The past few weeks I have been working tirelessly on the production design/art direction of my close friend’s thesis film. I am working on this film because a. he asked me to do so back in May and b. it is one of the “on-set designs & experiences” for my independent study in production design. This was (and still is) a serious work in progress for me, since I had never been the key designer on a project until now (someone else had always been telling me how to dress the set and it was their designs). But my friend the writer/director has always been behind the camera, so he didn’t have a super specific vision of what he wanted for the design, it was more of the colors and lights he wanted; the rest he let my imagination run wild.
Even though principal photography was this past weekend, my part started weeks ago, starting with the breakdown of the script to learn more about the characters, in addition to determining a color palate, and figuring out which props & costume I need. Then I joined the location scout process, which included looking at various churches, apartments, and bars. This part was/still is tough for me because I was unable to go to all the original scouts due to other commitments. Thankfully for the apartment scenes I was on the original scout, so storyboarding and planning the design was easier. Planning this upcoming week’s shoot has been more difficult because I haven’t seen all the locations in person—only photos for some of them!
From September 25th-27th we filmed the interior of the characters’ loft- a location that we scouted & secured all the way in Rochester, NY. Keep in mind, this was not even a real apartment (it was a studio that the producers rented on craigslist from this 24 year old who runs a sound recording business) so there was 1 bathroom with no shower, and we were staying there for 3 days and 2 nights!!! Can’t you smell the sweat just thinking about 17 people in a hot apartment for 3 days? (because I certainly will never forget the smell).
|me on a giant ladder hanging makeshift "walls" from the ceiling...Innovation at its finest. |
Also, I look like I'm descending from production design heaven.
We arrived on Friday evening (I felt like such a soccer mom driving 4 people PLUS all art things in my Rav4) and I immediately got to work. First, I took pictures of everything in the studio so I could put it back the exact way I found it. Then, i took everything off the walls, and moved all furniture I wasn't using to the part of the loft that we weren't filming in. Then I put up the "walls" for the main character's bedroom--there was no real bedroom so we cheated walls with dark blankets (trust me, it looked super dope). Then I set up the design for the computer "room", living room, and the "bedroom". The whole thing took about 5 hours and by the end I was WIPED out. But then we woke up at 6:30 AM the next morning and the set was dressed & ready to go!! We filmed on Saturday from 8 AM to 10:30 PM and Sunday from 8 AM to 1 PM, then it was time to break down the set. That part was difficult because I was exhausted from the weekend's events and it was sad to take apart the set! (Got plenty of pics though, and of course it was all captured on camera for the film ha).
Overall, I’m really happy with the way my work has turned out so far. With conjunction of the DP, lighting department, and director of course, we were able to accomplish a very beautiful visual for every shot. I’m super excited for this weekend’s shoot, and of course, the final product of the thesis film!