Thursday, June 16, 2011

Our Four Hour Thursday Afternoon Shoot

by Chris McGinty (According To Whim .com)

This will technically be coming in a little late, because I have been nowhere near the internet all day, except for the two and a half hours that I actually was able to sleep, which made getting on the internet a low priority. Even though this will be posted on Friday morning as Thursday’s post, it is about today, the Thursday in question.

This really all started because I had some things scheduled during the day, so I asked for Thursday off, but it looks like they just recycled my schedule from the previous week. The previous week I was scheduled in at 11 pm. I reasoned that the scheduled activities would be complete by noon, and that I could sleep until 5 pm, and then go to Nathan’s for a few hours, except that Nathan also had some scheduled activities from 3 pm to 7 pm. He would be in Fort Worth at that time, and able to shoot though, so we agreed to meet around 3 pm, and make According To Whim history! Or at the very least, shoot some footage.

Nathan and I met at around 3 pm, and we shot some pick up shots (no pun intended given that we were doing shots that required our pick ups), including Nathan looking for Chris and Chris looking for a job. We shot this by the old Montgomery Ward building. We picked up a couple of shots of me walking out of places of business with employment applications. I shuffled them a little, and I explained to Nathan that I’d read somewhere that if you have a prop, you should use the prop (maybe it was in the Bruce Campbell book).

Impromptu Bit #1: Season Two has two basic archetypal themes: friendship will endure, and Dr. Pepper is a necessity. While we were shooting, a pick up truck with a Dr. Pepper logo pulled into the parking lot. I told Nathan that I was going to ask the driver if we could get a shot on camera for You Tube of me worshipping the Dr. Pepper logo. It might not have happened, because English was probably his second language, and he seemed to think that I was asking to drive the truck in the shot. I never talked about driving at all. Some part of what I said was ambiguous, but I honestly don’t know what. I did get him to understand though, and he agreed, so we got a mildly humourous, unscripted bit out of it.

Much of what we shot was somewhat impromptu, but usually was a scripted moment that we figured out how to shoot given our location. With this in mind, after we milked the area around the Montgomery Ward building, we went to Trinity Park, and milked that area (pretty much for all it was worth). We shot some more Chris down on his luck and Nathan looking for Chris stuff, as well as some montage stuff, including a location based impromptu that involved bridge supports.

Impromptu Bit #2: There was a set of stairs that we used as an impromptu location, but I also conceived of an odd one-off bit that will require me to get an acoustic guitar and record a “Stairway to Heaven” style track to go over it. It probably won’t be all that funny, but it’ll be short, so I guess that’s ok.

Impromptu Bit #3: Much like the “use your prop” advice, I’ve also heard about the concept of using what you have available to use (in this case, it was Robert Rodriguez, either on a DVD, or in an article about his shooting style). I had bread in my car, and there was a duck pond. The basic idea of the “Nathan looking for Chris” bit is that Nathan revisits places where he and Chris shared good times. This meant that a good “duck feeding” scene was in order. I was hoping to get a large group of ducks swimming intently toward the camera, but they we completely uninterested in the bread, so we came up with a very small bit where I apply false logic to Nathan’s speech about handouts.

Once we had shot pretty much everything we could shoot in that area, we started harassing Miguel, who was supposed to join us and help us reshoot the scene with Nathan talking to Miguel at the Water Gardens. The original footage of the scene was lost in the hard drive crashes. We all met downtown and walked into the Water Gardens. Nathan had his digital camera with him, and we were taking some on location Picture Shoot pictures. I asked this guy if he would take a picture of the three of us, and he did. I guess Miguel misheard me, because he chastised me for walking up to the guy and ordering him to take our picture, but I had actually used the phrase, “Hey, will you…” Well, jokingly, I pointed at this guy in a shirt and tie, and said, “You there! Take our picture.” He had good humour about it, and “followed orders.” We spoke with him for a bit, and he said that he was on break from work, and was just wasting time. We invited him to hang with us and shoot a bit if he wanted.

Impromptu Bit #4: We shot another Miguel as Homeless Guru scene. I’m not sure how it will fit in the show, but the guy in the shirt and tie (his name was Jim Wall) did a reasonable acting job, given that it wasn’t an intensive acting scene, but mostly, he did a pretty damn good job of immediately committing his three lines to memory, and not flubbing them.

Then we got on to frustrating Nathan, or at least Miguel did. I’m not sure what Miguel was trying to do, but he kept delivering his lines in these weird inflections that you might hear at Shakespeare in the Park. I think he was intentionally trying to be over the top, and it might have been ok if it was the first guru footage and we were establishing that tone. There are previous guru scenes though, and in those scenes, he isn’t talking like Mr. Sulu at a Captain Kirk acting school. We burned a lot of tape footage on his lines. I think we finally got him reeled in though.

This was the point where we were out of scripted material that had to be done in Fort Worth, and we started looking for things to shoot since we were all together and on location. We did some more Picture Shoot picture taking, and then started discussing possible sketches to shoot.

Impromptu Bit #5: We did a bit that Nathan thought up that could probably stand alone, but is intended for the “Nathan and Miguel fighting over Chris” storyline. In the bit, Chris and Miguel are looking over a script, and Nathan comes along claiming Chris to be his friend. Miguel disagrees and claims Chris to be his friend. They start a tug of war with Chris as the rope. I had to call a stop to the very first shot because they were being timid about pulling me (maybe because they were concentrating on the argument dialogue) and it was ending up where they were saying “he’s my friend” but then pushing me to the other. I figured that this was the type of scene that to make the tug of war, and the Chris spinning like a top after Miguel and Nathan lose their grip, seem convincing that we would need multiple angles, but I think Nathan felt I did too many angles. Then we almost forgot to get the initial dialogue close ups. Nathan remembered though.

Impromptu Bit #6: The last thing we did before we called it a day was to have Miguel and me to an impromptu dialogue about unnaturally written dialogue. This was based on Miguel kidding with Nathan, “Do you want me to read these lines, or do you want me to sound natural?” That line somehow didn’t make it into out discussion. The idea here was that it didn’t matter if what Miguel and I were saying was funny, because we would be under this awkward, unmatched footage, attack from Nathan who was running up behind us and hitting us in the head. Neither Miguel nor Nathan seemed to understand what I was trying to accomplish, and to be honest, I’m not sure it will come across as funny, but we needed something to shoot. Miguel did actually say a couple of things that made me smile (almost laughing) so maybe it’ll work.

And that was our four hour Thursday afternoon shoot. The work we did ranged from bizarre to important. It was a productive four hours though, and I think we all had a good time.

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