Peter

2006-08-12 - 18:41 | Uncategorized | 5 comments

I regret to have to announce that our friend Peter Vlach, who played one of our henchmen in the hallways of the now-defunct Naval Language Institute, was lost at sea off Japan late last month. Besides helping us out with our film, Peter was also a fine musician, a great traveller and, despite being one of our “bad guys” in the film, one of the true good guys. Even when he was pretending to shoot the other actors, he just couldn’t stop smiling.

Rest in Peace, Peter.


Fine

2006-08-01 - 15:30 | Uncategorized | One comment

My friend Michael just opened up a fancy restaurant on Ren-ai Road near the corner of Jian-guo Road a few months ago. It’s called “Kodiko”. He’s been very busy working there at all hours. It’s a “healthy eating” place that uses low temperatures and other methods to reduce the wear and tear food apparently has on the body.

It’s also a really fancy, expensive place, so after Micheal invited me to lunch and I’d gotten a good look at it, I immediately thought of our fancy dinner scene. Originally I’d thought of doing it in a sideroom, but Dean preferred the space of the main dining room. This meant we’d have to wait until the place closed at 10pm and film all night. Dean expressed hope, as always, that we’d get it done quickly, but these things have a way of taking their time, no matter how many corners you cut.

I caught a ride with Sandman and Jojo over to the restaurant after a quick dinner at The Italian Job on Lishui Street. They were just closing, and some of the cast and crew had already arrived. Among them were Mark from Doubting to Shuo and Prince Roy, who had agreed to provide famous blogger cameos as guards (we always seem to need guards and henchmen). They were eager to sample the excitement and adventure of a real film shoot, despite my warnings of long, tiring, boring, repetitious chores all night and into the morning. Jojo and Chris also stayed. I think they just wanted to see Sandman get stabbed with a butter knife.

Setting up took a while, as we had to move all the tables to the side room and set up one long table in the middle of the main dining room. Darrell brought his camera for two-camera setups to save time, and Paul supplied lights (which we augmented with an egg crate) and microphone. I wanted a dark dining room, so we used mostly the lighting in the ceiling, with a few accents provided by our lights. Darrell also provided the computer readouts to be projected on the glass wall behind the table.

Soon, everyone was in costume, including the guards in their maroon and black, carrying plastic guns (Prince Roy was apparently dissatisfied with the sound of clicking the plastic clip into place), Dean in his tux, Maurice’s friend Bill in my Chinese jacket and inside-out aborigine hat, Sandy in his jacket and disposable shirt and bow tie (looking kind of like an evil Jimmy Olsen) and Rowan of course in monacle and tails.

So we got down to it. Filming went fairly steadily, though there were hiccups as Rowan was having trouble with his lines. Part of this was due to the long monologues I’d wanted to do in one shot without breaking it up, the alcohol, and, increasingly, the late hour. We gave him a break and set up to shoot Sandman getting stabbed while Rowan went over his lines, and then started up again. Unfortunately, Jojo and Chris were outside (smoking, no doubt;) when we did it, so they missed it. Bill did a great job; at the time it seemed a bit too over-the-top, but looking at the footage I realize he did it just right.

Dean got to do his James Bond casino shot, and our guards did an admirable job of restraining him, or at least seeming to, though Mark’s beret fell off in one shot. Rowan, when he got his lines down, was impressive in his dynamic range. The rehearsal had gone quite well and seemed to help him get a grasp of the scene, though some actors like to work “fresh”.

Everyone seemed to run out of energy at about 3am, even though we’d stocked up on canned coffee. I felt wide awake, as I was responsible for everyone being there, so I just kept going. The normal banter between takes fell off, and soon there was nothing but silence. The guards conked out on the sofas during setups, and Paul retired to the side room for a nap, while Darrell filmed and held the mic boom at the same time.

It was tough, but we got through it. By the time we were done, the sun was shining outside the heavy restaurant doors. We wrestled the tables back in place and let everyone go. I roused Michael from his position slumped over the desk in the office in back, and we all went to catch taxis to our respective homes. I got home around 7:30am, didn’t feel like going to bed just yet as the light was so nice (I rarely see the morning light), so I took a stroll around my neighborhood taking pictures before going to bed at about 9.

