Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Corridors

We had planned to shoot this scene in the beautiful and ornate tunnels at Guandu Temple. We tried to sneak in and film last weekend, but there were simply too many people milling about. Then we tried the direct approach and asked for permission. They strung us along for about a week before saying no, that they were completely paranoid that we might use guns in the temple or something like that. If you can imagine.

So Dean and I went other way, back to the place where we'd originally first met the commandos from an earlier scene, the old abandoned Naval Foreign Language Institute just past the Martyr's Shrine on the road to Neihu. It called for still more changes in the script and a third storyboarding (I got a bit tired of re-storyboarding this scene, believe me), but it would work, and there was nobody to tell us we couldn't film, just a bunch of guys in camos and goggles shooting the hell out of each other. All we had to do was stay out of the crossfire.

We all met up at Yuanshan Station, Dean, Paul, Darrell, Josh, April and myself, got some sandwiches for lunch, and then piled into a couple of cabs. It was cloudy but the rain that had been falling earlier in Xindian had stopped at least. I'd printed out vague instructions for the drivers. Shirzi had found us a couple of guards, Peter and Banjoe, though Peter and Shirzi were both late, due to suffering the effects of the previous night's drinking (last weekend was full of weddings. I went to two myself).

A full-on battle was going on when we arrived, and they had to call a cease-fire so we could walk through to the shell of a building where we wanted to film. We walked by the waiting soldiers quickly, saying "sorry, excuse us...sorry," feeling like part of a Monty Python skit. Luckily the battle didn't extend to the upper floors of the building, though the stairs were iffy territory.

We got several shots done with Josh and April. April had a gun for the first time. She'd wanted one for a while, but she needed some instruction on holding it and pretending to fire it. Dean brought some popping firecrackers for gunshots and ricochets that worked well while they lasted.

Clouds came and went, playing havoc with lighting, and we went all over the building looking for better lighting conditions. BBs covered the floor, making walking a dangerous proposition, to say nothing of the running around we were doing. At one point Josh took a mean fall and landed on his knee. I wasn't looking in his direction when it happened, but I could see through the camera the winces of the other actors and knew it must have looked pretty painful. The end result looked good, though.

Dean made himself up to look beat up for this shoot. It looked ok. When it came time to film the guards, we found that it is very difficult to get Peter to stop smiling. In the end it was alright, but we had a lot of fun laughing at Peter's beret, which kept falling off in mid-shot.

All during the shooting we could hear the BB battles going on downstairs. During the bits where we were out in the jungle, Darrell even got hit by a stray shot, though to be honest the mosquitoes were a far greater nuisance. We even got the commandos in a few shots.

We were getting a lot of shooting done, and I got through most of a tape as well as three batteries. We shot the last shots as my last battery was dying, at around 3:30pm. I need to get some more batteries, because that was just cutting it too close. I'd planned more shots but had to abbreviate a few of them to conserve battery power, but they still seemed to work. We'll see how they work in the cutting room.

Next week, weather-permitting (and the weather hasn't exactly been cooperative lately), we should get the last of Josh's shots done. He's leaving in December, and I have to edit a rough cut of his scenes, i.e. most of the scenes in the movie, so that we can do looping before he leaves. That's going to be a bitch, but there's nothing for it. Dean's master's thesis isn't going to write itself, either.

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