Back in April of 2013 I was given the privilege of being a part of my first feature film production. Along with this being a dream come true, a dream I had nearly given up on, it was also a great step in the right direction and will hopefully lead to even more projects in the future. With new found hope and experience now under my belt I wanted to record a brief description, for myself and others interested, of what my days on the set of Shooting Film’s feature production… The Living as a brand new Production Intern/Assistant was like. Naturally, I wish I could recount everything here, but alas, I will stick to the major plot points of my adventure, while holding the full memories near to my heart. Now, I realize this update has been a long time coming, as it happened a bit ago, but I figure there’s no day like today!
Once you’re done reading be sure to check out the The Living on IMDB for more information! You can also like The Living and Shooting Films on Facebook, and can view the trailer on the iTunes movie site, or receive film specifics such as stills and showings courtesy of the film’s distributor, Monterey Media Inc.
My First Day – Tuesday, April 16th (Reading, PA)
While production had been going on for a few weeks prior, my first day on set put me right into the middle of the action. Very quickly I was trying to put faces and names together, and help get everything set up quickly for the production team. My tasks included setting up rooms for actors/production, a food run with Sam, creating signs, and assisting by signing in, recruiting, and directing extras around the Church that served as the backdrop for the important and sobering scene. It was a great day, a long day, as I spent 6 hours on set and then 7 at my day job that night.
It is also here that I must say that this terrific experience was all made possible by my dear friend Sam. She had already been working long and hard on the production and, knowing my passion for film, brought me along to potentially assist in some needed areas. I owe her very much for this, and am enormously thankful.
My Second Day – Wednesday, April 17th (Shoemakersville, PA)
Wanting to prove to the production that I was devoted to their cause and dependable, I wanted to help assist on as many of their shooting days as possible. This meant my second day was also my first day without Sam to help me about. I was one of the first to arrive this day, and learning names was the name of the game, not just out of kindness and decency, but if the director happens to ask you (as a PA/Intern) to go and locate ::insert name here:: it is beyond vital that you know what face belongs to that name. This day was also tough as I had to drive to Redners for a major craft services run, in a car that was not my own, in an area I was very unfamiliar with. To most, this is not a difficult task, but to me…it was my Everest. I was so nervous about messing up, not buying the right food, and getting lost. But with a lot of praying at random intersections I proved I am capable of quite a lot. I spent 81/2 hours on set this day, leaving right around dusk, which was lucky because the location was next to a small stream, and it became very cold, very fast!
My third day was quite exciting. I drove to set, on my own, only to be surrounded by cops and emergency vehicles…it was crime scene day!
Who would have ever thought being a server in a restaurant would prove helpful in working in film, but it did. I became best friends with the coffee pot this day, making sure the crew, actors, and police officers were kept warm and caffeinated on set all morning. Once I was done helping to serve the quite delicious breakfast, I was then tasked with setting up the actor’s rooms and then assisting the makeup department. My task there was to prepare and powder all of the officers graciously serving as extras for the main scene. I now ask you to take a moment, and to imagine the faces and reactions of the brave and courageous officers as I eagerly approached them with outstretched powder and a makeup sponge. A tad hesitant at first to put on the “makeup”, it was quite an amusing sight, but they were all such kind sports and ultimately had fun. Filming outside in the light rain for the remainder of my time was an interesting experience, as much as finally getting to interact with/meet some of the talent…but my day was cut short as my “real world” job beckoned.
My Fourth Day – Monday, April 22nd (NYC, NY)
Now this day, was quite the event. A major responsibility of PA’s/Intern’s is equipment returns and pickups. To me, it is the most daunting of tasks as it is time sensitive, the equipment is expensive and delicate, and returns/pickups must be sure to include ALL equipment. Any mistakes made would delay shooting of the ENTIRE production. On top of these responsibilities, the particular equipment offices we needed to get to …were in Manhattan. So early morning Sam and I decided to brave this particular venture together, as two heads are better than one, and both a tad nervous we knew it would be so much better together. Traffic…was an abysmal nightmare, of course, turning what should have been a day trip into a 13 hour excursion, oh the luck. However, once you put all the silly nerve wrecking items of the day behind, being in NYC was quite a treat, if only for a few hours, the tunes on the radio were good, city pizza is always great, and Sam and I accomplished what was required of us. I being who I am of course, photo documented the entire day. You can see the evidence of our adventure…here.
