Shooting Summit - Day 4

<- Start from the beginning.

January 21, 2013 (Continued)

Picking up where I left off, we had just finished shooting all the driving scenes of the film over almost 30 hours, and I sent the cast back to the house to finally sleep (though I later found out that no one gave them keys and they were locked out for a while before Ryan and Ricardo found a way to break in,) but we, the crew, weren’t done shooting. We couldn't be. We had an actress that we had brought up from New York City the day before to be a dead body in a pretty pivotal scene of the film. If we had stayed on schedule from the beginning, we would have woken up on the morning of the 21st and shot the scene with her, and then she would have been put on a train back to NYC. However, because we were so behind schedule and she had to be back that night, John, Matt and I agreed to take a select crew (of those that had been able to sleep during much of the night before's shooting) to get this scene done. Then we'd go right to sleep.

Our shooting location was right around the corner, in the front yard of my boyfriend's mother’s home. She, Linda, was so sweet to everyone, offering us breakfast and coffee (as you can imagine, we drank A LOT of coffee during the making of this movie). Liana, the actress, was already at the house with our makeup artist getting all dead looking. 

As per Murphy's Law, another bump in the road happened. The dead body shot was meant to be a dolly shot. We realized that the wheels for our dolly never actually left the rental house, an oversight by our team but more so by the rental house. They were closed and 4 hours away, so we improvised. John's an excellent problem solver. If you're reading this and you're looking for a DP, you should hire him, and make sure you pay him well. Unfortunately, I could not afford to do so, which is just another testament to his loyalty and commitment to a project and his passion for his craft. Anyway, the solution was to change the shot into a jib shot, but of course, having not expected to use the jib until 2 days later, we did not have the weights for it. In true indie style, we managed to make some sandbags and a backpack work. The shot looks great. Not quite what I originally envisioned, but it totally works. 


The shooting of this scene was productive, but I could feel myself crashing. I knew I wouldn't make it much longer. I was past 4 days of not an ounce of sleep at this point. I had made it 3 days before, for other film projects or the combination of school and work, but I had not passed 4 days up until this point. It was like things were moving fast and slow at the same time, maybe like I was moving in slow motion, but everything around me wasn’t. When we wrapped, it felt like a miracle. We all headed home. My head was spinning. I took a shower (I really needed to do that), got in my sleeping bag and finally just knocked out.

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This is a funny story. It was not funny at the time, but became hilarious in hindsight. In a half asleep, half awake daze, I heard Matt's voice coaxing me out of sleep. What he was saying registered, "The cops are downstairs." I bolted up and down the stairs. There were two police officers standing in the doorway of the house. I didn't know what time it was. I was groggy and confused. One of them looked at me, asked if I was Christina, and then said I needed to call my mom. I was worried. I was thinking maybe someone had died, maybe she was in the hospital, maybe there was a car crash. The fact that my mind immediately went to the worst is so telling that I am my mother's daughter because when I managed to find a phone with a full battery and call her, I soon realized that the reason cops were at the house was because she was worried about me. Apparently she had grown accustomed to being able to reach me during the first two days because we weren't actually rolling; and when I said we were shooting overnight two nights ago, it didn't occur to her that maybe we were still sleeping. I can't blame her. She called my phone; it was dead. She called Chris', Kelsey's and Matt's, all dead. She was scared that she had given us all food poisoning or that there was a gas leak in the house or that we had gotten into a car crash. I was so pissed that she called the cops, but I couldn't stay mad at her. It became a running joke on set that Christina's mom had called the cops anytime the doorbell rang from that day moving forward. After I stopped being so irritated, I was able to make the joke too. What scared me about the cops being there was that it was a small town and people talk. The cops knew we were shooting a movie in the town; we had let them know. The owner of the vacation house knew that we were using her house to shoot in, but what she didn't know was how we had made it look. Not that any of the changes were anything more than temporary art direction, but from an outside observer it may have looked like we trashed her place and were just going to leave it like that. I was afraid the cops would tell her that. But when one of them inquired about the look of the house, I was able to convince him that it was all reversible, “just some boards velcro’d onto windows and stuff like that.” He left feeling satisfied, but not without reminding one more time that I should make it a point to not leave my mother worrying.

It was 1pm. I had slept for about 3 hours. I felt like crap but still more refreshed than I had in days. I needed to do something to thank my cast and crew. I wanted to celebrate the accomplishment of the past 2 days, not just throw them back in the next day. The budget wasn't there to take them out to dinner, but I was already over budget; and who needs good credit anyhow, right? I needed to take them out for some much-needed R&R, and show them that I appreciate that they stood by me and the film in those conditions the past few days. So as people woke up throughout the house, I let them know that we were going out to dinner. They were excited.  

I called up Elizabeth's in Pittsfield, MA and made a reservation for 20 people at 7pm. Now let me tell you about Elizabeth's. It's this hidden gem in the crappy area of the Berkshires. It looks like a hole in the wall piece of crap. It's an old house turned into a restaurant. When you walk in, it looks just like that; no renovations or decoration. It's just an empty old beaten up house with tables downstairs where you can watch the food being made, or upstairs where we were seated. Despite how Elizabeth's looks, it's some of the best food I've ever had in my life. They have a very family vibe there. They only take cash, and if you don't have cash on you, they genuinely will take an IOU. I’ve heard stories of people forgetting their wallets and they really were able to give them an IOU. It's an old Italian family, and the chef makes phenomenal pasta dishes. Very vegetarian friendly (important factor for me,) but pleases the meat eaters at the same time. They're also just really cool people, in my opinion, because they make their social opinions known. They have a rainbow flag hanging by the door in support of equality, and they have various anti-establishment quotes by historical figures painted on the sides of the building. I found this very risky for a small business in not the most liberal of areas when I first went there with my boyfriend and his mother. However, it totally made me like and respect them, even before tasting the food. 

              Matt & Ricardo at dinner

As for the food, it’s fixed price $21.50 per person, which includes a salad big enough for everyone to share. The salad, man oh man, is that something everyone should try once in his or her life. It changes with the seasons. It's the best salad I've ever had. I love salad and I'm infatuated with this salad. My boyfriend dislikes salad and he loves this salad. Even Ricardo, who apparently hates all vegetables, enjoyed the salad! If you're ever near Pittsfield, seriously, go there. We all ordered and proceeded to have a great evening full of conversation and laughter. It's what everyone needed. 

I'm glad I was able to do it. In the end, the bill was $550. That's with 20 meals, a couple of appetizers and a few drinks, not including tip. Now for me, someone who typically has no more than $20 in my bank account, that was a lot of money to drop on dinner. But thinking about New York City prices and how two people can go to dinner and easily spend $100 on a meal without even ordering dessert, I think it's pretty awesome that I fed 20 people in a nice restaurant that had portions big enough to take home leftovers on $700. 

All in all, it was a wonderful night. We even stayed up for a bit afterwards because we could sleep in until the afternoon; we weren’t shooting until overnight the following evening. Side note, the house we were staying in seemed to have been frozen in time and had stopped moving forward  at around 1998. That feels accurate because there was Scream 2 but not Scream 3 on VHS. I went to bed shortly after dinner but apparently some cast & crew watched Star Wars on VHS. 

That was the first night where I actually got some sleep, a whopping 5 hours!