Everything that happens on a movie set is
carefully planned, all the way down to the movement
of every single car across the screen. In the "We
Belong" scene, not only do we need one car to cross
as Rebel approaches the street (to establish that
it's a busy road), we need one car (driven by our
stuntmeister, who was Tom Cruise's stunt double for
decades) to stop and start and stop and start in
front of her.
Getting the timing of this scene took some preparation, as it was not only logistical but comedic. The driver needs to hit the breaks and then gas and breaks quickly, all in reaction to Rebel. And then after each take, the drivers needed to back up past each other to do it again.
Light is... complicated. Sometimes too much,
sometimes not enough. Sometimes harsh, sometimes
dappled. There are people whose jobs revolve around
getting the light levels exactly right from take to
take, and making sure the scene matches flawlessly
even if one shot happened in direct sunlight and the
next with the sun behind a storm cloud. Incredible.
One of the tools they use is called the Flyswatter, which is a giant crane with a giant flat canvas that filters out some of the sunlight. It's so long (50 feet?) that I had to take a photo in panoramic view. It literally filled the sky:
When I read the first draft of the script that
included a baby pig I thought "oh, they'll just pay
an animal trainer to come on set for a day and
that'll be that."
That would have been sane, and Pitch Perfect thrives on a certain amount of insanity.
A couple members of the production team decided to buy a baby pig. As a pet. And try to train it themselves. So, for the past few months from time to time, you'd hear porcine squeals coming from the other room and realize that yes, there's a pig in the building.
Other days, when it was quiet, I'd think about the pig living in a hotel room (that's right, they took the pig back to their hotel), and wonder what the people in the adjoining rooms thought as they heard all kinds of crazy sounds coming through the walls.
As the holiday approaches and the movie starts to
wind down, I realize we're finished with DSM and the
Treblemakers. They're wrapped today, and on their
way home to their loved ones and their next
You don't think about it while you're making a movie, but as it gets close to wrapping up you realize you'll likely never again see all of these people in the same place (with one brief exception: the movie premiere).
It's a bit melancholy to consider, as you all create a bond working together in such intense conditions for a brief yet powerful period of time. Then you go your own way and a year later you see your friends up on the screen and all the memories come flooding back.
Hot dogs, sparklers, fireworks!
My family is in town for the holiday so today I took the family on a bayou airboat tour. It was better than any tour I've ever been on (and that includes a helicopter tour of Kauai): feeding a 13 foot Alligator, seeing a recently hatched baby gator & a nest full of eggs (complete with hissing mom gator), egrets, giant herons, a watery cypress forest, lazily dangling Spanish moss, all while slipping rapidly over water and land alike... and then one of the most breathtaking sights I've ever seen: a lake absolutely filled with salad-bowl sized wild lotus blossoms as far as the eye can see in all directions. The smell was heavenly, the sight surreal. I will never think of the word "swamp" the same way again.
There's one place far more
than any other that I run into various members of
the cast. Is it a night club? A movie theater? The
Mall of Louisiana? Nope. Not even close.
It's Whole Foods.
I just ran into Chrissie Fit in the check out line. Most of us are Californians, so we're accustomed to a wide variety of vegetables and other goodies that can only be found at "whole paycheck," and whereas I rarely shop there back home (there are countless great markets and an abundance of options), in Baton Rouge, there's only really one option.
It's probably easier to get everyone's signature in the produce aisle than on set.
A few weeks ago I was busily working with the
Bellas on set in the LSU student union when a
producer grabbed me and mentioned that Natalie
Morales & the Today Show were visiting the set of
Pitch Perfect 2 and would like to learn some a
cappella vocal techniques. Apparently the joke on
the show is that Natalie isn't a good singer, so
they'd like me to throw the kitchen sink at her.
Today the segment aired (with a longer clip on the Today Show web site), and I gotta say I couldn't have expected much more from her vocally with no preparation. She's definitely able to match pitch, the rest is just time and practice.
Today's crazy shoot was in many ways a circus,
filled with crazy and memorable sights & sounds:
• Both Rebel and her stunt double spinning 20 feet above the stage, complete with a fake butt sown into the bottom of their leotard (can't tell from a distance). The move where Fat Amy stands then falls into the spread eagle position was done repeatedly by the stunt double. With no harness or safety net (eep!)
• After the balloon drop, before we could shoot another, all the extras in the first 15 rows handed the balloons down the row to the left aisle where the makeup team popped them all, which reminded me of the endless stream of firecrackers you hear in Chinatown on Chinese New Year.
• In the middle of it all, Rebel brought out Molly, a child who was spending the day on set thanks to the Make A Wish Foundation. Everyone gave her a big round of applause, and she got the royal treatment throughout the day
• Today was the world cup semi-final between Brazil and Germany, which Germany won 7-1. An impossibly high score, which made it fascinating, as I'd scurry between takes back to an empty but unlocked pub (with all the TVs blaring) in the River Center to catch an update. Flula (who has already wrapped and is happily back in Los Angeles), must be thrilled!
• Having 500 extras in tuxedos/formal dresses plus a young marching band on set (from Shelley Regner's high school) made everything all the more crazy, because whenever you turned a corner in the River Center Theater you'd either for a brief moment think "oh damn, I underdressed" or almost crash into a souzaphone or mellophone or some other kind of phone (I'm only really familiar with 2 kinds of phone: rotary dial and i).
What time do we need to be on set tomorrow? Where
is the set? Which scenes are we shooting? Who needs
to be there? All these questions and many more are
answered on the daily call sheet which we receive
usually by midnight the day before. Densely packed
with information, and emailed along with a PDF map,
it answers almost every question you could have
about the following day's schedule.
On the back side, in tiny font, every single person who is working on the movie is listed along with the time they need to be on set (or "O/C" for on call, if they're not specifically needed that day). This is an enormous undertaking each and every day, the work of James Roque our Second Assistant Director ("Second A D").