We started filming at the apartment. Get your first shot and do it fast. Can’t expect it to roll too quick when you’re meeting some people for the first time then working with them for fifteen days. Started easy, Damon alone in his (Trent’s) apartment, Farah soon appeared and the film began to take shape.
Damon Shannon brought it all from Day 1. This kid was 100% from the start. At the auditions, I saw him and wrote down ‘pretty boy’ in my notes. But when he walked out of the audition studio fifteen minutes later I knew that I had found Trent.
The crew was small but sufficient – the typical indie film, Toronto style. Tight and fast was the motto for the day, which soon turned into the motto for the shoot. We missed a few scenes in the first half of the day but managed to pick them up in the next few days. After the break – Peter & Queen.
Things got a little crazy at night when we moved to the alley. I scheduled the scene for the first day because I wanted the shoot to flow chronologically according to the script. Although this wasn’t possible every day, that scene ignited the story and needed to be on Day 1.
Frank, Craig and Matt came out and were great. Frank carried an energy through his character and the toothless grin coming from Craig after the bottle smash was priceless, we both knew it would look sick.
Some luck fell our way in that alley – our location had an awning of trees that kept us dry from the rain. And the club next door let us use their house power so as not to disturb the clients with our generator.
We wrapped around one o’clock. Fourteen hours wasn’t that bad considering the aches and pains and worries echoing through my mind, body and soul the night before.
Despite us missing a few scenes it was a good day all and all. Damon had me convinced and my confidence in the film was boosted. I found out the next day that Damon had walked home – the crazy bastard lived at Lakeshore & Kipling then, that’s a two hour hike.
On the way home we saw Dan, an old friend of Brad and mine’s from film school. It’s funny where our lives end up sometimes. He looked so proud with his recently acquired police badge.
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The hospital scenes – we had searched for that room for two weeks. So many hours wasted which I should have spent prepping something else. A strange lead… Rory got the room at Ryerson through a tip from our editor’s mom who had filmed a scene there a few days earlier.
Farah looked captivating once again – her ethnicity is quite remarkable. Sadie reminded me of an exotic Arabian princess. David Baughn and Catherine Rankin made their appearances and were both solid. I owe a lot to Crystal Olsen for finding and helping cast some gems in the film. Things went really smooth once we were set-up. The skateboard dolly made several appearances and the actors were so consistent.
After the hospital, Damon, Brad and I went to shoot Polaroid’s downtown. I let them roam the landmarks and shoot the montage as if it were happening. From his pictures, I must say that Damon has a photographic eye.
We re-united with the unit at the Bloor Street Bridge. Keefer, Ilaan, Jay and I had been there in 2000 during my first time going to the Toronto International Film Festival. Carl wasn’t too please with us throwing Polaroid’s at the traffic driving in the Rosedale Valley below. But that overhead jib shot looked sweet as Damon tossed the pictures – it was satisfying to shoot there after finding it so many years before.
We wrapped pretty much on schedule and sent the majority of the crew home. The Splinter Unit consisting of Damon, our DOP Brad, our 2nd Camera Jamie, our Sound Man Daniel, and our AD Rory went to shoot one small scene by my apartment. The high wide from the balcony was a free money shot that had to be taken advantage of.
That night, after a quick break, Damon Brad and I went to shoot the walking montage. On the way home (we were dropping Damon off – couldn’t have him walking home alone again) we passed an ambulance at Richmond & Yonge. I stopped the car and got out as it put on the lights and got some sweet pick-ups for the ambulance sequence.
Lady luck was with us, end of Day 2.
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9 AM start time – met the splinter crew consisting of Damon, Brad and Danny at the studio then went down to Jane Station. Found our man Billy from the TTC and went down to the platform to shoot the first dream sequence. Man, it couldn’t have been more perfect – Jane after nine was mostly empty. A little different then what I had anticipated in the script but it worked to our advantage and matched to the other two dream sequences better.
Got all of our plate shots for the Woman in White and the signs for the opening credits, then went upstairs and met little John Grose. He was playing our street kid who thief’s Trent’s wallet on the subway. He had a mischievous look in auditions and his arm was in a cast at the time. I told him to save the cast and he did, we wrapped it up on the day and it played in the film.
Thanks to some good advice from Billy, we ended up staying on the same train and shooting the scene with John all the way to the end of the Bloor Line Eastbound. We forgot to grab another tape so it became a film style – we shot 15 minutes of raw stock for both subway scenes. The morning went great and we ended up finishing an hour early.
