A week ago, we shot our movie musical for Ripfest 8. It went pretty well. Right now Alina, our editor, is finishing up the edit at Earth2Mars post facility. They have graciously let us use their facilities and have freed up Alina to make it all happen.
Ben and Heather during a scene in the garage. Photo by Mat Mcdermott.
The day before the shoot, I did a lot of running around and was able to get a head start and dump gear at our interior location. It's an amazing warehouse filled with vintage American cars and all sorts of parts and stuff all over the place. Lenny, the owner, was a great host and used to rent out the cars and other things for film and TV. It took two trips in the Subaru to get dolly, four slices of dolly track, lights, stands, reflectors, gels, distro and other things to Lenny's in Brooklyn. Mat McD was my 1st AC and also helped me schlep gear.
Mat Mcdermott. Photo by Maria Mileaf.
I was worried that there wasn't going to be enough crew for the interiors on saturday, but friends brought (qualified) friends and it worked out pretty well. The Thursday before (2 days before the shoot), I ran into Jon at B&H. I met Jon while we were shooting a docco about a month ago. There were three of us shooting with Sony Z1U's at a tiny club in Harlem, located the basement of an American Legion hall. I invited Jon to join as a swing (grip and electric) because I was still worried that I was going to be short.
Toby, my gaffer with some of the Swing crew- Nick and Ben and me happy to be shooting and happy to have a crew. Photo by Maria Mileaf.
Chantal, wrote the script and also helped with playback, Sunday. Photo by Maria Mileaf.
For Ripfest, teams are assembled to write, choreograph, shoot, edit and score a film in 16 days. They are given 2-5 actors and 2 locations, 1 interior and 1 exterior. This year, there are four teams in NYC and three in LA.
Derek and Maria impersonating Derek. Photo courtesy Maria Mileaf.
We are in the post production phase now and things are looking good. Maria, the director, is very happy with the way things look and the palette. So, given the givens, I think we did alright. I was lucky, Maria had some prior experience and our First AD, Derek, knew his stuff and got us through the weekend on schedule. We didn't get everything that we wanted, but we got what we needed.
Me setting up camera Sunday. Photo by Maria Mileaf.
Sunday was the big day because we had to shoot the opening and the ending scenes outdoors. I was fully prepared to shoot in the rain and brought things to help in case it did, but I think we all prayed for no rain. Somehow, we lucked out. It was cloudy the whole day, but it didn't rain. Thanks God! It poured Monday.
Me shooting dancers with the jib. Photo by Maria Mileaf.
Ben and Ed wait for something to do. Photo by Maria Mileaf.
I had Toby Gaffing for me. He and I have worked on abunch of stuff together, mainly doing lights for Chris Webb, when he's shooting. Derek brought Josh, Toby brought Ben, so there were five people working G&E which made things move pretty quickly Saturday. I'm excited to bring these guys along on other shoots. Eddie was able to come in on Sunday and the rest of the crew was able to work sunday too.
Tom motions to Gabrielle, or boomer. Maria watches while I shoot. Photo by Mat Mcdermott.
Photo by Maria Mileaf.
I got to use my groovy new Seven Jib compact XL. The opening shot is going to look really great. It starts with the frame looking at green grass and some little yellow flowers dotted around the frame. Then a pair of feet run through the frame, left to right. We pick up on the feet and swing the jib right following, as the girl runs up the hill. As the we follow the girl up the pasture, we see a large mansion and hold there. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to use the jib because it's base is made for a 100mm bowl and my Ronford Baker legs have a 150mm bowl.
Derek consults with me as I set up a shot. Photo by Mat Mcdermott.
I bought a bunch of stuff at Home Depot to use as an adapter, while on my way to the the first day of shooting. I didn't get a chance to buy the proper adapter, too much running around and being distracted. Oddly, no one in town had a 150mm - Mitchell bowl adapter to rent. So, there I was on the day of the shoot, trying to rig an adapter. Which didn't work. The Jib's tie down rod was too short. Desparate, I said screw it and just put the base in the bowl. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Ronford has a stepped bowl, so the base of the Seven Jib actually fit nice and snug in the bowl. Placing the jib base inside the bowl, I lost a little travel on the descent, but I could get the jib as high as I needed it to go.
I didn't get too worked up about much of anything during the shoot. I just trusted that things that didn't get resloved would work themselves out. Most of them did. Obviously you bust ass to get everything prepped and locked, but sometimes shit happens, I got lucky.
Knowing that we wouldn't have enough time, or people, I kept things simple in terms of camera and lighting. I designed the lighting so that once it was rigged, nothing needed to be done, other than bring in a few Kinos and Inkies to sweeten the close-ups. I love the fact that I have a big package. Um, I mean my lighting and grip package.
The lighting set up for the garage interior was two medium Chimeras suspended by sash cord over two rows of antique autos and a little help from the fluoro shoplights. I had a few lights set up for fill when we needed coverage, but I just kept things as simple as possible. You can see the Inky we clipped to the top of a ladder, to separate out Ben and Heather from the background.
Maria, Chantal and Libby, our songwriter. Photo by Maria Mileaf.
Maria was great because she totally trusted me and let me do my thing. It was funny because she accidentally walked into the wide shots a couple of times. She does mostly theater, so she like to be close to the actors to watch their performance. I had to keep remininding her to come over to the monitor and watch.
We had to cut a bunch of things, but I think the piece will look good. The story is good and the performances are spot on.
I'm really looking forward to seeing it projected large at the screenings May 23 & 24
New York, NY
Anthology Film Archives
32 Second Ave. @ 2nd Street
Tuesday, May 23 7:00 & 9:00PM
Wednesday, May 24 7:00 & 9:00PM
Available for both coasts at:
Or call (212) 868-4444
Come and see My work and the other musicals as well. Get your tickets now.
We will sell out.