Tuesday, May 27, 2008

True-Life Lemons to Lemonade Tale

We got lots of complaints about the length of my post last week, so I'll keep this one short.

HA HA! Not really! We got no complaints. Therefore, I intend to make this post even longer.

HA HA! Not really! I'm just gonna write and it'll be as long as it'll be. And I'm going to add tons of pictures.

HA HA! No, really. I'm adding pictures. Like this one:

In Episode 7 part 2, there is a bit o' schtick where Guy lunges at Ashleigh through stacked cups of lemonade. Physical comedy. Subtle humor. Always welcome. Well, it just so happens that the scene was not originally supposed to be that way. Circumstance and nature colluded to give us a shot that ended up being funnier than we'd originally planned.

As it was written, there was no lunge over the lemonade stand; Robb added it during rehearsals. Then, since I had been toying with Guy stacking cups out of boredom, we decided I should lunge through them. (I am a fan of prop humor. It was I who demanded—with measured reason, of course—that there be something in that basket when Olava grabs Guy's ass. The butter cookie cups make no sense, but it sure looks great.)

Once we knew that I'd have to go flying over the stand, Robb and I had to design it to be incredibly sturdy. We had meant to buy handles to attach to the underside of the stand so someone could hide underneath and hold it down when we shot the scene, but that would have cost us a whole $7, so it was nixed. The person underneath would have to make due.

Shoot day was incredibly windy. The stand blew over at one point (only Murray, the stand-in plasterer, was hurt, but he's recovering nicely now in the south of Torrance), so babysitting the lemonade stand became a full-time job. If someone wasn't sitting behind it and holding it down with their elbows, other methods of anchorage had to be utilized.

The blowing wind also created problems for the cups. Whether they were just coating the stand in a single layer or being stacked upside-down into a little fort, the wind would take them out at every opportunity. So we had to tape the cups down to the stand and to each other.

When the time came to shoot the crashing through the cups scene, it was obvious that taped-together cups were not going to fly apart in the proper aesthetic manner. There was definitely no way they were going to stay stacked up without tape long enough to shoot the shot. So I came up with a plan to turn the cups right-side up and fill them with enough water to keep them stable. This meant that, suddenly, Tanya and I were going to be getting all wet. It also meant we could really only do the take once. Okay, actually, it meant we only wanted to do the take once since getting wet twice on a windy day was not a wholly desirable activity.

Everyone was fine with the plan and with the wetness factor, but we were way behind schedule, so we had to hustle. We quickly removed the tape from the cups and re-set them with water inside. We did a couple rehearsals, making sure we knew when the lunge would have to happen, how I would get through the cups for optimal scatterage, where the camera would be, and when to stop the take if it was obvious the whole thing was going awry.

During one of the rehearsals, Tanya, who had to run around the front of the stand, accidentally bumped it. Some of the cups got upended, and Kathy, who had been the fortunate person recruited to hide underneath and hold the stand down, sans handles, yelped with surprise when the water came pouring down the back.

After some drying and some pouring and some final reassurances, Robb rolled camera, and we were off. The lunge went perfectly, and the resulting struggle in the muddy grass between Tanya and I was a ton of fun. Tanya couldn't stop laughing!

And that, gentle readers, is how necessity can create a funnier moment. Without the windy day, we would not have had our watery deluge, and I think the watery deluge adds a great detail to the scene. For episode 8, we're hoping for tornadoes. Who knows what kind of hilarity will come out of tornadoes!

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