Night shoots. They’re the most fun, often the most challenging, and always the most tiring of film shoots. Last Tuesday night, all three proved true.
From 10pm to 6am, a truckload of BU filmmakers (myself included) headed out to the suburbs to shoot a car crash scene for COM Graduate student Padrick Ritch’s MFA thesis film “Limbus.” We had a whole street to ourselves (blocked off on either end by police detail) that became our film set. For the first several hours we lit the dark road using various high-power fixtures, all plugged into a gas-powered generator rented from High-Output studios in Canton, MA. The dark street became a dynamic scene with creative backlighting to add depth to the frame, as well as key and fill lights mimicking a car’s headlights.
Setting all of that up was a lot of fun, but it was also exhausting. We tried to keep our energy up with fruit snacks, granola bars, 5-hour-energy, soda, sandwiches… did I mention I love craft services? But none of that could change the fact that by 3am, our bodies are usually ready to sleep. Luckily for me, mine was able to. By that time, we were ready to light a shot of a car crash victim lying motionless on the ground. Director of Photography Trevor Taylor (COM ’10) asked for a stand-in. Hallelujah. I gleefully volunteered.
Generally, we try not to make actors wait around set while we prepare a shot, but instead prefer to allow them to sit off to the side, to relax, enjoy some snacks and conversation while we go about our technical business. That’s where stand-ins come in, and this particular stand-in would have the privilege of lying down. And that stand in was me. I took a seat where the actor was going to lay, put my head back, closed my eyes, and let the crew light me as I drifted off to a restful nap. When they woke me up nearly an hour later, the sky was beginning to turn blue as the sun rose.
So as I said before, lighting that street was fun, challenging, and exhausting, but luckily for me, I got to stand in. And take a nap.