A few weeks ago we wrapped up shooting on the short film "Offline," written and directed by Kate Kelsen.
The project began last summer. As is often the case with low budget filmmaking, something always has to be sacrificed to get to the necessary end result. With this short film, extra time was needed to get the shots that we wanted.
Not only did we shoot out of sequence, but we shot in reverse order. The last shots we filmed were the first scene of the movie.
After the second day of filming last February, production had to wait until the weather became warmer. The opening shot has my character wandering through a rainstorm in the woods.
All of our schedules were packed through the Spring and the next thing we knew, the calendar said late June. I had a brief opening the last week of June between filming a horror movie and leaving the city for the Fourth of July. Once July comes, scheduling becomes even more difficult to coordinate around vacations. Luckily, we were able to shoot the scene before even more time passed.
Once again, my partner in crime, Rodney Reyes returned as the cinematographer and producer bringing with him the crew of Fictional Films.
Over the last year, I've worked on several of Fictional Films' projects, including the feature length, "Unspoken." I cannot stress how much fun I have returning to work with a crew I trust and people I like being around. Rodney and I started out together doing way off-Broadway theater, where we were lucky if the productions were held together with a thread. A trust and bond was built in not only our own abilities but with those around us that was akin to rock bands that have played the bar circuit for years.
Since those early years, showing up on set together has felt like just brushing off the dust and getting back to work.
We shot at my parents house in Mount Laurel, New Jersey a quiet suburb of Philadelphia. The house backs up to protected undeveloped wetlands.
The shooting day came amidst the first major heat wave of the Summer. I was fortunate enough to mostly stay inside in the air-conditioning while the crew suffered through the heat building a rain machine and preparing for the drone shots. Since the day was one of the longest of the year, there was extra downtime waiting for the Sun to set behind the trees. I was spoiled with having the production at my parents house. Who needs a trailer when you can shoot at home?
The wrinkles of the rain machine were ironed out, the Sun went behind the trees and we went to pick up the first few shots in the woods.
The PA's modified my costume accordingly, making me look like a mess roaming through the woods.
As usual with Rodney and Kate, the shots were quickly set up and explained. The heat coming off the floor of the woods was intense and the bugs were aggressive. We rolled through the shot list and then moved to the backyard to use the rain machine.
I felt like a kid in the summertime playing with a hose in the backyard, which essentially, was exactly what I was doing.
We were able to get our next few shots and then move onto using the drone for the next couple of shots and then we were done.
The crew began to break everything down and I went upstairs to get clean.
Kate and Rodney were classmates at The Vermont College of Fine Arts. Their affection and friendship was not only apparent but created an easy going atmosphere where the work gets done smoothly, easily and creatively without any bubbling tensions.
Plus, the AD, Alex Yoe, was able to keep the production moving forward, on time and according to plan.
At the beginning of my acting career, one of the appealing aspects was the creation of a communal atmosphere where trust allowed individuals to do their job and attempt their best. Although I'm grateful that this project is done shooting, a part of me wishes that we had more to shoot.
When working on productions that are no budget or low budget, the most valuable aspects are the lasting impressions of whether or not the production was worth the time. Looking back on this production I have nothing but fond memories and laughs, and I hope that translates to the final product.
I look forward to the next opportunity to work with Kate and Rodney, sooner rather than later.
Rianna and Jasmine playing in front of the rain machine
Rodney working out the movement of the shot under the rain machine.
Rodney, Dominic and Kevin going over the drone shots
Rianna and Rodney setting up a shot
Elizabeth going under the rain machine
Finding my mark
Waiting for the lightening to hit
Going over the shots in the wetlands. Watch out for the bugs.
They bite. They are from Jersey, after all.