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Student Film part three

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  • Student Film part three

    Now we all have learned that at the beginning of each day you are given your pages of the days work. For me that means I can figure out how I am going to utilize my crew and plan my day. The more I can get ahead of the company with pre-lighting the more time I can save production. And in film time is absolutely money. When a production is costing maybe 20 or 30 thousand dollars an hour you don’t want to be the one adding hours to the day. And unfortunately for me, lighting steals the most time from the Director and his actors during a workday so the pressure to be fast and decisive is always there.

    However, this student film we are talking about is a whole different animal. Like I said earlier come lunchtime the Director is needing his pot to smoke. So, after lunch anything could happen and often did. That he would start re-writing during these “artistic” breaks became a given. What he would re-write became insane, but fun.

    I need to back up here so you can really get the picture. We had several scenes to shoot in several nightclubs. To re-create the dancing and atmosphere of the time we had a troupe of 12 women dancers and 12 men dancers. Now, mind you, each is getting a salary, a rental car, per diem, housing. We had a schedule of 14 days with the dancers in the clubs. Then of course they need a couple of weeks of rehearsal. So, let’s say one month altogether. Well, just to start with before we ever get around to filming them we have a couple of months in New Orleans we need to get out of the way. Meanwhile they are back in North Carolina rehearsing and pretty much driving the crowds at the local clubs wild. Just an aside, we were in New Orleans for a couple of months because all of a sudden we started shooting a second movie. Oh yeah, I said a second movie. The Director decided he wanted to do something for the city after Katrina and all of a sudden we are shooting a black and white film of young Louis Armstrong that is going to go on tour as a silent film while the Wynton Marsalis band plays music in front of it. You know, just because we had nothing else to do for a couple of months.

    Getting back to the dancers and lunchtime smoke breaks. Occasionally we would come back from lunch and the 1st AD would tell us, “We are not going to continue with today’s work, instead we are going to stage…… and shoot a dance sequence.” Dance sequence? What dance sequence? There was no stinking dance sequence in the script. Are we now doing Bollywood? And shoot dance sequences we would. Modern dance, jazz dance, ballerinas, how about 24 naked dancers in an African Village? You name, we shot it. What did it have to do with the story? No idea. And the dancers never went home all the months we filmed. Think about that, salary, car, per diem, and housing.

    Of course one of the obvious ramifications of doing this is for everyday we filmed we lost a half of day. Pretty soon a 90 day film became a 6 month film became more than a 6 month film. Right up to the last day of filming. Traditionally the last day always ends in a party and this film was no different. As we are finishing up I have the majority of my crew tearing down and packing lights into 8 tractor-trailers to get ready for the trip back to CA. One of the lights we used is called a 20K. It is one big MFing light, 20,000 kilowatts of raw power. Puts out a lot of light and needs a lot of cable and generator amperage to run. They are heavy and bulky and not easy to put away. Two hours after we have finished shooting and everybody well into the party mode, the Director saddles up to me and says, “Bob, I was thinking. What if we put the dancers in the Suburban Nightclub set. Can you blow out the windows with lots of light streaming in?” “You mean now?” I say. “Ok, you got it.” I get on my radio call my best boy and tell him, “You know all that stuff you have been loading the last 10 hours? Take it all out and line up every 20K I own outside the windows of the nightclub. Stack up one on top of another three high in each window.” We finally finished with the dancers well after the sun came up the next day.

    So, how does this become the most expensive student film ever? Besides shooting two movies at the same time, and going months over schedule? Dude, we are not even at the half way mark yet. This is just year one.
    Louis, a silent film directed by Dan Pritzker, starring Jackie Earle Haley and Shanti Lowry, will premiere in US cities in late August with live musical accompaniment by Wynton Marsalis, renowned pianist Cecile Licad and a 10-piece all-star jazz ensemble.
    Last edited by oldbob; 07 September 2016, 06:48 Wednesday.
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