On the 3rd day in the morning we did our walkthough blocking for the first scene to be shot. It was a complex scene in a hallway with the miniature Vortigaunt needing to be composited in later. 4 members of the cast were present including Bernhard (Freeman) and majority of the crew.
Getting a chance to set the entire scene for the whole team and do a blocking was the wish of the AD who was committed to getting the film back on track. I think it was a good idea. It set the tone for the day and everyone was in sync.
After the blocking Bernhard went off to shoot a small scene from a flash back with him prior to the opening of the game. It was the only shot in the film done with a DSLR and not in 4K. We had to settle for the 5DMk3 or not at all. So before costume and makeup Bernhard got with the very talented visual effects supervisor and they captured this moment in a storage room somewhere on the set.
For this scene we used a tight corridor that forced the actors to walk single file. I felt this worked well for several reasons. It kept things tight for the shots and allowed us to capture the whole scene from one or two angles, it was tight for the Vort attack and left the actors only one direction to go, plus it looked like it was right out of the game.
There were large windows in the corridor and I knew that they were going to effect lighting as the day went on so time would be limited. The scene didn’t need to be completely dark, but one that was even and dim was preferable. I talked with the DP about it and options for covering the windows but we had a minimal grip and electric package and not really the equipment on man power to do anything about it.
So I settled to get what we could get and tried not to worry too much about racing the light coming up. Funny really because normally it’s the other way around, you race to get the shots before the sunset. We got busy and shot the scene, (shot the fuck out of it actually) and got all the coverage, green screen, plates, etc on schedule.
It wasn’t until a lighting change that I realized that during the morning lighting setup the windows had somehow been covered. When I later went outside I realised that the Gaffer and Key Grip had rigged up some C stands with tarps and whatever else they could get their hands on. It was in amongst all kings of transformer looking electric shit I would have gone nowhere near. These guys were the business.
While we planned the first scene, all kinds of things started happening, everyone was really getting into the groove now. It was day three, the last day and now everyone would soon be going their separate ways. Today was the day that Evan (Michael Thomas Wallace) was going to be having some of his key scenes. Mike is a very happy go lucky character but I felt that for the performance I was looking for I wanted him to remain in character for the rest of the day.
After the Vort scene we had to pick up a run of the main characters and then a tense scene in a locked room. This set of scenes actually ended up being a bit more complex than it seemed in the blocking. I decided that for the second part I wanted to split the cameras again and get a couple of pickups of another scene somewhere else. So we did. This was the last shot before lunch and an important moment for several of the characters.
There was a moment here between Freeman and the other characters that was to be expanded upon later in the story. The performances needed to be solid for the characters and these subsequent moments to feel reel. In truth, this is a short, so there’s not a great deal of time to build characters and arcs. The actors have to be carrying everything coming into the scene and hope that the audience buys into the emotions.
And lets not kid ourselves, most people will end up watching this on youtube on their laptop, PC or phone/tablet. Keeping the attention of the viewer with action, VFX and fast cutting is going to play a part for sure. But we tried our best not to skip on substance and performance, even with a small budget and a short shoot, 30 people who really cared about this movie got together and worked really hard to make it the best they could.
After the tense scene with Freeman we continued with the cameras split. One team went to shoot the opening scene of the film, the arrival of the characters at the power plant and the other went to grab some important pickups from the previous day. Once these scenes were completed we were at lunch.
After a quick bite we moved to the big gun fight we had failed to get in the previous day. Now we had the opportunity to really tackle it with with some awesome shots. And we did. I got the whole scene from several angles and a couple of times at 180 FPS for some awesome tension, action, slo mo moments. Every one had time to focus on the little details and really make this scene special.
We had some more cool air cannon stuff, blood and gore, running and gunning, Freeman, Evan and HECU marines in a final shootout. It was pretty awesome. Steve Wang also made an appearance and gave us the thumbs up on the suit and stuck around to take in the set.
As the light faded we got the last shots of the characters entering the warehouse. This was key for the final moments between the actors before they run into some serious trouble.
After that the final scene of the day in the control room. Unfortunately by that time we had run a bit behind in the schedule. Although the final scene was pre lit and looking great there was quite a lot of dialog and some very emotional scenes from our characters.
Here our male and female stars knocked it out of the park. The level of intensity and emotion was high, the crew although tired from what was approaching a 12 hour day were making a final push to get the film finished.
Time was running out and we got set for the final moments of the final day. Things went down to the wire but when all was said and done it was finished. We got it filmed with brilliant performances.
Thanks to the dedicated cast and crew and to all the fans that made it possible by donating to the process.
Stay tuned as we share stories and content during post production.