On shooting the students’ half of the “Inertia” vignette
There are times when the Night Zero schedule is relaxed, structured, and done well in advance. This February, with the production of “Inertia”, was not one of those times. Between proofing Volume Three (now shipping) and on the eve of a 2 1/2 week trip to Europe, there was not a lot of time available for the vignette, and while early plans had us shooting the two halves on consecutive weekends, the availability of the cast (on which I did not want to compromise) pushed us into shooting both halves on consecutive days. And due to the building schedules at UW, our second shoot day was moved to a new location that we didn’t see until the night before. It was going to be a tough day.
After wrapping the professors’ half, Phoebe and I walked over to Loew Hall to get a feel for the space, and that night I redrafted the script and storycards to reflect the changes necessary for the new room layout. We arrived on set at 9am, followed shortly after by the light team of Eric, Jason, and Justin, with Jana for makeup and Eli for photography as usual.
While the snack table was getting set up and some of the chairs were cleared from the classroom, the Eric set to task creating the two distinct light settings for the shoot. The “classroom” setting would be the typical fare of mounted lights and some overheads (although fewer than we would have liked, hampered by the structurally-useless drop ceiling), while the “moonlight” setting would be handled by a powerful, natural-colored light mounted just outside the window. In order to isolate and control that light, a ‘tent’ had to be built around it to block out the sun, also strong enough to withstand the winds. As all this came together, our two young stars arrived and stepped over to Jana for their costumes and various scrapes and bruises.
Shooting began at 11:30am, just a touch behind schedule, and we shot all of the “lights-off” elements to avoid having to re-create the setting later on. I was concerned about the morale of the crew, all of us having spent the long and tiring previous day shooting the professors, but such was not the case. We were back on schedule and cruising through the shoot in no time, with good energy and high spirits all around. It’s a testament to the power and cohesion of everybody involved, being able to bounce back like that, and truly Night Zero is fortunate to be the beneficiary of their talent.
By 4:00pm we were ahead of schedule, which gave us some time to relax and take a break. Our zombie arrived, got into makeup, and was ready to shoot right on time, so we jumped back in and finally gave the actors the satisfaction of facing off against a zombie. That, and getting spattered with blood. Which I suspect is the real reason anybody participates in Night Zero, but I’m okay with that. We’ve got plenty more blood yet to come.