First Day, Mom!
The night started at 8:30 when Mia picked my roommate and I up for a coffee and food run. Despite the presence of finals looming over her head and the lack of sleep showing in her inability to form coherent sentences she’s excited, ready to take on the late night that will ensue. Because of recent rain and an illness of one of the stars, the shooting schedule has been pushed back and for the four senior filmmakers this created a new added stress to the pressures they’ve already put on themselves to make this film the greatest it can be.
At 10:10 we began embarking into the woods. Then, at 10:10 on a December night that was darker than dark and with the added creeping coolness of the winter the woods seemed even more chilling, perfect for the eerie nature of the film. The process of setting up was an intricate one but the crew had it down to a science. Snacks and drinks were hauled into the brush with camera equipment and lighting that had some assembly required. I was asked to set up one, needless to say I handed it off to Becca whose expertise far exceeded my own.
Despite this having been my first night on set I was thrilled to be a part of the process because no matter the small scale, it was still a film and one that had taken great time to come together.
I was called on for FX makeup and my love of Halloween had made me a perfect candidate to bruise and bloody the actors with makeup. I started by bruising up Jillian also known as Skylar and then it was onto Shaun aka Jake.
Another Day Another Woods Scene
December 8th was cold. December 8th was a long night of filming. Luckily, I got out of most late nights but for the production team and actors, those long nights were rough, tiring, and gruesome when paired with the demands of normal, every day life which requires sleep, something they didn’t really have the luxury of getting.
But even in the most frigid, uncomfortable times, the crew and actors managed smiles because camaraderie is something a whole lot stronger than the desire to call it quits. Cheesy? Yes. True? You bet your mittens.
While the rest of the crew finished up in the woods, Mia and I went to the Media Arts & Design major building to look over some of the edited scenes in the film. I hadn’t been all that present for the actual filming up to this point so seeing the finished product, in small snippets here and there, was mesmerizing.
This night of filming was in a word: wicked. This was the night we filmed a little surprise, or a huge gigantic plot twist, depending on which way you look at it.
Let’s Talk About (The) Last Night
So last Friday was it, the final night of filming. Let me set the scene. It was a warm night, strangely warm for December but nevertheless a welcome warmth. Wells brought a pizza and a pie, not to be mistaken with the term pizza pie because he literally brought an apple pie. We were all buzzing, so pumped to wrap this process despite our love for each step because as mentioned many times before, sleep was a prize for finishing this film.
We shot a few scenes on campus and then we went into the woods. But, lets not mistake these woods for those dainty collections of trees surrounded by roads or houses. These woods that we went into were terrifying. Thirty minutes off campus in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley we went and my anxiety rose with each foot we drove further into the woods. Imagine complete silence except for a bubbling stream gurgling to your right. In front of you is a dark expanse which you know the road you’re on cuts down but somehow you can’t imagine whats ahead because of how dark it is. To your right is a steep face with jagged rocks rising two times your height with mangled trees shooting out of the limited soil. Behind you is where you came from but it doesn’t look the same, it’s black, imposing. Then there’s the rest of the cast and crew who are going about their business as you think of all the ways you could die out there. Thank you, Criminal Minds, thank you.
Filming on this night was lengthy more so because it felt as much as opposed to the time it actually took. The warmth got sucked up by the night and cold breezes replaced the once comfortable air. Wells fell, I tore open my hand and Shaun and Jillian got a little wet in that gurgling stream I mentioned earlier and a more than a little muddy. Apparently a deer walked right behind me and a Smokey the Bear sign terrified me but the shots we got were incredible and absolutely worth my terror. I know I am biased but this film, it’s remarkable. The love and sacrifices put into this entire project are visible in the meticulous filming and editing. This is a student film, but I encourage anyone who has a chance: get involved in a student creation. Be a part of student content creation because it will bring you a new sense of respect for your peers.
Mia, Wells, Tyler, Becca. Thank you for allowing me to come along on an inspiring ride. I hope my bruising was up to your standards.
Shaun and Jillian. Thanks for letting me throw makeup on you.
Amy. You’re a stellar PA. Like the best.