China Diary

Day 77: Still rolling

The sunlight crept in between the heavy curtains of my room as I peeled my eyes open. I had no idea where I was, or what I was supposed to be doing today. I laid there for twenty seconds just slowly waking up, gathering myself – and then realized: shit, I have to shoot today! I scrambled my phone to see how badly late I was from the set – and it turns out it was not even 3pm, and the pickup wouldn’t be in another 2,5 hours.

I went down to the gym for some exercise. I’m not much of a gym rat myself, but I try to do it as much as my schedules allow me to, mostly focusing on keeping my back in shape, because most of my profession takes place sitting down in uncomfortable chairs hunched over a set of monitors for twelve hours.

At the set, everything was ready to continue from where we left. We started shooting right away, since cameras were still in place from yesterday and the start was all in all quick. The callsheet itself promised quite a hellish day: over four pages of script to be shot, which means tons of dialogue and actions to cover in two different locations.

First part of the day went past with a nice pace, but post-lunch slumber ate the energy of the second part, and we spent way too long time screwing around on the set number two. Our dreams of finishing at six am slowly evaporated as there was one more light to fix, one more angel to cover, hundred more shots out of focus…

First AD Lei getting ready to shoot.

In the end, I clung to the ages-old director trick that’s to be used only as the last resort: keeping the cameras rolling. It’s not an ideal strategy, but when you are running on empty and still need to get these three last shots, it’s undeniably effective. By not calling the cut,  you have full control of the set and you are able to retake a shot multiple times without the usual reset time.

As the very last shot, we had a crazy crane shot we needed to do, and with that we went seriously overtime, but boy were we lucky we did it… But of that I’ll tell you later why. Anyway, not surprisingly I was stuck in the morning traffic again, fell asleep in my car listening to Type O Negative and eventually dragged my tired ass to bed.

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