The best boy on Bones brought me in for the second unit shots yesterday – the cafe shots that were supposed to be done on Tuesday, but got dropped. He swore up and down that it would be a short day. It was, after all, only an eighth of a page, with no dialogue.
I suppose it was a short day in that it wasn’t 14 hours, but it was way longer than the 4 hours he promised me. That’ll teach me to tell friends I might be able to meet them after work.
To be fair, we did only shoot for a few minutes, but because the director and actress were having to run back and forth to squeeze our two shots in between whatever they were shooting on Stage 6, we spent a lot of time sitting and waiting..
Luckily, our second unit gaffer was hilarious. He’s close to retirement, so he didn’t give a shit what he said or who heard it:
“That makeup guy looks like Uncle Fester from that monster TV show. Hey, Uncle Fester, get your ass out from in front of the light!”
“That director’s an idiot.”
“I need coffee.” Turns to producer “Hey, kid go grab me some coffee, willya?”
I actually got a stitch in my side from laughing so hard – the last time I got a stitch in my side on a set was the time the director on a movie of the week ripped a giant fart right in the middle of a love scene.
I think that may be the most fun I’ve had on a set in, well, it might be the most fun ever.
Old guys are great to work for, because there’s no second guesses. He’d be chatting with the DP about fishing, turn around, say “Hey, put a light back there for that thing, willya? Just hit it from an angle. Thanks!”, and then go back to his conversation.
We’d place the light, gab about whatever the topic was, and then a few minutes later he’d turn around and casually place another light.
The shot looked gorgeous. I mean heartbreakingly beautiful. The thing that made the whole episode tonight so impressive is that it’s much more difficult to light with ‘hard light’ than ‘soft light’,* and the entire set was lit with hard light.
So we lit it, sat there for two hours, and then shot the first angle when the director got there. The director left, we set up for the reverse angle, and then sat there for another three hours waiting for the director and actress to show up after they wrapped on Stage 6.
Because we were only there for two shots, we had no craft service and they never broke us for lunch. Luckily, Kitchen Confidential was shooting on Fox’s New York Street (right across the way from the cafe where we were shooting), and we were able to raid their craft service truck. They have much better food than we do, which makes sense since it’s a show about gourmet chefs.
Call time: 7 pm
Wrap time: 4 am
*Hard light is just what it sounds like. No diffusion or ‘softener’. The old black and white film noirs are lit with hard light. Done right, it’s amazing and creates a sense of depth in the frame, but hard light casts shadows, so it can be a bit tricky to make it look good – A gaffer has to really know his or her shit to light with hard light. Soft light is easier to use as there are no harsh shadows, but it can look flat and crappy. Actually, it usually looks flat and crappy, but since most audiences don’t know the difference and it’s faster to use soft light, that’s how most movies and TV shows are lit these days.