Wednesday, August 12, 2009

my "rise" & "fall" in the movies

first of two parts

or how i became production manager-turned-assistant director to merely set caterer - all in two days! it was one weekend like no other - literally!

this is day one...

last weekend, my best friend, anselmo, finally did what he has been planning to do for the past year: make his thesis film at UCLA so he could finally get his diploma or whatever. it took him many weeks to plan. he had to write and rewrite his script many times over while saving enough moolah for the two-day shoot. it's a student film but you still have to spend for it, production-wise, yes.

two weeks ago, he sent me the initial production schedule. on the schedule was my name and it indicated my role in the shoot - i was the production manager. i have no idea what to do!!! :)


(the actors and the crew prepare for a take)

i am a big fan of movies. i can tell whether a movie is good, bad, forgivable, avoidable, or a total wreck. i educated myself on cinema through the movies i see. i do not pretend to know how it's made - i have an idea, yes, but the full detail on how the production works is something still foreign to me. but as i said, i know how to watch and rate movies.

so i ask anselmo what does a production manager do. i don't recall him telling me specific details only that i am supposed to control the props, schedule, etc. we were supposed to meet two sundays ago to discuss my role but, typical of him, he canceled at the very last minute.

our other friend xtn was the assistant production manager while malou was in charge of make-up.there were other people assigned to do errands (getting food, serving food, disposing off leftover food - hahaha) but they all snubbed anselmo's shoot... sob.

three days before the shoot, anselmo sent me an email informing me that i am being promoted to assistant director.

i was like, what?!? i didn't even know what a production manager does, what in the world did i know what an assistant director does??? again, i was told that it was basically the same function as the production manager, only that i will have to make sure that we keep to the schedule. in short, i have to man the time.

now, those who know me will surely laugh at this ridiculous idea. i am, admittedly, a tardy person. seldom will one see me early to any appointments. either i am on time or late. never early! well, sometimes i do come early if i am asked and i have to tell myself repeatedly that i have to be early.

i am always early to my interviews with hollywood stars. one time i was late, i almost missed my interview with jodie foster. i had to switch and give up my slot to interview peter saarsgard (this was for "flightplan" years back) just so i can have jodie. four years later, i was able to make up that lost interview with peter when i met him for the movie "orphan".

wednesday night, i met with anselmo, marq lee, and yohei (whose last name i completely forgot) at marq's studio in el segundo. the group discussed the shooting schedule while i pretended to know what they were talking about. occasionally, i would butt in with suggestions from a critic's perspective and i think they were very polite to listen to me. i was again prepped about my role as assistant director or A.D. and they reminded me about being on time.

friday afternoon, anselmo emailed the call sheet to the production. my call time was 7am but actual shoot starts at 8.

saturday morning at a little past 6am, anselmo called me to inform me of a quick change of plans. i am now supposed to pick up malou from LA. i told anselmo i can't if he wanted me to be on time. he told me it's okay to be late and i told him i'll come late. he insisted that i should be able to make it to the set by 715am. i live about 30 miles from LA- that wasn't doable. besides i wasn't ready to get up yet. my alarm is set to go off at 630am. i was supposed to shower and be off at 645am for my 25 minute drive to the set (i told you, i can't be on time! - lol).

i followed my original plan. i went back to sleep and before i knew it, the alarm was already violently blaring for nearly 30 minutes when i noticed it. i hurriedly took a shower and drove for LA. i wouldn't get to LA until about 745am. i am running late!!!

i picked up malou and sped off right away. as we turn the first corner, malou suddenly gasped and told me that she left one important prop - the coat hanger. it spelled doom. we wouldn't get to the set until it was nearly 9am. the assistant director, the timekeeper, was late!

they were kinda expecting it actually. when we got to the set, the crew was still setting up for the first scene. it was on an intersection and they had difficulty setting up the equipment and capturing the light.

Verona Masongsong & Paul Ciasullo

marq, joh, kumar, yohei, garen, and anselmo were busy setting up outside. i said a quick hello and went inside the studio to drop my bag and setup my laptop. inside, i met anselmo's actors: verona masongsong and paul ciasullo. both portray dual roles. i can't tell anymore details or i will ruin the interesting, if not confusing, plot of anselmo's screenplay.

both actors were very good, if i may add. verona is partly filipina (she wishes she is more). paul is relatively new to acting and he is from connecticut. they are also very nice. they did the movie gratis. they endured a gruelling two-day shoot and never did i hear them complain. i wish all actors are like them.

shooting started at about 930am. i was initially an onlooker. i was intimidated by marq's crew. they knew what they were doing while i had zero knowledge.

my first booboo came during the first take. the camera was ready, sound and lighting were ready. the cinematographer looked to me and asked me to slate the scene.

"slate the scene"? what does he mean??? he asked me where the slate was. i didn't know where it was. anselmo didn't tell me i was supposed to have it. i was so embarrassed. apparently, that board that lists the name of the movie, the scene number and the take number is called a "slate". an assistant director's supposed to have it. i ran inside to look for it, but i couldn't find it. anselmo eventually found it.

scene # 1 was ready. i was making a movie! yeah, i only did the slate but whatever :)

when i left the philippines, my goal was to study film. it has been years now and i am still trying to fix my schedule to do it (read: don't have enough funds yet - hahaha). anselmo started his filmmaking course three years ago and now he was making his first movie - his own movie! i need to get my priorities straightened.

making a movie is difficult. a 30-second scene could take two hours and endless takes for various angles to complete. i have sympathy now for the technical people. i think it would be a little difficult to be objective when reviewing a film now but i don't know. but until i made my own movie, i will still be a critic.

saturday's shoot lasted until 730pm. we had filipino pork barbeque and pansit for lunch. it was like a feast. i was supposed to ditch them early because i had to go to ford theater in hollywood for the tribute to ryan cayabyab (story later) but anselmo insisted i stay. when the final take was called good, i hurriedly ran out to my car. i don't think i even said goodbye to the crew or did i?

to be continued with day two

1 comment:

joem said...

You can make it Mon, wish you all the luck. Hi to Anselmo and family.

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