At The Blackwell: Jennifer Reeder Production Notes
Here are a few images and production notes from our shoot at The Blackwell hotel on our third day of shooting.
Tatiana (above), as Stella, in her hotel room. Our room at the hotel was large and easy to shoot in. The only problem for us was that the room was so nice it didn't immediately look like a hotel. So we moved a few things around - like the ice bucket and glasses that are next to the bed [which were in the outer room], and we put the breakfast menu on the back of the door to make it look like a â€œDo Not Disturbâ€ sign. Our goal was to convey that we were in a hotel room without resorting to establishing shots of the hotel exterior. We also moved the pillow and sheets around to make the room feel move lived in.
Our cast (4 for this location) and crew (7 including Jennifer and myself) took over a corner of the lobby for a few scenes. Directly behind the crew is the main stairwell for the hotel and the check-in counter, and another elevator is just to the right of the frame. In this photo, Jennifer, Jamie (the assistant director) and I are peering over the monitor in the foreground. There are a few more crew members outside of the frame and a few on the periphery of the image - you can see Erik, our sound man, adjusting audio levels as he holds the boom mic on the left side of the photo, and someone is crouched in front of the camera on the right side (perhaps holding a reflector to bounce light back a the actors?).
The location wasn't closed off, so anyone at the hotel could walk through the scene, though passerbys weren't much of a problem. We aimed the camera towards the elevator so that regular hotel guests couldn't accidentally wander into our shots and ruin them. We also had a production assistant stationed in the elevator, asking anyone riding it to exit to their right and not look at the camera
At the end of the scene, which we shot in a single long take, the elevator opens and the actresses walk inside. A person exiting the elevator in the wrong way could ruin the long takes were were recording.
In this photo, Jennifer directs the actors, telling them where to stand and what to do during the scene, while I go back and forth checking the framing and focus in both the monitor and camera. As the scene develops I would often set the camera up quickly to give Jennifer a sense of possible framing and then refine the camera's position and settings (like focus and exposure) as the scene evolved. The previous photos is more indicative of what the lobby looked like at any given moment, this one gives a better sense of the space of the scene we are shooting as well as the actors. I've put a grey border around the image to show you an approximation of the camera's framing for the scene. – Mike Olenick, Art & Tech Studio Editor