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Walkie Talkies
July 1, 2000


Call time: 9:00 a.m.
Location: 6th and Wharton, South Philadelphia Row Home

Cast: Mickey Gretto, Lou Lippa, Suze Kowalski, Maggie Siff


Another day in a south Philadelphia rowhome. Not a big house. Not an easy one in which to maneuver camera, lights, sound equipment, cast and crew. It's a funny sort of ballet we do when everything is in place. Every inch of floor space is used for something - out of frame there are cords everywhere. People are tip-toeing around. Walkie talkies become the preferred mode of communications, even though some folks might just be ten feet away.

Lighting for midday conversatin between Suze and Mickey It's a hot day temperatures reach into the 90s. It's a humid day - it rains for the first three hours of the shoot. The house isn't air conditioned, and for sound control we have to shut the doors and windows when we roll camera.

Today's scenes are between new neighbors Suze and Mickey. The characters played by Lou Lippa and Maggie Siff (Mickey and Suze) have a sweet relationship, and filming the scenes between them is fun. Our goal today is to film three interior scenes, in which the characters get to know each other.

The lighting set-up for each scene is similar, and we decide to shoot out of order. This means we will film Mickey's point of veiw for all three scenes, then turn the camera and lights around, and film Suze's point of view for each of the three scenes.

This approach makes a great deal of economic sense, but I think it must be tougher for the actors -- each of the three scenes has a different energy. The characters are in a different emotional space for each scene. Jumping around the script like this is also a little scary in terms of continuity.

The character of Mickey, in this story written by Bruce Graham, is a retired boxer who lives in South Philadelphia. Mickey's wife passed away 63 days ago, and he's been shut up in his house since. On this day, Suze brings a little light and laughter into his life.

Our set designer for this scene is Kate Bartoldus - she's built a fireplace and mantle piece, decorated it with boxing memorabelia - trophies, photos, boxing gloves, archive newspaper clippings - it's a great looking set, and I hope our shots do her work justice.

My favorite part of today is filming scene 36: After Mickey tells Suze that he and his wife were married fifty two years, he asks her how long she's been married. "Three weeks," she replies. "No kiddin'? That's something - three weeks" is Mickey's response. Lou Lippa gives delivers this line with warmth, tenderness, humor and nostalgia. It's a lovely moment, one that warms me each take.

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