It takes least an hour to get anywhere in Qingdao, and most of our locations are usually more than an hour away from each other, so recceing means mostly sitting in the car. I’ve gotten into a habit of playing with my phone and listening to Type O Negative – it is October after all. Mika usually sleeps. He’s amazing at that: he sets his neck pillow up and is out in less than five minutes. Depending a little who’s in the car with us, we sometimes might have a production meeting: art director presents a set of his drawings to me, or maybe another production person has some other topics to discuss. Nevertheless, the car drives are mostly a waste of everyone’s time, but these technical recces are very important to do, to ensure a smooth flow of the shoot when the day comes.
My role as a director is a bit less relevant here, because most of the questions are to Mika: where does he plan to plant the cameras, looking which way, how about lights, and what about other elements like special effects – sparkles, rain, smoke – and so on. I’m usually explaining the scene to everyone, pretending to be the director, but after that it’s mostly just a waiting game and few quick answers to some tech crew people every now and then. So, a recce is definitely not my favorite part of filmmaking. Especially tech recces, they tend to be really, really, really boring. The only thing that’s mildly interesting is to follow as our production designer’s despair deepens by every new location. I usually try to keep my requests for the setbuilding as small as possible, and throw the energy into VFX, but truth is: we have to build a lot for this one. A lot.