I originally intended this to be a daily blog of the entire production of ALGORITHM. I made two minor miscalculations: I forgot how busy production is and how long the days last.
For instance, yesterday I woke up at 6:00am, worked all day, and didn’t get to sleep until 1:15am. That’s a pretty long day for me. But, enough griping about why I haven’t been keeping up. Let’s talk about what we’ve done!
I want to start with a little bit of praise.
Every single member of the crew is amazing. The Satsuki, our DP, is getting easily the most beautiful footage of any project I’ve ever worked on. More than that, he knows his gear, which may actually contribute to the prior statement.
Satsuki also understands a bit about the post-production process and was able to walk me through how to convert the RAW video we’re getting from our Magic Lantern modded Canon 5D Mark III, and get it into Apple ProRes 4444. </camera-geek-talk>
Satsuki also brings a Camera Assistant with him each day, though not always the same same person, every one of them is more than competent. I have my favorite, but it’s really unfair to value a 1st AC based on humor, so I won’t name him.
Seraphina, our 1st Assistant Director and Production Manager is always on time, always knows who needs to be where with what. She’s too smart to just do those tasks, so she’ll also be making and editing the Behind-the-Scenes video.
Then there’s the Producers, Phillip and Joseph. They know the city. They know movies. They know production. And they are on top of everything, from securing locations to making sure we get the footage we need each day, to helping us not get arrested last night (more on that in a bit).
The cast so far is excellent as well, but I’ll probably devote an entire post (possibly more than one) to their skills.
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We were at one location that we used three times and redressed, so when you see it in ALGORITHM, it’s going to look like three different places. It was a nice short day, and really showed me how long it takes ALGORITHM’s crew to do things. That helped us schedule the rest of the production with a bit more accuracy.
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We shot at the San Francisco Main Library. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but to describe this building as beautiful is an understatement. It combines Modern Classical architecture and smoothly transitions into an almost post-modern impressionism. And we got it all recorded. The employees at Main Library, both librarians and PR people were incredibly friendly and helpful in every way, even letting us continue filming after the library opened, giving us a ton of free (and unwitting) background actors. If we had to pay for this location and the extras, it probably would have been nearly a $1m location.
Later in the day, we went back to the location from the first day and filmed the third scene at that location.
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Alamo Square Park is iconic. It’s where they filmed the intro credits to the ‘80s TV show Full House. It’s also where they filmed SO I MARRIED AN AX MURDER. In fact, when we shot there, every curb surrounding the park had signs up, saying that there was no parking the following day. Satsuki figured it was probably because they were filming another movie there, and they chose to shut down the street.
We made no such demands.
We filmed there with people (again, unwitting free extras), actual local cars and just took shots where we could find them. It’s one of the most beautiful scenes we’ve shot so far, and all the angles we show aren’t the typical angles shown at the park, but if you know San Francisco, you’ll know the location immediately.
By an amazing stroke of luck, the City lights up the capitol building each night with different colored lights based on recent events. On the night we filmed, far in the background, the capital building was lit red, which was perfectly symbolic of the blood on the hands of the politicians who are okay with torturing people.
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Yesterday was the aforementioned long day.
The first location is a beautiful mansion in a place called Saint Francis Wood. This is one of 2 ultra-rich neighborhoods in the city. Every house in this area is a mansion, each unique, each tastefully designed to exude the sense of wealth naturally flowing to those who are able to receive it.
And, we got to shoot there, for free, because we asked.
Jaye, the woman who owns the house we filmed in was incredible. We just knocked on her door, and she said yes. Her home is beautiful, from the exterior, all the way to the tasteful placement of decorations inside.
Her only requirement for our using her home is that we show her remarkably well-mannered and well-groomed dogs. Essentially, she asked us to make our movie better. So, we happily agreed.
We headed to San Francisco State University to get some other locations, and then, at around 10:00pm, we headed back to Saint Francis Wood to get the exterior of the mansion. The fog had rolled in and made the location even more beautiful than it already was.
We got the shots we needed and they’re incredible. As we were packing up and backing up the footage, in triplicate, 4 police cars raced down the street, cutting off all possible exits. Each car held 2 officers, who quickly flanked us. I told everyone, “Keep your hands away from your backpacks and pockets,” and then I let Phill do all the talking. After five relatively calm minutes, and after waking up the amazingly kind and generous Jaye at midnight, the police found out we had permission to shoot there and apologized for the uppity neighbor who falsely reported us. The police wished us well, and then left, much more slowly than they had arrived. We finished and headed out.
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Thus ends the first week.
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If you want more up-to-date info on what we're doing, along with on-set photos, follow me on Twitter @BrandXJon.