Film Journal: Week 13- Rubber Arms

Sometimes good production design is a beautifully ugly thing

Sometimes good production design is a beautifully ugly thing

I’ve gotten wildly out of the habit of writing over the past few days. I know that doesn’t seem like a long time, but a few days is all it takes sometimes to disrupt one’s internal narrative.  So sitting down to write this update is a task that I’ve been putting off all morning because I know it is going to be difficult.  And this isn’t just because I now have to gather my thoughts and wrestle them into words, but also because it turns out that the shoulder position needed to keep your hands on a keyboard is roughly the same position as the position used to carry a camera on a shoulder mount.

I knew this was coming: the Director had made it clear from the beginning that his vision for the shots were for them to be hand held on a shoulder mount. I even did an evening of weight lifting to try to prepare myself, which I’m sure played a part in my neck clicking out of place last weekend. This past weekend, at last,  was the production weekend and my moment of truth to find out whether I could, literally, shoulder the burden of being the Cinematographer.

It feels like I am complaining about sore arms a lot here, but that is probably because I made a concerted effort to NOT complain about it over the weekend. Complaining wouldn’t have made the camera any lighter and would have just dragged down the morale of the set (and we had great morale to begin with so it would have been a shame to ruin it) but by the same token, it took a physical toll and I want to gripe about it a little bit. 🙂

Other than the sore shoulders and rubbery arms, I like to think I also have a pretty good eye, and setting up shots is fun when you get to be creative with camera angle and lighting. We played around with the colors of the lights: green and magenta in the “Living Area” scene (shown above) with an ugly yellow gel on one of the practical fixtures (that’s a lamp that you’re supposed to see in the shot) to look like a high-pressure sodium work light: because nothing says “underworld” to me like the sallow yellow of high-pressure sodium. In “The Replicant Lab” scene we used red and cyan lights and discovered that if you shine a light through a box fan it makes interesting oscillations on the walls that the human eye can’t see.

I'm in a replican't lab Clean Room getting new arms attached.

BRB in a  Replicant Lab Clean Room getting new arms attached.

From a production design standpoint, it turns out that you can do a lot with painters plastic and gross, distressed cardboard, although there is always the risk of a cardboard cut. I got one in the morning on the second day, but since it was the only blood shed all weekend I consider that a pretty good track record. Besides, I know in the costume world it is supposed to be good luck for the production if the costumer bleeds on a costume, so I assume it is good luck if the production designer bleeds on the set.

All things considered it was a great shoot weekend and I’m looking forward to seeing how the shots look on the big screen.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on April 7, 2014.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: