Shoot Day 2on Jul 04 in Directing, Project ARTICHOKE by Azhur
Today we were at the location that was going to serve as the main space where Sirhan is at the shooting range, as well as the interrogation room, the CIA Office where Walker and his men sit at the end, as well as the opening of the film. We really maximised this location!
The morning began by shooting the CIA office scene after which we would move onto the interrogation room. The reason for this was purely practical, as the location had a lot of furniture that we weren’t using, so by shooting these scenes first we could then move all the extraneous furniture away into these side areas and free up the main space.
As the idea had changed from being a two-way mirror in the interrogation room to one where Walker and his men were listening in, I had to work out exactly how to shoot it this morning. I put a limit on only shooting a maximum of three shots, partly because at this point in the story I wanted the pace to slow down, so I knew I wouldn’t be doing many cuts in the edit, but also from a scheduling point of view. We couldn’t afford to spend ages on this one scene!
Once I had a good idea of where to place the actors, it was then about storyboarding. I wanted to make sure that I would get the most information across in the minimum number of shots. So we needed to see Walker listening to the recording, whilst seeing the Stenographer behind him typing it up.
As he steps out, it’s then that we reveal he’s sat with his other two CIA men all along. I really like it when you reveal information step by step, and not just give everything away in one opening wide shot.
When it did actually come to shooting though, myself and Matt the DP made a few changes to the positioning of the table and Walker. But essentially the storyboards remained the same in terms of storytelling.
Our next set up was for the interrogation scene. Again, as it was towards the end of the film, I wanted to keep it as simple as possible in terms of set up and pacing. I knew that I wasn’t going to use any more than I needed to in the edit, so there’s no point in doing numerous shots.
The only real issue we had with this scene was the dolly tracks that we had hired. Unfortunately the hire company screwed us slightly and gave us the cheapest doorway dolly with plastic tracks — when we specifically had asked for a doorway dolly with metal tracks. What this meant is that every creak and shake was magnified. Especially as we were on wooden floorboards. We had to rehearse over and over, but the camera crew did a fantastic job in minimising any shake we got.
Then we were onto the bulk of the shoot. The main sequence where Sirhan enters the warehouse and is met by the CIA guys led by Walker. The first, most important thing to do is block out the entire action of the scene (even the shots that are going to be shot tomorrow) so everyone knows exactly how it will all play out. This takes a little time to get right, and it’s not about nailing any type of performance. It’s just to make sure everyone knows where their marks are and when to hit them.
Specifically it’s important for camera as Matt needs to know what will happen throughout the scene so he knows how to light it. We began with the widest shot which was of Walker and his CIA men waiting for Sirhan to arrive. This shot set the mood and atmosphere of the lighting for the rest of the scene. Lighting for the widest shot always takes the most amount of time, but once that is set the rest moves forwards pretty quickly.
The rest of the day went pretty smoothly. Tomorrow we’re shooting the whole transition sequence and then we’re done!