Today was a good day. I woke up with a full night’s sleep and went down to the van ready to rock.
When I got to base camp Ryan motioned me over right away. “Go to cabin 25 to see Tom about your colors.” On my way down to the cabin I crossed paths with Yarden.
“Hey Zach, here are you sides,” he said as he handed me the day’s schedule and script pages. “Head to cabin 27.” 27? Ok.
I walked in to 27 to see Sidney stepping into another room to change. One of the ladies from wardrobe was there, but no Tom. I asked if she knew where he was. In hindsight I should have just ran back to 25. She asked into her radio, “Tom, what’s your 20? I have Boyd’s stand-in here looking for you.”
He answered back, “go to 2 please.” She switched her radio to channel 2, one of the “talk” channels where it’s acceptable to have extended back and forth discussion. “Apparently no one is listening this morning. I told him to go to 25. Send him there please.” Fuck. YARDEN!
I ran over to cabin 25. The door was locked, but there was a hangar rack out front with my colors from the day before on it, plus an awesome hat to go with it. I grabbed the hangar and decided to just change right there. I got as far as changing my shirt when Tom walked up.
“Hey Tom, sorry… I saw Yarden on the way down here and he told me to go to 27.”
“No worries man. You can go inside to change your shorts if you want.” He unlocked the door and I went in and changed. Sidney took my picture for me when I came out.
There you see me in front of the pool house where we filmed for about eight hours today. One pool scene… Fincher does it again! I think I’m beginning to see what he’s doing. The actors and shots he composes are a resource, and he mines as much of it as he can to give him a stockpile from which he can assemble the highest quality final product possible. Of course it is causing more and more scheduling issues… more on that later.
So finally I was there to see the actors rehearse and actually stand-in full blast. Boyd showed up wearing the exact same outfit and I watched him walk down that wall and deliver a couple lines, then walk away. I also met Jason, another 2nd A.D. brought in to help out. He previously worked on Captain America… pretty cool.
After watching Boyd rehearse a couple times it was time for second team to move in. First I stepped onto his mark where he delivers his lines. David set up the cameras with Jody and Sidney in the foreground by the pool, and me in the background behind the wall. He told me to move to the right a foot or so, and then a P. A. came out and marked the position with a sand bag. When the shot was set up, we did one run through of the scene. Here I had a dilemma. This was the first time I was delivering lines from the script and I had two conflicting ideas: Monday when I asked Ryan what was expected of me, he made it clear that I was not there to act, just to go through the motions. JEFF has two lines in the script, yet Boyd ad-libbed a 3rd as he walked away. To me ad-libbing is acting, so I decided at the last moment to simply stick with the script and recite the two lines, then exit stage left. But when I got off camera Jason said, “Hey, Boyd had an exit line.”
Hell. “He was ad-libbing that… I didn’t know if I was supposed to do that or not…” WEAK! No chance to redeem myself either. It was time to roll. And thus we commenced 5 hours of running that one scene from the same camera angles. Jason asked me if I could help him lock an area down though, which meant some P.A. work. Ok, cool. Yarden gave me a radio and I headed off to lock down a parking lot that only had a few Paramount trucks in it. Of course one of the drivers got out of his truck and slammed the door shut right in the middle of a shot, sending one of the other P.A.s running out to us and making sure I got onto them. Other than that it was uneventful. 45 minutes or so later I heard them call for second team to be on standby over the radio, so I went running back to the set to watch the rest of the shoot.
Jeff smokes as he walks by, so Boyd went through at least 50 prop cigarettes during the morning and early afternoon. I almost felt worse for Rosamund though, who took a bite of a Kit-Kat every take. I heard that she ate the first few, then started spitting it out after every cut.
Most of the time I watched Lola do her entrance, extras exit, and Boyd do his lines from behind the wall while just standing around being mostly useless. Sometimes I sat on the ground. All day there were three chairs set up underneath a pop-up canopy. There were two movie-studio style chairs and a gravity chair. Every now and then between takes Boyd sat in a studio chair but other than that they went unused. At one point I thought, “screw it, no one is sitting in these chairs. I’m lounging.” So I laid back in the gravity chair while reading ahead in the sides.
It was then when a guy from the prop department walked up and asked, “hey, have you been doing this long?”
“No, it’s my first time.”
“Well that’s Rosamund’s personal chair. So you should get up.”
“Shit, ok. Sorry. Good to know…” Feeling like a fool, I looked around. There wasn’t anyone else there except a couple people from makeup, one of whom follows Rosamund around with a makeup utility belt at all times. “Sorry!” I said to them.
They kind of laughed, and Kate, Rosamund’s utility belt lady, said “don’t worry, we don’t mind. And I don’t think Rosamund would either. The Props department is in charge of these. If I were to grab this chair and just move it a couple feet they would come yell at me too. Everything is very compartmentalized.” Cool.
We went to lunch on time today at 2:00. 30 minutes later we were back out to do the same scene, but this time with the cameras set up on the other side of the actors. Boyd was not on camera in those shots but performed his lines from behind camera anyway. I took the opportunity to sit on set finally within full view of the whole crew + actors and watch the entire process. I enjoyed it thoroughly for three hours. Even though it was more of the same scene it was still awesome to watch.
While they were setting up there was a prop beach ball on set that a prop guy had just stuck to the concrete with some kind of putty or something. David said, “Can we move the beach ball to the right please?” The guy ran out and unstuck it. “Ok, put it where your feet are. No, back up and put it where your feet just were. Now rotate it. Keep rotating. I don’t want to see blue or red, just yellow. Now turn it clockwise. That’s it. If it’s gonna roll, stick it down somehow.” Then the prop guy went to work trying to remove the sticky putty and… it was just taking way too long.
I was sitting there like, “come on dude, whip out a roll of tape or something! Damn!”
So then he said, “I need to run and get more [sticky substance], I’m sorry sir.” And the dude ran off set.
Unfortunately David was ready to roll, and right when the guy came running back with a roll of some kind of putty tape, David said, “ok the beach ball isn’t going to work. Take it off camera.”
After a million takes they finished filming and started moving to a dusk scene involving Rosamund only. They said good night to Boyd and Lola, and wrapped us. So ended a pretty good day being as close as I’ve been so far to David Fincher’s movie building process.
Oh yea, about the schedule. I mentioned it changes every day… well on the van ride back the driver told us that they’re extending the schedule to include shooting here Friday as well. I may be working an extra day… but of course no one in production has said anything to me. Guess I’ll find out tomorrow!
- temping as a P. A.
- recited some lines in front of Fincher
- watched dozens of takes on set
- scolded for accidentally sitting in Rosamund’s personal chair
- might be here an extra day