10/23/08

CITY ISLAND: LONG NIGHTS JOURNEY INTO DAY

longdaysjourney

I'm back with a longish clip that I don't believe has been posted before. This is the climax of the movie, a family argument played out at night in the middle of the street. The scene itself runs considerably longer than this clip, so no spoilers are possible.

The page count of the scene was eleven pages. On a normal day we would shoot an average of four pages of script--which is considered quite a bit if you're a fifty million dollar movie, but if your shooting a 28 day schedule is just about right.(Do the math--28 times 4 equals 112 which is roughly the page count of my script). This eleven page scene, however, was shot all in one night--a considerable feat of energy for the actors as well as the crew. Why? Because it just seemed to be one of those unstoppable scenes, a huge verbal slugfest, that would be better caught in one long go than in breaking it up over a series of nights. I knew it was a risk scheduling it for only one night--by committing to the idea we effectively were cut off from the possibility of letting it spill over into another night--but I felt that the high level of professionalism of the actors (to say nothing of the crew) would make it possible to get the whole thing done. Also, I had two camera's running through each take, thereby cutting in half the amount of time it would take to pick up the necessary coverage.

However the downside was considerable: the scene takes place at night and we were shooting in the dead of summer. Night fell late--around eight thirty PM. And the sun rose at five AM. That means we only had an eight and a half hour workday--a normal shooting day for us was twelve, sometimes thirteen hours. And the street had to be lit--which chewed up the first two hours of the night (our call was, I believe, 7PM). Also, the scene was so long that we had to rehearse and shoot it in segments--i.e., lets take the first four pages and rehearse and stage it, then the next four, then the next four. Then lets shoot out each side of each segment facing in the same direction (so our cameraman didn't have to turn all the lights around more than once) and then spin around in the middle of the night and do all three sections of the scene again facing the other way. It was close to three AM when we turned around and we were fighting daylight to finish the coverage of the scene. Somehow we made it, though the last couple of takes had a distinctly blue light--the usually lovely arrival of morning in this case spelling doom. Nonetheless, the scene got completed and is pretty damn good if I say so myself.

A couple of interesting things in the below clip. It's from the early part of the scene and was shot early in the evening--so we were all still fresh and still finding our way. Note the two clappers--one for this camera and the second, in the background, for the B camera. Then note how halfway through the scene, the cameraman pans away abruptly, seeing the set, on-lookers etc. and appears to be in the process of complete collapse. Then he finds his angle again. What was going on here? I suspect that we were experimenting with re-positioning the camera during the performance--since we had a second camera filming as well we were "covered" for the material during A camera's repositioning. Ultimately, the angle he returns to is the original one and I believe we abandoned the re-po experiment in place of good old-fashioned standard coverage (note that whole scene was shot hand-held as well).

Oh. Does anybody have any interest in seeing two of the stars of the movie engaged in a heavy make out session? If so, say so. Otherwise...



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7 comments:

  1. ME! Show of hand right here...waving it around frantically!!! I'm a big fan of a good make-out session :)

    BTW, love this clip. You're killing me here because I really, really want to see this movie. I want to know why everyone is acting the way they are. Why is Vince hitting his own son who I'm assuming isn't aware of it yet? Why is Joyce thinking that Molly is Vince's girlfriend? Millions of whys and I can't wait to see the answers to all of them.

    Sounds like you went through a lot to get this done, but you cetainly have me intrigued!

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  2. Wow, the amount of work that went apparently went into this scene is really impressive. I can’t believe you managed to get that all done in one night. I guess you can’t have any slackers when you are trying to get so much finished.

    I’m really excited to see where you go with this scene. It definitely feels climactic from just this small clip. I guess it’s got to be a pretty long scene since it seems like this family has a LOT of secrets going on. I guess they all have some explaining to do.

    And put me down as a big YES in wanting to see that other scene you mentioned!

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  3. I enjoyed that story very very much.
    As far as the make out scene I can
    wait. But if it's posted it will be
    hard to not take a peek.
    I guess you folks were kind of
    pushing it around 3:30 in the AM.
    Wowwwwwwwww

    ReplyDelete
  4. A well-deserved shout-out has to go to Eric Henriquez, the First Assistant Director, who coordinated that night's shooting, kept the crew informed as to what part of what scene we were shooting when, and stayed on his feet that entire night while pulling out every trick in the bag to keep the rest of us from collapsing into systematic entropy.

    Also, Eric is a very nice guy.

    I'm Dan Fisher and I approve this message.

    ReplyDelete
  5. And Craft Service! Let us sing the praises of those unsung heroes!

    The only way you get through night shooting is to keep the crew well-fed and stoked with plenty of coffee.

    All the while trying to stay within a meager budget.

    Joe Facey, I salute you as well.

    DWF

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  6. Yes! *raises both hands* I wanna see! rofl.

    This clip was great, I'm just dying to see this whole movie to figure out just what is going on!

    Maybe a make-out scene will help ;) hehehe

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  7. Come on Ray, said I can wait to see
    the make out scene alright I waited
    long enough..where is it? Its not the
    one with me in it is it because while
    on the set I was stealing a few kisses and hugs from one of he extras. But thought the camera
    wasn't rolling. ciao

    ReplyDelete