Saturday, December 09, 2006

A Day on the Set of Ten Inch Hero

This week, we have a special guest blogger: Cynthia Boris!

Cynthia worked on the Ten Inch set, and she agreed to talk to us about what a typical day on the set was like. Part 1 of her story follows:

This past summer, I worked as a Production Assistant (PA) on the film Ten Inch Hero. It was a lot of hard work and great fun all at the same time! So when they asked me if I would contribute to the blog, I decided I'd take you on a (virtual) tour of a typical day on the set. Wear your good sneakers, because we've got fourteen hours ahead of us.

The crew arrives at "basecamp" at 8 am. I hand out walkie-talkies while the catering truck begins firing up breakfast. The wardrobe girls place the day's costumes in the actors' trailers and the 2nd AD (Assistant Director) drops off "sides" (little mini-scripts of what we're going to film that day). When the actors arrive, it's off to hair and make-up. We had three lovely ladies on the shoot but the joke was that, because of the tattoos and the mohawk, Jensen Ackles spent more time in hair and make-up than the three ladies put together!

Since we were shooting on location in the city, our actual set was a few blocks away from basecamp, which meant having vans to drive everyone to and from the set. While the actors were getting all dolled up, the crew headed to the sub shop set to get ready for the first shot of the day. Cameras, lights, props and set decorations all have to be put in place and it's quite a big job.

Next the actors arrive on set and are sent to "holding" -- in our case, a tented area a block up from the sub shop. This is where they hang out when they aren't in front of the cameras. Some actors spent quite a few hours in holding, passing the time by reading, doing crossword puzzles, and chatting.

Sean Patrick Flanery did his part by raiding the local 7-11 for yummy treats and magazines, which he dropped off for everyone to enjoy. Sean Wing amused us with his talent for water bottle juggling while Peter Dennis fascinated everyone with his repertoire of British accents (who knew there were so many?!). Jensen spent some of his time studying the season opener script for Supernatural and it took every ounce of strength I had not to peek! (But I didn't).

When everything is ready, the actors are called "to set," the director (David Mackay) does a "blocking" rehearsal (tells them where to stand and when to move), and then they're ready to shoot. Most scenes are short, less than five minutes and once they do it, they go "back to one" and do it again. When the director is happy with a "take", he sends the actors back to holding while they reverse the camera angle. If they started off shooting over Danneel Harris's shoulder looking at Clea DuVall, they have to flip the cameras around to shoot over Clea's shoulder looking at Danneel! This means moving all the lights and sometimes even the furniture and this can take awhile.

Since the actors spend so much time waiting between scenes, several of them brought their best friends along for company. The four-legged kind! Elisabeth Harnois, Danneel and Sean Patrick all arrived with their pets in tow and Jensen turned puppy photographer. (He always has his camera with him so he can shoot pictures of his co-workers between takes!).

Ready to shoot again? It's back to the set to do the same scene they already did. If there are four or five people in a scene there might be four camera setups and three to five takes each time! That's why it sometimes takes hours just to get one five-minute scene in the can. Everyone loves when the 1st AD calls, "moving on." That means the scene is over and it's on to the next.

Since movies are shot out of order (for a variety of reasons), a new scene often means a costume change for the actors. If it's a new day in the script, everyone has to have a different outfit on (among other things!). The actors get transported back to basecamp to change and have their hair and makeup touched up. Time is money and getting everyone where they need to be and back again is always rush, rush, rush. (The expression "hurry up and wait" comes to mind).

As if this wasn't enough to deal with, add to it one of California's worst heat waves (temps over 100 degrees and humid!), and the fact that we were shooting on a public street. We had some interesting visitors, some of whom looked like they had just walked right out of the movie!

And let's not even talk about the traffic when filming scenes that involved crossing the street! Yikes!

Join us later in the week for Part 2 of Cynthia's story!

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