Production Woes
The 508 semester at USC Film school

#5 in a series of 16

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

Fade up & zoom in.

One of Wendy's classmates is shooting some of their scenes at a restaurant in LA. 
But after the first shoot, the owner is having second thoughts about allowing the 
shoot to continue. 

I can vouch that a camera crew takes over when they move in, with burning-hot 
lights, hundreds of feet of (trip-hazard) cabling & other cinematic doodads. 
They've already shot a few rolls at the restaurant. Could be a problem if they 
can't shoot there anymore.

Each student gets same amount of film -> 12 rolls (1200 feet) 36 minutes worth 
(for a 5-min film). So every shot counts. So far, Wendy & Lisa have shot 4 rolls. 
You can sense the urgency every time the camera engages & you hear the film 
being burned up (cool sound, tho).

Shooting 16mm film is much different than shooting DV (digital video). For example, 
a 60-min MiniDV cassette costs $7. Because it's so inexpensive, DV allows the 
filmmaker (if needs be) to shoot the same scene over & over .. until they get it right. 
With 16mm, everything has to be perfect before shooting.

I saw documentary on PBS/A&E this weekend about Killer Waves. The guy who is 
filming the killer waves is using the exact same camera the girls are using (German-
made Arri/s). He said his camera costs $30K. Maybe when new? I think they can be 
had for $5-7K now. 

Luke and his partner Keith are filming everything at night, using space-age themes 
in Keith's movie titled Analog. They're shooting on stairways, in basements on-campus. 
While filming at midnight in a basement under one of the dorms at USC this past week-
end, the (two) fog machines they're using set off fire alarms

So, at midnight, the bldg was evacuated while fire engines raced to the scene (pun). 
Fog machines aren't supposed to set off fire alarms, but...

Another pair, Doug & Stacey, are shooting on the street, downtown LA. They're shoot-
ing Doug's film, titled Zeitgeist. They planned a shoot to be filmed in an archway leading 
to stores. While rehearsing later in the day, a man came out with a padlock in hand & 
started closing the gate. After pleading with him, he gave a few extra minutes. So they 
had to ditch rehearsal & grab the shot pronto.

The girls will see today how their shots came out .. when they view everyone's 'dailies'. 
Wendy said it's nerve-racking, cuz - unlike with DV, where you get to preview your 
footage first - everyone sees how your footage turned out at the same time you do. 
Wendy said her stomach gets butterflies.

Lisa left here at 8PM Sunday night. She had to make it to LA by 9PM, to make the 
deadline to drop off the film, so it would get to the developer on time. The guy was 
on his way out when she arrived. Bad thing if your film doesn't get developed. 

Another student didn't shoot at all this weekend, cuz his script entailed digging (a 
grave), which requires permission. He finally got permission, but too late to shoot.

So far, Wendy & Lisa have shot everything as planned. Wendy planned every shot, 
on paper - hour by hour. Executed on schedule. She fell no more than an hour behind 
during the entire day. I hear this is not typical .. that things usually go wrong.

Zarena was back Sunday. She brought her friend Marine (like the ocean), who she 
met in Paris. Marine has a strong French accent. You have to listen closely to 
understand her. She says her parents taught her English, beginning at age 2, cuz 
they thought it would be 'good for the future'. She said the pollution in Paris - 
especially in summer - is much worse than LA. Hard to believe.

It seems to me that shooting a film involves more problem-solving skills, than 
creative skills.

The biggest problem so far is getting a permit to use the horse (Bucky). Every time 
she waits in line (for hours at a time), they send her to another place. "You need to 
call this number first," they say. She calls the number, & it's busy. 

So she drives cross-town and waits in another line. When she gets to the window, 
they send her to another place. "You need to schedule a Sheriff at Griffith Park first." 
She's getting the proverbial run-around. Lots of bureaucracy & paperwork.

The juiciest time for Wendy is when she sits down with her actor or actress - just 
prior to shooting the scene. This is where she discusses the emotion of the scene. 
She feels her ability to communicate emotion (of the character, or the scene) is one 
of her strengths. 

She feels her work as a massage therapist/healer has honed her ability to allow 
actors & actresses to trust her. In this way, she feels that she excels at getting 
her her actors to access more meaningful emotions.

During her pre-scene pow-wow with Zarena, I overheard Zarena telling Wendy that 
she's never felt the way about a role that she feels about this one. She loves both 
her character & the story. She feels the part - more than any other she's played. 
This could fall unto the category of 'good casting'.

Wendy's movie, titled Liliana, on some level, is about a daughter receiving recognition 
& acceptance from her father. It still grieves Wendy that she can't pick up the phone 
& bounce ideas off her father, who passed away last year (cancer). Chuck (Dentist 
turned writer) was familiar with the art of storytelling. He enjoyed discussing story 
ideas with Wendy, and always had valuable input.

The longing for fatherly approval and acceptance is not an uncommon theme with 
many girls .. both young & old. Zarena said her father died when she was 10 years 
ago. They were both crying during the pre-scene powwow. Then Zarena stopped 
abruptly, held her hand up & said, "I have to save this for the scene."

The girls had to hurry the last shot of the day (bedroom shot), cuz Zarena had to 
go to work. After showering, she came out of bathroom dressed in a short, black, 
lacey, skirt, with knee-high black leather boots, and hair out to here, liberally 

Said gracious good-bye's, & ran off carrying several bags over her shoulder. I forget 
who asked the question, "Where does she work?" But Wendy replied, "She said she 
works at a club." Someone followed, "In LA?" Wendy answered, "She didn't say where." 
You probably had to be there, but it was memorial moment followed by a few seconds 
of silence.

Zarena lived in Italy (Naples) for 6 months, after leaving Paris, before coming to USA. 
She speaks several languages. I asked her what Italy was like. She said, "In Italy you 
have to learn to speak the language, or you don't eat." =)

She feels her accent is her biggest liability, and severely limits her chance for roles. 
She has strong accent .. very similar to Penelope Cruz. She said, "I'm never going to 
be cast in a role as someone from New Orleans." So far, she's impressed everyone. 
No one would be surprised if she made it big.

Louie kicked butt, too. He came prepared, and ready to work. He approaches the 
shoot very professionally. You could tell he'd studied the script & understood the 
emotion of the scene. (They shot final scene on the 1st day, non-chronologically). 
Louie has 3 kids, but lost one. Wendy suspects he used his feelings for the lost child 
in the final, reconciliation scene they shot.

Wendy feels that both Louie & Zarena (in real-life) may be getting a (real) healing 
from shooting the film. Louie gets to accept/embrace a previously 'distant' child, 
and Zarena gets to hug a 'daddy,' who loves & accepts her. Both were convincing.

Seems that each prof has their own way of teaching. Helaine has taught at USC for 
a few years. She has her students complete a production schedule for the entire shoot 
before starting the first shot. Many thought this cruel & inhumane .. in addition to the 
multitude of other requirements. No other profs made their students do this. 

Wendy lost sleep getting it done, but said it crystallized the story in her mind. She 
discussed this with Helaine, who said, she requires it because it forces student to 
get clear on their story .. a lack of which is often a students' biggest problem at 
their first shoot.

Stacey is pregnant - 3 months. She is Doug's partner. Wendy shot the sculpting scene 
from Pearl Diver at Stacey's house. Will be the 2nd kid for Stacey.

Wendy meets w/ Zarena today, after school, at Circle K horse stables, to ride horses 
with her, in prep for shooting the next scene, which takes place at horse stables.

Fade to black.

Next -> First tears
Previous -> First primary shoot

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