Monday, October 10, 2005

Two Films in One Day: Tulsa State Fair Shoot

I lost contact with Derick and Jes on Saturday. And, yes, I said 'Jes'! She returned on Friday, it appears. I tried to call them on the cellphone, and their battery went dead.

Bret, with whom I spoke earlier that day, reminded me of another short idea I had long ago. I had originally planned to shoot this footage back in 2002, on a trip to Eureka Springs with my parents. It has a simple plot: a journeyman (or woman) is searching for their next direction. After obligatory soul searching, they surrender their choice to chance by spinning a bottle. A puzzled look is seen on the main character as he studies the result, and they walk off on a definite course. We tilt down to see that the bottle is, in fact, pointed the opposite direction, thus keeping to both my personal and cinematic views on rebellion. Bret's reminder offered a chance to at least shoot something.

I left a message for Derick, and I was hoping to hear from him. Bret would be there with his step-daughter, Miranda. I, running on low energy levels, began to pack my gear: two cameras - my Chinon and my Sankyo with manual aperture, four cartridges of Kodachrome and four cartridges of Ektachrome, my Cokin filter system with the adapter ring [for my Sankyo] and my blue filter, lens cleaner and tissue, a Romeo y Julietta RESERVA REAL figurado cigar from Fogue & Bates, an empty beer bottle and my enthusiasm. I dressed the part of a "carnie", using a bit of creative license: I wore my old pair of Levis with extremely ripped holes in the knees, a GTO t-shirt, a greenish flannel button-up, my grungy work boots and a pair of Rayban rip-offs that are clear with a slight hint of blue tint. I did not wash my hair and I let it down.

I did receive a phone call from Derick. He had heard my message and he was excited to see us, and to be a part of the film.

We left in the afternoon and made a few errands. Afterwards, we arrived at the mayhem of the Fair's last day. We were able to save the money I had set aside for admission. It seems that Derick and Jes were going anyway, so I did not have to pay for their entry. Bret was going as well, saving me another admission, and he purchased wrist bands leaving him with two extra tickets! Fae and I got in for free.

Bret was with his step-daughter, Miranda. She was the typical energetic and restless child, and she was very patient and supportive. I appreciate her. Both Bret and Miranda were easy to work with.

I had quite the task ahead of me. We waited for Derick and Jes at the rendezvous point, while Bret and Miranda took off toward the petting zoo. I planned on shooting two short films. I was trying my best, as usual, to be sensitive to everyone around me and still get the job done. I have to make sacrifices and take the time necessary to achieve a goal. If you go into something, and only get halfway or three-quarters of the way there, what's the point? So, I was able to maneuver time and people around to hopefully accommodate everyone.

Bret and Miranda left for rides and ice cream. Fae and Jes tried to catch up. I stole Derick and we began shooting footage of the first short film, of the bottle-spinning sojourner. I was very pleased with the shots and the ease of working with Derick. It is nice for a director to be able to direct with minimal effort, if at all. Derick is wonderful to work with, because he is at peace with the circumstance of shooting a scene. He needs little direction; he is already in the moment.

The shots were amazing. Some of them might not translate in the end, but I was able to achieve some interesting shots, including two perspectives of Derick sitting in front of an SUV. I love the image of that! We might have to shoot the bottle spinning scenes at a later time, since I lost the light I was hoping for, and the bottle was on an incline and kept rolling.

As we returned to the meeting place, we met up with Bret and began filming the opening scene of "Chasing a Rainbow". I switched to Ektachrome at this point, after shooting only two Kodachrome cartridges for the first short. The lighting might be a problem; I had minimal sunlight, and the artificial lights had not reached their full intensity. I opened the shutter wide and pushed onward.

We had two "walk-thru" rehearsals. There isn't any written dialogue, just cues from your humble director! We committed three takes to film, and a few close-ups of both Derick and Bret. At this point, two cartridges were exposed, and I was left with only two more.

Bret took Miranda for one more ride before taking her home. The rest of us took a break, found food, and walked around a bit. I had an idea of what I wanted for the scene between myself and Derick, so we walked alongside the Northern face of the Expo Building, heading West. At this point, it is 9:00, and we are all tired. So I try my best to hurry things and finish the footage I need. Derick and I take to the wall of the Expo, and begin to shoot; Fae is on camera. It is not the original place I intended to shoot, but I made a choice for better lighting. As Derick and I began, I totally screwed up my lines! Actually, I didn't really have lines, but nonetheless, Derick and I made everything up and we will address the issue in post. The dialogue is not really important at this stage anyway. It is silent film, and we can dub the voices in later. Derick and Jes made their leave, and Fae and I waited for Bret's return.

It was beyond 10pm when Bret arrived. I quickly took to the camera and squatted down to frame up Bret against the backdrop of the giant Ferris wheel. I directed him through the scene, and then we gave our farewells. Fae and I stole one ride on the Tilt-A-Whirl before retiring toward home.

A side note: several shots were taken of various background elements, which will be used for fillers, or transitions.


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