The story of THIS IS OURS (as I understand it, not having read the script) revolves around 2 couples. The first, played by Ernie Joseph and Karie Gonia, are cultured and monied and established. The second, played by Mark Carr and Wonder Russell, are freewheeling in pretty much every way. They live out of an RV.
Today we’re filming their introduction.
It’s pretty simple. Ernie Joseph’s character goes out for a run. He overdoes it, and gets rescued by Mark and Wonder in the RV. Easy. All we’ve really got to do is find a spot to shoot it on the roads near our home base. And since the woods are the woods, we pretty much have our choice of the back roads around here, which is all of them. Really, there’s only 2 considerations: traffic and a place nearby to turn around the RV.
My thought is to send someone (i.e. me) down the road out of frame, to hold up traffic while the camera is rolling. It’s the sort of thing you can get away with on a rural road, as you’re really only stopping one or two cars at a time, and only for a minute or two. People are generally pretty understanding. We did this, for example, on THE SUMMER HOME and no one got hurt. But apparently, they’ve already tried it on this shoot and, well, let’s just say they can’t do it again.
So I guess the lesson there is, you might only get one chance on your shoot to break the law. Use it wisely.
The second issue is a little more practical. You can see from the pictures that these road are somewhat narrow with lots of really big trees on the side. An RV doesn’t have a good turning radius. So you can just drive the RV past the frame, then turn around and do it again. Nor can you easily back it up like you could a car. So you need to find a spot where you can turn around easily and quickly in both directions, while still having the proper length of road for the wide shot.
We find it, sort of, and shoot the wide. But traffic is picking up, so we move to a different spot for the remainder of the scene (woods look like woods), which goes off without a hitch.
Then it’s back to the cabin to shoot a scene with the RV in Ernie and Karie’s driveway. It’s not a complicated scene, in terms of blocking, but the light is too harsh. There’s really no other place to put this vehicle, and it’s kind of white, so the sun is bouncing off it and washing out pretty much everything. So DP Jonathan Houser naturally wants to put up some silks to cut down as much of the light as possible.
Enter Kit Boyer.
Kit stacks two silks in the same gobo head, which solves most of the problem, then throws up some frost. Only, the wind is creating too much noise (a silk is naturally quiet, but the frost make a crinkly sound), so Kit threads two bungee cords through an empty water bottle, which creates enough tension in the frost to cut down nearly all the noise. It works.
If you remember all the way back to yesterday, there was a discussion between Kris and Houser about how to shoot something on the golf course. Here’s the scene:
Ernie and Mark are at a tee box, hitting balls. Ernie is dressed in business casual wear, hitting balls off a tee with a driver. You know, like you should. But Mark is dressed like someone about to head to a Phish concert. Oh, and he’s hitting the balls with a cricket bat. Yes, a cricket bat.
You’d think that hitting a golf ball with a cricket bat is a pretty inexact science, and you’d be right. Most of the shots are veering very quickly to the right, in the direction of the houses just off the fairway. This begs the obvious question of whether or not we’re going to break a window. We can’t afford to break a window. We can’t stop the scene, nor can we control the shots–at all. It’s a short discussion, but it goes something like this: If you live close to a golf course, you have to assume that your window is in danger of being smashed. So, you either have that factored into your cost of living, or (and this seems more likely) you’ve got windows that can withstand a golf ball traveling at high speeds.
This seems logical.
Nothing breaks, and after a bit Mark starts to get better at sending the ball down the fairway. As the sun starts to go down, I grab the bucket and amble down the fairway to collect all the balls.
In the end, it turns out he never even got close to the houses.
Filmmaker Lucas McNelly is spending a year on the road, volunteering on indie film projects around the country, documenting the process and the exploring the idea of a mobile creative professional. You can see more from A Year Without Rent at the webpage. His feature-length debut is now available to rent on VOD. Follow him on Twitter: @lmcnelly.