I don’t know what we’re doing next, I’m afraid. Sure, we could do a couple of pick-ups here and there, and we need to get another trailer out, but Dean has to take another trip to Canada, from late August to late September, and Bill is busy during just about the same time. I am still searching for an office/study as well as, of course, the zeppelin interior. We’re quite close to finishing this thing, but unfortunately we’ve saved the most difficult locations for last.


Garage fight

2006-07-25 - 16:56 | Uncategorized | No comments

Maurice, Dean and I met up on Saturday last weekend to get a pick-up shot of Milo, supposedly in Iraq. The only remotely middle-eastern background I could think of was the Taipei Grand Mosque next door to where I used to live, so we went there. After being thrown out of my own apartment complex last time, I was a bit wary of filming in front of a mosque, but luckily we didn’t have any trouble. The sun even cooperated now and then while we were shooting. Maurice used my 20D as a prop camera. It was just one shot, and we went to a local restaurant for lunch afterwards. Nice and easy.

The next day, Sunday, Dean and I met Azuma and Jane near CKS Hall to use their apartment’s stairwell, elevator and parkade that we didn’t get last time at my place. I’d never seen the place, though Jane had mailed pictures, so I wasn’t sure if we’d need lights. I really wish we had a lighting expert on the crew, but even if we did, we never have enough time to spend setting up lights. It’s just part of this type of filmmaking: Do what you can in the time allotted, and often that means sacrificing production elements such as lighting, on-site sound, and even performance. The former two you might be able to correct for somewhat in post production, but without performance you’ve got nothing, even well-lit and good-sounding nothing. Alas, sometimes even nothing has to do, and you end up hoping you can string bits of stuff over the nothing so it doesn’t show too much. The fact is that we just have too much to get done, and everyone on set is there out of the goodness of their hearts alone. No unions, no rules, no catering, no safety monitor, no trailers. They all have real lives to get back to.

Anyway, after Alex arrived, we started shooting the whole garage sequence with him, Jane and Dean. We improvised many parts and even came up with a scene with Azuma and Jane’s nephew who was visiting from Beijing. I dollied around the actors as they snuck back and forth through the parkade. Jane ran around a corner, fully dressed up in her PLA uniform and brandishing her gun, only to find a terrified tenant cowering behind a column. For some reason there was a refrigerator near one parking spot, and she had come down to put stuff inside. Shirzi had choreographed a fight scene that we adapted for the new location. It seemed to work well, with a little bruising as possible…I hope.

It was quite hot, however, which was good in that we wanted the actors to look like they were stressed, but bad in that they were very uncomfortable. I was ok as I was wearing a T-shirt and shorts, but the actors were sweltering in their costumes, so we stopped at around 2pm and put off the rest of the things we’d planned until some other time. I was happy with what we did, though. Performance and shot wise, we got some good stuff. Jane in particular is great to work with, very quick on the uptake. I gotta admit, she really knows how to strangle a fella.

Our next shoot will be an all-nighter at a restaurant partially managed by my friend Michael, on Ren-ai Road. It’s the banquet-hall scene you see in many Bond films, basically, with a fancy dining room and as many people in tuxedoes as possible. It’s the first major scene we will have shot with our antagonist, played by Rowan Hunter. Rowan’s a great actor and his presence translates well on film, as we found out in the first film, so I’m looking forward to seeing him in action again in this, much larger project.

As for locations, the main on in our sights right now is a big executive-type office with lots of wood trim and a large desk. If you know of any possibilities here in Taipei or even outside of it, let me know. A library or study would do as well, if it comes to that.


touchy

2006-07-12 - 03:41 | Uncategorized | No comments

I had a gig on Saturday night, so I didn’t get to bed until 5am. This made getting up at 8am on Sunday for the shoot at my apartment complex difficult, but at least I didn’t have to go anywhere this time. As usual, I was a little nervous before the shoot, but confident at least that we wouldn’t face the danger of being thrown out, since I live here and all.

