The Joy of Pickups

One of the truly rare joys of being an indie is that when you view your cut and decide that you could do with one more scene or reaction shot there, you simply pick up the phone, pick up the right lights, get your kit out and dress your living room appropriately.

This is what’s been happening the last few weekends – a routine we always knew would happen even before our main shoot.   It’s an ongoing job sculpting your film until you think it’s ready. We are 96% there, all we need is to shoot the few remaining scenes and the virtual opening and closing. Pick ups are pure joy. Why?

a) No pressure from shouting studio or producer, except our internal ones!

b)Time and planning to get the best you can.

c) Seeing the team again.

d) Continuing the the ‘on set’ buzz.

e) The challenge of recreating the same moment in history, which means that everything has to be exactly spot on – actors must not age, must not gain or lose weight, their hair and fingernails must not grow long or short and they must nail the very same emotion they grasped many months ago.

Make up has to match 1000%, colour, stained clothes, level of dirt of the shoes and even the way the eyebrows are plucked has to be identical. They must not have any spots or blemishes, not even a freckle and their stubble must match the one in 2012! Now you try and re-enact yourselves to a day back in 2012 and tell me how easy that is!

Not to mention the lighting and set designing. That has to be magically reassembled and the new scenes have to be interspersed with the old ones and not jump out.  Of course when you’re on location you have 5 meters width and 7 meters high to set up lights around your actors, but in your living room you have barely two meters, so how do you manage that?   It requires masterful adjustment, which Paul, I’m happy to say, has cracked. The scenes look 100% identical. For one of our bar picks ups, we had to find the massive poster, print and magnify the right exact background and stick it on a board behind the very same cushions we used on set. We had to elevate the seating position for the actor to give him the same height in correlation to the poster and add a stool as a pretend table in front to facilitate his movements. We had to shoot ‘dirty frames’ to avoid showing the sides and it worked much better. For close up reaction shots of Woman, Angie and Rich, we used a white screen instead of green, that’s because the background at the barn had white walls and it would be easier to recreate. But when the BG is all virtual, then we have to use green. Pick ups are part of filmmaking, face it. Even big Hollywood films do pick ups usually after a test audience screening, and sometime the pick ups save the film. World War Z had a year in pick ups, so we are allowed a few days here and there.

Thanks to Carla Eve for her amazing ability to make up the actors exactly like they were. Natalie Lacey for her sound assisting & booming, PA ing and rushing every time through our door with the biggest smile. Clare Bristow and Francis McCrea for assisting with focus pulling and lights set up.

Of course a massive thank you to the actors for their constant availability and devotion and passion, I absolutely adore them. Least but not last, the wizard of a husband Paul who makes it all look easy, but only I know the effort, talent and brain hyper-activity that he puts into every single shot.


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