Home > Joe's Movies! > SRM part 2: Rachel Enters

SRM part 2: Rachel Enters

December 4, 2013

Continuing the behind-the-scenes discussion of “Starring: Rachel Miller,” my original musical – this is part two. The whole film is here, and part 1 is here. Today, we’re looking at Rachel in the theatre section of the film.

This was a tricky scene for me. As a director, one of my hardest challenges has always been moving the camera naturally, and this being a musical, it needed some flair in the camera movement. I’m always struggling with putting motion into a scene – my natural tendency (as it is with so many people) is to start the scene with motion, and then stop it for the duration, leaving the bulk of the scene with no action.

So I mapped out a camera move with each line of the song, basically, and also covered the entire scene with a moving camera on a steadycam, and another on a jib. But choosing what type of motion to put in each section – sometimes I was just as clueless as “this panning shot could go here,” for no reason other than the shot could go there because it was different than the shot before and after it. But it turned out all right, I think.

That’s Darrin Presley, the composer, at the piano, by the way. We thought that’d be a fun little cameo for him. And it meant I didn’t have to cast yet another person in this monstrosity.

This section was originally even longer, with her pulling out a dictionary looking up the definition of “Different,” but we cut that, as well as a few smaller lines. I wanted to get to the good part, once it gets outside, as quickly as possible. This all felt a little slow (still does).

Man, I could have used a costumer. Anyone with an eye for video wouldn’t have put Rachel in a striped shirt – it flares out in the oddest place. It’s not too bad, but don’t stare at it too long, you’ll go blind. Video does that to small patterns – they’re to be avoided.

This is the only part of the musical where the vocal was recorded live. Everything else is lip-sync. But with the microphone right there, we figured why not? And with some of the quick lines (at 1:15), it would have been death-defying to record it any other way.

This was one of the last things we taped, as I recall, and Rachel was getting a bit worn out from filming. That fast-talk section went pretty long with a lot of takes for her to get it right. I remember her being so frustrated, and all of us just amazed that she was getting as much of it as she was. I wanted that in a single take, because I thought it’d be fun to see her really pull it off.

I do like the push-ins on the camera at “you haven’t got a clue” at 2:30. As the music crescendos, the camera motion works with it pretty nicely.

Getting to the end of the scene, we struggled in editing with how to get her into the hallway. I wanted the transition to the “dream sequence” to be obvious (well, not at first, but then people watching it were confused, so it needed to be obvious), and we tried a number of really lousy ideas (including her looking at the stage door, and hearing a repeated chant of “like everybody else”) but they were all slow paced, and often confusing, so we decided to go with a simple dissolve to a blank stage (in slo-mo, because the shot was too quick). Dumb-luckily that was a locked off tripod shot, so we could dissolve to the end of the shot (after she stepped out) and make it seem that she magically disappeared.

There’s another cut after she walks through the hallway – she originally got up on the steps and did a preacher routine to the crowd of auditioners, but it wasn’t great, and again it kept us from getting to the fun stuff outside the theatre.

And then they run out. I so wish we hadn’t lined the extras up in two lines – that they instead crossed more randomly in front of the camera, but live and learn.

Next we get to the big fun stuff – the park scene. Lots of stupid mistakes we learned from there!

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  1. December 10, 2013 at 11:10 am
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