After lunch we headed uptown to shoot all of Sadie’s house scenes. Driving in Toronto is a disaster – it took us over an hour to drive from Bloor & Lansdowne to Finch & Bayview. But the rain also stopped completely when we started shooting.
Farah finally had some speaking scenes on her last day and did great. Consistent throughout the takes and she took direction well, changed what I wanted rapidly. It was also our first day for our Larry Bradford – Tom Bolton. He is the classic hard nosed editor and later told me this was his fourth newspaper editor role.
The house belonged to Ava Yenovkian. Dave Yenovkian, the assistant editor and I went to Sheridan film school together. It was a wicked location, easy to light and no dressing necessary, original art on the walls and a dog that hardly ever barked. Damon went home early after his scene for a well deserved rest. The best cameo of all time to yours truly.
We finished shooting around nine, a good day all and all. After wrap we drank some beers our front since it was Friday night. I placed my green binder (aka. ‘my brain’ – including production info, scripts, storyboards, receipts, cheques… basically everything) on the tail gate of the cube van. A while later, Karl drove away and I couldn’t find it anywhere – so I called Karl and he went out to the van to check for it. The binder was drenched from the rain but other wise safe. It had made the bumpy trip back downtown on the tail gate and didn’t fall off – everyone laughed but I just looked up at the sky and said ‘thank you’.
From that day forward, the green binder was always in my sight or reach. End of day three, we dropped the picture wrapped Farah off at home with lady luck still on our side.
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Each day I would pick up Damon and bring him to set. Even though he was out of the way, I enjoyed those drives. They gave us a moment to talk before set, about the day or the scene or anything else we needed to discuss before the rush of voices on set. Saturday morning - full day schedule, a unit move, and a 9 AM call. In addition – pick-up scenes we missed the first day. We got rolling pretty fast.
Trent alone in the apartment – the broken lens turned out to be a cool shot. The morning light of Toronto also helped Brad light – he opened the curtain and bang, the Eastern sunrise blasting like ten 18K’s. For Tom’s appearance in the apartment, the usual low angle wide skateboard dolly shot in the hallway.
I had to cut a few things from the script that day. It happened a few times and it was always tough. But as the days progressed, I knew the flow was getting better and everyone was working as a team. We wrapped shooting the scenes at the apartment so things at home could finally be restored to normal, though they never were.
The next stop was the newspaper office, or the Radke Films office where my roommate from film school Luke worked. Radke is one of Toronto’s busiest and largest commercial companies with three affiliate companies in their building. It was four floors of beautiful backgrounds, once again Luke and Radke saved my ass.
The location of Trent’s desk changed last minute and wasn’t in accordance with my shot list so I had to make it up on the spot. It was a good lesson for later, because a lot of the outdoor locations weren’t settled and sometimes moved. It’s frustrating because sometimes you have to sacrifice a shot you really wanted to get and simplify the scene.
I liked the look and lighting in the office – clean and professional but not too overdone. There was a lot of dialogue to cover and by the end of the day we had went through a lot of takes. Damon was solid as usual, he knew the script in and out. He was perfect for the film because he was so smart and learned quick without too much direction or coaching.
After a few beers on the downtown rooftop we went to wrap. Someone sent the elevator to the wrong floor and wheeeeeee! The alarm went off for about half an hour – Luke freaked thinking we were going to be fined by the insurance company. The security guard showed up almost half an hour later, cool and relaxed. We were ready to go by then and explained what happened.
Sunday was a late start so we I had some of the crew over. The night was a perfect wind down to a good but hard first four days and a chance to catch up. I went to bed that night feeling more confident. It slowly grew more and more as the shoot went on. It was a good feeling to have those tapes in your hand – all those hours prepping , sweating, writing.
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The ball was rolling fast. Day five already… I’ll forget it before it’s even done. One side smiles and the other acknowledges the tiredness and stress building up. We’re all madmen sometimes. FUEL for me was definitely not a normal state of being. I had morphed into another creature than the usual Adam. I remember the day before the shoot started I was trying to do something simple – it took me so long because I kept forgetting what I was doing. The frustration and pressure inside was so great.
