“DARK SOULS” – Day One (30/06/2007)

Cast on set: Leah Baulch (Carrie), Dallas Bland (Colbeck), Will Huang (Eric)

Crew: Pat Gallagher (Director/DoP), Ric Manley (Location Audio), Christian Doran (Grip), Clare Martin (Script/PA), Joe Kisch (Behind the Scenes Footage)

I ended up deciding to shoot two exterior scenes for the first shooting day on “Dark Souls”. Originally I’d planned to do the three scenes set in the Psychiatrist’s Office first, but because shooting ended up starting a couple of months later than I’d originally intended, I went with the exteriors, the logic being that we should get them out of the way before it gets too damn cold (It’s the middle of winter here in Australia).

Despite this, the weather played a big part in the day. Australia has just come out of one of the severest droughts ever endured here. Now that the drought is breaking, we’re seeing something here we haven’t seen for a long time – rain. Lots of it. I ended up sweating on the long range forecasts for the entire week leading up to the shoot, as that entire week saw day after day of rain.

Luckily it stopped raining on the Friday, with just intermittent cloud cover on Saturday, the day of the shoot.

As you can see by the crew list at the top of the page, I work fairly small. The crew descriptions tend to be pretty broad, with everyone basically doing whatever needs to be done, but concentrating mainly on their allocated areas.

The scenes to be shot were scenes 12 and 21, both set in a park. Scene 12 was a conversation between Carrie and Colbeck, Scene 21 is Carrie talking on the phone to Eric for the first time. Will, who plays Eric, came along to feed his lines to Leah, even though he doesn’t actually appear on camera.

Since several wide-ish shots were planned, we decided to radio-mic the actors. I own one and was able to borrow another from a soundie friend. It was much easier than trying to boom the shot, once we’d figured out the usual problems of clothing rustling and wind noise.

And, boy, was wind noise a problem! Sure, we had no rain, but the wind was gusting fairly heavily, and it was cold. Poor Leah and Dallas were close to borderline hypothermia by the end of the shoot, as we hadn’t really factored arctic wear into their costumes.

Ric, the sound guy, eventually had the mics shielded and positioned to his satisfaction, and we were away.

The actual shooting ended up going quite smoothly, thanks in large part to the organisation put into pre-production. Shot lists, storyboards and marked scripts all allowed us to move from shot to shot rapidly.

In order to make the footage look more film-like, I positioned the camera 10-12 feet away from the actors for the closer shots, then zoomed in to the required frame size. This, combined with the use of  the ND filter, resulted in a shallow depth of field, throwing the backgrounds into soft focus.

The main rush for the day was the fact that Dallas was also booked in for another film shoot. I’d negotiated with the director of that film (who’s also playing a bit part in this film) during the week, and agreed to release Dallas by a certain time. The last couple of shots were rushed in setting up (but I made sure we didn’t rush the performances) and we were able to get Dallas to the second shoot on time.

With Leah rapidly succumbing to the cold, we pushed on with Scene 21. Clare, the PA/Script Supervisor for the day, and I ended up taking turns throwing our coats around Leah in between takes to help keep her warm.

Clare is actually one of the principle cast members in the film (Julia), and originally we were going to shoot another scene using her at another location that afternoon. However, I’d neglected to check what day this location held its weekend market fair, thinking it was Sunday. I found out a few days before that it was held on Saturdays.

Note to self: Check these things earlier.

Since Clare had already cleared her slate for the day, she agreed to PA, since I hadn’t yet filled that position.

There were no major dramas for the day, and we wrapped on time. I think everything’s going to come out pretty good. As we were leaving the park, Ric pointed out that the wind had now dropped to practically nothing. Typical.

I ended up shouting the cast and crew to lunch at a local café, to celebrate getting things under way. Hopefully they’re not expecting me to do that every day (although I am feeding them, we just won’t be eating out all the time)

Leah isn’t available this weekend, so I’m looking at doing one of the few scenes that doesn’t involve her, probably on Sunday evening. Also have to start looking at organising these things more than a week in advance. I think that’s my major weakness at the moment.

Til next time,