DAY 4 – July 1, 2008
Today I bought a computer desk (which still serves me to this day as a video editing station) for use in the office set. Fortunately for “Saberfrog”, the previous occupant of the Tobey Village space left a lot of stuff behind, including cubicle dividers and even some computer monitors, which meant less set dressing I had to procure on my own. Construction of the office set would continue throughout the week.
The location for today's shoot was Monroe Community College, Building 3. We filmed a college debate scene between two professor characters: Dr. Garrison, played once again by John Sindoni; and Prof. Mbaye, played by local spoken-word artist Jahaka Mindstorm. Bert, played by John Karyus, would be videotaping the debate … badly.
MCC provided two podiums for use in the scene, as well as chairs for the audience. A relatively small number of extras showed up to play the audience, but hopefully we disguised this by using tight angles, and by having some people appear more than once with their faces hidden. Some friends of mine, Dana and Fran Paxson, helped swell the on-camera numbers at short notice – not the last time they would be involved with the film, in front of or behind the camera.
If this had been a big-budget movie, I would have had the camera on a crane, swooping dramatically past the actors – think of podium scenes in Citizen Kane or Malcolm X, or even the “Evening with Kevin Smith” videos – but indie necessity dictated that I shoot the actors straight on, proscenium-arch-style, as if the camera was one of the audience members.
While I was filming the debate scene as the (movie) audience would see it, Karyus was fulfilling his character's videographer role by actually videotaping the debate from the back of the room, using the standard-def miniDV camera that I'd been using to shoot previous projects. This “source” footage would later be intercut with the regular footage I was shooting. Karyus kept the camera rolling while I was between takes, thus capturing the only “behind the scenes” footage to be recorded during production.
Roberto Petrilli had recorded his cutaways as the director yesterday, so he didn't need to be present for this shoot. His son Anthony, however, did appear as a secondary videographer annoyed by Bert's antics.
When I later reviewed the footage, I made an amusing discovery: without my knowledge, Karyus had videotaped himself with the standard-def camera, making various bizarre faces and utterances. By doing so, Karyus had – knowingly or not – completed an additional scene, of Bert goofing off on-camera for a viral video. One less scene to be scheduled, and I didn't even have to direct it. Thanks, man!