Hello to Ava Himmel, who was playing Laura and the Woman in White. We wrapped her in thirty yards of fabric and got a few fans going in the Wallace #2 Green Screen. The splinter crew broke off for lunch then met the rest of the gang at the convenience store. Two store locations had backed out last minute for the times needed so luckily Rory and Carl found OJJJ’s Variety on Manning while on a run.
We rented the Buick for it’s first appearance as the ‘stolen car’. Mike Secondi, an old friend and classmate from Sheridan came out to play Steve Rinaldi or the Man on the Cell Phone, a role I specifically wrote for him. The convenience store owner’s son Richard also agreed to make a cameo. While shooting outside the store we had a few neighbors stop by to take a look, and some cool kids peel out their car tires in the middle of our take. Mike added a few ad-libbed lines, something I knew I could rely on to make the role more natural.
The first take of Trent stealing the car was great. He peeled away so fast that Julia came up running right away: ‘We can’t have him speeding through the streets!’. I made him slow down a little but it wasn’t the same. At about eleven we wrapped at the convenience store, most of the crew had gone home but the Splinter – Damon, Brad, Ro, Danny and I went to do the car escape sequence.
We had our permits, and we cruised around Toronto and up to the 401 getting tossed around. Damon and his method acting turned into the criminal Trent. He cut off people, made sharp turns, raced through the streets as I tried to keep up in the chase car with Brad shooting. He flew around in the backseat over a few corners and was soon cursing Damon for driving like a maniac.
At about four in the morning we wrapped. I took the boys home and parked the picture car at Brad’s. Free guest parking proved to be the winner. The key to the low budget indie is to save every penny you can, while not using the hell out of everyone around you.
The first five days were complete. We were done in the city. Monday was our day off and Tuesday we ventured out into the province for the first three days on the road. Me and Ro had a busy Monday prepping. No days off, no rest for the wicked – but we were getting the film shot.
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It was our first day on the road. Heading back to the crossroads. That country intersection took us so long to find location scouting for The Cynic in third year. Ro and me had a hell of a time finding it again even though we had the address. It’s a beauty – the most perfect crossroads in Southern Ontario.
The caravan left Wallace Studios in the morning. We headed out to East Garafraxa on what was going to be one of the longest days of the shoot. It was the first day on set with Genevieve Trilling, my Julie. We had an actress chosen for the role before casting but Genevieve seized the part in her audition. I don’t know why she convinced us, but the French accent gave her an exotic and different taste of Canada. Her personality in general made me believe she could understand the role of Julie, the hardest role to play in FUEL alongside Trent.
Without much rehearsal, we shot the scenes at the crossroads. The clouds broke for us and I saw the energy between Trent and Julie start to form. On the road, we started a trend of shooting Damon and Genevieve in the picture car on the way to the next location. This gave a different background for each montage that reflected where they were in the film.
When traveling, always give yourself twice the time you think you need. The road problems began on the way to the diner – all those back roads and unfamiliar parts of the province were tough to navigate through.
We arrived late to the Sunnidale Diner for a great lunch then filmed the scene with Genevieve and Damon. I had eaten breakfast there a few times after bush parties in high school. It was a great location and the staff were really helpful, they even brewed us a pot of coffee. The diner had a gas station and store attached – the shots were planned so we made it look like three different locations in the story.
We had missed a few dialogue scenes with Trent and Julie in the car in the morning. I was forced to cut a few smaller scenes from the script and it was my own fault. I had scheduled too many pages with unit moves that day and it was impossible. The sun was setting and I led the caravan to my beach.
We had been coming to Bluewater Beach since I was a kid. White sand, somewhat isolated, with the warmest, cleanest and clearest water – I always dreamed of shooting there. When I was writing the short film version of FUEL a few years earlier it came to mind immediately and stuck.
I made a mistake because I wanted to first shoot the scenes of Julie finding the registration by where the unit parked. I should have gone straight to the beach to shoot the money scenes and saved those for a pick-up day. A road is easier to find that a beach and a sunset.
Literally, the crew and actors ran to the beach and I followed with the underwater housing which we never had time to use. The sun was on the horizon and they were already shooting the entry into the water. The scenes on the beach were rushed and we didn’t get too much coverage. My biggest dream at the time was to have a remote control for the sun.
I took a swim in the water, trying to rejuvenate. We set up for the night scene of Trent and Julie at the fire, which was a bitch to make happen. We had to get a special permit from the Tiny Township fire department. Some last minute pleading and a special pick-up by Rory to the office after hours – the permits were in an envelope taped to the door. They were a hassle, but I knew from the start that we couldn’t do the scene without a fire.
