Saturday, June 13, 2009

It's All Good Shooting done! For real!

And I thought Shusuke's 5-shot shoot the other day was short! My shoot today was one of the shortest shoots I've ever been involved with. Or maybe it's because I got up at 5:30am that finishing at 2pm made it feel like a 1/2 day. In any case, I completed the shooting phase of my newest film and for that I'm grateful. A film is never done until the last shot is in the can.

Oh, wait... I still have ADR, effect creation, titles, music, sound effects, etc etc to deal with.

OK... Can't say it's done just yet.

Today's shoot was over at Tamachi Station, one stop from Shinagawa on the Yamanote Line. The crew today was relatively small, but enough to get the job done. It was good to get back with Shu G and Ota, the DP and Lighting Chief from such classics as 'Tokyo Gore Police' and the upcoming 'Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl. ' Also, Hiro and Sekiguchi, the video support team from McCray Inc. Also on hand were JR, co-producer of the film, Mike, our FXs Supervisor, Lindee, the film's Girl Friday (is this a sexist thing to write?), and Adi, who was coaching Ako during her rehearsals.

Today was deceptively simple, which should have set the warning bells off in my head, as nothing is every easy when making film. Today was just a static shot of a reporter reading the news in front of a green screen. Seems simple enough, no? But the delivery of such dialogue is important to come off as convincing and it was a lot of work for Ako, the actress in today's scene. Ako is a sinfully cute young woman who works as a reporter for the Japan Fox-TV show Backstage Pass. Check out Ako here:

While Ako's English is entirely fantastic, the dialogue was in a serious news style and not easy even for a native English speaker to deliver credibly. It took a long time to get each take just right and I found I was having to reach deep inside myself to find ways in which to relate the motivation and delivery style needed to bring each take to its finish.

Trust me, Ako was in a rough position. By being removed from an English-speaking nation I've been able to see that the subtle nuances that make up the English language and give it its character are not as apparent as they seem. For non-native speakers, no matter how good they are, English doesn't always make a lot of sense for the simple reason that English doesn't always make a lot of sense.

What I mean to say is, Ako had her work cut out for her! But with concentration and commitment, we got everything in the can by shoot's end, and I really have nothing but praise for Ako taking this on. お疲れさまでした、あこ様!

Later on Ota, my lighting director, said he had just shot a film (he's a director too) and he appeared as a newscaster in his newest film. He said it took him on average 20 takes just to get each line – and this was in his native Japanese!

But I love challenging moments such as this, where things are not going smooth and the pressure is on me to bring everything together. These are the times where you earn the respect of your staff, or lose it. Anyone can do the easy shots. Unfortunately, when the film is done, no one watching will ever know that this was the toughest scene of all to capture. But that's the cross filmmakers everywhere have to bear.

We wrapped on time and all of us retired to a fantastic pizzeria down the block where we laughed over the scene and the difficulty in getting it done. We could laugh because we did it. Had we not, it would have been a lot of long faces. Thanks Ako! Thanks crew! We rock!

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