Day five; a couple days had gone by between set visits as I continued working what normal shifts I could at my day job. A relatively short day too, just 5 hours to spare, I did as many random little tasks as I could in order to make sure my time was as beneficial to the crew as possible. I helped make phone calls, securing that locations and permits for future shooting days were good to go, and I helped pack and unpack food, equipment, and wardrobe for our location change to the motel used in later scenes. It rained a bit this night, only adding to the musky and gritty feel of the motel. The smell of the rain outside a darkening motel door, it was a really one of those moments that stick with you…I bet the scene turned out that way too.
My Sixth Day – Thursday, April 25th (Port Carbon, PA)
Have you ever spent an entire night in a diner, ducking gunshots and cleaning up blood? Well, after my sixth day on set I can hilariously say that I have! As far as special effects for the film goes, this was an adventurous night! An adventurous night that began with a large crafty run with my dad, a scenic drive to set, copious amounts of coffee, and my first experiences with the ever infamous Red Bull and 5 Hour Energy as this shoot lasted from 4PM to 5AM the following day!
First, I must say the workers of Dream City Diner were very kind and somehow managed to keep us all well fed and caffeinated throughout the entire evening. After our dinner concluded, my first few tasks were to help set up a large tent (as the diner was one large room and we needed separate and safe space for wardrobe/makeup), prepare crafty, relocate cars (so they wouldn’t appear in the background), and continue to help wherever needed. Day quickly turned into a cold, cold evening while shooting began and continued within the diner. My refuge from the elements was found temporarily by the space heater in the tent and in our Line Producer’s car where the temporary Production Office was set up and kept cozy. Once a few of the other interns/PAs found themselves needing to head home for the night, my task then became theirs. My job was to now stand beside the building to make sure that our production team did not accidentally walk by the large exterior windows of the diner and destroy the shots of the scene taking place within. I was even dubbed “Lockdown Kerry” at one point. Later, and inside, without going into too much detail, we moved to a scene that required a gun being fired and a blood spray. While I mostly watched at this interval, it was amazing to see the gun firing blanks and the special effects at work. And after each blood spray, I was part of the team that would rapidly run in armed with paper towels, to clear off all of the evidence so that they could shoot another take. I learned I have a good eye for detail and that even fake gun wounds can be very messy! Ultimately, I had a great time, even getting to speak/interact with more of the cast, namely Kenny Wormald and Chris Mulkey this night…and they were great gentlemen. I left just a few hours before everyone else did, but after clocking in a 13+ hour set day/all-nighter I was never happier to see my pillow, at least for a little bit, before I returned to my other job later that day.
My Seventh Day – Monday, April 29th (Hamburg, PA)
Now this day was quite interesting, as it was an interior bar scene shot inside Hamburg’s Moose Lodge, a really fun building filled with, you guessed it, Moose decor. Sam and I were reunited on set this day, and even carpooled together to make our incredibly early call time. Awake at 3AM and on set by 5AM, the Dunkin Donut breakfast table was not only quite the treat, but well needed. Once we quickly fueled up with bagels and coffee we were asked to set up the rooms upstairs for the actors, extras holding, makeup, etc. Mid morning Sam was then asked to run to New York for equipment and I stayed behind for a supply run. Once shooting commenced I was tasked with maintaining silence on set and that the extras remaining in the kitchen were also quiet. This ended up being difficult as the kitchen was filled with freezers and equipment that periodically turned on that sound had to take care of, and the creaking doors that added atmosphere to the lodge were a hindrance during filming. Once everything settled down and all was finally silenced, shooting went quickly and fairly smoothly. It was fun watching the scene unfold in small pieces, and to every now and then watch the camera setup change. One of my favorite setups was for a scene that involved Kenny Wormald’s character, Gordon, talking on the phone, and the camera was set to track around him in a circle, in what no doubt will be a climatic scene to watch unfold. The last scene shot that day was when Gordon pushes his way through the crowded bar to make his way to his friend, sitting in the far back. The extras they used for this shot were not just extras, but crew as well. That was a fun change up, being in front of the camera for a moment. Once all was said, done, cleaned up and such, Sam and I, and a few other crew members, stuck around after the shoot for when the bar at the Moose Lodge opened for their normal business hours. To celebrate, we each had a drink or two before heading home for the night, having put in a solid 13 hour day.
