First Primary Shoot
The 508 semester at USC Film school

#4 in a series of 16

Lights, camera, action! .. at USC Film school

Fade up & zoom in.

First primary shoot yesterday (no test-shoot). Louie & Zarena came here. 
They started early. Lisa arrived first, to help set up. Then Zarena, then Louie. 
Shoot fell about an hour behind schedule as the day progressed.

Zarena impressed everyone. The camera likes her. She has versatile looks. 
Looked like two different people in two different scenes. She's originally from 
Madrid, spent 6 yrs in Paris, has been in the US for 18 months. She has one 
younger brother (in Madrid), no sisters. Mom is in Madrid, dad passed away. 
She's older than she looks, but made me promise not to tell anyone. =) 

She doesn't like LA, finds the people there 'fake'. She does like NYC .. and has 
the cutest accent .. much like Penelope Cruz.

Louie had to hug Zarena over & over for one scene. Everyone razzed him about 
having such a tough job. Brian offered to stand in for Louie at one point. Louie 
shots darts out of his eyes at Brian. =)

Brian drove down all the way from near Magic Mtn to run the DV camcorder for 
Wendy. He was hottest cinematographer in her undergrad classes (now graduated). 
He has a knack for knowing how to make shots look good. He's professional, takes 
care of business. Goes right to work. The girls were happy when he showed up 
(he was stuck in traffic for hours). Things went more smoothly once he arrived.

Wendy wants to duplicate all 16mm shots with her DV camcorder. That's what Brian 
came down for. The girls put him to work setting things up, too. Wendy figures that, 
since everything is already set-up (for 16mm) .. why not grab shots with DV, too? 
Then she can play with DV footage in her PC. Maybe you'll get to see of the footage. 
Brian also grabbed some great behind-the-scenes footage.

Louie is a comedian. He's v. easy to get along with. For his role as Papa, he wore 
my size-12 cowboy boots, with lots of socks. His face has much character. Louie 
& his dad ran theaters in LA catering to Mexican/Latinos for 30 years. The last 
theater closed 10 years ago.

Maria stopped over early this morning to deliver the key, & pronounce blessings upon 
the shoot. She called later, and offered to pick up & deliver lunch for the cast & crew. 
She told an eerie story about a following voice in her head to find the magical key 
(buried in her garage).


First thing that struck me about this group of people is that everyone has different 
dietary needs. For example, Wendy was too nervous/busy to eat. Lisa is a vegetarian. 
Zarena eats only protein & veges, but loves spreadable, aerosol cheese. Her biggest 
smile of the day was when I held up two diet Coke's (after running across the street 
to get them). 

Everybody loves cheese. I ran to store, and got 5 different kinds. It's all gone now. 
Everybody loves Wendy's lattes. She made two rounds - one early, another at lunch. 
Zarena drinks lattes fastest than anyone we've seen. It's become a joke .. when 
someone pounds a latte down, we say, "Was that a Zarena latte, or what?"


The 16mm camera looks cool. The girls are using an Arri/s. It's German made, with 
lenses on a turret. $5-7K. Circa WWII. Solid construction. Surprisingly heavy. 
You could probably hammer nails with it. Something about the way it looks it v. cool. 
Hi-tech equipment from a low-tech age. Battery powered. Batteries are in big belt 
that the cinematographer wears. No AA action here.

The girls shot two 100-ft rolls. Each roll = 3 mins. An entire day of work (14 hours) for 
measly minutes of footage. They'll shoot another half-roll (50-ft) tomorrow (Lisa is 
sleeping over). They have two more shots to shoot tomorrow (with Zarena only).

Wendy directed. Lisa shot. Lisa took pains to get the lighting just right. Lights every-
where .. inside the house, outside the house, pointing in. Took a million light readings. 
Lighting is one of Lisa strengths. She often watches movies, to see how shots are lit.

Wendy & Lisa are happy. They had their celebratory martini (Bombay Sapphire) after 
finishing for the day (10PM). Put their feet up & talked loudly about how the day went.


Over the summer, Wendy looked into buying a 16mm camera (thx to anonymous 
philanthropist) - to get used to 16mm. But all the filmic gurus she spoke with advised 
her not to spend money on anything 16mm. 

The only cameras in her price range ($1-2K) were the wind-up Bolex's. Camera gurus 
argued that these would not be the same cameras she'd be using for her USC/508 
shoots (Arri/s), and cost fortune to repair if something broke (cuz they're ancient).

Camera gurus argued, that if she was a 16mm enthusiast, she should buy good, 
16mm camera (>$5K) or rent one for a weekend of shooting. Camera gurus 
advised that her money would be better spent on quality DV camera & an editing PC 
(which she already has), cuz the industry is rapidly heading that way.

Wendy got back the pics from her first production meeting (entire cast & crew except 
one musician) & test-shoot filming with Lejla. See here.

Fade to black.

Next -> Production Woes
Previous -> Script lock

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