Faraway memories

I’m sometimes at a loss when trying to tell stories of filmmaking. It’s obviously not because there aren’t any crazy stories while we’re filming, there are so many. But more and more so my mind is somewhere else entirely while filming. So much is going on, I can hardly identify what is an interesting incident unless someone points it out to me. I’m so busy thinking about the worst, most mundane stuff. “Is this lens length right?”

So I’ll try to use some of this space to record stories as I think of them. Then I’ll have some sort of record at least, useful in case the brain bugs start munching at my memory soon.

Faraway. Last day of filming. It’s the big waterfall scene. We are way out from home base. On location in Philippines, then on location from that! It took hours to caravan there, through crazy mountain terrain. All for the waterfall, which looks great.

The stress is at its most. There were battles over how to get a generator. Credit to Malou for finding one short notice. The cast is as mad as can be, and who can blame them? But we have to wrap this thing.

We arrive and have no momentum. Cast and crew want to relax after the long drive. We’re already losing light. I push to get things moving, but soon I find myself frustrated too. I remove myself from the situation and hide in the jeepney.

Malou’s uncle, who owns the Jeepney and has helped us with many things, is there. I’m laying down in back, desperate for a moment of peace, while the light slips away. He turns around on the passenger seat to face me. Tells me something about getting up. Trying again. Go.

So I do, and I pull it together just enough. We get through the scene, but I’m pretty beat. 42nd day of filming. We set up lights to film the night part of the scene when I realize: I forgot to show the main waterfall in the background of any of the shots! A total waste of a trip! Could have been filming in any pond!

Also, we never used the water-proof enclosure for the camera! I’m just trying to shoot the shortlist, and didn’t get any of the spices that make a scene good!

The night material goes better, it was the daytime heat that killed us. Cast and crew feel better and recognize that it’s really happening now: the shoot is ending. Dana gets through the scene perfectly, despite the difficulty. She has to swim to a small waterfall (a bit away from the big one we missed, which we can’t use at night as we cannot possibly light it) climb onto a slick wet rock and touch the side of the waterfall. It goes well.

We missed our chance to get those really killer shots with the big waterfall. We go back a few days later with a tiny 2nd unit and no cast to shoot the falls, but of course it would have been better to have cast in the frame. Alas.

Later in editing I find that I have all I need, but barely. When assembling the ending I discover that the waterfall isn’t the big visual moment of the ending. Instead I find a throwaway shot of the characters riding away on a boat, sunset behind them. It’s good. Ben’s score comes in and makes it magic. You never really know what is going to play, or how. You just capture the best stuff possible, and as much of it as you can.

Come back next time, when I write another really good thing.


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