My Eighth Day – Tuesday April 30th (Auburn, PA)
As April rapidly came to an end, so did the shooting days for The Living. My last day on set found us at a small, but quaint, home in Auburn. Sam and I carpooled again, she is quite a generous and kind friend, and we arrived along with everyone else, and began setting up crafty, makeup, etc. before the actors arrived. Once everything was complete we all settled outside together to enjoy a deliciously yummy burritos and chips. As we sat enjoying the weather the actors arrived with smiles and went straight to our makeup artist. As the sun set, the atmosphere was ready for shooting to begin. My favorite part of this evening was as Kenny Wormald and Chris Mulkey were getting the necessary makeup applied for their characters, we were able to converse a bit. Amongst fun antidotes and jokes I was beyond please to find that Mr. Mulkey had remembered me from the diner shoot! Unfortunately, Sam and I had to head out early on our last night of shooting, but I can only imagine that it was quite the night, as what was being shot was a pivotal scene, and one that I look forward to seeing.
As this was one of the last shoot days, and my last day to make and keep memories, I was given permission to bring my Nikon to set this day. It was great being able to steal little memories here and there with my cell phone, but finally having my camera back in my hands was such a treat. The pictures I took this day, and at the cast party that follows, can be found here.
Last Day – Wrap Party Wednesday May 1st
It was bittersweet but the night was so much fun. So many people worked night and day to create this film, and it was wonderful to have a relaxing moment to talk, laugh, and congratulate all those hardworking individuals. I was honored just to be surrounded by so many talented and determined filmmakers and friends. After a few hours of unwinding, my favorite moment was when we gathered for a group portrait. It was nice feeling like part of The Living family, and I am so grateful that they blessed me with the opportunity. I only wish the best for this film and all involved, and cannot wait to see what happens next.
But there’s one more important day we cannot forget…
THE PREMIERE – Friday April 10th 2015
So fast forward a year or two, and you get to last night, which was the theatrical premiere of The Living! I was so nervous to attend, as I had not seen anyone since we wrapped filming, but little did I know that my nerves were of course, unnecessary. Sitting in the rapidly crowding theater at The Goggleworks in Reading PA I eagerly awaited the dimming of the lights, and for the moment I had been waiting for for quite some time. It was finally time to see what all of our efforts had wrought. My excitement made even greater by the fact that prior to the premiere The Living had been receiving a number of fantastic reviews from festivals all over the country! As the film began to play I couldn’t help but being absorbed not only in what was happening onscreen, but also of being reminded of all of the unspoken memories made behind those scenes. It was amazing being able to finally see the shots from the camera’s point of view. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and was so happy to see the film completed. Dare I say it, I was proud. Proud of everyone, and then proud of me as I sat stunned and watched my very name scroll by my eyes as the credits rolled. After the film there was a fun Q&A with Jack, Laura, and John followed by wine, cheese, and mingling. Sam and I were happily reunited, and I had set plans in my mind to hopefully earn my way up to Jack, Laura, and John through the crowd of eager fans and instead they came to me! I was so flatted, and grateful that I could finally wish them my congratulations in person as they continue to work hard on propelling The Living as far as they can. It was a lovely night, and as the old crew gathered once again it was truly wonderful recalling all of our on set memories. It felt like family again. And I know I’ve said it one hundred times, but I will say it one hundred more…you should definitely go and see The Living for yourself! Support it, see it, love it. I’m so proud of everyone involved, and cannot wait to see what happens next, as where we have already come is quite the dream come true.