“Pences” shoot day

Day 28. We are making a film with no budget. The first day of filming is suddenly the only day of filming as the DoP has got the hump about driving all the way from his home to the set. Which means we are trying to cram three days of shoot into one. Since none of us are experienced at editing we are taking advantage of the fact that the film we’re parodying is based on a play, and we are shooting pretty long scenes. It’s ambitious, chaotic and lot of fun. But God alone knows if the end result is going to hang together. A highlight was my final shot of the day, getting one take in a garage surrounded by disco lights as a proselytising baptist preacher.
The joyful thing was how everyone pulled together and kept great humour through a very crowded day. We all operated boom, lights, reflectors and everything else. We were right by LAX, it was pouring in the morning. One of us picked up her thirteen year old son from school, and he stayed perfectly happily playing games on iPad and occasionally operating the camera. I am just hoping that the director has the web of it in his head. I’m lost as to what is in the can and what is not. But I’ll find out, as I’m going to be involved in the edit, which will essentially be two chimpanzees with a pile of film and a pair of rusty garden shears. Final Cut is a life skill, no? Certainly if I want to be making more stuff. 

I think it’s always useful to jump over the table from time to time, but it seems on this project we’re on springs and so’s the table. My biggest learn was seeing the extent to which the words I wrote deepened in the hands of good actors. I’ve really started to get the writing bug, partly because of having to hack together that screenplay and partly down to the stricture of doing this every day.


Because it’s been my whole day I’ll talk about the team. We had Scott, a slight and hyperactive jack of many trades, who made most of the props, had sourced a lavish wardrobe for all of us, and had a director’s eye. On Tuesday nights he moonlights as a woman playing cabaret in a burger joint. I’m looking forward to seeing his work. David and Alan are brothers behind the camera, both very grounded, solid, laconic, American. Everyone has to appear on camera at least once and they were the least enthusiastic. Alan even less so than David. Then we had Joan, who is an immigration lawyer, and wanted to get stuck in. She is having a busy time at work with all the raids. She is the only woman in team, which is just the way it fell out, but thankfully the film we’re parodying was written in the ’80s so only has one adult female character. There is another woman, but we never see her, and she only exists for the effect she has on the male protagonist. Ugh. Playing the son is Antonio, a skilled and positive comedian, great big dreads, providing the location and much of the laughter. Then Robert, just a gorgeous man, he grew up on a farm, looks amazing and has no concerns whatsoever with being painted orange and snorting cheetos. A motley crew. These things can go two ways. It went the right way.


Exhausted after the shoot I had no intention of cooking for myself so I got the guys to drop me in Koreatown, which is near my house. I have now placed myself in the cheapest ramen joint I could find. They’re playing inexplicable videos of happy women dressed as cats on the big screen, with the music cranked up and everyone shouting in Korean. I’m still in my electric blue three piece suit but nobody is batting an eyelid. The ramen I have cooling beside me was six bucks and it’s a scaldingly hot pot noodle with onion, sriracha and an raw egg cracked into it immediately before serving. I’m going to shove it in my face and then walk home and collapse. But only once I’m certain the egg is cooked.

(Edit: Lest we forget. BUNNY BUNNY BUNNY BUNNY. Right now the Exit sign looks more appealing. Zzzz)

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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