Monday, July 13, 2015

Day Seven: One Unexpected Location and One Brainwave!

The Destination Film Shoot]

14 April, 2015

It was great to wake up to a day when we knew exactly what we had to do.

As soon as breakfast was done, we set off to shoot the "car scenes"!

But first we needed to know where to shoot these scenes. Shooting in the middle of the city could mean a lot of traffic lights and frequent stopping of the car, which doesn't look great on screen. We wanted moving frames at the windows. On the other hand, shooting on the expressway also didn't make sense because there was nothing much to be seen out of the windows in that case. So where do we shoot?

The licencor suggested that we go somewhere close to the Ferrari World, which turned out to be quite far away but the drive was worth it. The location was good - the surroundings were nice and there was little to no traffic for most parts, so driving while the scenes are in progress wasn't much of an issue.

However, the logistics of shooting inside a moving car, wasn't something we were completely prepared for. We didn't have any of the necessary grips. So the camera had to be kept on the dashboard and the licencor was instructed to drive slowly throughout, so that the camera doesn't get displaced during a take.  Also, given that I had no way of monitoring the takes as they were in progress, all I could do was give the cast the instructions on what all to be shot, how they needed to perform and then hope for the best until a few takes are done, then stop the car, get the camera and play through the takes quickly to review them. It wasn't easy.

Anyway, the shoot was smooth but it took a really long time to get it completed. As we made our way back, it was close to 3pm. We had not had lunch, and should have been tired by now, but for some reason, maybe because of the successful shoot of the car scenes, all of us unanimously agreed that we should probably try and can one more scene if possible. Yay! Go team!

But can which scene, and where?

We looked at the licencor expectantly for some solution. After all, he would or should know of places to shoot without a licence!

And he did too! He said, "I know an excellent place!".

And believe it or not, it was a truly excellent, mind blowing place! It was a gorgeous little park, with a canopy of trees that shed beautiful white flowers that scattered on the grassy carpet below, and with a little lagoon as the backdrop. It looked nothing like what you would expect that part of the world to look like, and I fell in love with it!

And the best part? We were the only people there, probably because it was a weekday afternoon. The licencor said he would be completely responsible if we "get caught" because after all, the licence is in work in progress and he has documented evidence for that. I gulped but then decided to take his word for it.

So we shot. And it was a really smooth shoot! The actors were in good form (maybe we should go without lunch after all) and we ended on a high.
Happy after the shoot at the park! 

As soon as the shoot was wrapped up, we rushed to get some food. It was already 6 pm and we had stayed hungry since 9am or so. But totally worth it, I say.

Over the early dinner, the editor and I discussed what next. Today was a good day with good progress, but we still had many scenes left. And even the licencor was no longer looking hopeful about the licence coming in time, and he had other work, so he couldn't accompany us to every location where we could possibly get caught either.

Then I had a brainwave.

One of the locations on my list was a fish market. In Abu Dhabi, you can buy fresh fish and get it grilled right there at the fish market. I wanted to capture that as a lunch scene in the film. But shooting at the market needed the licence, which didn't seem to be coming through any time soon.

So here was my brainwave - I asked the editor whether instead of the fish market, if we could just go to one of the fishing boats or maybe even the bigger dhow boats moored in that area. I just wanted to shoot the scene in something other than a regular restaurant, and one of these could just work.

He said it is worth a shot.

So after that early dinner, we dropped the rest of the team back in the hotel and he and I went to the area around the fish market. We parked the car and looked around and chose one of the many dhow boats moored there, based on what we thought the backdrop could look like from out of its windows. The editor asked me to stay behind in the car as he went to make the first contact with the person in charge. I watched him as he walked up to the boat, talked to a guy there, walked around the boat as if to do a recee, all the while praying that this works.

He soon got back with a huge smile and said, "This is going to work. You come and take a look."

So I followed him and sure enough, the dhow turned out to be just perfect. Why, it even had a nice little restaurant setting inside it! The staff agreed that we could shoot there for a very nominal fee, but with two conditions. 1) We have to start shoot at 7am and end at 9am, 2) We have to bring our own food for the shoot, as they don't make anything there until evening.

Of course, all conditions were acceptable to us!

I got back to the hotel super excited! Each day I update our production schedule and today's looked pretty good. It looked something like this:

Scene 6 (Car): DONE 
Scene 10 (Car): DONE 
Scene 12: DONE 

And I also knew that tomorrow morning I would be able to say Scene 5 Fish Market: DONE.

So looking forward to that!

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