Last weekend my production team and I went to Central Park in New York City to shoot a short film we recently wrote. It's untitled as of yet, but I like the title "Poppy and Poodle" after the two main characters, which if that gives you any indication (and hopefully excitement), one of the main characters is my little poodle, Henry. The other lead character, Poppy, is played by myself. It's a match-made in heaven (as they say.)
During one of our recent bi-weekly production meetings, the team brainstormed ideas for our next short. Inspiration can come from anywhere, it doesn't have to be complicated, and we were immediately focused around the beautiful Fall foliage happening right now, so shooting something located in Central Park seemed ideal. We were meeting in my and my partner Graham Burns' (coolburns.com) apartment, so Henry was there hanging out with us, and that was the beginning of the story: Henry the miniature poodle in Central Park. But how did he get there, and what is he doing there? He happens to cross paths with Poppy, a young woman in the midst of a breakup, and a friendship is forged.
Our production team is a small group of young freelancers; we became friends at a previous job and eventually connecting through our love of filmmaking and wanting to produce as much of our own content together as possible on the days we're not working freelance gigs. With that said, organizing our schedules on these off days so we can shoot can be difficult, as was the case with this shoot. We rescheduled many times over the course of several weeks until finally we were all able to lock down last Sunday to shoot, and had planned it so we could get all the shots we needed in one day. We were restricted by the script and location to shoot only in daylight as well, so we had a very early call time, and had to get all of our shots completed by 4pm (because it's winter now and the sun sets so very early) to be on track.
With all this planning and pre-production and a shot list set, we were ready to go on Sunday to get this little short produced! We had 2 actors (one of them a dog, and one of them me) our DP (Director of Photography) Graham Burns (coolburns.com), our Writer and Producer Michelle Michelson (see her LinkedIn Profile here) and our other collaborator, co-Writer and co-Producer Blair Aubrey (see her IMDB profile here), as well as a Production Assistant, NYU Senior Quinn Gundersen. Despite our good intentions, planning and pre-production, the odds were not in our favor (sorry for my over-utilization of clichés today, they just seem so fitting)...we had set our story outside and the weather was ultimately not going to cooperate.
I had been Executive Producing this short, doing most of the pre-production and getting all of the props and costumes straightened out, organizing the shooting schedule around everyones respective availability, and sending out the Call Sheet as the shoot date got closer, which typically includes the day's weather forecast. It had consistently said, up to 2 weeks prior and day of, that it was going to be a high of 61 F, mostly cloudy, with a few patches of quick rain throughout the day, and heavy rain in the evening, but after sunset when we'd already be wrapped. However, on the day of the shoot, it was incredibly cold (low 50's, maybe even 40s), cloudy, and consistent rain all throughout the day. Therefore, despite our hard work and how much we had done to get to this day, the weather literally "rained on our "parade"". We shot as much as we possibly could, especially in the morning when the rain was at it's lightest, but by 2:00pm, we were getting pretty soaked, and Henry was becoming more and more fidgety (such a diva.)
It was an incredibly frustrating decision to have to wrap early on our short after not getting all of the shots we needed. This means having to find time again in everyone's schedules to go back (before the leaves leave) and shoot in the park, trying to re-create the look of that day as much as possible so it will match the look of the original footage we shot from our first attempt. We really didn't want to have to call it quits, but we didn't want to compromise the day any further either. And it was a great learning experience as well, as we always find these little adventures in filmmaking to be. I know that the sacrifices we made and the troubles we faced on our little shoot like this will help make us better, more resourceful and problem-solving filmmakers when the time comes for us to be on even bigger, more expensive and liable shoots in the future.
We look forward to getting back out in the field and being able to finish what we started. This is a funny, special little short film and we want do it right and then share it with the world. So please stay tuned, the rain didn't officially wash away our film...it's still in the making.
Click through the photos from set below, taken by our set photographer for the day, Blair Aubrey.