Behind the Scenes Video & Article of “All I Want is Silence” – Day 1

A few months after the shoot is over, I get a surprise from Eric, our Behind-the-Scenes-Videographer of “All I Want Is Silence”… this:

Enjoy the 10-minute show!

Behind the Scenes Video of Day 1

The Story of Day 1

This day has a good start. Actually, it would be Day 0 on my calendar, but we decide to shoot something on it, so it becomes Day 1. What is Day 0? This started back at my first and previous serious short film – in December 2010, on the team of “Terminated”: The film was so difficult to do logistically that I needed the 30 people crew and 3 cast completely filled in on what we were doing – we were jumping public buses with exactly timed walking distances, timed red lights, did unpermitted stunts on the streets of Downtown LA and had only two days to shoot 20 minutes worth of a film.
In order to fill everyone in, I made a Day 0: Everyone met for about 4 hours the day before Day 1, and we rehearsed publicly through the main scenes so that camera and actors could time each other, and simulated the shooting environment in a large hall at Santa Monica College by arranging chairs as walls and doors.

Now, 2.5 years later, we have a shoot that is not as difficult to do, but for many of the UC Berkeley crew members, it’s their first “real” shoot. For many of them, the preproduction time has been the first opportunity to exercise creative input from all sorts of sides, and collaborate with an ever-growing team. The shoot was supposed to go for only 2 days, but we quickly realized that we needed to attach another 5 hours to the schedule – so Day 0 became Day 1. Nevertheless, I planned in the “Day 0” part so that every crew- and castmember would know…:

  1. What the story was, who the characters were, why the film happened the way it does – in detail
  2. How the story would be broken up for shooting purposes
  3. Challenges ahead, challenges already mastered
  4. Who they will be working with for the next two and a half days
  5. What to pay special attention to
  6. What kind of working style we used in preproduction and will keep using in production (collaborative, as much as possible creative ownership of each cast’s portrayal of the character and the crew’s creative ownership of their respective work).

After the meeting, we take a break of about one hour – to eat, laugh, meet. Sometime during that, Hiroki arrives (flew in from LA for the filming), and we get started on dressing the two sets, rigging the lights, determining shots and angles, make some quick costume adjustments. We run into two issues – one, the glue-on-beard looks unrealistic as  we anticipated, and black crepe hair was not available at nearby stores – we solve it by asking for hair donations und glueing Shoya’s hair (he is 2nd AC) on Hao’s face (he is the lead actor).

Then, the Charlie costume is not ready. Fuck. I need this costume, really bad. But it’s just not done completely, a few things are missing, and I can’t compromise on having quickly-put-together crappy costume for the rest of the film. So I improvise: The scenes we are shooting today all take place at morning. I change around the script so that the lead actor actually comes out of the shower in a towel only – hence a means to get away without the costume but keeping continuity.

Jane Stillwater in the role of Charlie's narcoleptic mother. Those who know Chaplin's biography might get the reinterpretation joke. If not, you can just appreciate Fernando's production design.

Jane Stillwater in the role of Charlie’s narcoleptic mother. Those who know Chaplin’s biography might get the reinterpretation joke. If not, you can just appreciate Fernando’s production design.

It Keeps Getting Better

During the shoot, we get a visit from Prof. Berger whose class “Sound in Cinema” I am taking. He takes a look around on set, even teaches our Sound Guy Chanders some tricks with recording. Little do most people on the production know that Prof. Berger is not just Adjunct Professor at UC Berkeley – he also has 4 Academy Awards for Sound Mixing at home.
I’m really impressed by this kind of humble attitude – I invited about 6 film production professors to come to the shoot and see what their students are up to, but only Berger shows up. I’m sure he has better things to do than going to a little student film set, so this is a big gesture to me. After he leaves, someone asks “Who that guy with the grey hair was” – “Oh, he just won four Academy awards for sound …” – (big eyes & stoked) “Oh my god, I had no idea … why didn’t you tell me earlier!”

Berkeley's lighting gear is rather miniscule, but here we pull out every single Watt we got our fingers on.

Berkeley’s lighting gear is rather miniscule, but here we pull out most of the Arris that we got our fingers on. Strongest light on set: 650W, a toddler in the real world.

Camera setups for poor people, by using a table and a C-Stand to simulate a ceiling fixture for a lamp.

Camera setups for poor people, by using a table and a C-Stand to simulate a ceiling fixture for a lamp.

Eric filming behind the Scenes, like a boss.

Eric filming behind the Scenes, like a boss.

Towards the end of the day, we run a bit behind schedule – but no problem, today we just went through the growing pains of first-timers breaking in. Not everyone in the crew calls this their first project (Bob, Hiroki, Kenji and myself collected quite some experience in the film industry already) – but for most, this is the first real deal, with semi-real-world pressures. This is a great part of the project – lots of my fellow students get real on-set experience, and I get lots of experience improvising around difficulties – the kinds of skills that filmmakers need all their lives.

Ready for Day 2 – this is where we will see if a relatively inexperienced but totally motivated and dedicated team of 40 UC Berkeley students will make or break it all.

You can check out a lot more Behind the Scenes photos on the Facebook Page of “All I Want Is Silence”.