The connection between Damon and Genevieve gave me more faith in the film. It was a chemistry that developed from initial awkwardness to friendship over the shoot like in the script. I really enjoyed working with them both – so professional, lines rehearsed, they made the characters their own. We wrapped at the beach and put out the fire, then listened to Karl and Damon jam on the guitar. Genevieve went skinny dipping in the Georgian Bay night.
We packed up the gear and started the drive back to Dundalk – the location of our motel. When we got there, our make-up girl Amanda and Rory still hadn’t arrived. They had left the beach an hour earlier than the rest of the crew. They had gotten lost and ended up halfway to Owen Sound before turning around. It was midnight when they showed, fifteen minutes after we had arrived.
Everyone was starved but it was the middle of nowhere. No delivery so zoom. We drove south for almost half an hour to the only open sandwich shop in the area. We got back with subs for everyone but half the crew was already asleep.
It had been the hardest and longest day of the shoot so far. At the hotel, Ro and me stayed up late thinking about the next day and how to pick up what we missed.
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The plan – get up early and take Damon and Brad back to the beach. Pick up a few scenes in the afternoon in the car. Finish at dusk at night in the hotel.
Getting up proved to be difficult but Damon and Brad knew that they were needed. It was my turn to get lost and I nearly ran out of gas. There was a few people at the beach and the sun was shining under the clear blue sky. We shot the dream sequence although Damon ate a few mouthfuls of sand. We cleaned up the fire from the day before and went up to shoot some montage scenes by the forest.
It was different working in three, it’s not like our crew was huge but the trio was such a calm and easy way of shooting with certain limitations. We took the easy and long road back to the hotel and had lunch on the way. We got back at three thirty, the picture car and rigs were almost ready for the scenes we missed the day before. The rest of the crew had an easier morning – a late breakfast and some sleep in time.
We got Damon and Genevieve in the car and hit the road. Half of Dundalk (twenty people) watched as we rode the same strip of road for a few hours shooting. We started by doing individual scenes, then found a route and did them back to back. I was really testing the duo because they had to jump forward in the script and change scenes quickly. As always in film, time was the greatest enemy.
Back at the motel for magic hour – this place took me a while to find as well. Half way between Orangeville and Owen Sound – right square in the middle of nowhere. The prices were great and the look was priceless. The owner Reni was very sweet, put up with our lot for a few rowdy nights.
Trent pulling up was easy and Danny made his cameo as the hotel clerk. We moved to the interiors – lots of dialogue and some tougher scenes for the actors. It was fairly easy to shoot from a technical standpoint and the skateboard dolly came useful in those tight quarters. My room was the picture room – a bad decision I later decided when the flies were swarming me the next morning.
Edwin showed up that night and got a room. I had no time to even greet him and by the time we wrapped he was already asleep. We had some pizza and wings, the only thing anyone would deliver to us and everyone ate until they were stuffed.
As usual, I was the last one awake. Every night at the motel I looked up at the million stars while having the last smoke of the day. What a different word from the alley downtown a week ago – this was serenity.
No matter how it would turn out, I knew we where at least half way through filming.
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We packed up the next morning and the caravan moved north from the motel towards Owen Sound. We shot a few driving scenes in the second picture car – Jonny’s CRV. This was supposed to be a souped up Grand Am not my dad’s CRV. A contact fell through and the owner of the other car cancelled the night before we had to pick it up.
I had to think quick and exchange the Altima for the CRV, it was the only option left. We didn’t have time to rent another car for the roads and it would have been another expense. The CRV wasn’t the best getaway car but it had a lot of room inside for shooting.
This was the first day on set for Edwin MacIsaac who was playing Jonny. It was a lot of fun. He did improvise a bit on his lines, quick smirks that make you laugh or hate his character even more. The SUV was rigged for shooting and we started with some driving scenes on a nice side road on the way to Owen Sound. We didn’t have time to drive to Tobermory for the ferry scenes so we cheated by shooting at the Owen Sound ports. We ended up picking up the real ferry shot the next summer.
While we were shooting at the port, Rory and Carl went on a quick scout of the downtown and found another bar to replace the location we had originally planned in Tobermory. That is where we headed next and it turned out great – the locals were a bonus and took no notice of our two camera set-up shooting past their game of pool. The owner Leona saved us – she let us use her place last minute and we stayed for a few pints to make up for it.
