering, no safety monitor, no trailers. They all have real lives to get back to.

Anyway, after Alex arrived, we started shooting the whole garage sequence with him, Jane and Dean. We improvised many parts and even came up with a scene with Azuma and Jane’s nephew who was visiting from Beijing. I dollied around the actors as they snuck back and forth through the parkade. Jane ran around a corner, fully dressed up in her PLA uniform and brandishing her gun, only to find a terrified tenant cowering behind a column. For some reason there was a refrigerator near one parking spot, and she had come down to put stuff inside. Shirzi had choreographed a fight scene that we adapted for the new location. It seemed to work well, with a little bruising as possible…I hope.

It was quite hot, however, which was good in that we wanted the actors to look like they were stressed, but bad in that they were very uncomfortable. I was ok as I was wearing a T-shirt and shorts, but the actors were sweltering in their costumes, so we stopped at around 2pm and put off the rest of the things we’d planned until some other time. I was happy with what we did, though. Performance and shot wise, we got some good stuff. Jane in particular is great to work with, very quick on the uptake. I gotta admit, she really knows how to strangle a fella.

Our next shoot will be an all-nighter at a restaurant partially managed by my friend Michael, on Ren-ai Road. It’s the banquet-hall scene you see in many Bond films, basically, with a fancy dining room and as many people in tuxedoes as possible. It’s the first major scene we will have shot with our antagonist, played by Rowan Hunter. Rowan’s a great actor and his presence translates well on film, as we found out in the first film, so I’m looking forward to seeing him in action again in this, much larger project.

As for locations, the main on in our sights right now is a big executive-type office with lots of wood trim and a large desk. If you know of any possibilities here in Taipei or even outside of it, let me know. A library or study would do as well, if it comes to that.

posted by Poagao at 4:56 pm  

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