I waited in the air-conditioned goodness of the 7-Eleven’s interior until Dean, Alex, Jane, Azuma, Shirzi and Darrell arrived one-by-one. We then went inside to the AV room of my building, which I was renting for NT$500. Alex and Jane changed into their costumes, which were pseud0-PLA uniforms Dean had patched together from various sources. The dolly seemed to work on the carpet, and the varying color temperatures of the room’s lights were somewhat of a challenge to deal with. I ended up bouncing a light on the table top for some angles. The place had a really low ceiling, but we wanted the claustrophobic feel of an underground room.

The shooting in the room went well; Jane, Alex and Dean all did good work, and we were inside and comfortable, a rare thing in my experience. But that was only one part of the shooting we’d scheduled for the day. We still had to shoot some elevator exterior, stairwell and a big fight/chase scene in the parking garage, which we’d rehearsed beforehand.

We left most of the stuff in the A/V room, gathered up the necessary stuff, and headed over to the other building in my complex, over the footbridge between the two entrances. We were almost to the door when I heard shouting coming from behind us. It was the building manager, a mainlander who is normally a nice guy.

He’d seen our actors in their PLA costumes, however, and was nearly epileptic with rage. “STOP! STOP RIGHT THERE!” he yelled as he ran up. “What do you think you’re doing!”

“We’re filming, like I said before,” I said.

“No, you’re not! Not with people in PLA uniforms!”

“Uh, those are actors.”

“I don’t care! They can’t be seen! Can you imagine how much trouble you’re causing!” He was apparently afraid that certain mainlanders in the complex would see the uniforms and have strokes.

“We’re not even showing them in a good light!”

“I don’t care!”

“They’re the bad guys! They meet horrible fates in the end!'” This wasn’t strictly true, but I was still stunned by his irrational reaction to the costumes and was grasping at straws.

“Listen,” I said. “Whoever gives you a hard time about it, just send them to me. Let them give me a hard time about it, ok?”

But he was adamant. We had to shut down, immediately. Even if we had an official GIO permit, he’d turn it down, he said. To buy some time and think the situation over, we said we’d go back to the A/V room to collect our stuff. When we arrived we hurridly took down all of the PLA propaganda posters Dean had purchased online, for fear that the manager would see them and fly into another rage. Our fears were well grounded, for he showed up soon afterwards, apparently determined to keep an eye on us until we left. It was obvious that we would get no more filming done there. Alex stood there smiling at the building manager as he watched us.

“What are you smiling at?” the manager challenged.

“Nothing, just you getting into such a state over all of this,” Alex replied.

“I AM NOT IN A STATE! WHO ARE YOU TO TELL ME WHAT STATE I’M IN, ANYWAY!”

“Ok, ok,” I stepped in between them. “Cut it out, we’re leaving, all right?”

So. Obviously, we didn’t get to shoot the parkade/elevator/stairwell shots that day. Fortunately we got the A/V room stuff done, which was the most difficult location to find and the one we would have the most trouble replacing. We’re going over to Azuma’s building in two weeks to try to film the rest of the stuff there. This weekend, unless we’re visited by a typhoon that’s heading this way, we’re going to get some pick-up shots of Maurice and April in separate places. Doing what we can, as always.


Airports,

2006-06-26 - 16:04 | Uncategorized | No comments

Last weekend we filmed our first scenes with Alex Chou, a co-worker of Dean’s, as well as Azuma’s wife Jane. We originally cast Tony Lee from the first film in the role of PLA General Song, but Tony’s disappeared. We think he may be in Hawaii. In any case, Dean had to have another uniform made for Alex, who is a bit bigger than Tony.

We returned to the train station on Saturday morning, early because Alex had to work later, and we only had the car, a black Cadillac almost identical to the one we used in the first film at CKS Hall, until 1pm. So we had to hurry, but by now I guess we should be used to it. Almost every shoot we do we’re in a hurry.

Dean and Jane were already at the station when I arrived, still half asleep. Dean and I went over the storyboards while Jane changed into her PLA-esque uniform, but then we realized that she’d forgotten to bring her “billfold” hat. I liked the hat. I like hats in general. I think more people in films, if not real life, should wear hats. So I told her to go back and get it, since she lives close by.

