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) :
5:45 a.m.- Principal photography begins today! Up and at ’em nice and early this morning, as I’ll be sprinting through frozen corn fields in about an hour at the Home Place. Nothing like an adrenaline rush to get you out of bed before sunrise.
7:03 a.m.- The day is clear, but still fairly cold. I’ve got my final Riley Ann look on and ready to go: grey sweats, a red long sleeve sweater, and running sneakers. Rick and Terry have the drone out and ready to go. We decide to start with the wide running shot, rather than the establishing shot out the front door, so it’s straight into the fields we go. Sims acts as coat holder, so that I can warm up between takes, and valiantly runs my parka out to me in the middle of the field.
Not only is this one of my first experiences on camera in general, but it is the very first time I’ve ever worked with a drone camera. The set up for each take is slightly complex. Given that the light and temperature are okay to start attempting the shot at all, Rick and Terry determine how to arrange the shot so that the wind won’t knock the camera off-kilter. Having decided on a current location, I step approximately onto my mark, then take a few steps away. Terry then has to maneuver the thing up in the air just so that the wind has no advantage of it, and the shot can remain steady. Then, I slowly step back into place, about a foot and a half away from the buzzing, insect-like machine. Rick determines a point for me to run towards, and upon calling his call of “Action!” I sprint as fast as I can, while maintaining a safe and steady pace amidst the bumpy, frozen ground. Besides the one time my pants almost fall off and I cut the action out of desperation, I’m doing a decent job of giving Rick what he needs in each take, but the first few deal with fickle wind and our path is redetermined. We set up again and do about four or five more takes before we get what we’ll need in the bag.
9:10 a.m.- After warming up with some hot water and lemon, the makeup application begins. I refer to notes and photos from our earlier meeting with Karen Eisenhour and apply Riley Ann’s Scene 3 look. We decide it best to begin and the beginning and shoot everything as chronologically as possible. Our goal, before lunch, is to get all of Scene 3 wrapped, including what we are calling 2/3, a moment where Riley Ann arrives at the Home Place in her Pick-Up Truck and enters the house with an armful of groceries.
With heels on and grocery props set, I hop in the black truck and drive back and forth down the driveway, walking into the side door to the kitchen. We shoot the scene, or at least parts of it, from four, maybe five different angles. By lunch, we’ve gotten what we need in regards to this scene.
1:12 p.m.- Terri and David host the cast for lunch, letting us take over their dining room with a pile of chicken salad sandwiches and the best potato chips any of us have ever tasted courtesy of Richard Farms.
2:15 p.m.- Fed and nourished we head back to the Home Place. Our plans for shooting this afternoon have been disrupted by unpredictable weather and light, so we move straight on to the next Principal scene, Scene 5. Still in the kitchen, and essentially in the same costume and make-up, we film a rather tight scene of Riley Ann cleaning out the fridge. The Old Man gets in the way, so she finds a way to distract him.
5:54 p.m.- Also captured from several angles, and with some complicated sound coordination in addition to some serious schooling on how much of my shoulder or face there might be in a close-up shot, we wrap the day with this scene and get on to dinner rather early. My lotion comes in handy after all the cold weather and make-up the day has contained. A cozy family-style meal is a great way to wrap up the first day of shooting. We share stories and cookies and get on to bed with the sunset. Tomorrow we’ll hope for good light for our shadow puppet scenes.