Days 6 & 7: Production Pinches and How to Get Out of Them

24 Jan

By the end of this week (Sunday), we will have wrapped production entirely on First Kiss. We’ve started the long post-production process of capturing, synching, and cutting. Looking at the footage (and I might be more than a little biased) – it’s been  completely worth it, every minute of the way. Day 6 (Sunday, December 18) and Day 7 (Sunday, January 15) recaps below.

Day 6

Actors acting.

The last shoot we had in December was a party scene, for which we had some very patient extras and a few very last minute ones. We had confirmed a number of age-appropriate extras for the scene earlier in the week. Due to some random twists of fate, we lost almost every single one of them by the day of production. We called our cast and scraped together a few replacements from their friends, but we were still short. The crowd we’d gathered for the spin-the-bottle scene was just so overwhelmingly female. At the eleventh hour, setting up for the first shot, we looked around at our crew. Who could I make shave and pretend to be fourteen years old? It was a frantic moment, and I cursed the day I had chosen to write about teenagers instead of college students, who I had surrounding me in spades. I wondered fleetingly if I could just run up the street and go door to door until someone age-appropriate answered.

Here is the great thing about the tiny film community we work in – there’s almost always someone that somebody’s worked with previously who happens to be the one person you need right now. In this case, it was a wonderful young actor named Sam Columbus. I had worked with Sam just a couple of weeks earlier on another short student film, Take 12, in which he played an insufferable child actor with a convincing edge. (Sam himself is actually incredibly mature and great to work with.) On a wild whim, I called Sam’s mother. “When do you need him?” she asked.

“… Right now?” I answered half-heartedly. Spoken aloud, I could hear the ridiculousness of the question and started to form the No, of course not, I totally understand –

“We’ll be there right away,” she said.

Have I mentioned I love working with the people I work with? Sam showed up just in time, straight from another production, and we shot the scene promptly. So MVP of the shoot for Day 6 goes to Suzanne and Sam Columbus, who answered the call (quite literally) and helped me in a last-minute production pinch (I do seem to get in a lot of those, don’t I?). Thanks also to the Levinsons for letting us use their beautiful home, and to Uncle Sam’s Subs for being delicious and available.

Day 7

We had originally intended to wrap principal photography in December, but had to postpone an exterior shoot due to snow. I think that might’ve been a first real grown up moment for me, seeing snow and not thinking, “Oooh, snow day!!!!” but rather, “Crap, this is going to cost me more in time and money.” Growing up is kind of a bummer. This is why I make movies about fourteen year olds and their first kisses instead.

Exterior shooting.

Between takes in the car.

Filming scenes with cars outside in the dead of the Pittsburgh winter is cold and awful. I will never do it again. Except for the part where the footage looks awesome and it was great. I suppose what I really mean is, next time, we need a space heater and a city permit to shut down the street.

Looking forward to wrapping this Sunday!

Much love,

Yulin Kuang
Writer/Director – “First Kiss”

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