PRODUCTION DIARY #8 - THE DEAD CANARY (WHERE EVERYBODY KNOWS YOUR NAME)
Out of the Frying Pan and into…ANOTHER FRYING PAN!!! Ah, yes. Can you smell it? Another location, another face melting adventure.
As our delightful third day at the office sets in Van Nuys came to a close, the main task for production was transporting our enormous power generator across Los Angeles. For a number of reasons, including that it was Sunday, the usual methods of doing this were unavailable to us. So, a decision was made to rent a big ass truck (see picture in the last production diary) and tow it ourselves. I will recount the tale in a story called: JOEY’S BIG BOY TOW TIME RIDE TIME.
I think it’s safe to say that few of us soft-handed plebeians have towed a gigantic generator behind an enormous stake bed truck? Am I correct? If not please comment below. Anyways, because of the carpool situation, it ended up being Joey's responsibility to get the job done. I’ll let him chime in now on what was going through his head:
“Holy shit I am not equipped to do this shit shit shit this thing is heavy and I can't really see what's behind me oh fuck can I merge do I have enough room to merge shit shit shit”
At 11pm, he arrived at our next soundstage and discovered, after driving down a narrow and dark alley to where we were told a gate would be open, that the gate was actually closed and he had to go to another gate. Like Odysseus shooting a single arrow through 12 golden axe heads, Joey backed the 16' truck with generator in tow down the alley hitting nary a stray cat. Like a big boy! So, that’s fun!!
Now, onto the Dead Canary shoot days!
DAYS 11 & 12
It was nice to be on another soundstage because of some of the things touched upon in our last update: the control we had over light and noise, nice amenities, and staging areas for equipment and catering. Essentially, the luxury of not having to worry about people walking onto the set or construction workers hammering away down the street, which happened many times in Pine Mountain.
The only slight annoyance at this stage was that the bathroom was REEEAALLY far away. So, a decision had to be made: what’s more cost effective, renting a porta potty or taking the time to let people walk to the restroom. THESE ARE THE REAL QUESTIONS PEOPLE!!! There was a very realistic “Bathroom” set on the soundstage, which we had to remind people not to use. I cannot stress enough how realistic this fake bathroom was.
Our call was somewhere around 9 or 10 on the first day in the bar, which was a relief, but a rigging team came in at 5am to start hanging lights. This is because while the set was standing and the warehouse was designed to easily rig lights, a soundstage doesn’t usually have a rep plot like you would find in a theatre space. So, we had to light the bar from scratch.
Sometimes when larger production come in to use a space like this, they will still spend additional time and money decorating the set to make it more specific to their story. We sort of used the set as is because we didn’t have the art budget to gussy it up. But I must say, I was very happy with how it looked and it matched the exterior of the Dead Canary well. It also provided enough space to maneuver the camera easily, which a lot of the actual locations we looked at for the bar did not.
We got to bring a lot of our actors back for these days because a handful of scenes from throughout the series take place in the Dead Canary! Including a dream sequence where we got to play with some bizzaro camera movements and colorful lights!!
CHALLENGE OF THE DAY: Schedules... Again
Like usual, we were flying through a ton of pages a day PLUS working around last minute actor conflicts. For some reason everyone got auditions, callbacks, and jobs these days! But as per usual on this production we made it work, shooting out of sequence and doing what we had to to get through the day. On several occasions we had to use stand-ins to read off camera for eye line.
As very special treat on Carlos’s last day, he catered lunch for us as a surprise treat! What an incredible guy!! That day…we ate like KINGS AND QUEENS!!!!
At this point in the production we had wrapped several of our actors, but post bar days we wrapped 85% of the cast and the reality that the process was almost over (no matter how hellish and challenging it was at some points) was starting to sink in. And it was sad guuuuyssss!!!! It’s such a joy to work with your friends.
Aside from the ever-present challenge of pivoting our creative desires to (attempt to) accommodate time and budget, the days at the bar stage went smooth as silk. Sure we went overtime both days…but still…
Following the Dead Canary shoot, we had a day off...kind of...
And then onto our final two pick up days, which will be recapped in a production diary COMING SOON TO A COMPUTER NEAR YOU.