While we waited the Caddy pulled up, with Alex inside. We had to make room in the taxi line for the car, but just before we started filming a cargo truck pulled up perpendicular to the curb and started unloading, so we decided to just add it to the scene. We do try for a reasonable amount of continuity, but I’ll be the first to admit there are large gaps here and there that we can do nothing except hope they aren’t too glaring or distracting.

After I got the exteriors we all got in the car and headed off to the Xinyi District. Except I’d wanted some interiors at the train station, so we circled back again to get those. Then we were off, to the building a block from the world’s tallest building, where we’d filmed some scenes before, and, unfortunately, where the security guards had called the cops on us.

This time our shoot was cop-free, and I managed not to fall on my ass whilst jumping over the curb. Even a shot where Dean comes running out of the building and falls as if shot while I filmed from the Caddy window came out well. And no cops. Heaven forfend a real shootout occurs around there, though.

Alex was done for the day, though he forgot his pants and had to come back. We took the caddy back to the train station and sent it on its merry way so that Dean, Jane and I could get the rest of the interior shots there. At least we’re done with all of the car shots for this film, which is comforting.

Sun was shining through the skylights, creating some nice lighting. We were lucky it wasn’t storming like it has been every day recently. I shot Dean and Jane walking through the station, getting as few gawking people in the background as possible. We’ve figured that carrying the camera on the tripod, folded up, is just as stable as using the home-made glidecam, so that’s what we’re doing, since the floor doesn’t work with the dolly.

And so that was a wrap for that part of scene 14, which is a real monster of a scene; really confusing and convoluted but hopefully cool and very suspenseful on screen. Next week we’re all going to be busy with various national holiday events, but the weekend after that we’re planning to film the final bits of scene 14 at various locations in and around my apartment complex. Shirzi and I went over some action sequences downstairs in the parking garage this morning, and it should be pretty exciting.


Airports,

2006-06-17 - 10:24 | Uncategorized | 2 comments

Dean rented a car last weekend so that we could hastily shoot the last of Azuma’s scenes before he left for a semi-permanent position in Hong Kong this week. Azuma, Maurice, Sandy and I met up at Dean’s house on Saturday morning. Dean provided Azuma with an overcoat so that he wouldn’t garner too much attention walking around Taipei in a PLA general’s uniform.

We walked to the car, set up inside and started filming car interior shots while Dean headed to the train station before us. Maurice didn’t quite know where we were going, and traffic was stop-and-go the whole way, it being a weekend and this being Taipei. Continuity between car-moving and car-stopped shots is going to be a real headache to patch together. At one point I saw a place to pull over but was too late in asking Maurice to pull over, so when he stepped on the brakes our ears were greeted with a chorus of squealing tires directly behind us. “Ok, uh, let’s not stop here,” I said.

After getting pretty much all that needed to be done in the car (I would have preferred more time and more takes, but Azuma had to get going), we drove to the train station, which would be standing in for our airport in Beijing. As Dean went to park the car, I found that our dolly wouldn’t work on the tiled floor of the station, so we would have to resort to using our homemade glidecam to get certain shots, such as the two parties walking to meet each other.

Azuma reluctantly put aside the overcoat once again, but besides a few strange looks we were ok. Before doing the glidecam shots I first got the tripod-mounted shots overwith. The glidecam shots turned out shakier than I would have liked, but we got them, and that was that. We still have more scenes to do in the same location, but with different actors, mainly Dean and Azuma’s wife Jane.

On Friday night after work I went over to Dean’s again to get some shots of the more-or-less completed MacGuffin- I mean, Gozen Engine for the new trailer. Rowan was there as well, so I got a couple of shots of him for the trailer as well.

Next up are the rest of the airport shots, as well as some Beijing HQ shots that we should be able to shoot downstairs in my very own apartment building, sometime in the next few weeks. The narrowing-down of our “to do” list proceeds, and as always I look forward to possibly the most challenging part of the filming, at least in terms of locations, i.e. Rowan’s scenes. We still need to find environments exuding “a deteriorated grandeur”, which can be difficult because grandeur in Taiwan deteriorates rather quickly and thus doesn’t last that long. We’re also still looking for an airplane, but we might just wait until October and take a chance on the new high-speed railway, if it’s completed in time.


