Trish and Harold's Weblog

News, information, and random thoughts from the busy lives of Trish Egan and Harold Phillips.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

T-Minus 9 Days - Notes From The Wasteland

Hey folks

I haven't been keeping up with my blog much of late... Today is my final day of shooting on Lady Wasteland, and I thought I'd take a second before heading to the set to upload the notes I've been keeping on my Treo. Then I've got to get my butt in gear and get back to the set.

Tuesday, August 21st Here we are on the first day of filming Lady Wasteland, the new action-adventure web series I'm working on. Director/ Producer Mark Roush is keeping a lid on any early information about the series, so I can't tell you much about what I'm filming, but I'm going to keep notes on the shoot itself (leaving out the juicy details that might give too much away).

I arrived at our first location this morning in Timber, OR. The location is fabulous - out in the wilderness with old, decayed buildings. Finding it was a little tricky; I actually passed the turn-off, had to call our Assistant Director, and double-back to find base camp.

Mark's arranged a really good base of operations here in Timber; we've got an RV with running water, power, and a bathroom, tents, and lots of room to spread out. The crew is fantastic - our DP Russ Eaton has a great communication style with Mark, and everyone works really well together.

After rehearsing these scenes over the past month it's great to be on set and shooting them. Mark knows exactly what he wants, and works patiently with the actors until he gets it. He's especially good with our young actor, Kyra Walters. He knows when to let her play a little on set, when to joke with her, and how to get serious with her and bring her back to the business at hand. It's been a real education to see how he works with her.

It's also been great to be on set with Richard Topping, a gent I've had passing acquaintance with over the years but have never worked with. He's as generous on set as he is when you meet him in "real" life.

We wrapped around 7 tonight, and I made the drive home. I'm really excited about the week ahead.

Thursday, August 23rd A truism in the film acting field: You need to hurry up and wait. A lot. It's just the way of things - there are a lot of details the director and crew need to get worked out before the actors do their jobs, and depending on the angle the camera is shooting at and the amount of gear that needs to be set up you might not be needed on set for hours. Today is one of those days.

I got to the set around 8 and hurried into costume and makeup so that Kyra and I could be in one of the the first shots of the day (a reverse angle of something we shot Tuesday). Then we went back to base camp with the RV and tents and waited until we were called again... for a few hours. No big deal, though. I get to hang with our costumer Martha Hines and catch up with Crystal Shade and Christina Walker, two makeup artists working on this shoot who I got to know on the set of Dark Horizon. And I got to be somewhat cool while I waited and eat some great food (our AD's daughter Sierra Funk has been doing Craft Services on the shoot and has put together some fabulous food).

After lunch Kyra and I were driven up to a ridge to shoot a scene. We got up to our location and got set up for the scene. At that point in the day, however, the light was starting to fade. Mark decided that he didn't want to rush the scene for the sake of getting it done before the light was done, so we postponed it until another day. My respect for Mark's direction, which was already high, grows with every day. He knows exactly what he wants to see in the final product, and he makes the decisions that will give him the best results. I'm really loving working with him.

The last shot of the day didn't require much acting on my part - they only needed my boot for an effects shot. When the episode is finally "broadcast" on the Internet, you'll see why they needed it (assuming the shot doesn't get cut in the final editing process - you never know what's going to make it in). I drove home in the dark feeling very happy about the day... even though I sat around a lot, I'm really happy to be part of this project. I can tell it's going to be great just by seeing the way Mark and Russ are shooting the scenes.

Friday, August 24th A new location today. We've moved from Timber to a location just outside Vernonia. This location is just astounding - Mark had shown me photos while we were rehearsing, but I had no idea of the scale until I actually got there. I wish I could tell you more... but you're just going to have to wait until the final series is webcast to see for yourself.

An earlier call, too... I was called at 7:00am, but the hour-and-a-half drive (plus my habit of getting up a couple of hours early so I can caffenate and get my brain back in my head) meant I had to get up at 3:30am.

This was a pretty hard day on my physically. Mark wanted to me "get lean" before we started shooting (for some reason he doesn't think post-apocalyptic survivors have pot-bellies. I'm not sure what he's thinking... but hey, it's his vision, right? :) ), so I've been spending the past few weeks in the gym taking off the pounds and firming up. After today's shoot I'm glad I did.

There's a lot of action in the scene we shot today, including (but not limited to) crouching, running, and swinging things at other "people" (all supervised by Douglas Bailey, a fantastic fight choreographer. It was great to get the opportunity to work with him). Now I've done a lot of stage combat, but film combat can be a bit more strenuous. Unlike a choreographed stage fight, which goes from start-to-finish, film combat is broken up into small pieces (which you'd think would be easier) which are repeated multiple times so the editor has lots of stuff to cut together. That repetition and focusing on small movements can be taxing; instead of crouching from left to right once, for instance, you can crouch from left to right about 18 times. Then do it again from a different angle.

I think that I gave Mark some good stuff to put together in the final product, though... if he fills the screen with Batman-style "Biffs" and "Pows" when I'm in action, you'll know that I dropped the ball :)

I got to leave a bit earlier today, since the crew had another scene to film after Kyra and I were done. It was nice to get home before 9pm for a change... but I wasn't awake for long!

Saturday, August 25th Remember a couple days ago when I talked about the "hurry up and wait" nature of filmmaking? Not much of that today... the only scenes being filmed involved Kyra and I, so we were on set for most of the day (except for the time the crew was taking to get set up).

I got to the new location in Yoder (near Canby) early... VERY early. There was an error when the call sheet was generated, and I was called to location 15 minutes before the crew arrived. It was a nice opportunity to see the location, though, and talk to the guy who owns the property. We're shooting on a 100 year old + farm that has been in his wife's family the entire time. You can see the original farm house as you drive up to the property. It's a big plot of land, too... he's got his own airstrip, and he rents an area out for other people to farm on.

Like I say, today was all Kyra and I. I can't tell you anything about the scenes we were filming, but they're key to our evolving story... whatever that is (I don't even know the full scope of our story. Mark is being very closed-mouthed about the details). The Yoder location was a great place to shoot, though... we utilized a lot of areas on the property, and even moved next door to an... odoriferous location for the final shots of the day.

The main challenges of the day were the sun (which was very bright and hot - Kyra and I had to be covered with umbrellas in between shots so we didn't burn and screw up the makeup department's continuity) and the number of planes flying overhead. I'm expecting to have a lot of ADR to do when I get back in October.

So... that's what I've been doing for the past week... it's been an adventure, and hopefully I'm giving Mark some good stuff to put together into the final series. The word at this point is that the first episode should be ready for webcasting in late October or Early November... I'll let you know when I can tell you more.

Have to get on the road to my final day of shooting... hope you're all doing well!