Our crew continues to grow and change like the seasons every few months and I just wanted to give a big shout out of thanks to Rachel Kyle and Nathan Sherrer—our two set dressing apprentices last semester who worked on this project for college credit as they learned how to brainstorm, source, and arrange set dressing to bring the character's worlds to life. The two of them saw us through a big growth spurt in our staff and the solidifying of my process for how we make these pictures and I am hugely grateful to both of them for all of their help. Here's a quick snap of the two of them learning a little bit about lighting as part of their educational experience with us. Best of luck you two!
At wrap everyone descended on the food and goodies made by our amazing set design team they'd been eyeing all weekend:
I asked one of our actresses in one of our three backyard party scenes to crouch down in the front of the composition and pretend to take a snapshot with my iPhone of the birthday girl walking in. She gave me back all of these fantastic and fun images. Everything below is by our actress Lily Wen:
Photos by: Lily Wen
It only took eight months, but we finally have a sign kit—one of the essential tools of my old job in locations on movies and tv shows for pointing the cast and crew in the right direction. Albeit most of our sets are limited to two rooms and only twice have we been spread out enough (like on this occasion) that I wished for walkie talkies. All good signs that our production continues to grow, though let's all acknowledge the "printed on notebook paper" look is pretty half-assed, but it's a start!
That same windy weekend we also needed to hang a two 20'x20' silks to diffuse the sunlight on a fairly wide shot of the party, but the wind just turned them into giant sails threatening to blow away or bowl everyone over. Many thanks to our ever industrious producer Josh Shain for applying his theater and ropes know-how and getting everything safely rigged. With the wind we weren't able to raise the silk as high as I was hoping, but it took us so long to get it up and secured that the sun had nearly dropped low enough that it worked just as well at the height we left it at. It still took four people holding it against the fence with their bodies to keep the silk from billowing into shot, but as you can see there were a lot of smiles going around all the same.
Here's how the rest of our night shoot went:
Lighting this backyard party night scene was fun. One big broad light, another for some extra pop, a campfire, and a really slow shutter speed. Those are strobe lights, but we used them all backwards because balancing the campfire to the artificial lighting meant exposing with the 250 watt tungsten bulb instead of the strobe itself. All that and then the actors just have to hold really still while looking natural.
This marks the second set I've built in my basement for the photo project. It's only possible when the shot is tight enough that we'll only see (and only need to construct) a narrow avenue worth of set dressing and backdrop. The table we borrowed from the tex-mex restaurant Lobo in Carroll Gardens and the window and chairs came from Eclectic Props. We'll green screen in a sunny spring day through the glass behind them after the weather warms up and we can shoot an appropriate plate shot (much like the taxi cab scene you saw posted earlier).
The four us (plus Maggie who took the pictures and was handling all the costume changes that day) rented a car in July and drove around New Jersey taking digital snapshots at about a couple dozen different locations to tell the backstory of the main characters and place in picture frames in later scenes, everything from a corn field to a carnival, a baseball diamond to the beach, though the most moving and the one I'm most glad we got to shoot at and get in the project was my Dad's house on the last day I got to see it before he moved out.
Here's a glimpse of the really amazing South African restaurant/bar we'll be shooting at on Sunday.
Our two new set dressing apprentices, Adriana and Rachel, outside the location at 6:30am last Sunday for their first time on set for a shoot.
This is only the second image (of many more to come) we've shot with the characters of Cheryl and Margaret, so it's exciting to get them more in the mix. After five months of shooting and a two month hiatus being focused a new set of characters within the story makes being on set feel fresh again.