Production Diary #7 - Over the Hump!!
Hey there wayward friends! Happy New Year! The three of us took some much needed time off to decompress from the shoot over the holidays (and not be around each other for 16 hours a day!) and now we’re back at it working our way through post-production. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves!
When we last left off in production, Team Wayward was about to take our Thanksgiving Break for a whopping 10 DAYS!!!
Turkey was cooked and eaten, naps were taken, and some sanity was regained. But come Monday November 27th, we hit the pavement for four days of prep to take us into the final stretch of shooting.
Los Angeles - 2nd Shooting Block
The majority of Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of that week was spent location scouting. A lot of prep for the 2nd Block was neglected during the 1st Block because of how many issues we kept running into on a daily basis. Having the opportunity to reset and set ourselves up for success going into the 2nd Block was essential. Our heads were spinning with various exterior woods locations, warehouse spaces, bars, and offices (the final locations we needed to find). These days were filled with scheduling scouts, making offers, striking deals, and a LOT of back-and-forth between Joey, Brian, Alexis, and myself as we drove LITERALLY all over LA checking out options with our increasingly specific requirements. Does it have enough space? Is it on the first floor (for ease of lighting)? Can we combine three different story locations into this one physical location so we don’t lose time moving the entire company?
We tried for real locations (e.g. you rent an actual restaurant to shoot a restaurant scene in) because we didn’t have the time or money to rent empty soundstages and build our own sets. But as our options dwindled, we started to explore standing sets. What's that, you ask? Some stages will have permanent sets than anyone can rent and use. They’re often commonly required locations like courtrooms, hospitals, and police stations that would be difficult to actually shoot in, otherwise. They have their positives and negatives, but they were looking increasingly attractive.
And just in the nick of time, we locked a soundstage with standing sets in Van Nuys for the first 3 days of Block 2.
Lots of people were incredibly happy to be moving into a soundstage for 3 whole days! That meant no packing up at the end of the night. It meant reliable internet and bathrooms. It meant dedicated rooms for craft services, lunch, wardrobe, and makeup. And it meant a ton of scenery, furniture, and props that came with the rental!
Random note: this was our FIRST day of having Titus on Set! We had already spent so many days with a lot of the other characters, it was a strange feeling to start working with someone new! But like a lot of the cast, it was great to work so closely with someone we had known for years, but hadn’t worked with before!
CHALLENGE OF THE DAY: Lighting The Stage
So here’s the huge disadvantage of using a soundstage instead of a real location: lighting. When the Cinematographer and the Gaffer (basically the lighting designer) look at a space to figure out how to shoot it, they’re always first going to see what existing practical lights they can use in a space. They’ll use those as the motivating light source, and add other lights to enhance and shape the scene.
But since we were on a stage that wasn’t a real office… it meant there wasn't a ton of existing lights in there. No one has to do real work there! So it required a ton more time to light the scenes, as well as renting equipment (like a generator) that we didn’t need on other days.
This was the big day, we finally got Sean Astin on set! To be honest, from the get-go we figured it would be a long shot to get Sean in the series. We’ve known him for a long time, but he’s a busy man dealing with Stranger Things and whatnot. So when he said yes, we were delighted, but incredibly cautious not to get our hopes up since so much could happen scheduling wise at the drop of a hat to mess it all up. But the moment we saw his smiling face on set, I think all three of us breathed a huge sigh of relief that we had been holding in for months. Of all the things we discussed ad naseum during this process, we never once even discussed what our plan B would be if we had to recast Sean, probably because we thought we might jinx it! But he was here on our set, to say our words, and bring to life the character of Artemis and Paul’s boss! Which brings us to…
CHALLENGE OF THE DAY: Directing Sean Astin
Saying Sean has a lot of experience would be an understatement. He’s literally been making films since before many of us were born. Directing and working with him was incredibly intimidating.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s the nicest, kindest, man who wanted to do the best possible job. Which meant he wanted to rehearse the scenes a bunch of times with Mary Kate and Steve, ask us questions about why lines were written the way they were, and offer suggestions. And while we had comparatively few pages to shoot this day, it was still a lot and we couldn’t give him as much time as we’d have liked, in an ideal world.
As we shot, Sean would go through the scene, and often stop himself and start again from the beginning to try a different performance or to get something better. He would often start over before getting to the end of a scene and I would be standing there thinking “No! Don’t go back to the beginning! This is all great, but I need a take of the end!” But who was I to cut off Sean Astin?! He ultimately gave us so much to work with and gave an incredibly funny performance I can’t wait to show you all!
After a “leisurely” Day 9, we were back to the grind for Day 10 which involved a ton of pages, and a ton of locations. We needed to re-dress the studio lobby to be the waiting room for Silas's office we shot on Day 8, re-dress Lesly’s office to be an APN conference room, and dress/light Artemis’s cubicle as well as several other APN hallways. PLUS we had to try to get one close-up pick up shot to match an exterior in Pine Mountain. Oh, and after 3 days we had to load everything out of the studio (including the generator) for the next location. Yikes.
But, the fun part of the day was finally having Darren on set! Darren was the final actor that we hadn’t seen yet on the production and we were grateful that his schedule worked out to make it possible. We had a great time playing with him, and letting him get sillier than some of his other recent roles. He even added an ad lib that we liked a lot, and decided to call back to on our last shoot day!
CHALLENGE OF THE DAY: Working Ahead
With the tall order of everything that had to get done, it was all about trying to work ahead. This way, the prep work we needed to shoot the next thing would be done by the time we were ready for it.
We finished shooting a little early on Day 9, so the art team had time to re-dress Lesly’s office the night before. The whole day required us to leapfrog around the space. It was a constant struggle to figure out, who/what can we be prepping right now? Can we move everything out of the conference room and take down the backdrop? How loud will that prep be/can we do it while we’re shooting in the lobby? It made the day even more challenging because we couldn't fully immerse ourselves in the work of the scene we were in, lest we fail to plan ahead to the next thing and waste time later.
And then finally, we had to get out. We tried to start packing up as much as we could early on, but everyone had really settled into the space over the past 3 days, so it was still a beast to get everyone (and everything) out the door to move to our next location.
Stay tuned for the next update about The Bar set featuring fake bathrooms, crazy schedules, and tacos!