Creating a film is really quite an amazing process. First you get this idea in your head for a movie, then you mess around for a while writing and rewriting scripts, casting, location hunting, pulling together a crew and developing a plan. At some point it all comes together and you get out and shoot. We’re also learning HOW to do all of this on the fly, which means, of course, that we barely know what we’re doing as we’re doing it. Somehow it all works out and, like riding a bike, you find your balance and suddenly there you are cruising along, camera, crew and actors in motion, shooting the actual film. What a trip!
I had only heard of BDFI about 8 weeks ago, and here I am directing my first film… actors are speaking my script, camera people are filming and there I am, in the middle, trying to say ‘action!’ with some conviction, so that it seems like I know what I’m doing. Good thing I worked on a couple of other film sets in the past week or so, standing for hours holding up a flag to control the lighting. As dull as that sounds, it did give me the opportunity to watch the process up close and get at least a few hours of experience by osmosis before getting behind the wheel. Amazingly, this worked quite well and I actually felt like the team and I, as green as we were, had significant confidence that we could pull this off and get good results. Nothing beats learning by doing.
Our set was out on a horse farm behind the Berkeley Hills, on a quiet idyllic dirt road under a massive live oak. My characters were two bike racers out on a training ride who stopped to take a break under the tree and have a little chat. We had a small crew of 7 and minimal equipment, since we were filming under full battery power and sunlight. Starting early, at around 6:30am, to catch some good morning light and stay out of the heat (which eventually got into the mid 90s) we had a quick breakfast and got set up and started shooting almost right on schedule at about 8:30. At about this time, our beautiful, tranquil set started going berserk with sound… the birds and bees got louder, the horses snorted and stampeded around, jets flew over every few minutes and it seemed as though a local helicopter training school started class right above the Berkeley Hills, circling endlessly. Ambient noise continued to torture us throughout the day, but we made it through and wrapped on schedule, exhausted, but also exhilarated, and looking forward with hope that our efforts result in something worth viewing.
Quote of the day (overheard from Anthony as he was holding the boom mic): ‘Right now, I’m a frickin’ airport for flies.’
Photos of the shoot can be see here