June 30, 2000
Call time: 12 p.m.
Location: 6th and Wharton, South Philadelphia Row Home
Cast: Suze Kowalski, Maggie Siff, Curt, Kowalski, Bill Zielinski
A day of interiors at the Kowalski residence. The story we are filming in South Philadelphia involves new next-door-neighbors, living side by side in Philadelphia row homes. Our location needs - Mickey's home needs to look like he's lived there all his life; the Kowalski's home next door needs to look like they moved in three weeks ago . . . and they both need to have little concrete backyards.
Our location scout found the ideal arrangement. Side by side row homes in the area around 6th and Wharton. The first house is owned by a man who has lived in the house for 72 years. He's got two peach trees and a fig tree growing in his little backyard. The second home is owned by a man who, although he has lived there for a few years, has very little furniture. It is easy to believe that this is a residence recently occupied by new homeowners.
Today we filmed in the Kowalski's home. First a kitchen scene when Suze first wakes up, she sees her husband, Curt is already up and on his way to work. Their day starts a little rocky. We shot this scene from different angles. My favorite is when we can see their next door neighbor, Mickey, through their backyard door. A recurring problem we have in filming scenes like this is line of sight - in which direction should the actors look when we are filming them so that when the scene is edited together, it will look like they are talking to each other? It's fairly comical when we are talking this over we draw little diagrams, reason it out, cross our fingers and film.
The character of Curt is a driver for one of SEPTA's subway lines. At this late date in production, we still don't have SEPTA's OK to use their logo on his uniform, so we shoot the scene with the shirt all bunched up. Maybe no one will notice.
Next up is a scene in the living room, followed by a night-time (post barbeque) backyard scene, when Curt and Suze dance to the strains of the music seeping out of their next door neighbors house.
The interiors are fun to film. Maggie and Bill have a great chemistry. Theyive just told me that they have been cast as Hamlet and Ophelia in an upcoming version of HAMLET. I'm sure they'll be great. The lighting and camera angles are exciting. We have control of the sound. The weather doesn't affect us. Although each lighting set up takes a great deal of time, it seems we are on a roll. Until we move outside.
It's 8:30 p.m. not nearly dark enough to look like night. We make an unsuccessful effort to flag off some of the sunlight. Who are we kidding? When we are finally ready to roll, the planes start. I'm not kidding, one after the other (it is around 8:30 p.m.) for a good 20 minutes. Then the next-door neighbors (on the other side) let their dog out in the backyard. The dog senses company and begins to whimper. After we get that settled, someone around the block turns on their party music. Throughout this comedy of audio errors, there is a mother yelling at her kids a few houses down. . . seemingly simple scenes (one wide shot) become location nightmares. I used to think studio-based shooting was absurd when we have such incredible locations built right in to the city. I'm a convert now.
The irony of this whole sound thing is that the night-time neighborhood city sounds do make for a richer environment, and I will most likely add these sounds in post production.
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