The first shooting day in Qingdao actually took us over two and a half our car ride away from the city, to a small village by the sea, where we would be shooting one day of material for the central element of the film, the Hope Island. This location was supposed to be the actual location where we shoot the scenes, but in the last moment, the production manager told that he can’t schedule the island shoot – due to tides, our shooting location would be underwater most of the time of the day and night – so we decided instead to shoot only some plates and little bits in the actual location, but the Hope Island set would be built on the studio backlot.
That decision was a sound one, I must say. While a beautiful location, it’s just too hard to make it work decently with the problematic weather and that old Moon on the sky making it harder to plan anything (but yes, without tides probably life on Earth wouldn’t have happened, since it was the tidal pools that splashed around with primordial soup in them that then started to spread wider and wider…).
Riding to the location through a Blade Runner -style sunrise over thick mist was interesting. Some of the roads had even been closed because it was too foggy to drive, but on the location the weather cleared out and we spent a beautiful shooting day by the seaside.
Another truth about filmmaking is that when you shoot anything with water involved, expect everything to be many times harder. Another scene which we shot was a rather complex one, including an old fishing boat, few rubber boats and complex camera boat rig following everything, and a drone that tried to capture some epic images from high up. Although everything went pretty well, it’s just very hard to try to shoot on a boat: it’s always drifting to a wrong direction, it’s very crowded there on a boat with the camera crew trying to stay out of shots, and can even be dangerous if something goes wrong. Luckily, nothing did. The sun was up the whole day and we enjoyed a nice shoot, but when we started to align the shots for the drone team, it all went to hell.
Wind was blowing, so it was hard to keep the boat still. We tried multiple times to make a shot, but kept on failing. The actors had to stay for few hours in extremely uncomfortable boat which we kept resetting and resetting and never got what we wanted. Eventually, I called it down: truth was, we just couldn’t do the shots, not today. I admitted our loss and we moved on, leaving the shots to be shot by a b unit sometime later.
After the sundown, we headed back to Qingdao and went for a delicious Thai dinner downstairs of the hotel with the cast and Annika. We enjoyed a splash of wine and great conversations, and being slightly buzzed waded back into the room and to bed.