Just like that we had taken our first shot on "The Memory Broker", on barely any sleep, and our veins filled with coffee.
Shortly after my father arrived, bearing the article of clothing I had requested for my role in the film, a black suit, accented by red pocket square, and traditional hat. However something unexpected was about to happen. My father stepped into the doorway helping me bring items in, when, Reagan our assistant director made an off the cuff remark, "you would make such a great broker". It was a playful comment with little intention behind it, however its brought to our attention something very important. The role we looked to fill was one of wisdom and age, surely I wouldn't be able to be successful at it without the aid of layers of makeup. I snapped around with a smile on my face to my father, "Would you be interested in being in our film?".
He smiled back with a look of wonder, almost as if he had waited his entire life to be invited to partake in cinema. I pushed a script into his hand and pointed to the few lines he would need to read, followed stroking his ego on how perfect he would be for the role. It only took a few moments for him to glance over the script and agree to our terms. As I said before, he's never let me down, and in this case the crew as well. We now had our broker, and he set off to retrieve his own suit and tie, as we began to light and setup our next scene, which would include the broker.
With our soon to be star actor arriving back on set and dressed the part, there was a new found excitement amongst the crew, we placed our actors and fine tuned the lighting. "Roll camera, roll audio, Action.", within a matter of takes we had capture a burst of frames roughly 8 seconds long that would send shivers down the spine. It was one of those moments where the framing lined up so naturally and perfect it would set the tone for the rest of the film. But there wasn't much time to play it over, we needed to reset for the next scene as it was about 3pm by now. The crew scrambled to move lights, grabbing pizza slices in between. It was now time for our main dialogue scene, two actors across from each other, playing out a dramatic exchange.
Over the next hour, we would be given a performance between our two actors so captivating that it would leave the crew unable to stop rolling. There was one take in particular that our director forgot to yell "cut", because it felt as though we were watching a movie on screen. The scene was our first to feature dramatic lighting, and it was one where we saw everything from costuming, to script come together in front of our eyes. The fact that we hadn't seen sleep since in almost 48 hours wasn't relevant, as I was wide awake during these takes.
Although it looks like it was still day time in these shots, the actual time by now was around 9pm, we would wrap the days shoot after a few more hours of shooting, including a venture out into the pouring rain, a rarity for Phoenix. The cameras kept safe tucked under rain ponchos fashioned from trash bags, add in a little smoke and you know what to expect form these shots. After getting soaked we wrapped shooting for the night it was now closer to midnight then we had expected. A decision was made to download the files we had captured and back them up, but then catch as much sleep as we could get, tomorrow would be a similar day, only we hadn't found a location yet.
SHOOT DAY 2
Rise and shine its 7am, calls had been made around to different locations. We had been seeking a restaurant location for a brief scene. Surprisingly we happened to find an in, to one of Arizona's premiere hotel steak houses. The manager happened to be a fan of films and was going to be attending the Sedona Film Festival the the following weekend. We were welcomed in for two hours to shoot, a tight time frame, but we had a star location. Up the service elevator we went bags of gear in hand, gear I don't think was expected. But its better to ask for forgiveness then for permission.
Today we were joined by our female talent, and had given the our couple actors some time to get to know each other. We directed them to improv their lines for this scene, the cues of a dinner date night were all they needed. The cameras and audio rolled without them ever knowing, allowing us to capture long strings of dialogue between them in its most natural form. The backdrop of the restaurant offered us the aesthetic that we sought, and added a new dimension to a film that jumped between the past and reality.
We wrapped shooting under our 2 hour window, but the 72 hours were far from over. We thanked our host for allowing us to shoot in the space and assured them how much it would help our films story line. The crew headed back to the house on Alameda to shoot our last scene, we had an hour to do so, hence the lack of photographic evidence below. It might also spoil the film for you.
Once the final scene was in the bag, we cleaned up set, packed away the copious amount of equipment and a few members of the crew headed off to start the arduous process of editing. For them it would be another near sleepless night, but what would come of their late night labor would be an amazing piece of 5 min story telling.
The film made it into the top 20, so it is being viewed in the theatre tonight, the crew will be in attendance to see how we placed overall. Look for me to feature it on the blog sometime later this week. It was an amazing experience working with this group of people and what we accomplished in a 72 hour period was a token of the hard work of each and every one of us. It was also a reminder just how much I enjoy being on set and how creative you can be when you get the right group of people together.