Friday, November 30, 2007

November: San Francisco shoot

After auditioning quite a few Saskatchewan actors, we decided that we weren't going to find non-union actors locally who could pull off an American accent, and we have lots of great friends in San Francisco who can. Plus there are amazing bars in the Bay Area that still look the way they did when they were built in the late 1800's, and I never turn down a chance to go home, so Don, Andrew and I began working on setting up a shoot for November in San Francisco. First, Don found this amazing bar, the Homestead, that had recently been restored to the way it would have looked in 1900, when it first opened. Luckily it's owned by Raub Shapiro, an independent filmmaker, who was sympathetic to our cause and agreed to let us use the bar on a Sunday until opening time at 4:00.

Andrew did a great job of producing the shoot, lining up a dream team and gathering an awesome collection of equipment, including a 36" HD monitor! What a luxury!

We got there early and had to wait for the caretaker, so started unloading on the sidewalk.

When we got into the Homestead it was clear it was a great set. It already looked awesome! Thank goodness, because we couldn't afford to fly the Art Director Kristine Dowler or her Assistant Art Director Kevin Dowler down with us.

"You all go ahead with the coffee and bagels. I'll be over here with the whiskey."

the Homestead ghost?

First things first: coffee and carbs! Andrew spends a few last moments with the camera manual -- we're using two Panasonics this time. We've only used Canon and Sony so far, so hopefully he's up to speed!

"Ohhhh, THAT's what the 'record' button is for...."

The crew did a great job of setting up the lights and sound. It was amazing and efficient. Working with Raul, Andrew (Director of Photography) and me was: Mike McCormick (Camera Operator), Brian Webb (Sound Technician), Dustin Boldt (Grip), Jacob Warren (Production Assistant), and Marisa Viramontes (Makeup and Hair).


As it turns out, the bar is half a block from a fire station, which, on a Sunday morning might not be too big of a deal, unless that particular fire station is doing firetruck drills on the half-hour, which, as we soon discover, is the case. Every 30 minutes the sirens would scream and a fleet of firetrucks would pull out and go roaring past, then come rumbling back to sit outside with the engine running and the air brakes squeaking. Not exactly your 1899 street sounds. So we hung this sound blanket on the door. What else could we do?

In addition to all of the great gear and awesome crew, this was the first time I had ever had the luxury of having two cameras on set. I barely knew what to do with myself as the setup was so well planned out and everyone was so on top of everything.

"Ummm, can I hold that croissant for you, Mr. Webb?"

Marisa did a great job of making Don look 30 years younger, and making Dave look old and drunk, and Stephen look, well, like a bartender.

Don almost looks....pretty!

Welcome to Marisa's streetside makeup parlour!

Get ready for your mustache, Mr. Pocock.

'Frank' (David Cramer) and 'Bartender' (Stephen Pocock) in the New York bar

The scene was great. David and Stephen are old pros and Don of course is fantastic, so it was a real pleasure to work with them. We figured between the three of them they've got nearly a century's worth of acting experience, and it all added up to gold.

After the shoot we didn't have far to go to find our wrap party headquarters!

Whiskey, anyone??

Thanks, Homestead!

Raul and I are catching the red-eye. It never lasts long enough!

I was nervous about the footage. It's the first time on the shoot that we didn't use tapes; everything just went straight to an external hard drive. Luckily it all worked out and the footage came back on a MyBook 250GB drive on the red eye with us.

Back to the snow and Regina, Saskatchewan.

Until next time, sisu!!!