I couldn’t believe how busy downtown Owen Sound was. It looked like Toronto for a second and made it difficult to get our shot of Trent and Jonny pulling up to the bar and parking. The Tourist Office looked great as the location for the scene of Trent calling Jonny.
We moved to Jonny’s house as the sun began to set. It belongs to the Landen’s, the parents of my friend Andy. He is also an up and coming director whose work I admire. The first time we worked together was on a Warped Tour shoot in 2004, Andy was solid from the start and we’ve continued to work together over the years.
The house is beautiful – right on the water, no set decoration necessary. We shot all the exteriors first around magic hour and finished inside after dark. We wrapped around 10:30 and headed back to the motel. Since we had Friday off, some people headed back to Toronto.
The main crew partied for one more night. Edwin joined in on the guitar sessions and sang us a few tunes. ‘Til the wee hours.
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The weather had been very co-operative through the first eight days. A little bit of rain here and there but nothing major. Saturday was a different story – Hurricane Ernesto had been punishing the Southern States and today we would have the fallout.
We were shooting in Newcastle, a town an hour east of Toronto and some of the crew had arrived late. It hadn’t started raining but we decided to do some of the latter scheduled exterior scenes first.
Appearances for the day included David Bajurny as Owen, and Eli Jenkins and his two buddies as the Redneck Teens. As we shot the redneck scenes, the rain started to come and go. Eli was really funny when he turned into a hick. He hadn’t acted on screen too much but was a regular in the art school’s theatre.
David Bajurny is a veteran of the Toronto film industry – both as an actor, producer and director. We got along great and he even gave me some pointers on the business side. During auditions, I asked him why he wasn’t in the union. He simply replied ‘choice and voice’. The guy would rather do an indie flick for free and be a creative part of it than have a background line in a big production. His mentality proved to me that some things in Canadian film were on the right track and maybe our industry could change in the future.
We had a good lunch at a local pub and that’s when the hurricane effect took full force. We went back out to shoot the rest of the scenes with Trent, Owen and Julie in the miserable afternoon rain. David was cool enough to let us use his Jetta as the picture car (Owen’s car) and we got into gear quickly. He was very consistent and fell into the fast shooting routine in no time.
By the end of the day most of us were soaked. One of my favorite shots was the low wide in the parking lot as Julie and Owen meet each other again. The weather added a sad element to his character because all of his scenes were rainy and gloomy. But it fit the script through my eyes because that relationship was sort of gray.
As night fell we headed back to the city – it was only an hour away so we commuted. Ro and me dropped Damon at his new place on King and checked it out. We managed to get our day and keep it under twelve despite the weather.
FUEL was starting to run smooth. Or so I thought.
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More rain from that bastard Ernesto. We had our picture truck ready to go in the morning and welcomed Neil Whitely, our Sheriff to set. The day was a miserable gray, but at least the rain stopped as we began to shoot. Like Tom to the Editor, Neil was a veteran to the Sheriff role.
Brad needed that particular day off and I didn’t want to bring someone in so I decided to operate a camera which I shouldn’t have done. After the scenes were done we headed back to the crew parking lot. On the way, the car that Genevieve had borrowed from her roommate started spewing white smoke for the last kilometer. She was going to be late for an appointment so we had to drive her back home. Nothing was going right that day.
We said bye to Neil and I went to pick up Ava. This was her second day on set – we were shooting the chase scene that night. They redressed the picture truck into it’s second uniform of the day. Steve Liepig, a firefighter from Milton also donned a second uniform as the Police Officer. Rory had to make his cameo early, and he played the second cop rather than the Party Guy at the pit, a role we later changed.
The ‘escape/chase’ gas station owner was really cool and let us use one of the pumps for a few hours. Continuity was an issue because of background but it was free. We filled up all our tanks and bought a bunch of stuff from them in return.
Shooting was slow because of the traffic, and the scene was complex in terms of timing. We ran through a lot of takes and eventually it flowed better and better. I shot the sequence from more angles than any other scene to make sure we had proper coverage for the action. Rory was hilarious, he spilled the coffee about six times and almost fell for real once too, I was waiting for it!
