Day 2 Wrapup: Are You Kidding Me?

8:50 PM

I’ve made fifteen or so movies and I’ve never had a day like this one.  I’m now sitting in my hotel room — it’s almost 9PM — and I’m about as bone tired as a person can be.  I think this is both physical and mental — but I’m whupped.  Here’s why:

  • At 4:45AM I woke up to lightning flashes but it wasn’t raining and when we studied 5 different weather forecasts, it looked like we should have a lot more sun than rain during the day.  So at 6 AM we decided to go for our scheduled day which involved dolphin work at UNEXSO in our “Navy Dolphin Pen” — which a segment of the movie that doesn’t have to be (and in fact shouldn’t be) particularly beautiful.
  • We got set up and were able to get off one shot — when the rains came.  On radar, this was a 110 mile stretch of rain.  The rest of the day looked impossible.  So at 9AM we pulled the plug on the Navy Dolphin pens and moved our entire traveling circus (and that’s what a film is, basically) to Port Lucaya and the hotel scenes.
  • Our team made the move in record time.  Seriously this was one of the fastest “company moves” I have ever seen, and this is even more amazing because we’re not set up for a lot of moving around.  So we got over to the hotel, got set up, flipped the actors into their new wardrobe and scenes, and were up and shooting within about 90 minutes of pulling the plug at the first location.  (For the director and actors, this kind of a flip is particularly difficult because you are all prepped to do one thing — actors have learned their lines and the director has planned his coverage and plan of attack — and then suddenly you have to do something entirely different.)
  • As we were shooting the hotel scenes, the rain passed and it looked like we could go back to UNEXSO and finish the Navy Dolphin sequences.  But to do this, we HAD to finish the hotel before lunch (which had to be at 1PM because we started at 7AM and lunch has to happen 6 hours after call time or you incur “meal penalties” — extra costs for cast and crew).  The reason we had to finish was that the limits of dolphin availability back at UNEXSO … they do not/cannot work past 4:15 so if we were going to get down there in time to work with the dolphins, we had to finish at the hotel by lunch.   With this much at stake, we decided to take the meal penalty and ask the crew and actors to work until 1:30 – then take a 30 minute lunch so we could get back down to UNEXSO, get set up, and be shooting dolphin work at 3, giving us an hour and 15 minute of dolphins — and after that we could shoot all the non-dolphin material.  The crew responded wonderfully to this — but as we got to our last shot in the hotel at 1:25, we did our first take, (two cameras working so we had it covered from two places), and it was a good take (Paul Wesley was the actor)…when the electricity went off.  At first we thought we had blown a fuse – but it turned out to be an island-wide power outage (are you kidding me?)  At this point I was faced with a dilemma because our actor – our star – had just had one take on his closeup and almost all the time an actor will be quite unhappy if you give them only one take.  But in this case we had a very good first take.  And Paul – God bless him – stepped up and said: “Don’t we have it?”.  That was one of the coolest thing I’ve seen happen on a set — and he was right, we did have it.  So we wrapped the hotel and rushed back down to UNEXSO.
  • At UNEXSO we got started at around 3PM — and for an hour and fifteen minute we jammed on dolphin material that was quite complicated.   It was difficult for the crew and confusing for the actors ( and incredibly stressful on the director and cinematographer) because we had to bounce our way through two complicated scenes, shooting out the “dolphin in the shot” elements while leaving the “no dolphin in the shot” elements for later.  But we did it  — we got all the dolphin stuff by 4:15.
  • Then we continued shooting the rest of it right up until sunset — and of course, as we were getting to the final pieces of it, the rains started again.  But we hung in there and the rain passed — but by that time we had very little light.  Anyway — in a photo-finish, we got it all.

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever been more exhausted.

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