At 5:00am I woke up with butterflies in my stomach. I knew that this was the biggest day of filming because of how many people would be involved in the shoot.
Thankfully my Assistant Director, Toro Adeyemi, showed up at the apartment at 12:30am to help me the following day… and to rag on me in any way possible because she’s my close friend and I lived with her for 3 horrible years.
We arrived at a local private school and was let in by an amazing employee, coincidently named Darren, who stayed with us all day as we worked with about 20 or so extras plus our cast and crew.
The first scene we shot was in the hallway of the school lined with blue lockers and amidst fellow students. I kept my ensemble cast in a holding room until I was ready to bring them to set to start choreographing them. Once I blocked out my lead actors, Victoria, Marrick, David and Julia, I had my AD bring down groups of students at a time. In order to make this work, I needed to make sure that everyone knew where they were going to end up: some starting down the hall and walking to a classroom, others grabbing books by their lockers and mingling with classmates.
After my cinematographer, Jason, and I framed up the shot, piecing together how the ensemble would interact with others came together with a few run-throughs.
We had two hallway scenes to work out, one that is early on in the story and another leading up to the climax.
The second hallway scene actually leads into another shot in a classroom. With the jib, Jason and I were able to connect these two scenes with some amazing movement. I think our entire crew would agree that the shot where we follow Edie from the door all the way to her seat is pretty amazing, visually.
After that, we headed to a small library on location where we see Edie interacting with June, Chad and Darren. We also get to see how mean June is to other students… for a 16-year-old, Julia Sismour blew me away with her acting ability. She is completely captivating to watch and plays to June’s cruel nature. The way that David Laws plays Chad is equally impressive. Chad is June’s right hand man and needed to be very loud in character with not many lines. I chose David because he is excellent at adding little touches to his characters to bring them to life… in this case, his body language and the presence of a hair comb as his prop is pretty fascinating to watch… Trust me, you will understand when you see the film.
Marrick and Victoria’s on-screen chemistry felt so real that some of our crew couldn’t figure out if they were rehearsing or flirting with each other. Either way, they looked great on camera, even for some of our darkest scenes. Both Victoria and Marrick are actors who ask many questions about their characters in order to truly become them. Victoria is wonderful at putting herself emotionally into a scene and channeling inner struggle. I am very glad that I chose them to play these roles.
Our last scene of the day was on a school’s unused baseball field. Originally we were going to have this scene on some school bleachers, but couldn’t get permission to use any. If there is one thing I’ve learned about filmmaking, it’s always to have a Plan B. In this case, the baseball field actually worked out better visually and we were all very happy at how it turned out.
I find that as a filmmaker, I can’t always get the perfect location, but there is always a way to make it work. In fact, I didn’t have a location for the school until a week or so before we needed to film. I had contacted about 15-20 schools and people either didn’t get back to me, said no, or it was too expensive to use.
…Remember, there is always a way to make a scene work!