I am writing this post on April 20th, two days after we finished shooting. From the 15th to 18th I experienced every spectrum emotion possible, ranging from exuberance to devastation. Although I cannot feel my shoulders from carrying so much equipment over the weekend, and I have 15 bruises across my four limbs from my carelessness in navigating the set, I still have not fully realized that I am done shooting the film. With no exaggeration, these three days were some of the most panic-inducing, stressful, hectic days of my Hopkins life. It was hard. There is no other way to put it, but I think I enjoyed it. I think.
The chaos started on Friday, picking up equipment from three different locations: the DMC, Gilman 35, and the Film Center. Because not everything could fit in our small four seat car that we borrowed from a friend, we had to make multiple trips just to have everything in one location. After getting all the equipment sorted out, we rushed to Giant and bought all the food that we need for the three-day shoot. Then, I picked up the actors while Sue unloaded everything and delivered the car back to her friend. I ran around all of Charles Village collecting props that I reserved from various people. I walked a total of 13000 steps from 5pm to 11:59 pm. When we were done with everything, it was 12:30 am and we had to wake up at 5am to transport all the equipment to the location and start production design.
The first morning was the busiest time of the whole day. Sue had to drive from Homewood to our location in Hamden many times to transport the crew and extras. I had to bring all the equipment to the set and start production design. In the midst of all that, actors started to arrive and and I had to greet them and give them instructions and answer their questions. We started shooting at 9:30am and ended at about 6pm which was 30 minutes over our planned schedule. I did not think that so many things could happen in the 9 hours of time that we had. There wasn’t anything that was extremely horrifying but there were some very stressful situations. The cat scene was almost impossible to shoot, because the cat got annoyed at everyone on set, lighting was tricky with very little daylight coming into the house, and we had some trouble with equipment and props. Because there was such low light, we ended up having to shoot some of our scenes in digital with the Canon C300. After the shoot, we sent everyone home and we stayed behind at the location until 9pm to return the house to its original state. When we prepared everything for our Sunday shoot, it was 11pm.
Our Sunday shoot began in Penn Station at 10am. We were worried because we really hadn’t gotten the permission we needed to shoot inside the station. Because we did not want to be noticed by the Amtrak police, we went into the station with minimum crew, and acted as if we were just a student group. We managed to get the scene of our character getting in to the ticket line without being noticed but we definitely got attention from the Penn station employees when we were shooting a scene of her sitting on one of the benches inside: one of the guys at the front desk stood up with his arms crossed and gave us a stern look. We all left the station hurriedly before getting caught and finished our Penn station scene in exactly 20 minutes. After this scene, we relocated and shot multiple tracking shots of the grandmother. Because it was almost impossible to load the dolly, we ended up using a wheel chair. It was scorching hot and the wheel chair was very jerky so it was difficult to get a good shot. We wrapped after shooting two more indoor scenes. We managed to finish around 5:30 pm and when we sent everyone home it was about 6pm. After transporting our actors, we returned the equipment and props that we didn’t need, and planned our shoot for the final day.
I woke up at 6am before my alarm went off because I was very nervous. We had to shoot inside Union Station and inside the MARC train which were both locations we did not get a full permission from. I was very worried also because we had to shoot all the train scenes in an hour without getting caught by the ticketing agent. I was also worried because our actor, the grandmother, told me that she was not able to get enough sleep last night. We were shooting in 4 locations from 9am to 4pm so it was going to be a tiring day for everyone but it was especially going to be tiring for her. It was indeed a very stressful day. As soon as we got off at Union Station, we started setting up the camera to film a scene of her exiting the station. 2 minutes into shooting, the security officers came to stop us. We thought that they are going to kick us out and makes us format our card, but Sue showed them an email that she exchanged with the Union Station authorities and they just told us to wait for a little. While they made us wait, I spoke to my actor in Korean and secretly kept rolling the camera. After couple of minutes, they came back to us and told us that we had to leave. Because we got what we wanted, we just packed up and left. They came back to us when we were shooting the exterior of the station but we begged them to give us 5 minutes and they did. Because everything was so rushed, I don’t know how everything looks but we did get all the shots that we planned on getting.
After we shot the conversation scenes near the station and the non-cherry blossom scenes in the tidal basin area, we came back to the station to get on the train. We were extremely exhausted by then, because we shot everything in an hour. Our extras for the scene arrived and we got on the train. Everything felt chaotic inside the train. In the beginning, we panicked because the train car that we wanted to film in was packed with people. After 5 minutes of terror, Sue politely asked if they would willingly move to other parts of the train. Everyone was very nice and gave us the place that we wanted to shoot in. It was a busy hour of me trying to get as many takes as possible without getting caught by anyone. As I was shooting, Jack and other crew members would cue me whenever someone was coming towards me, and I would just drop the camera to a seat next to me and act as if nothing was going on. We got the last shot got 3 minutes before it was time for us to get off at Penn station. After the final shot, I high fived Sue and shouted that it was a wrap.
We let everyone go, dropped off all of our props and equipment, sent our actors away, and we were actually done. When we were walking back to Sue’s place after everything was over, we talked about how we couldn’t believe that we are done with shooting. We had planned this film for a year and now we are done shooting it. We do have to edit it at some point but I don’t want to think about that right now.