Wrapping

2006-04-23 - 07:33 | Uncategorized | One comment

No, this entry doesn’t involve saran wrap.

Cast and crew once again gathered at Dean’s apartment on Friday night. Our objective this time was to finish filming all of April’s scenes, little bits and pieces of several different scenes. To that end, Dean had gone to great lengths to build all the props and sets in and around his apartment, as you can see in the picture. He constructed a vent out of wood, a stand for my brass monkey, which plays a role early in the film, and a parachute rigging for April to hang off for green screen shots.

Our first task was to go over to a nearby office building, where we’d gotten permission to film in the lobby. I would have preferred to get it during the day, but we wanted to get everything done at once, and it happened to be night. The contrast during the day would have been difficult for the camera in any case. Paul and Darrell were waiting in the lobby as Dean, April, Shirzi and I arrived.

As it happened, someone was moving out of the building, so we had to time April walking in the door, across the lobby and into an elevator to avoid catching the movers in the shots. Ordinary movers would have not detracted from the shots. Movers who waved at the camera and yelled “Hallooo!!!” were less welcome. Shirzi waited inside an elevator and opened the doors for April while telling people who wanted to use the elevator that that particular one was “broken”. It was difficult, with all the mirrors around there, not to get my reflection anywhere in the shots.

Once that scene was in the can, we retired back to the playground scene at Dean’s, moving all the junk from an outside corner and dressing it like the interior of an elevator shaft. We’d been looking forever for a real elevator shaft, but it just never happened. I figured an unpainted concrete wall decorated with black rails and pipes would do just as well, so we did it there. April climbed a black rope from a “Batman” climbing kit. We tested the strength of the rope with all of Dean’s weight, so April was secure in the knowlege that she wouldn’t approach the breaking point. She was only a few inches off the ground anyway. The crew was in a line in the narrow alley, April in front, then Darrell with the microphone, and then me with the camera, followed by Dean, who was feeding April lines to respond to. One of Paul’s lights supplied what we hoped looked like elevator-shaft lighting, with April descending into shadow and then climbing back out of it.

After that was done, we moved inside and did the museum/monkey shots, with April approaching the brass statue and removing what will be digital effects at some point. We had planned on using a fire extinguisher, with Shirzi on the floor waiting to provide the effect, but the thing crapped out on us. Dean tried to use a pan of milk powder instead, but it looked just like milk powder being thrown in the air. We’ll see if we can do something with it in post. As always.

Then it was time for the vent, the showpiece of the evening. Dean did a really good job, and we got a lot of good shots of April climbing through the thing, looking through the grill, etc. Dean’s evil cat loved to play with the aluminum foil on the other end, and we kept having to shoo him away, lest we have to write one evil kitty into the script as some kind of feline vent defense system or something.

Next on the list was the parachute setup. It was getting rather late by this time, and Paul and Darrell had to leave. The rest of us set up green cloth over Dean’s mirrored wall and tried to get the lighting so that there were as few shadows as possible. Hopefully Darrell will be able to do something with these shots. April found a new respect for Star Wars prequel actors as she tried to react to invisible exploding zeppelins, missiles and flaming shrapnel all around her.

The last thing to do involved tying April’s hands behind her back with what turned out to be extremely itchy twine. Between the twine, evil kitty’s flying fur and a fan, April spent most of the evening trying not to sneeze. She willingly slugged through it all, though, even as we worked into the wee hours of the morning. At long last we got everything done, so all she has to do now is the looping. Which means that I have to go through all of the footage and get at least one take of each of her scenes, just as I did with Josh before he left, get the footage to Darrell and then, probably over at least a couple of days, loop all of her lines. She’s leaving in August, so we have a little time yet.

Next on our list is more car scenes, which we’ll probably film at Sungshan Airport or at the train station. Now that April and Josh are done, we’ll be concentrating on the Legion of Doom contingent of our cast, namely Sandy, Rowan, Sarah, and a new actor.


