Friday, August 6, 2010

25 Months Ago: Day 9

DAY 9 – July 6, 2008

We spent today in Brockport. I figured Sunday would be a good day to schedule shoots at locations that would normally be closed.

A few scenes in the script took place in a comic book store, and I had my heart set on filming at Collector's Choice in Brockport, which I knew to be closed on Sundays. However, one of the co-owners was going through a family emergency at the time, and I was unable to arrange permission.

So I changed the scene to a used record store (which actually fit better) and made arrangements to film at Trader Shag's. The owner's wife owned Coleen's Cafe down the street, so I decided to be a good host and take the cast there for breakfast before shooting.

The record store scenes provided small on-camera roles for Sean Sherman (who crewed on the cemetery shoot on July 4) as the store owner, and Anthony “Ace-yon” Owens (who crewed on the video store shoot on Day 1) as a teenager hoping to buy a bootleg.

Anthony had been in the running for the role of Terrance, despite being a little young for the part (which I would have justified by having the character be a former child prodigy). Anthony was enthusiastic and had done a lot of preparation for the role, before Reuben – my first choice – was finally able to commit to the movie. Anthony then became an understudy for the role of Bert, in case Karyus was unable to leave LA. When Karyus' participation was confirmed, I was determined to give Anthony a speaking role in the film, and so I offered him the small role of a teenager.

Anthony accepted the smaller part, but also said, “I hope you don't mind, but I think I could add some lines to this.” I figured there was nothing wrong with this – as long has he said the lines I wrote, he could say his own lines as well.

The scene in the script is a brief establishing scene in which Karyus' character, Bert, refuses to sell a raunchy bootleg to a minor. I'd originally envisioned the teenage character as nerdy and awkward, like the Pimple-Faced Teen from The Simpsons, but I was happy to let Anthony make the role his own.

What happened on-camera between Anthony and Karyus was comedy gold. Anthony not only had thought of several new jokes, but was continuing to think of more during his performance – all that prior preparation meant that he knew the script well, and he made full use of that background knowledge. Karyus had no trouble keeping up with him, and both actors stayed straight-faced and in character as they traded ad-libbed barbs.

If I had used all the material they produced, the movie would have been a lot longer (and raunchier), and I would later struggle to condense the scene down to the funniest bits. One of my favorite moments was Karyus saying “I don't even think you have money...” and Anthony replying “I don't think you have money! You fifty years old and you work in a damn record store!” What made this even funnier was that the actual owner of the store was in earshot, watching us work.

After this, we filmed a scene in J.D.'s parked van, and a scene on the street between Reuben and Liz. I felt a little weird filming an argument scene in a public place, but I don't remember any passersby taking much notice of us.

We then filmed a lengthy cafe scene at Java Junction, but not before having dinner there (again, be a good host). There was some unavoidable background noise due to a refrigerator, but the dialogue was still audible, although a middle section of the scene was especially noisy and was difficult to fix – an odd parallel to the parking lot shoot the day before. Again, we filmed the scene in sections, a few lines at a time. It's a tribute to the actors that these long dialogue scenes, which were so complex to shoot, flow so quickly and gracefully in the finished film.

All in all, a satisfying day.

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