On Location for Coyote Girl: Wednesday 01.14.15

January has been an amazing month for Outcast Café! We have spent the past two and a half weeks officially entering the production phase of making our second short film, Coyote Girl, the poetic version of the 90 minute play script Riley Ann Visits the Outcast Cafe. After spending about two weeks on location in Westfield, Illinois the team has dispersed and continues to work on post-production for the film as well as upcoming projects for the company. Here is the next installment of our adventures on location from the perspective of company member Gail Shalan (Riley Ann, Coyote)

Wednesday 01.14.15

6:55 a.m.– SURPRISE!!! My phone rings a wake-up call just before 7. Good thing my ringer was turned on nice and loud! I’m a pretty heavy sleeper and am still adjusting to these country hours of up and down with the sun. Expecting to not go in to shoot until a bit before noon, I’d set my alarms in a relaxed fashion. But so goes life on a film shoot! The lighting is perfect! The wind is dead! We gotta get this drone shoot now, baby, or it ain’t gonna happen! Adrenaline surges and I hop on out of bed, looking very much forward to the coffee promised at the Home Place.

8:25 a.m.- Turns out that farm air is more fickle than we thought. The conditions aren’t conducive, so we post-pone the drone shot of Riley Ann driving up the road until a later time and decide to scrap the exterior shot of scene 7 that Rick had mapped out and forgotten to get during the long day of shooting yesterday. The guys still have plenty to capture, and to be honest, I don’t mind at all. It’s a real joy being on set, witnessing the commotion and the artistry at hand. Establishing shots and tid-bits are taken care of. In a couple hours we will start work on scene 13, the second Coyote talking scene. I can go ahead and get out of Scene 7 make-up and costume and into our look for scene 13, involving much more weariness, a pair of sweatpants, and a jacket.

10:56 a.m.-  Diving right into scene 13, we attempt to figure out how to get a continuous master shot and again run into problems with getting the puppet on and in place in enough time, especially in the tighter corners that we have with this frame. We split the scene in two: A section of Riley Ann carrying a waste bin (…filled with waste) out and in the back door while the Old Man sits as witness to the chaos, and a section of Coyote’s pure frustration, revealing Riley Ann, and ultimately Riley Ann and the Coyote bidding the Old Man farewell.

1:46 p.m.- While I certainly struggle with comprehending the logistics of my shadow in the shots on Biggs during the first half, the rest of the scene is pretty seamless. It’s a bit of an emotional blur, as I attempt to maintain, or go in and out of, the state where Riley Ann has to be to start this fury. But I practice Terry’s advice of staying present only when I need to be as Gail, and protecting my mind, space, senses from the buzz around me inbetween takes.  We’ve done a lot of work to get to this place, and the story begins to carry itself just about here. At least for me and Coyote. It’s challenging for Biggs to play this tender moment against Coyote who at times simply cannot make eye contact (even if I could tell where he was looking from below the table) because of the frame needed on the back of Coyote’s head. But the work remains ever poignant and beautiful, and Coyote feels very triumphant with his performance, as well as the new skills he’s picked up on camera.We wrap the scene in good time.

3:15 p.m.-  Now’s our golden moment to capture the driving shot. With our last few hours of strong daylight, the gents head out to the field with drone in tow while I get costumed quickly for the first Riley Ann look. With a 21st century walkie-talkie system (iPhones), Sims crouches in the back of the Pick-Up while I master reversing down a semi-frozen dirt road in heels. After about the 8th take, I’m about ready to sign up as a stunt woman for the next Fast & Furious flick. Okay, not really, but it’s a lot of back and forth on about a quarter-mile of turf, I get pretty comfortable. Finally, we get a shot or two that seem useable and get cut for dinner.

6:03 p.m.-  Biggs skips the meal as he needs the hour or so we have to apply full body make-up for scene 10 in which the Old Man is caught dreaming, singing, and dancing naked under  the full moon (insert full moon pun here). When we get back I settle into my coziest costume, a set of hideous teacup p.j.’s. and lie down on a couch while Josh assembles the most gorgeous artificial moonlight through a lace curtain that I’ve ever experienced. Once settled in and rehearsed, as this scene takes a bit of combat choreography, we begin shooting the incredibly violent and upsetting piece. This scene is TRULY Coyote’s first appearance in the film, and it’s easy to feel how necessary a device the puppet/character is to our emotional little tale. While there are barely any words, very brief action, and a peaceful beginning and end to this moment in the story, it’s emotionally the most wrenching for me, Gail, on this journey. I don’t want to spoil too much, but in scene 10  the essence of the deterioration and redefinition of Father and Daughter is apparent in an instant, as is the necessity of the puppet device for both characters involved. If I were to pick one scene to sum up the story, I think it would be scene 10.

8:55 p.m.- Our second shadows-on-the-building shot has been scrapped. Rick feels he has enough from yesterday to make the piece work, and we have priorities to complete. Our final bit of filming for today is to get some footage of Coyote in front of a black screen called “Elements” footage which Rick will later lay on top of a shot or two that looks out the window. This will create an effect of Coyote staring into the window from outside. I quickly sew up the poor guy’s crooked mouth for his closeup while the guys set up the next shot.

9:28 p.m.- Blindly led through the most avant-garde element of this entire process, Coyote and I show off his tricks to Rick in front of the screen. By which I mean Rick quickly figures out a directing technique of guiding Coyote’s gaze in a rhythm and various directions to get the image he seeks. It’s pretty weird, wacky, cool stuff. Coyote rocks it, per usual.

10:03 p.m.- The day is a wrap! Wahoo! Final day of shooting is tomorrow. Early shot is planned at 7 a.m. so it’s off to bed I go.

What actually happened at 8 in the morning.
What actually happened at 8 in the morning. Feat. Robert Biggs as the Old Man
Josh and Rick set up scene 13.
Josh and Rick set up scene 13.
In the Zone to shoot scene 13
In the Zone to shoot scene 13
Cheeky Coyote Boy
Cheeky Coyote Boy


Leave a Reply