filmmaker Oscar MicheauxNot only was Oscar Micheaux on Kevin Willmott’s t-shirt, his relentless indie spirit was with us as we shot 7 1/2 pages, ending on a great high-tension scene with Mr. Farook, Nadim, Deputy Russ, Delmar and Salem.

After ‘the event’ that causes electricity to go out, Delmar rides up to the Pony Express gas station and is denied by the Farooks. He doesn’t believe them that the pumps don’t work and starts to cause a fracas. It begins when he throws one of his empty gas cans into the street which, no matter how many takes we got of it, never failed to startle the horses. The scene escalates and guns are pulled. All of the actors were in top form take after take, and the day ended with great energy.

We also shot inside the Pony for the first time. The d.p. doesn’t like green light the flourescents in there give off so the grips wrapped them with pink gels (full minus green). The flicker of the florescents was not compensated for. They used daylight balanced HMIs shooting through the windows and some KENO panels for more daylight-temperature light.

Just keeping my radio on the gaffer talk has learned me a great deal about lighting. Not enough to blog confidently about it, mind you. But enough that I’ll get more out of the stack of unread American Cinematographers I have sitting at home.

On day 22 at least the-powers-that-be followed the advice I never had the courage to give them and went for more traditional scene coverage. Master, over, over, out. That is: master shot, over the shoulder from one direction, over from the other. Confirm that there is a good version of each piece of dialogue in there and call it done.

We’re still getting a lot of extra angles, but we’re doing more of changing it up between single takes, rather than getting several takes at each similar angle. We also stuck to one camera until that final scene, which I think helped things move faster. Lighting and assisting for two cameras stretches this crew pretty thin.

If you’re on a budget with your movie, the best advice I can give you is know what the shot is that you want, get it and move on. You can spend all day doing safeties or getting wacky angles. But if they don’t help with the story, your editor is going to cut them anyway.

And if you’re your own editor, God help you. Because you’ll never have the guts to cut the useless shot that took a thousand manhours to film.