Sunday, January 4, 2009

DAY SIX – “Attack of the Wigs,” or “Get this Bloody Bug off Me!”

This first Saturday of production is our biggest, busiest day yet. We have a load of extras coming in today to play students in the classroom scene. Actually, there are only five extras, but through the magic of cinema they will be multiplied and transformed into an entire classroom full of students. Oh, and let us not forget the magic of make-up and wigs. Midian has brought some reinforcements to the make-up room for the occasion; their first task is to dress and wig the students in a multitude of ways so that each one appears to be a multitude of students. (And yes, I just used "wig" as a verb.)

Turning five students into twenty is accomplished by a very simple yet time-consuming technique. The first rule is to set the camera and keep it perfectly still for the duration of the process. Then the students are photographed at one table in the classroom in one set of wigs. Then, the students cycle back through make-up to get different wigs, and come out again to be photographed at a different table in the classroom, and so on. Afterwards, each table of "different" students will be combined into one master shot of the classroom, and then laid over a shot of Professor Jack lecturing at the front of the room.

So it's merely a matter of wig shuffling in order to create the various student looks. For better or for worse, only two of the five extras are female, and most of our wigs are for women. So, the boys get to dress in drag for several of these shots. It's a good thing their backs are to the camera, because these guys make for some ugly female students. Professor Jack's school is an elite academic institution, and we are definitely reinforcing the old stereotype that the brainiest students are never the prettiest. I suppose that fits our 1940s setting just about right.

We get done playing musical wigs with the extras just in time for lunch, which is too soon for our wigmaster, Brian. He announces he has many more wigs in his arsenal that he hasn't had a chance to try on people yet. He even puts one of his favorites on himself and jumps in front of the camera. Brian is a great addition to our crew; plus, one can't help but have confidence in a wig expert who's bald.

After lunch it's time to put away the fake hair and bring out the fake blood. We are shooting the first part of the Hangar Attack sequence, in which a couple of students meet their grisly demise at the claws of the bugmen. Initially Jeff had decreed that there would be no blood in this movie, keeping consistent with its cartoonish '40s vibe. Well, this afternoon that decree went down the drain, along with a gallon or two of fake blood. The first student to perish is the luckless Daisy, played by Cecile Waltz. Cecile gets attacked by the small bug creature - one of Steve Tolin's puppet creations - and does a great spastic dance with the bug gnawing on her neck before going down. The second victim is Jeff's childhood friend Little Joe, whose character steps outside to enjoy a cigarette, only to be met by Chuckie the Bugman who makes it clear that lung cancer is the least of his worries.

The only character to survive the attack is Penny, played by our favorite international action star, Nayli. She survives the attack, but she doesn't quite survive her dialogue. At one point she has to utter the line, "That's a big ten-four,"and instead it comes out, "That's a big four-ten!" Everyone laughs, and a confused Nayli shrugs as if to say, "ten-four, four-ten, what's the damn difference?"

As expected, this is our longest day on the set so far. We go all the way to the 12-hour mark, and have to make a speedy exit in the end. If we're not out of the studio each night by 10 pm, we get charged an extra fee. So at 9:51 we are shooting the last take of Little Joe being devoured by bugmen, and at 10:00 sharp we are outside walking to our cars, with plenty of scrambling done inbetween. The only scrambling done tomorrow will possibly be to eggs, as this Sunday is our one day off during this two-week blitz of a film shoot.

1. Penny strikes a pose
2. Brian bloodies up Cecile
3. Spoiler alert: this character may not survive!
4. Nayli, Jeff, and Cecile
5. Little Joe, sans wig

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