Sunday, January 4, 2009

DAY FIVE – “Nathan’s Big Day,” or “Set the Stargate to A2”

So today is "James Day." We're shooting all of the scenes that involve James Cranston (Nathan Hollabaugh) doing things by himself. Or, more accurately, doing things with his imaginary friends: namely, the Bugmen and The Link. Of course, in a few months these friends will no longer be imaginary. On a separate day we'll be shooting Chuckie multiple times in the Bug Suit and then combining all the shots to create a veritable army of Bugmen. As for The Link, the spectral figure at the center of the film's evildoings, she hasn't been cast yet. Jeff plans on shooting all of her scenes later, after principal photography is completed, and then inserting her ghostly figure into the various scenes in which she appears.

We get some shots of Nathan weilding his sword and being chased by the not-yet-existant Army of Bugmen, then move on to various moments of him interacting with The Link. To create the effect of the ethereal blue flame in which The Link appears, we use something our cinematographer Dave is calling the "Stargate." Apparently on the TV show Stargate, the shimmering light which emanates from the show's titular device is created by simply shaking a large silver Flex-fill in front of a light. So whenever we need to simulate the glow of The Link's flame, Dave calls out for the "Stargate." Actually, I once saw an interview with Richard Dean Anderson in which he referred to the Stargate as "television's greatest prop." What? I always thought TV's greatest prop was MacGyver's Swiss Army knife. Or his mullet.

(Okay, set the cheap-shot mullet joke counter to 1.)

However, I'm not sure how the operation of this key effect fell into the hands of our bumbling grip Rasul. You may recall "Ras al Ghul" and his racket jacket. He has since been leaving the noisy coat at home, although he keeps forgetting to leave his Clouseau-like clumsiness with it. Whenever we hear a crash or a thud resonating throughout the stage, we can usually expect to turn around and see Ras at the center of the ruckus. At one point this afternoon, something falls loudly in the middle of a take and everyone in the room shouts "Ras!" Rasul is not even in the room at the time. But hey, once you get a reputation...

At lunchtime, Dennis and I head out on a secret mission. Ever since getting sick from the catered food on Tuesday, Dennis has been sneaking off and getting his own meals from the outside world. Today, Jeff and I decide to get in on that action. We plan to go to a local burger joint called A & W, but we have to keep this little off-campus excursion on the down-low. The way the quality (and temperature) of the on-set food has been diving, we'd be bombarded with lunch orders from half the crew if they knew where we were going. We've already aroused some suspicion. A couple of the grips overhear Jeff whispering that he wants the "A2," which is one of A & W's combo meals. Within minutes, the crew is abuzz trying to figure out what the lighting set-up is for Shot A2. Dave flips through the storyboards looking for Shot A2. Now I have to figure out a way to convince them they're just hearing things, and that A2 doesn't exist. Well, only in Jeff's belly.

1. The old "hand popping up from the grave" trick
2. Steve waves for the camera as Chuck and Matt watch
3. Nathan meditates before a take; slatework by Matt Torti
4. Nathan has a bit of trouble sheathing his sword
5. Touching up one of the bad guys: when you look that scary, the director will hold your sword and your coffee

No comments: