Friday, February 6, 2009

DAY ELEVEN - "Is He Really Going To Say It Like That?," or "The Leading Man's An Even Bigger Dork Than The Director!"

Today we are joined by Kori Mallon, yet another "Star of It Came From Yesterday," as we like to say. Kori gets a little lost on her way to the studio and calls for directions. She sounds a bit apprehensive, and wonders aloud if she's going to be attacked on the way here. And when the directions to the studio go something like, "Drive to the edge of the run-down town, walk across the railroad tracks and go behind the abandoned warehouse," one can hardly blame her.

Kori plays the afore-mentioned "haaanndmaiden" (see Day Three) whom Professor Jack attempts to woo. And she's a little taken aback by Jeff's idiosyncratic delivery of the dialogue. I'm not sure if he explained to her that he's basing his performance on '30s and '40s serial heroes such as Flash Gordon and Commando Cody, with a dash of George Reeves' Clark Kent thrown in for good measure. At first Kori can't keep a straight face during Jeff's intentionally stilted and hammy delivery. But it isn't long before the "1940s movie accent" seeps into her own speech, and soon enough our handmaiden is a regular Lois Lane.

At one point, Kori asks Jeff and I if we're brothers. We pretend to be insulted. (At least I think we're pretending.) But when Nathan Hollabaugh arrives it becomes evident that Jeff could not have found a more fitting actor to play his older bro.  It turns out Nathan is an even bigger sci fi and pop culture geek than Jeff, which is really saying something.  Jeff swears he had no idea when he cast him. But whether he's explaining an episode of "The Thundercats" to the make-up girls, or extolling the virtues of Chuck Heston's performance in "Omega Man" to our financier, Nathan makes it clear that our director has met his match in the dork department.

It actually works out quite well for the production that the two speak the same language. All Jeff has to do is start giving a direction, and Nathan will anxiously complete his thought with an, "Oh, it's like Obi-Wan's stance in 'Sith!'" or "Oh, like the beginning of Star Trek IV when the probe is going (makes probe sounds)!" But my favorite Nathan geek-out moment is when we're about to roll on a scene between him and Kori, and right before action he looks out at the crew and asks, "Does anybody remember when John Schneider was trying to sell the General Lee, and he wanted to make it real clear that he didn't need the money?" This is followed by the quietest five seconds this set has ever experienced. Our soundman Chris must be in heaven. Ras al Ghul must be in another room.

The second half of the day is dedicated to shooting the first of two swordfights featured in the movie. This particular fight has been carefully choreographed, but not storyboarded. So our Director of Photography Dave and 2nd camera operator Aaron are shooting this scene hand-held, each focusing on one of the combatants and following him throughout the melee. There have been very few shots involving camera movement in this film, mainly due to its nature of being shot against a green screen where the scenic environments will be digitally created later. For any shot with a camera move, little round stickers called "tracking dots" need to be placed on the background screen along the line that the camera will be moving. The dots will allow Jeff and Steve to move the digital environments in post-production to match the camera movement in the shot. However, for this swordfight scene, the cameras are not moving neatly along any prescribed paths. Dave and Aaron just move around and capture as many moments of the clash from as many angles as they can. And so, tracking dots are everywhere. And our cameramen's footwork must be as fancy as the actors' as they bounce around the set capturing all the swashbuckling action.

1. Kori Mallon...
2. ... Star of "It Came From Yesterday"
3. Nathan fights the bad guy
4. Those goggles are a bit of a handicap, no?
5. Steve Tolin with the Brothers Cranston

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