Monday, February 8, 2010

The beginning of the end...

Sorry for the momentary lapse in blogerige (bloggering?)… Yesterday was beyond hectic (I finally got to bed at 4am, only to have to leave the hotel at 8am to catch my flight). That being said, I think that it may have been the best day of my life (I am even starting up tear up a little as I wrote this!).

I am going to go into sap mode for a second but I promise to snap out of it and give you all the run down… 

There were several moments yesterday where I felt as though I was having an out of body experience. I kept looking at myself and thinking what the hell is going on here? I have wanted to direct since the age of 5 and have been working slowly and steadily to get there ever since. It has not always been an easy road and to finally have my dream realized is a feeling that I cannot even describe. Directing yesterday felt so natural and not only that SO MUCH FUN! Film has not been fun for me in a long time and shooting yesterday reminded me of why I have been chasing this dream for so long. Over the past few years there have been some moments of doubt as to what the hell I am doing at the age of 29, making minimum wage and fetching coffee – is it really worth it? Do I really want to be a director that badly? Guess what – YES I DO! I have never been so happy in my life and I am now ready to fight harder and longer to make this a permanent gig because I know that it is what I want. 

Ok, enough of that Hallmark crap and onto the juicy parts of why my shoot yesterday ROCKED MY SOCKS!

The day started with me arriving on set, only to be greeted by two cross-dressing men…

Just so happened that one of these men was none other than my Production Manager Gary as he was stepping up to the plate to be one of my stunt drivers for the opening sequence! I don’t think that I have laughed so hard in my life – it truly was a sight to behold (though apparently here in NZ, film productions have what they call “Frock Day” where everyone comes to set as cross dressers??!! AMAZING – need to bring this back to the States but somehow think that it would never fly!).

After eating some breakfast (or maybe a lot in my case – I LOVE a starchy carb and they had hash browns!), it was a quick meeting with Ken over the dressing of the two houses and also to go over the photo albums. Everything was exactly how I had imagined it (sometimes better) and Ken and his team (Amy, Ali etc) really outdid themselves (THANK YOU!).

We began the day with the racing granny sequence, which allowed my actors to go through hair and makeup etc while we got the first few shots out of the way. James my DP was on fire – he was quick, swift and precise as I know in the back of his mind he knew that there were a lot of shots that day and that there were more that I wanted to shoot. James has always been on my side and championed for what I wanted from day one – it was so great to have someone fight for you as sometimes I did not know what my boundaries were. James is also a HUGE perfectionist which was great at times as I would get bogged down with time and start to try to push through things too fast. James would always politely say, “Aya, lets just do one more for me”! What a rock star!

Anyhow, the morning ended with shooting the opening title sequence. This consisted of a crane shot that tracks up a signpost covered in various signage that also acts as the credits for the movie. It gets to the top (the street sign) that reads “Sweet As”, pulls up and back until the sign is out of the way and the cars come racing down the street. Quite a lot to coordinate and get just right. I was afraid that this may take longer than we had anticipated as there were so many variables involved, but everyone got it right and we were out of there in 5 takes! 

Everyone really liked the idea and when Ken first put up the post it was quite the conversation starter (James was rather chuffed that he was a Kiwi and so far up the totem pole!).

At lunch I was whisked away to do some EPK (electronic press kit), which is the interview thingy that they usually put on DVD extras. I was first a little worried when they told me that there was going to be a behind the scenes crew there all day, but they were like Ninjas and I never even noticed them! Being interviewed was awkward (never know how to sit etc) but I guess they got what they needed…

After lunch we launched into all the heavy dialogue. Joe (my AD) told me that we had fallen 9 minutes behind and I started to freak a little and push through things. What I learned on this shoot is that it is VERY important to take the time to block through a scene. We were lucky (I should say I was lucky) that I had James as my DP as he was working through things in his head the whole time and saved me on one occasion, but walking through it is always important for the actors and for you.

My actors Milo, Luke, Helen and Kate were all fantastic. There was not a single incident of having to do more takes because of dialogue issues and everyone was so great that I actually had to do very little directing of them to get the performances I needed! 

At one point I remember sitting back and just looking at Helen, Luke and Kate on the bench and smiling as they looked like the scene that was in my head when I wrote the script! Helen, Luke and Kate are all from Wellington so I am hoping that I can allow them to come to Park Post to see what we do with the movie as a huge thank you… we shall see!