Temple

2006-04-16 - 11:31 | Uncategorized | 2 comments

The night before we were scheduled to film the temple interior scene, Dean told me he wanted to do his lines for that scene in Chinese, instead of in English as we had originally planned. For the first film I’d recorded the Chinese lines for him to practice, but obviously we didn’t have time for that this time. We were having dinner at JB’s and looking at storyboards at the time, so we took the script and translated all his lines into Chinese, and I wrote down the pinyin romanization for him to read the next day. I figured we’d just fix the inevitable pronunciation problems in post, which is more than Firefly did, anyway.

It was just a small thing, one of many small complications involved in doing a scene in two languages. This is in addition to filming in a temple, which means trying to be as discreet and low-key as possible. Actually, this is a big part of indie filmmaking, as we just don’t have the funds to close off any areas for filming, much less the money to hire enough extras to populate said areas. So far we’ve had both good and bad experiences at temples in Taiwan, from being made quite welcome to being refused entrance. We’d filmed an exterior at this one, the Taiping Temple in Bitan, and I knew the manager, Mr. Xie, so I didn’t think it would be a problem.

Another concern was an actress Maurice had found for us, an older Taiwanese woman to play a fortuneteller at the temple. I’d never met her and didn’t know anything about her. I was hoping she wasn’t one of those strange older Taiwanese woman who insists on dressing and being treated like a schoolgirl.

It turned out I needn’t have worried. The woman I met at the temple on Saturday morning, Liqing, was very courteous and professional. She looked the part and did some fine acting for us. Mr. Xie was also fine with our being there, despite the fact that the head of the temple association was in the next room drinking tea. I had been hoping for sunshine and the resulting hazy shafts of light beaming down through the skylights, but instead a solid downpour outside endeavored to soak everyone and everything outside. I hoped that at least fewer people would be at the temple due to the inclement weather.

Nonetheless, the temple interior still looked very good, very atmospheric, and I decided against the added disruption of using lights, as the natural light, supplemented with candles, was good enough. Another advantage of digital video. I’d brought the dolly and got some nice tracking shots of Dean walking around the temple. Azuma was there as well, in his police uniform, and Maurice held the microphone in between getting water for Liqing. Darrell came along as well but had to leave early.

Shooting the scene went very slowly at first as Dean couldn’t understand Liqing’s lines. She couldn’t really understand him either, so nobody knew when their lines were; even with Shirzi there to prompt the actors we got lost very easily, so I decided to film all of Liqing’s lines at once, and then all of Dean’s lines, and then cut them together later. After that things went pretty smoothly, and I got some nice shots and fairly powerful moments in the can. Afterwards we ended up at Rosemary’s Kitchen, down by the river, with Maurice buying his customary wine with lunch. The rain, which had stopped when we were in the temple, resumed as soon as we were finished.

Next on the list is a cornucopia of April’s scenes, which we are going to attempt to wrap up in various corners of Dean’s house next Friday night after work. April’s leaving this summer, so we have to get all of her stuff done as soon as possible and get her looping done. After that and some car/airport scenes we’ll have most of the good guys’ stuff done and can concentrate mainly on our baddies.


Girl

2006-02-26 - 12:25 | Uncategorized | 3 comments

I knew from experience last year that we’d be pretty much off for Christmas and New Year’s, so I wasn’t surprised that it took us this long to get filming again after the break. Nonetheless, it was a relief to get back into it after such a long time.

Shirzi and I met Sarah, who plays a major evil assistant to our baddie, at the Yuanshan MRT station on Saturday morning. Sarah was decked out in dark green, with leather jacket and long black boots, de rigeur for evil assistants this year, I believe. Our destination was the old abandoned and derelict naval language lab/base where we filmed Josh, April and Dean late last year. April lives in Neihu, so she was going to meet us there. “I hope the place is still there; it’s been so long,” I joked as we put our equipment in the back of the cab.

As soon as we came in sight of our destination, however, I knew something was very wrong. Instead of the barricaded gates, large metal plates had been laid down at the entrance, the kind used for large trucks. “We may have a problem,” I said as we got out and walked over to find that the entire complex of multi-story buildings had been reduced to rubble. Bulldozers were still working on bits of it, concrete-breaking machinese clanging away.

