Sunday, May 10, 2009

The New Zealand Story

We're so far behind, let's try and catch up. On May 7th we arrived in Christchurch, on the South Island of New Zealand. None of us will ever experience May 6th 2009; because of the international date line, that day never happened for us. Kind of sad really. But we'll experience June 5th twice, so wrap your mind around that.

The day before we left, Jonathan and I wrote out our rough shooting schedule for the 10 day trip. The most important dramatic dialogue scenes all happen in Christchurch, so we decided to shoot all of those scenes the first three days of the trip. Because the movie starts and ends at the airport, we decided to attempt to shoot the opening and closing of the movie, at the airport, right when we landed. So that's what we did. We landed, we went put all of our bags under a table, cleaned up a bit and got to work shooting the scene at the airport. I'm not a trained actor in the first place, so shooting a fairly dramatic scene an hour after arriving off a 15 hour flight was a challenge. We knew that there was a chance that we could reshoot the scene on the 16th when we came back to Christchurch after our roadtrip, so that took the pressure off. But you never reshoot once you have it, you just don't. So we shot the scene and it went pretty good.

We took a bus to the hostel and shot what we could when we got there. Beth, our second actress was M.I.A. - no word from her. I emailed her in a panic and finally got a call late in the night. Her scenes were on May 8th, the second day of our trip. She showed up as promised and we borrowed two locations and shot her scenes. She was crazy-good. Just a delight. She beamed on camera. We've been watching her dailies and we literally scream when she nails her lines. I mean, this is a girl I didn't know, never had talked to, never even saw video of, not even a good picture, and she was just wonderful.

On May 9th, the third day, we tried to pick up all of the rest of the shots and scenes we needed in Christchurch. It was epic, too much. We missed one major exchange of dialouge, but we're either going to pick it up on the road, or go back and get it on the 16th, the day before we leave. That night, on the 9th, we went out to shoot a "going out" montage that would end with a dance sequence at a Drum and Bass club. It was exausting. We wanted to go out at about 8pm and just run from bar to bar, hopefully shooting th entire sequence in about two hours, but the clubs didn't even open until midnight, so our scene turned into a real night of going out. It was about 40 degrees out and pouring rain, and we had sensitive gear with us, walking around in the rain, so it was not easy. Johnny was a trooper and got exactly what we needed. It was magical, like Fantasia. Our movie blurs the lines of fiction and documentary, that's our secret. The trick is that it's mostly real. It is a documentary. It's also a scripted movie. Let that sink in.

This morning we picked up our campervan, a little RV. We headed South towards Queenstown, but didn't make it very far and ended up pulling into a nice little campsite with free wifi. The campervan is a manual transmission which I can't drive, but my character drives it, so I just hopped in and taught myself. I stalled twice, but I was driving on icy mountain roads, so I prayed, concentrated, drove slow and picked it up right away. They drive on the left side of the road here and the shifter and blinker are reversed, but it wasn't nearly as hard to pick it up as I thought it would be.

Tomorrow we drive to Queenstown, possibly 10 hours all the way to Milford Sound. Some storms have been blowing in from Antarctica, so it's started snowing, this is making shooting the movie quite grueling. But we've already shot about 70% of the scenes, and we have 6 or the 10 days left, so we're feeling relieved. We're having fun.

New Zealand is a fantastic place.

Oh yeah, here are some stills from the movie:


kyle said...


James Rhodes said...

rock on dude...

Martha Elaine Belden said...

you're my hero