Monday, May 02, 2005

The First Day of Shooting - SOLID (Day One)

I started the day at 6 am, distilling coffee through my systems and washing it down with cereal. I felt slightly above the mark of "useless" and deemed myself fit for command! The morning tasted bitter at this early junction.

I began to assemble what I was not able to do the day before. Funny how so many other things can get in the way of what is truly important. The prop is made, simple as it is and simplified, accordingly, to the situation. The sound is checked and discovered to be a definite problem factor; create contigency for Plan B and move to next obstacle. Check, check and double-check...assemble the gear!

I have the Phoenix ready and on stand-by. She has not had the proper maintenance, but she is used to working on the fly as am I. The gear is loaded. All things checked. Launch!

I am calling Matthew, just as he is calling me. My plan was to meet him at his pad at 9 is 9:15 as I am driving away from the apartment.

He is assembling himself and his belongings when I arrive. I am talking on the phone with Corey, who is also running behind. We agree to meet at the Peoria QT after I make a supply run.

What I really need, is a freakin' Radio Shack to be open before Noon! It is Sunday, so everyone is indoors, getting their minds erased.

I go to a local department/grocery store chain that I refuse to advertise. The items on the list are: motor oil for my humble Phoenix, water, small food rations and foam core boards. I make my purchases, run for the van and begin to feed my vehicle. The hood gives way and it smashes my quart of oil! Luckily, it did not puncture the container and I top off the level, and check the other vitals on board.

The QT...I am checking the air pressure, the last systems check before we depart. A quick map check, and we make way.

The actual journey was uneventful, aside from the rain that paid periodic visits. Approaching the City, I was on the phone with Radio Shack. We diverted our journey down streets that never ended. They were very helpful, yet I could not get any sound! Defeated, I returned to my ship. Matthew had walked across the parking lot toward a Burger King in order to find a rest room; it was when I returned that I discover he had been defeated as well, since the Burger King was closed. He simply pissed somewhere outside, and I decided to not ask questions.

As I am replacing the carefully packed gear, I remember what Bret had told me about the microphone. It was his sound gear, and he had shown me the battery chamber on the mic...I rushed back inside, and I caught the guy before he had repackaged the cable I needed. I set everything up, and it worked beautifully!

On the road...Matthew is fidgety; he doesn't like the confinement of the automobile. Corey and Mark are only seventeen miles ahead of us, so we try to catch up.

An hour and a half past my original goal of twelve noon, we bank right and merge onto the old Highway 66. A few more miles and we find Lucille's.

Lucille's is an abandoned gas station, still intact. Corey and Mark are nowhere to be found. I begin setting up gear as Matthew stretched his legs. I later find that Corey and Mark stopped for food and they were another thirty minutes away.

They arrived....set-up, costume and familiarization - another thirty minutes. We finally begin to shoot.

Setting up the shots became a task; framing in such a closed space, where certain debris and clutter was less apparent, proved to be challenging. The wind was strong and prominent. The funny thing is, the wind was not our major sound problem. Less than fifty yards away was the Interstate we drove in on, and the traffic was heavy and noisy! Every passing truck made its way onto the audio track.

Corey did well, as well as someone can who does not have the opportunity to perform this way on a daily basis. His understanding of his lines and his ease under direction made his performance smooth.

Matthew did not know his lines, and he was uneasy with this new environment. It may take some time before he is comfortable in front of a camera.

In the middle of one scene, my Elmo Super 8 cam began squealing! The inner workings were grinding in a high pitch protest to my sanity and progress. Mark, equipped with a Shure mic, Bret's home-made boom pole, a minidisc recorder and headphones, alerted me to the fact that the camera was quite audible in the mix! I finished that cartridge and retired the camera. My "new" Sankyo becomes the Number One and only.

We tried to hold the script, like a cue card, above the lens of the camera and shoot in this manner. It was not successful because of the delivery. With a bad sound mix, we would have to redub, and if the performance is way off, there is no way we can mate the two together. This is one of those situations, where you do what you can in that moment. Unfortunately, I do not believe this will be a success.

Throughout our time spent, we never encountered the local Law harassment, nor did anyone stop to bother us. A few pickup trucks slowed to catch a glimpse of something they do not understand, but no one ever stopped.

I shot many different angles, including a shot of Matthew's reflection in the stainless steel top surface of one of the gas pumps; Mark's idea. We finished shooting all we could. I shot eleven cartridges of Kodachrome 40. We pack the gear. Mark and Corey leave.

Matthew had planned to be a part of a potluck dinner. He wanted to be back by Six, but instead, we left at Six. The sky fell away and left the absence of blue. Weary, we descended into Tulsa. The lights reflected the low lamplight of the day; I was awake and running since Six that morning, leaving my target destination twelve hours later, uncertain of success or failure or stalemate. Matthew was home, and I traveled for mine. I had to work the next day - fuck! Fae was still in Victoria. I arrived, leaving much of my gear in the Phoenix cargo hold. I fell into oblivion on the futon....


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