“Don’t Be Scared” Film Journal Day 2

Well here we are. Day two of “Don’t Be Scared” also known as the longest day of shooting. We scheduled the shoot to go from 1-10pm. Needless today wasn’t for the weak of heart. Thankfully, unlike the previous night there was not a whole lot of moving from spot to spot. In fact about 90% of the shoot was in one room.

First thing’s first though. We wanted to do the most difficult shot of the day first thing. If I haven’t hinted at it before, this is how Clerestory Productions works. We try our best to get the more difficult elaborate setups done first and work ourselves towards the easier stuff the later filming goes on. For instance, this is exactly why we did everything with the jib our first night, so we didn’t have to deal with that elaborate setup.

What we did have to do first thing though is a couple of steadicam shots. For those who know of our previous short film “The Proposal Complex” will remember that 85% of it is a one shot take using a steadicam. Thankfully, we aren’t as crazy to do that again on “Don’t Be Scared”, but we are doing a few smaller length steadicam shots. Since he did such a great job on “The Proposal Complex” we brought Justin Steinfeldt back on board as our steadicam operator.

As for the first shot, it was a moving camera around the first floor of the house, and because the film is supposed to entirely take place at night, we had to black out all the windows on the first floor.

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These pictures were just a few of the light sources we had to cover up. Crew arrived at 12:30 and it probably wasnt’ until about 2:30 that it all got set. Obviously considering those times, we were already behind.

To make matters worse though, Justin had some car issues and he wasn’t there until 2:30 about. Due to the amount of setup his steadicam takes, it’s not so simple as to when he gets there, we’ll shoot, so we had to wait about 30 minutes for him to set up his gear first.

Once his gear was set, Josh (dp) and I ran through the motions of the shot to get timing right. More specifics of the shot is basically it’s a slow tracking shot through the house that ends on the photo prop of Catherine and Uncle John. That seems easy enough but the problem was when we went through it, the photo would be out of focus on the end point, so what we had to do is to have Josh walk with Justin and pull his focus as he walked through the house. Yes, it took quite a few times, but we did knock it out eventually.

At this point, we were incredibly far behind. Worse yet, we had to do a company move to the upstairs bedroom. Now if you thought blacking out all the windows on the first floor was difficult, it was an even greater chore to black out a significant amount of windows on the second. Not only was it much higher up, but some windows we couldn’t simply attach to a pole and block a window; instead, we had to climb on the roof and tape it up.

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During this time, Josh, Justin and I went through the motions of the first shot of the bedroom. This of course was another steadicam shot. While it covered much less space than the shot previous, it was a little more difficult in that the camera went to the picture frame on the table to Catherine sleeping on the bed. In other words, the camera was a lot lower to the ground, and since it was lower to the ground, Justin had to shoot the scene upside down (to be converted later).

Josh Paney (dp), Simon Mounsey (director) and Justin Steinfeldt (steadicam op) reviewing shot.
Josh Paney (dp), Simon Mounsey (director) and Justin Steinfeldt (steadicam op) reviewing shot.

 

Once everything was set, things went pretty easily. Justin had great timing and the shot looked really nice and smooth. After that shot, the difficulty of the day was behind us. Good thing too because at this point we were about two hours behind schedule.

However, this is where Clerestory Productions shoots shine. We may get very behind schedule, but we always end up catching up. Considering the rest of the shots (outside of a few hallways shots) were in the bedroom, the rest of the day flew by.

Eleni Masouras (Catherine), Simon Mounsey (director) and Josh Paney (dp)
Eleni Masouras (Catherine), Simon Mounsey (director) and Josh Paney (dp)
Josh Paney (dp), Simon Mounsey (director), Matt Mickelsen (boom operator) and Chris O'Malley (pa)
Josh Paney (dp), Simon Mounsey (director), Matt Mickelsen (boom operator) and Chris O’Malley (pa)

 

The only shot in the bedroom that took a little bit of tweaking was one in which we needed to shoot in front of the green screen. Why a green screen? Well the script calls for when Catherine looks behind her, the room is reversed. It would be almost impossible to get that positioned right in camera, so instead we elected to do some effects in post to reproduce it.

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JD Scruggs (gaffer/key grip) and Chris O’Malley (pa) setting up the green screen.

 

Now despite being incredibly far behind earlier in the day by the time we were done with the bedroom shots, we were only 30 minutes behind schedule (as we still had about three shots in the hallway after). Unlike setting up the bedroom, the hallways shots didn’t take long at all; then again it was night time when we shot.

The main point of these shots were to establish the ghost entering and leaving the house; in other words it was heavily weighted on shadows. Since our Uncle John wasn’t present, yours truly stepped up to the place to create the shadows. With the help of lighting suggestions from our pa Chris O’Malley the hallway shots wrapped up pretty quickly once we figured out my timing walking to and away from the light.

And that was it. Day two, despite being a longer day went pretty smoothly for the most part. Yes, we probably almost gave assistant director Chris Ramirez a near heart attack by being hours behind schedule, but like most other shoots we made it through.

Thankfully, our final day would be our easiest day yet.

 

– Simon Mounsey, Director/Producer for “Don’t Be Scared”

 

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