Saturday the 3rd of January
Day 2 presented a new set of challenges. We would for the first time have practical effects during action sequences, running, shooting, and the first test for the HEV suit. Even at the end of the first day the wear and tear was significant. Nothing our awesome costume person couldn’t handle but any severe damage would mean stopping to fix it and time was never on our side.
Call time was at 6:30. We had several scenes to get on day 2 that were missed in the first day. Day 2 was a massive day already so the crew had its work cut out. We had two action scenes, the opening and closing the film plus the G-Man and the films villain coming into to do some HECU bidding.
The first shot of the day was that of two marines watching over the building that the heros have just entered. It’s a big hats off moment to the games writer and the marines are appropriately called HECU MARINE MARC and HECU MARINE LAIDLAW.
The morning started off well but things are hurried on a film like this. It’s like a train going down the line. Sometimes making changes or rerouting can seriously slow things down. Most of the time it’s better to let the train carry on and do the best you can. But in the hustle, small errors can creep in. For example I always imagined the villain wearing a camo T-shirt and a red beret. But on the morning of the shoot it was so cold it would have been torturous to do that to the actor. So the costume gal put him in full fatigues. By the time it came time to shoot his scenes it was more than warm enough for the t-shirt, but by that time we are moving so quick it was too late. In the end it worked out for the best as it looked better with no t-shirt.
I really wanted to set the villains look apart in the episode, but I think you have to sometimes settle. With tiny budgets like this, this type of stuff happens a lot. We did it in other ways anyway. For example, I was not personally a fan of portraying the US military as villainous, so I did little things to make them different from real Marines. Which is funny because worked we so hard to make everything look like legit Marines. In the film the villain wears his beret on the left instead of the right. Like a mirror image, evil twin or something like that. He’s not quite right. Also a nod to any real marines that were not mass exterminating innocent civilians during their time in service. We had a great military advisor on set and he would run around fixing everything to look perfect. I’m sure he probably thought I was a loon, following him around, making it look wrong again.
After we shot the MARC LAIDLAW scene it was followed up with a small scene between Jaegar and some soldiers, next was an action scene with Freeman and Evan being pursued by the HECU. This was one of the first scenes in the movie and it contained some exchange of gunfire, running and explosions. It also has a very small stunt with Freeman that had us very concerned about damaging the suit. In this scene the two heroes are almost blown up and I had this plan to set off the air cannon while simultaneously blowing up one of these C02 grenades to make a huge bang. The purpose being to get a real look of shock from the two main stars. I told all the crew members and the art art FX team rallied to get the surprise effect to go off. The only two that didn’t know were Bernhard and Mike, AKA Freeman and Evan.
The scene had some complex timing, the guys had to shoot at marines then take cover and we had to blow the air cannon, then they had fo fall. It had to be timed out perfectly. I called action, the C02 grenade fired with a hell of a bang and shocked the shit out of the main actor. However the Air cannons that blew the debris were late so he was sort of stunned for a second before debris fell on him. Hopefully there is some way to cut it so that it works. Not sure yet. Bernhard was not so stunned, maybe because he was so deep in character but more likely just so tired and over all the running around in the heat. Either way it worked really well for the moment. Shell shocked, worn down, hopeless. It was pretty awesome.
At the end of the scene, was lunch, the crew directly involved in the scene stuck around to get some additional close up shots and work through lunch. This was the type of people working on the film, guys and gals that didn’t really care about lunch, they sucked down a red bull and got on with the shots. It was marvelous. The close ups made the scene. Fuc#ing Perfect!
After lunch we went back to the same location to shoot the final scenes in the film. We had a big scene with the G-Man and the finale with Jaegar. The sun started to leave us really quickly. This was the firs time it was decided to split the cameras. One stayed to shoot the G-Man the other to Jaegar. I was disappointed because I had to choose which performance to direct and it meant less coverage of each scene. It was a compromise I had to make to get the film. Production is expensive and there was no way to extend the filming or money to do it even if permits allowed. It had to happen Saturday and Sunday.
Splitting the crew helped but it also slowed things down. We had to really simplify the the work with the G-Man and the numerous green screen shot and plates made things go really slow. Not that things were moving slow, most of the time, at least for me the pace was frantic, but its just a lot of shots of the same thing. I was really happy with the performances and moved inside for the final scene of the day.
This is where things took a turn for the worst. The light was fading too quickly and the scene being indoors was relying on external light sources. We frantically tired to capture what we needed as the light faded. It ended as more of a rolling rehearsal as the day closed, I felt a lot of tension and there were some crossed words. It was not a great way to end the day and I was upset and frustrated that I did not get the scene at all.
The first part of the day had gone well and we had captured a lot of stuff, the second part of the day had worked out well splitting the crews, but we needed more light. More money would have meant more crew and lights and we could have been prepared for the lack thereof. But it is what it is. You compromise where best you can and then figure out how to pick it up the next day.
At days end me and Bernhard went immediately to the production office (AKA Cafe 101) and sat down with the script. There was now too much script for the time we had left to shoot. We had to make some decisions. What could we do without? We started the process by combining some scenes that were in different locations. This helped with setup times and we felt pretty good about that. The only thing being lost was really cool locations, and one was particularly awesome. It was underneath the control room and it was very spooky. During the second site visit we talked about even the possibility of adding an extra headcrab scene there. After everything is shot this spooky set appears only in my memory. I dont even have any stills of it. Cut.
The second thing we cut was a small scene with a lighter moment I mentioned earlier. I wasn’t too unhappy to see this go, as I really am going for a very dark tone. Cut.
We made some final cuts to dialog and combined a couple more moments and it was done. We had our last day planned. It was still like two days worth of stuff, but a far cry from where we started.
Up Next the FINAL DAY…