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SRM part 3: The Park Fiasco

December 10, 2013

Part 3 of a series, going behind the scenes in the making of “Starring: Rachel Miller.” Here’s a blog about the whole film, and here’s part 1 and part 2.

So the guy in the tux is our producer. I thought the tux would be fun, so that you remember this character, who then gives her the umbrella a bit later. No great thought other than that, though it might have been fun to have him show up again throughout the rest of the film, to suggest that all these people are joining in and following her.  But that didn’t happen… live and learn.

The “Different” sign was made out of leaves, along with little light strips of cloth, so the letters would show up against the grass. It was made by my good friend, Rick Bristol, who also has a cameo coming up (he’s the tall tapper on the playground).

While we were setting up other shots, Rick laid out the letters on the ground, then we filmed later in the afternoon. But in the meantime, the sun had shifted and a giant tree shadow fell over the “D” in a pretty ugly way. We didn’t have time to re-do the letters so we just lived with it. Fortunately, in the many years between shooting and finishing the film, tech got good enough that another friend, Scott Meador (who you might know from most of my other projects) removed the shadow digitally.  Thanks, Scott!

We filmed the first ½ of the park twice. The first time, we planned to have a ton of people there, taking over a hill in the park. But 5 people showed up. We filmed it the way we had planned, and it completely sucked. We should have re-conceived the bit when we didn’t have enough people to fill the frame, but instead we just shot a lousy, sparse version of it. It was so bad, we decided to go back and re-shoot with a plan that would work if 5 people or 100 showed up.  Motion in the camera and in the staging is the main trick – who would’ve thought that putting the camera and people in motion makes it seem more dynamic, and helps make up for the lack of a crowd? Isn’t that why I made this project, was to work on my moving camera skills, just to forget them?

That’s me sliding past Rachel in the air at 0:38 as she travels across the jungle gym. If you pause it, I’m the blurry figure.

I don’t know why we didn’t add some rain in digitally, instead of just the sound.

Then, it’s the Singin’ in the Rain section. We filmed that the same afternoon as the original version of the park, but having enough time to think, we restaged and just had three of us perform, with the other few dancers in the background. That’s me and John Kerr, the choreographer, dancing with Rachel. The hope was that what we didn’t bring in dancing skill (John’s the only real dancer of the three of us), we’d make up for in that we like to play around with each other, and we have a lot of years experience performing together. This is actually one of my favorite parts, but I might be biased.

We made rain with a water truck that we rented… and I think I’ll save the water truck story for the next post, because it’s definitely a story.

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