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Out of Gas, Maybe Today
June 22, 2000


Call time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: West Philadelphia Mural site, 55th and Christian Streets, Philadelphia

Cast: Jamal, Kamal Bostic-Smith, Jamalis friends, Nieem, Raheem Wilson and Bryan Jones, Lucy, Hayden Saunier


Emily Topper We filmed through the night. Tonightis goal was to film the two outdoor night scenes that we postponed because of rain last week. Just two scenes sounds disarmingly easy. But they are complicated set-ups, and I know we are in for a full night of work.

First we tackle Scene 56, as Lucy drives her car up the curb facing the mural, so that she can to continue to paint by the light of her car headlights. We film this scene three ways n first looking at Lucy, then from overhead (which means getting the camera up to the third level of mural scaffolding) and then from the point of view of the teens, which are watching her from behind a nearby fence.

Itis now sometime after 11 p.m. We film with synchronous sound, but are well aware that the sound of the enthusiastic basketball players in the nearby court may seep onto our record track.

After our lunch break (at midnight) we tackle Scene 59 -- the confrontation between Lucy, Jamal and his friends. Weive got approximately three hours to get the scene.

Filming Lighting set up #1 -- we film the scene focusing on Lucy, and the actress, Hayden Saunier delivers beautifully. Itis a tough scene for an actor n the tensions of the whole day are meant to spill over at one point. One of the peaks of the scene is when Lucy demands "Where the hell is Zap?" It is around 3:30 in the morning when we get to this part. The still of the night is interrupted as Lucy delivers the line with a lot of volume. Her question echoes throughout the park across the street n I hear the sound bouncing off the houses, and wonder how many neighbors hear it as well. . .


It's Dark! Time is ticking away, and we quickly reset to shoot the teensi reactions to this confrontational scene. Just when we are ready to roll, our lights fade away. We are all stop for a moment and looking at each other. Seems the gas-powered generator weive been using to fuel our lights is out of gas. Luckily weive got some more, and we quickly refill.

We are tired! Itis 5:00 a.m. the morning sky is peeking through, it is turning into a beautiful Maxfield Parish blue. Not exactly a middle-of-the-night feeling. We rush to get close up reactions of the four youths - Jamal and his three friends. They do a wonderful job, until the bugs come out. For some reason at this hour hundreds of little moths dance around our lights, and leap on and off of our clothes. The actors are having a tough time looking tough when moths are flying into their ears and up their noses. It would be funny if it werenit so late.

I look around, half the production team is sleeping in various positions in various production vehicles. We rush to get the last few reaction shots before morning light makes it impossible to film any longer.

Time seems to have evaporated.

6:30 a.m. and Iim walking home from WHYY, through the streets of Center City. On my way home to rest I pass people on their way to work. Itis a beautiful morning. Clear, cool, blue sky. Iim reminded of a line from John Dos Passosi Manhattan Transfer (an inspiration for the structure of the film), spoken by a character who works nights and walks home at dawn -- "I never see the sun rise without thinking, Maybe today."

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