The shoot started off on the wrong foot. The location was too noisy when we were going to start, so we couldn’t film right away. I turned this into a positive and had us rehearse and block the scene for an hour or two. When things had quieted down we got to work. It was slow (i.e. line feeding), but we managed for several hours and got the shots we needed. The first real hurdle we had to face was the makeup situation.
I had two people work on makeup for that scene. They were downstairs trying to make fake blood. To this day I am not sure what happened. We followed the directions and everything, but the blood just did not come out right. It was chunky in spots, but mostly had the consistency of water, and a pink color instead of dark red. It just wouldn’t work for what we needed it for. We were able to use some of it for the bullet wound on my actor, but for the squib it just wouldn’t have worked (mostly because the color was way off, we could barely even call it red!).
At the end of the day, however, this was probably a good thing. We never wound up using the blood spray device I made for a couple reasons. First off, we couldn’t stain the walls. This was an actual apartment with an actual landlord who didn’t even know we were filming there. I definitely did not want my director of photography (who lived there) to get in trouble. On top of that, the blood just wasn’t the right color. We also had never used this type of device before and it just wasn’t going to work in the space that we had. I tried everything I could to make it so we could use it. I even tried rewriting the scene. In the end, however, I just used a digital blood splatter effect that I added during the editing phase.
We got through it! We wrapped close to 5:00 p.m. and then all went out to dinner. It was a very long day with a lot of hurdles to overcome. I tried my best to turn each little mistake, each little hurdle into a positive. As a result, spirits were kept up on set and the people there believed in what we were doing every step of the way. The final scene was not nearly what I wanted. I did the best with what we had, but the final scene was less than desirable. If I could go back and do it again, I would have scouted the location way beforehand like I had originally planned to do. It was a great learning experience, however, and a great memory that I will forever cherish.
Remember, even on your most stressful days, to enjoy what you’re doing. There is going to be a lot of back breaking work, a lot of mistakes, and a lot of hurdles you’ll need to jump, but just remember why you’re doing it. I make films to tell a story, to express myself, but I also make films to have fun. If there was no fun in it, why do it at all? There were many moments that could’ve put a real damper in our work, but we turned each of these negatives into positives. Some of the most frustrating elements of that day are now some of my favorite memories. It may have been a dark and dreary day, but we sure had one hell of a blast!