Day 49 of 70

March 28, 2015

I wish I could say that it's over the course of an entire day that my directions to actors go from precise, playable adjustments to vague assemblages of feelings but, since I can often be heard giving direction while the camera is rolling, I have concrete proof that I'm a mess from the get-go. The best a thespian can do is learn to interpret the tenor of my emphatic gobbledigook. God forbid they ask for a line reading.

However, I did manage one somewhat lucid direction today that I'll hang onto for future usage: "Less Richard Dawkins, more Mr. Rogers."

We wrapped out of another location today. They're dropping like flies. How do we still have more of this movie to shoot?

Posted by David Lowery at 5:09 AM

Day 48 of 70

March 27, 2015

I had my most common recurring nightmare last night - a zombie dream. The specifics always vary, but the threat and accompanying sense of futile dread remains consistent, as does the fact that at least part of such dreams always take place in my childhood backyard. I also sometimes have nightmares about the same backyard being overrun with snakes, but the zombie dreams are always worse. In last night's iteration, I was trying to dismember some revenant that wouldn't stay dead. The pieces kept coming back.

Posted by David Lowery at 2:34 AM

Day 47 of 70

March 26, 2015

The highlight of today was introducing Robert Redford to the gaggle of kids he'd be performing with - all non-actors, all under the age of ten or eleven. One particular nine-year-old sized him up with very put-upon swagger and then, moments later, noticed his boots were untied and volunteered to lace them up for him. This wasn't necessarily a kindly offer - there was a bit of one-up-manship to it, a "need someone to fix your shoelaces for, bud?" sort of move. Moments later, a handful of kids had gathered around to see who could best knot this bemused movie star's laces. If I can only hang onto one memory from this movie, this would rank pretty high on the list of candidates.

Later in the day the rain came back, and the sound of it on our location's tin roof forced us into one of those beautiful reprieves that are impossible not to enjoy, no matter how much of a dent they might put in the momentum of the day. This also would be a good memory to hang onto. Maybe even better than the other one.

Posted by David Lowery at 2:45 AM

Day 46 of 70

March 25, 2015

This morning I accidentally took two night-time Sudafeds instead of the daytime option. I briefly wondered if it might cause me to drift off during a take, but our medic assured us that it would do nothing of the sort (I usually never take pharmaceutical medication for anything, so I have no idea how this stuff works).

Today was storytime. It took me right back to Pioneer. Many pages of dialogue, and a great orator to deliver them. We all just gathered round, sat back and listened.

Posted by David Lowery at 3:41 AM

Day 45 of 70

March 24, 2015

I woke up feeling supremely awful, but heavy doses of oregano, garlic, ginger, apple cider vinegar and various other oils and tinctures (plus some sudafed for good measure) made the day manageable as we tried to finish what we'd started and then push on ahead. What happens when you get seriously ill on a movie? Do they actually shut things down if the director gets the flu and is wracked with fever? I don't want to find out. We did our Under The Skin shot, which satisfied my standing desire to lay massive amounts of dolly track in the woods, and then we opened up onto our big logging site, which was just a dream come true to shoot. Way back when we first pitched our take on this project, we described the images we shot today. It looked exactly right.

(The lumberjack imagery has a lot of precedents, but one of them is straight out of another Disney film - The Journey Of Natty Gann, which made a big impression on me when I was very young. I rewatched it a few months ago while we were in prep, and it holds up really well - really great early James Horner score, too.)

The last scene we covered today, Scene 31, consisted of two shots which we filmed simultaneously in the last possible vestiges of daylight - the sun was long gone and in almost every direction it was already night, but we squeezed that dusk in the West for all it was worth and filled the frames with smoke and debris and grimy tired men and women at work. Those two shots are probably going to wind up being the prettiest in the movie. They won't match to anything else but who cares.


Posted by David Lowery at 2:38 AM

Day 44 of 70

March 23, 2015

Back at the redwoods. This was the last of the shooting days that, way back in prep, when we were going over the schedule, I'd deemed potentially unmakable. There are are days that seem doable, days that seem like they might be exceedingly tricky but not impossible, and those that have red flags all over them, and this was one of those. We buckled down, determined to pull it off. Two shots in, it started raining.

We've been blessed with remarkably agreeable weather thus far, all things considered. Everyone prepared us for the worst, but thus far everything's mostly gone our way. Even today, the precipitation at first seemed very dealable-with. We put up a giant 20x over the actors and you couldn't even tell - until the drizzle turned into a downpour that showed no signs of stopping.

We broke for lunch early. I spent most of it sitting under a tent at the mouth of those woods, all alone, listening to the rain cascade gently through those towering treetops. It was beautiful. It was also around this time that I started to feel a suspicious tickle in the back of my throat.

We came back from lunch and found our set a muddy cesspool. While the art department and locations team broke out heat lamps to try and dry out the dirt, we decided to push into the woods and pick up the end of a scene we'd dropped a few weeks earlier. That shot was on a sunny day, but with the foliage blocking most of the rain and an 18k providing a few warm grace notes, it seemed like it might work. We got one shot done, turned around for the other and just as we were turning around for the other, the heavens opened up just a little more and our faux-sunny forest was suddenly a typhoon jungle with a very suspect ray of artificial light punching through it.

So it goes. We did manage to keep shooting, eventually, and got a good chunk of that first scene done. The sun eventually came out, to such a degree that we had to wait on clouds to at least try to match what we'd started shooting earlier that morning. We moved fast and efficiently and made the most of a comical situation, and I'd like to think that had it not been for the weather, this unmakable day would in fact have been very makable indeed.

On the long drive home that night, the tickle in my throat grew into a vicious scratch. My face turned flush. It had finally happened. I was sick.

Posted by David Lowery at 2:57 AM