Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Apr 23 2006


No, this entry doesn’t involve saran wrap.

Cast and crew once again gathered at Dean’s apartment on Friday night. Our objective this time was to finish filming all of April’s scenes, little bits and pieces of several different scenes. To that end, Dean had gone to great lengths to build all the props and sets in and around his apartment, as you can see in the picture. He constructed a vent out of wood, a stand for my brass monkey, which plays a role early in the film, and a parachute rigging for April to hang off for green screen shots.

Our first task was to go over to a nearby office building, where we’d gotten permission to film in the lobby. I would have preferred to get it during the day, but we wanted to get everything done at once, and it happened to be night. The contrast during the day would have been difficult for the camera in any case. Paul and Darrell were waiting in the lobby as Dean, April, Shirzi and I arrived.

As it happened, someone was moving out of the building, so we had to time April walking in the door, across the lobby and into an elevator to avoid catching the movers in the shots. Ordinary movers would have not detracted from the shots. Movers who waved at the camera and yelled “Hallooo!!!” were less welcome. Shirzi waited inside an elevator and opened the doors for April while telling people who wanted to use the elevator that that particular one was “broken”. It was difficult, with all the mirrors around there, not to get my reflection anywhere in the shots.

Once that scene was in the can, we retired back to the playground scene at Dean’s, moving all the junk from an outside corner and dressing it like the interior of an elevator shaft. We’d been looking forever for a real elevator shaft, but it just never happened. I figured an unpainted concrete wall decorated with black rails and pipes would do just as well, so we did it there. April climbed a black rope from a “Batman” climbing kit. We tested the strength of the rope with all of Dean’s weight, so April was secure in the knowlege that she wouldn’t approach the breaking point. She was only a few inches off the ground anyway. The crew was in a line in the narrow alley, April in front, then Darrell with the microphone, and then me with the camera, followed by Dean, who was feeding April lines to respond to. One of Paul’s lights supplied what we hoped looked like elevator-shaft lighting, with April descending into shadow and then climbing back out of it.

After that was done, we moved inside and did the museum/monkey shots, with April approaching the brass statue and removing what will be digital effects at some point. We had planned on using a fire extinguisher, with Shirzi on the floor waiting to provide the effect, but the thing crapped out on us. Dean tried to use a pan of milk powder instead, but it looked just like milk powder being thrown in the air. We’ll see if we can do something with it in post. As always.

Then it was time for the vent, the showpiece of the evening. Dean did a really good job, and we got a lot of good shots of April climbing through the thing, looking through the grill, etc. Dean’s evil cat loved to play with the aluminum foil on the other end, and we kept having to shoo him away, lest we have to write one evil kitty into the script as some kind of feline vent defense system or something.

Next on the list was the parachute setup. It was getting rather late by this time, and Paul and Darrell had to leave. The rest of us set up green cloth over Dean’s mirrored wall and tried to get the lighting so that there were as few shadows as possible. Hopefully Darrell will be able to do something with these shots. April found a new respect for Star Wars prequel actors as she tried to react to invisible exploding zeppelins, missiles and flaming shrapnel all around her.

The last thing to do involved tying April’s hands behind her back with what turned out to be extremely itchy twine. Between the twine, evil kitty’s flying fur and a fan, April spent most of the evening trying not to sneeze. She willingly slugged through it all, though, even as we worked into the wee hours of the morning. At long last we got everything done, so all she has to do now is the looping. Which means that I have to go through all of the footage and get at least one take of each of her scenes, just as I did with Josh before he left, get the footage to Darrell and then, probably over at least a couple of days, loop all of her lines. She’s leaving in August, so we have a little time yet.

Next on our list is more car scenes, which we’ll probably film at Sungshan Airport or at the train station. Now that April and Josh are done, we’ll be concentrating on the Legion of Doom contingent of our cast, namely Sandy, Rowan, Sarah, and a new actor.

posted by Poagao at 7:33 am  

1 Comment »

  1. Great-looking frame grabs, you guys! Well done!

    Comment by Anonymous — April 24, 2006 @ 10:42 am

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