Rollout -- 9:00 am
I have got to say, Chicago is one town not afraid to look the American Cardiologist Association in the eye and spit. At the Original Pancake House today, my western omelette was the size of a hubcap.
"I think," said Chris Downey, sawing through a palm-width slice of bacon, "that's actually a nine egg omelette." This was after three days where every craft service, order-in and restaraunt meal was beef or pork based. In Chicago, pasta is a vegetable.
First stop today, a scene in a store's personnnel office, overlooking the shop floor. The only problem -- the store in question doesn't actually have an office. Solution? Just build one in the corner:
This was a fairly simple scene between two men. A master, a couple overs, grab some singles and we're out. No explosions, sadly.
On to an abandoned floor in an office building, where one of our characters is doing surveillance. We're at the Chicago Federal Building, on an abandoned floor. Now, here's a question -- why does the Federal Building have an abandoned floor filled with old computer monitors?
My conspiracy junkie nerves are a-tingle.
This bit of business is cool. Tim Hutton is standing at the window, looking out at his target. We would like to shoot him from the outside, but inconveniently we are ten stories up. What the clever production humans do is build a false front of three windows that exactly match the exterior windows, but then place that false front just inside the real windows, with room for a camera in the gap. This way, when we shoot looking inside, we get a view of the room, properly lit. But when we remove the false windows and shoot from inside looking out through the real windows, all the perspectives still work and we don't have to change too much of the lighting.
However, when shooting looking in from that gap, we've dropped lights in to dramatically pick up Tim's face as he steps forward. How do we dupe that light -- meant to be read as street lights -- from the outside when we shoot looking out? With a conveniently placed Condor.
That crane is ten stories up, with some poor bastard sitting in the booth at the end of what appears to be a terrifyingly overbalanced crane arm. The wind kicks the hell out of him, too.
This scene is one side of a four-way conversation between characters in three different locations (those of you familiar with my previous work know I have a tendency toward such foolishness). Tim's running through his side of the five-page conversation, with an actor just offstage reading the rest of the parts. The pleasure here is shooting digitally with an actor who likes to take advantage of it. Tim knows there's no way to blow another actor's cue -- he's alone. So he'll be performing his lines, and suddenly stop and then rapid-fire deliver five great variant readings, like a musician running through a phrase of music again and again but transposing key and rhythm on the fly.
There was a moment, too, when I came into Video Village ... all right. for this shot, we're loose, with Tim prowling around a twenty square foot area, the camera in one position but picking him up dirty as he crosses in and out of the various bits of light and dark, all agasint a very intricate background wall pattern. Getting good shots in this process is damn near random, but it gives you a very cool energy. So as we're setting up, I saw him idly watching the display, while the camera crew pulled focus on his stand-in. On the next take, in the middle of five pages of dialogue, he delivered a line as he stepped forward -- then stopped without warning. He took two steps back to reset just that line among dozens, and said it again on the move. But this time, he shifted about eight inches to the right and on the step-in landed not just perfectly into a glorious foreground light, but with slightly better framing of the intricate background for the complete shot composition.
He'd been watching his stand-in to memorize the light layout and composition from camera view, and then used it to map out his moves within inches to give us the best shots. All while slamming the performance home.
That is, to be blunt, pretty goddam sick. That's how the grown-ups do it, kids. Next time you rush off the set as soon as the director calls "cut" so you can text your agent on your Razor, keep that in mind.
We're wrapped in that location. Tomorrow our last performer -- who just arrived hours ago -- will get fitted for wardrobe, while we shoot a nice simple four-hander in a penthouse apartment. At least this time they're all in one room. Which may or may not be easier.
Roll-in -- 11:30 pm