Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Production Diaries: The Godfather of Liquor and Some Jewish Cheeseburgers

Nothing is more nerve-wracking than the first day of shooting. Will I get all the shots? Will I find all the right things to say to the actors to get everything I want? Is the story of this film actually any good or have I just been fooling myself this entire time? Will anyone even actually care about this film? These are all the usual thoughts that I believe swim through every director's head before taking the first shot on the first day of shooting. The key is to block these thoughts out, know deep down that you're prepared, and do what you've set out to do.

Filming started on my latest film, Lost and Found, yesterday morning. Other than the usual pre-shoot jitters, I feel everything went real well. It was an exhausting experience, being probably the first time I've ever done essentially a full day of filming, from about 7 in the morning till 4 in the afternoon.

The day started early, first location was the ABC Store that I was gonna shoot at guerrilla-style. Things went real well at first, not a single worker in sight. We got at least two or three shots, then the manager of the store drove up in his car.

I was beckoned over to his driver's side window. I immediately felt that this was the end of the line for this scene, we might as well start packing up and go home. I told him what we were doing. He decided to call the owner of the store, who is the higher up above him, the Godfather of Liquor (that's his nickname, no lie), to see what to do with us. I waited, trying to be patient. He got off the phone with the verdict. We now had obtained official permission from the Godfather himself and continued on filming.

Things went real smooth after that, we got all the shots without any disturbance. We even met the Godfather himself. He drove up in his nice Dodge Charger, out steps this 90-year-old man, looking a lot like the cliche' awesome ol' grandpa. He was so nice, he even offered us to come inside if we got too cold and chill in his office for a moment. Of course, we continued filming, but still it was nice, and we also learned that the Godfather pretty much owns every liquor store in Birmingham, AL and that he is the supplier of liquor to pretty much every restaurant or bar in the same area, which might explain the well-tailored suit and the Dodge Charger.

We got done, packed up, and went to lunch at good ol' Wendy's. Dollar menu, nothing better. We were starving, and I guess I was still a touch tired and crazed with hunger, seeing as how I hadn't eaten anything all day. I was first in line and approached the counter.

There were at least four or five other customers standing around waiting for their food. I decided to place my order. I looked from the menu to the lady behind the cash register. I knew what I wanted, but before I could really think, my brain melted and jumbled words spluttered out of my mouth.

I mean, it's easy, isn't it, when you want two Jr. Cheeseburgers to say you'd like a "Jew" Jr. Cheeseburger? Well, maybe not. My entire cast and crew exploded in laughter behind me, all the workers joined in, as well as a couple of the customers. As far as I know, Wendy's food isn't Kosher, but maybe my little stunt will have them consider it. Probably not.

After that, the day really settled in, we went to an underpass, got the needed shots for that scene and then came back to my brother's apartment to wrap up filming for the day. The pace had been set and we just kept cruisin' till filming was done for the day. We wrapped and everyone went home.

As a whole I'd consider it a good first day of shooting. We got some good footage, of course I wont really know how good it actually is till I'm trying to piece it together with the other shots in editing. Regardless, after a long day of filming, we're still only halfway done with the film. We have one more big day of shooting coming up in the next two weeks, and I've gotta say I'm pumped to finish this thing and begin pulling everything together on my computer.

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