The end of the day and the last shot was the bake sale flash back scene. Ken had purchased about 4 store cakes and then the two hero cakes (the Pavlova and the Gingerbread house). He had rigged the gingerbread house with fishing wire and hid under the table to make it collapse on cue. Only problem? He had made the gingerbread house too well and no matter how much he pulled it did not fall down! We all had a huge chuckle. He loosened it all up and we rolled again and everything went perfectly! Kate and Helen were so professional that I was able to get a lot of one-take wonders throughout the day!

This was a great ending to a dream day for me! We called it a wrap, and then suddenly I felt some cake hit me… Ken had declared war and a cake fight erupted (minus the gorgeous pavlova and gingerbread)! Out came the beer and wine and we had a little celebration before packing up! However, not before Ken came over and gave me a few keepsakes from the set (my street sign, some plastic budgie’s and the photo albums)!

I tried to smuggle my Budgies in my suitcase and one died...

It was then off to watch dailies with James my DP. The previous night I had freaked out a little as they all looked so grey and flat. Apparently this is what the RED camera does as it spits out everything as RAW files that you can then manipulate however you want (phew!). James showed me how he envisioned the scenes to look and they looked FANTASTIC! He is such an amazing DP!

Then it was off to dinner with Rajneel, Andreas (two of the other directors) and Luke. We hopped in a cab to town and chit chatted film nerd jargon before calling it a night (I still had to pack, go through the dailies and choose my selects etc). In fact by the time I got to bed it was 4am (eek!).

I was up at 7am to be out by 8am to catch my flight to Wellington. In a way I think that this was a good things as I was partially comatosed so I was not an emotional wreck when I said my goodbyes to everyone in the office… A hop skip and a jump away I was in Wellington and was picked up by Alison who will be my post production coordinator.

Alison whisked my over to Park Road Post for a quick tour before taking me to my hotel (the Duxton). 

But before I go on about my new stunning view, I need to tell you about Park Road Post. People have been going on and on and on about how amazing this place is to me since they heard I was doing my post there. Well now I know why – THIS PLACE IS LIKE DISNEYLAND FOR FILM GEEKS! Seriously folks – its like a HUGE craftsman mansion (no expense spared) with the most AMZING mixing rooms, editing bays, Foley rooms etc you have ever seen/ can imagine. It even has its own movie theater with the walls and decorations all done by WETA workshop… I can’t even begin to explain and was so awe struck that I did not even take photos (in fact I am not sure that I am even allowed too but if I am will snap some tomorrow)!

Now I am back at the hotel (after going to Cuba st and having a pie for lunch!) and going to TEPAPA (a museum) across the street. Tomorrow my day starts at 9am with my editor Jonno Woodford-Robinson and I have three days to picture lock (agh!) before we start to do the sound design, grading, credits, mastering etc…



    I am soooo happy for you dear Aya.
    Finally...your dream has come true. Only very very special and very very focused people reach a big goal like this one in their lifetime. Omedetoogozaimas.
    Just to clear details up a bit.You have been a director since the day you were born. I am sure every member of the Tanimura clan will agree. That is why it comes so naturally to you my dear.
    LOL :D
    Love as always..Mispah,
    MEM oxooxoxoxoxox

  2. Aya!!!!!!!!!!! Love the blog! I am so happy for you and filled with goose bumps on all of your exciting adventures!!!!!!!! You are the best and I'm so happy to hear that you have an awesome crew behind you!!!!!!!!
    xooxxooxoxoxoo Mardie

  3. WhooHooo What a ride! Great story and thanks for sharing. The way your instalments are building, I can only half imagine what's in store LOL

  4. you go girl !
    you go girl !
    you go girl !

  5. So great! It's awesome to hear all about your adventures. Such a diligent poster!

    Ah, the Duxton. We lived there for 2 weeks. Enjoy the breakfast! How long will you be there?

  6. Hey, do those dodgy Aussie budgies have a licence n that's not for driving a car!!!

  7. Bill n I keep reading that sign - a film by Aya Tanimura - and going Wow! Wonder-full to see

  8. Hi Chris!
    I am at the Duxton for a week (breakkie included - now I am excited for tomorrow morning??!!)...


  9. i was going to write you a long, amazeness comment but i think mum pretty much said it all: "OMGOMGOMG LOL!!!"


  11. Bugger the dodgy budgies....
    check out the
    film by
    sign !!!!!!!