As soon as we chased away from the gas station we headed to the tracks. A VIA train ripped by really quickly as we arrived before we even pulled out the cameras. Everyone looked at each other and my pulse raced. That was supposed to be our train, we missed it. Pickup day. Back to base camp.
We started on the driving scenes. First the entire route with handheld cameras inside each vehicle. I got tossed around a bit filming Ava and Damon from the backseat of the CRV. Later we shot from the back of the cop truck, Jamie and me strapped in with carabineers. Next up was out the back of the Buick shooting each car alone and together. We moved to a few road shots and cut the dark night early.
We missed a lot that day that I knew I would have to pick up later. I wasn’t happy.
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A day off to regroup. Then Muskoka. Tuesday we set off and our first stop was the old gas station. I passed by this location going to Howie’s so many times and promised myself to shoot there. We got permission from the Sandy Cove Marine a few weeks earlier because they owned the lot. I drove up with Damon and Genny and we got some food along the way. Out on the 400 food stop I randomly met two friends Kyle and Craig from Puppets Who Kill.
We did the scenes at the gas stop back to back – in post we color corrected one to look colder and bluish like morning and the other warmed and orange like afternoon. The scenes ran smooth, I felt back on track. Brad was back and this returned my focus fully on directing. Since we were on the road so much it was hard to replace key crew for a day. Quick and fast, keep it fast.
After the old gas station, we headed further North – I filmed some fun montage stuff with Edwin and Damon in the CRV myself. I love the highway into Parry Sound, with those massive red blasted rock cliffs on either side. Jonny and Trent improvised a little in the car for the montage which was cool. After getting some food in town, we checked everyone in at the cottages.
Damon and Edwin has their own cottage on Bell Lake alongside Amanda and Ava. The rest of us were at Harris Lake – or simply ‘The Park’. I had been coming here since the summer after grade eight. My best friend Ryan’s dad Ray owns the property. A private trailer campground on the waterfront. I had shot there before so many times but never on this scale and for this long. I had looked forward to this part of FUEL the most.
After everyone regrouped at the park we began to shoot the phone booth scenes at the top of the hill. The sun was setting fast but we managed to get them. Magic hour with two night scenes scheduled – sometimes there was no time to breathe on the shoot. We headed into town and had to change one of our locations. The city hadn’t given us permits to shoot in the tower so we shot at the docks instead, another location than added to the water theme in the movie.
It was getting close to midnight. We went back to the park and wanted to quickly shoot a few short phone booth scenes. The glowing booth attracted all the bugs in the area and I had to chase them out before Ava would step in. I knew everyone was tired but we had to keep on going. We kept Damon to shoot the phone conversation with Owen - the full moon blasted through the clouds a few times at the right moments and looked sick.
At the end of the night I dropped off Damon then headed back to the Park for a few brews by the fire. Used to the hours after so many days, we stayed up for a while. Genevieve was staying in a tiny pup tent, the rest of us ‘men’ smiled bravely at her as we went to sleep in our heated cabin and trailers.
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The memories begin to blur but some you’ll remember forever. I got up and knew we had to get food. Me and Genny went to town and did some shopping. Good ‘ole No Frills, arguing like a married couple about what to buy. We got back and made breakfast for everyone then hit the road.
We arrived at the diner – it was slow so they closed early, but the owner was so cool and reopened the kitchen to make our prop breakfast. The scene was easy to shoot with such a great background but one of the more dramatic for the actors who pulled through. On the way back we got some more driving shots along Highway 124.
The scene by the lake was on the way home too. After the Day 4 shoot we had partied a bit at the apartment and Danny had a great idea. We added the card flip that Damon had been doing on set for days then I got him to try it with the Polaroid of Sadie’s Note – the jump cut between the card and picture worked well. All thanks to a little elevated discussion. A little Cessna even took off as if on cue as we started filming the scene. The lake was so beautiful. I had driven by this spot so many times.
We went back to the Park and relaxed for a few hours. Our first bit of freedom by the water. Most of us went swimming and Genevieve even made it to the first island and back – it was pretty far, a feat I haven’t attempted in my thirteen years there. We had dinner and made our way to the other side. The location of Jonny’s cottage was across the lake. It belongs to the Britton family, their son Stu has been a friend of mine for years. We have collaborated as filmmakers on a few extreme sports projects already – the First Ones Free and Paint the Town Red.
