Director’s Journal: Day 9

Monday, Day 9.

It’s supposed to be hot today.  Luckily, we are moving to a new location: star Kareem Aal’s home, where we will shoot the majority of the rest of our film.  This move is reason for some celebration.  Moving locations is hard, and we’ve made it through the majority of moves.  So it should all be smooth sailing, right?

The first scene of the day requires Mohannad to pull up to Flora’s house on the Triumph.  This morning I ride the Triumph to Kareem’s home, only about 12 minutes from my house.  Though I took the motorcycle safety class earlier this summer, and my dad is a doctor and has warned me many times of the number of quadriplegics that make their way through the ER, I decide not to wear the helmet that Lisa bought me for my birth day.  I feel like a criminal riding without the helmet, but make it there without incident.  I park the bike outside of Kareem’s home, and begin to prepare the yard for the shoot.

With everything and everyone set up for the first shot, Mohannad is in wardrobe and makeup, and ready to do his big scene: pulling up to the house on the Triumph.  After fortyfive minutes of finagling the bike to start, it finally roars to life, and we are ready.  Mohannad does the maneuver about 8 times, until we finally give up, and decide to use the one where he looks least likely to flop over.  We spend the next several minutes trying to shoot him lowering the kickstand, which, by itself, is a lot harder than it looks to perform in a fluid, filmic motion.

As the next several scenes unwind, a construction crew sets up across the street and begins hammering roofing tiles, with what sounds like a sledgehammer.  The next couple of hours are spent trying to steal a shot or two in between hammering and the sound of airplanes taking off from the Minneapolis/St. Paul International airport.  Miraculously we get what we need, but always by the skin of our teeth, it seems.

The early evening turns into a mad rush to get shoot before the sun sets in the backyard.  The sound of the planes has subsided, but the rush to get a choreographed sequence of Mohannad talking to some of Adam’s friends takes longer than anticipated.  I hear myself losing my patience, and start to sound frantic.  I know this isn’t helping, but the set has set twenty-five minutes ago, and we’re trying to shoot a scene in the backyard that should look like high noon.

Change of plans, we shoot the rest of the scene at night.  Sun has set, so to solve the lighting problem, someone has the idea of building a fire in IKEA fire pit.  It does a fine job of lighting the actors, and we push back some of the other scenes for a later time, whenever that might be.  I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge our wonderful production manager again, Ericka Glenn.  When we pushed scenes back, she would miraculously fit them in to the schedule, usually on her laptop at about 3 or four in the morning.  She would then email the entire cast and crew with the call sheet for the following day.  I don’t know how she did it, but I thank her now.

It was getting so late that we decided it was time for another, unplanned meal.  We ordered pizza, and nobody complained, though it was hot, sweaty, and I knew people were getting tired of the mosquitoes, and exhausting hours.  We shot a couple more scenes, this time in the garage in the back of the house, including some more very awkward sequences with the ill-performing fire kites, and then I called it a night.   When everyone had left, I hauled the Triumph into Kareem’s garage.  Kareem had prepared a plate of delicious aperitifs consisting of olives, pita, feta, pickled peppers, and garlic stuffed eggplants.  It was the first of many plates he would prepare for us in hours of total darkness.

avatarBy Dan on
Posted in Journal, Production