Just next to the entrance, a couple of single-story buildings still stood, one of which even still had a roof, and we took cover inside to avoid being seen by the wreckers, who had yelled at April for coming onto the site when she had arrived. I had originally planned the fight to take place in hallways/entrances of the bigger buildings, but it occured to me that there might still be hope in the smaller buildings. I scouted out a room in the only remaining intact building, and we hurridly set up angles for the three stages of the fight that Shirzi had come up with, based on what we had to work with. The place was filthy, of course, with clouds of mosquitoes buzzing around heaps of leaves, broken glass, puncuated by the occasional derelict office furniture. Shirzi liberated a picture of Dr. Sun Yat-sen to decorate his new digs in Xindian.

Sarah and April practiced the moves on the spot as the sound of the wreckers went on in the background. I hoped they wouldn’t be tearing down that building any time soon, but we had to work fast in any case, as April had plans later on. The actors getting used to the moves took th most time, and just when they had it down and had done one segment a few times, we had to move on to the next segment. Shirzi and I would do the moves for the girls to watch, and then they would practice until it was reasonably smooth. They ended up doing a great job, considering they were not martial artists and yet had to learn it and get it down on the spot.

There’s a part where April kicks over Sarah, who ducks to avoid the blow, but one time April didn’t quite clear Sarah’s head, instead kicking her right in the head with steel-toed boots. Sarah was ok, though. The only other injury, besides Sarah’s leather boot that lost a heel, occured when April cut her leg during a fall. Fortunately there wasn’t too much blood.

We got out of there by around 3:00, and I was sure that the building wouldn’t last another day, as they were obviously clearing the whole site. Talk about cutting it close. We bade farewell to April and took the MRT down to Bongo’s. People on the train stared at Shirzi Sun Yat-sen picture the whole way.

As for what’s next: Dean’s in Canada at the moment, but once he comes back, we’ll be ready for the final push that, hopefully, will see the end of principal photography. I, for one, will be very glad to see that day.


More

2005-12-16 - 15:24 | Uncategorized | 4 comments

We didn’t get all of the jeep stuff done last time, so we had to go back over the course of a couple of weekends to get all of Maurice’s stuff done before the weather turned too nasty. The first weekend was iffy, as it was raining throughout Taiwan the day we were down there, but we still got a few shots done. In order to get up the hill faster, Dean and I hung on to the sides of Doug’s jeep on the steep bits, where it was pretty hard to hang on. Dean got a bloody hand in the effort, in fact. I got a shot of the jeep driving over the camera, which is fine as it has more than enough clearance. In between squalls I wiped the lens off, the rest of the camera in rain gear, and got shots of Maurice in the back of the jeep, jumping out the back of the jeep, rolling in the grass, and reacting to an explosion. For the explosion we created “debris” by throwing things, including the jeep’s spare tire, at Maurice. This was a lot of fun. Another high point was when we shot Maurice’s leg getting shot. The sun came out just as we were ready with the squib, glinting off the spraying blood.

That was about all we could do that weekend, but the next weekend was much better, almost too much better, as there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the other weekends featured overcast skies. Hopefully the audience won’t care too much about the changes in weather, and we can fix it to a degree in post. Norm, who was in Clay Soldiers, agreed to come down with us and be a cigar-smoking, Hawaiian-shirt-wearing henchman. He did a great job, as did Doug. At one point we shot a struggle between Maurice, Doug and Norm, after Maurice shoots Doug’s gun out of his hand, which they went at with great gusto. Another time we needed a red jeep to drop off our henchmen. There was a hill-climbing contest going on just up the mountain, and we got one of the guys to help us out.

I’m not going to even try to explain this.

So we finished that scene and crossed it off the list. Now, it being he holidays, with sucky weather, people on vacation, and other various reasons, we’re taking a little break. Same thing happened last year, so it’s not really a surprise. We’ll probably start pushing the pace again after Chinese New Year’s, depending on what locations we can find. In the meantime, have a Merry Christmas.