We did all the interior cottage scenes including Julie’s crying scene. This was the breaking point of her character’s role, and Genevieve was amazing. We did multiple takes, no closed set and the tears were real. We went outside to film some exteriors and as we were winding down we saw the mist coming off the lake.
The water was hot and the air was cold so the entire surface was a layer of fog. The scene of Trent passing out looked awesome on the chair by the water. A priceless accident at the perfect time.
Brad Britton, Stu’s dad was there and played a great host after we wrapped. We stayed up late by the fire and drank the beers he kept handing out. This was to be my last night in Rye’s trailer as him and Mel were coming up the next day.
I felt like a vagabond, traveling to the various places where I knew people. Using friends and family for locations, accommodations and everything else to make this film. How many favors have I called in so far? How many more will I need?
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I remember Rory coming and waking me up that morning but I didn’t want to – I was starting to get to that point where exhaustion and stress usually lead. I knew we where close but I was worn out. Ro gave me crap and went to town to get groceries himself. I was proud of the kid, he had been battered and bruised during the shoot but made it a long way in a few weeks. Towards the end, he took control and gained confidence in himself and really stepped up as an AD.
We started the scenes in the morning by the lake. Damon waking up hung over and Ava swimming on the other side. The daytime exteriors up at the park were easy – minimal lighting and set dec necessary because it’s natural look was perfect. I remember someone saying that location are key for indie films and I will testify to that.
Ryan came up in the afternoon, as we were shooting the third dream sequence – Trent drowning in the lake. Then we started lighting for the night scene, the final scene in the movie where Trent and Laura kiss on the raft. Everyone was excited and nervous.
It was warmer than the night before but still cold, Parry Sound in September. The lights were ready to go and so were the cameras. I went to talk to the actors but couldn’t find Ava – she was by herself off set, freaked out about the pitch black and reedy water. I calmed her down, and told her we needed one take for the swim across. Damon helped her get comfortable as well and I was really pumped after the shot. To finally to see something you’ve envisioned in your head for so long. We brought them back to shore to warm up and cheated the close-ups at the end of the dock.
The hard scene was done and we spent the rest of the night doing exteriors around the cottage. Jamie, our second camera operator had to leave that night so we said our good bye’s. I really lucked out with him on the shoot because he was solid on set and a great guy. We had found him through the net and the day he showed up to work I realized we had shot a concert together a year earlier.
We shot a couple of quick scenes with one camera and called it a night after midnight.
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Last day of shooting – the weather had been sweet to us since our bout with Ernesto. On the last Friday of shooting it played havoc again. Oliver Ward had come up the night before to play Carson in the film. It was kind of funny because he was supposed to be Laura’s cousin in the script and they looked similar in real life even though they aren’t related. We went back to the diner for breakfast then met Andy Landen who came up from the city to replace Jamie behind the lens.
The rain was on and off all day – towards the afternoon it almost stopped but not quite. We were forced to change the scene from outside of Jonny’s cottage to inside the gazebo. I added a quick scene of Jonny calling the cops in front of the lake, I thought it was necessary to clarify the chase.
As night fell the rain picked up again – we were screwed because the party scenes had to be outside in the Pit. It wouldn’t cut with all of the other scenes that we had already shot. So we had dinner, then sat and waited.
By around 10 the rain stopped, we moved everyone to the Pit. The place is historic to me. We had partied there on so many long weekends since the start of high school. We had about fifteen extras show up for the party – all friends from the Park, the crew we grew up with.
The night was messy. We had had a few cocktails waiting for the rain to let up so the actors didn’t feel too out of place because the party was real. We shot all the dialogue scenes by the fire. My friends were really surprised of how much time it took to shoot one scene even though we moved fast that night. The lighting set-up was cool, it was weird to see the Pit illuminated by something other than fire and moonlight.
Around 2 AM we did a quick pick up scene of Trent, Julie and Jonny in the car. By this point the crew and cast were pretty buzzed and my friends completely smashed. The extras were sent to bed for the final scene of Trent alone at the fire.
The scene was supposed to be with Ro but since he already made his cameo as the cop we improvised with Damon and the guitar. Lucky for us, Damon played an original song he wrote years earlier and it worked.
Picture wrap. Fourteen days of blood, sweat and tears. Two packs of smokes a day, lack of sleep and help in general. We put out the fire at the Pit and headed back to the cabin.
The night sky began to get lighter. I jumped in the lake and only Damon followed – the water was so cold but felt great.
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