China Diary

Day 153: Getting there (but not done yet…)

Woke up after yet another refreshing four hours of sleep in the middle of the night and spent the wee morning hours watching as the sky turned gray over the cold Qingdao seaside landscape, writing this blog, reading Gösta Sundqvist’s biography, playing Hearthstone and contemplating life.

One strange thing they do here in Qingdao is shouting to the sunrise on the beach. I have no idea what kind of a tradition it is, but every morning around sunrise time I hear people shouting on the beach, and so did some others living in the hotel as well, and even witnessed them en masse on the beach doing some kind of a strange ritual. It’s not really something that penetrates the sleep, so if I’m sleeping I won’t wake up, but these insomniac mornings I observe this interesting thing and find it somewhat refreshing.

We had a relatively fun shooting day, which was nice for a while. I must admit I haven’t been enjoying the shoot the last week too much; it just has felt like shoveling shots out from the script so we get to finish the movie, but I’ve lacked the passion for these scenes. It doesn’t mean they’ve turned bad or anything, the actors make the whole thing work, but I have felt like I’m merely executing a script than really putting my heart and passion on it.

Mind you, it hasn’t been like this during the production at all: I’ve had heated discussions and burned midnight oil to get the story in the can, but last week I had a bit of a clash with the writer, mr. Yu, and afterwards found it hard to find the right attitude to directing. It’ll get back to me, but I’ve had this stroke of insomnia which is also grinding my creativity at the moment so everything feels a bit harder and more complicated.

Me after every shooting day…

The team is really badly undermanned at the moment. We lost Cheng to the sickness yesterday, and since many of the people from the AD department are sick, and especially it seems every English-speaking member of the crew, we are left with half-functioning machine. Especially with a split unit, it’s starting to feel: every scene takes a long time to get set up and resets feel like ages. The callsheet keeps on piling up, while the shooting days are getting less. We will get everything in the can by the time we finish, but it’s going to require some work.

One of the things I don’t like about shooting six days a week is that you just don’t have the time to prepare for what’s to come. Six days means only one day off, which you need to fully rest, but there’s no time or energy to plan the week ahead. It leads to the situations we experienced many times on the set: the only place to do any creative thinking is between shots, while setting up the cameras, while your mind is on a totally different scene. Same goes with Mika, he has no chance to really plan ahead anything, and the little rest we have during the shooting day we have to use to get a bit of rest.

Last minute planning…

Shooting on the dusty Moon surface continued yesterday. Wireworks dominated the morning hours and the evening was a bit more about action. The split team was doing their action piece in the other studio simultaneously. I was actually happy with the results of the day, although I really hate the Moon set as a shooting environment (I can’t wear the mask so my lungs are full of the damn dust constantly).

Back in Finland, Annika dropped Topi to his father and headed to the airport, flying overnight towards here. Another reason to feel slightly more excited. Also, tomorrow we have the last shooting day for mr. Duan Yihong, and then a day off. So a lot of things moving toward the end: last shooting week dawns on Tuesday. We’re getting there.

We’re getting there.

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