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| Prayers in the Kitchen
July 8, 2000
Tonight was our first night inside Beverly's home. The home, on Webster Street in West Philadelphia, is across the park from our mural site, and is owned by Mrs. Odem. Mrs. Odem is a quiet, soft-spoken woman who was with us throughout the evening. She watched quietly and looked upset at times. But when I asked her if everything was alright, she beamed a great big smile "Everything is going to be just beautiful," she said. Our goal was to shoot the following four scenes: Beverly, Nia and Shaquille enter the house; Nia and Shaquille watch the fireworks on TV; Nia and Shaquille sleep as Bev checks in on them; and the most complicated and emotional of the scenes - Beverly alone in the kitchen, as she breaks down and prays to God for the strength to make a life for her family.
Our first set up was upstairs, Nia and Shaquille sleeping, then watching the fireworks upstairs. It's a fairly easy set up -- first we blocked out all sunlight, then created our own moonlight. We have some beautiful shots of Nia and Shaquille sleeping. . .things moved at a nice pace. Then we moved downstairs, to film the scene when the family enters. A simple scene, three people (and a cat) coming in the door, sitting down on the couch - it proved, for whatever reason, to be the most difficult of the night. For some reason the shot I designed, the three on the couch, seemed unnatural. I'm not sure if it was because the house was sooooo hot, and the thought of three people sitting so close to each other seemed very wrong, or the fact that our actors are
We broke for our lunch our around 7 p.m. and ate out on the front lawn of the house next door. As we were eating, I watched people across the park analyzing the mural that had just been finished two days earlier. . . of course I couldn't hear what they said, but their body language said that thay found it interesting. People stopped and looked at it for a long time. It made me happy to think that long after our film is finished, this mural is going to live in this community. I hope it lives there whole, grafitti-free.
After lunch we set up a dolly and tracks in the kitchen, for a lengthy, emotional scene. Beverly prays in the kitchen, making a deal with God that if God will give her the strength needed to raise this new family, she will forgive God for taking her husband many years ago. It's not a short piece, the monologue runs at least three minutes, and has many emotional peaks and valleys. We film the scene three times. With each take, actress Nell Johnson, gives a more perfect performance.
I am extremely pleased. I only wish that Sonia Sanchez, the writer of the scene, could be with us to hear her words being spoken so beautifully.
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