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Mmmm… Mmmm... Good!

Agapé Senior cafeteriaAmong the many, many ways Agapé Senior has helped us on this shoot, they agreed to provide lunch for all of us at a very reasonable price in their cafeteria.  Unfortunately, we did not have time to do a taste test before the first day, so we were a little nervous the food might be bland, easy-to-chew “old people” food and that our crew would revolt on the first day.  Fortunately, the cooks at Agapé are top notch and create absolutely delicious meals for the residents.  Fried chicken, hot wings, chicken fried steak, mashed potatoes, fried okra, seasoned vegetables, a full salad bar, cheesecake, lemon meringue pie, and on and on and on in a yummy progression each day.  There was a nice variety for picky folks, and the food was hearty for people working long, hard hours each day.  They even had iced tea and lemonade sweet enough to make a southern belle swoon.  Food is a key component in keeping the cast and crew happy, so thank goodness Agapé helped make that part of our job so easy.

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Crocodile Tears

Mary Elizabeth lets the tears flowLots of crying today, but it was all on cue rather than a meltdown.  Mary Elizabeth and Rebecca had several emotional scenes together today, and of course those scenes had to be shot from a variety of angles, so that was a lot of time turning on the waterworks.  But the ladies did an amazing job and are not showing any signs of dehydration.  It’s educational watching them work - Rebecca tends to stay in character the whole time, while Mary Elizabeth turns it on and off in an instant.  It’s almost funny watching her go from stricken crying nurse to her normal cheerful self the second Cliff yells cut.   

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Long Hours Take Their Toll

Wade SellersLes Stringer has been the gaffer associated with our project since we applied for the production fund, since he has been in the business a long time.  He managed to hang with the young whipper snappers for the first two days, but after seeing this was going to be a week of 10-12 hour days, he realized it was too much for him.  It takes a big man to admit that, and we really respect him for making that call and then finding us such a great replacement.  Wade Sellers stepped in to the gaffer position this morning.  He’s a man of few words, but his calm confidence keeps everything running smoothly.  We are very grateful Wade was able to take over in a pinch.
 

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Busy Bees

Trident Tech studentsThe five students from Trident Tech arrived in a swarm of efficiency on Thursday’s prep day.  Corey, Jimmy, Mathew, Ryan, and Shaun showed up as a group and immediately got started unloading and setting up all the equipment.  Since then, everywhere we look we see them buzzing around making sure everything is just right. 

At times they are doing so much it’s hard to believe there are only five of them and that they are only students.  Trident Tech does an excellent job training their students, and we are very lucky to have them on set. 

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Gracious Hosts

 

Agapé Senior resident showing her SC Film spiritThe staff and residents of Agapé have been amazing.  We’re not sure they knew what they were getting themselves into when they agreed to let us shoot there, but they have all been real troopers.  The residents have been patient as we lug equipment around the hallways and generally make a lot of noise.  And the staff has been great about finding us things we need, like a mop when a soda gets spilled.  Even though we’re a big, boisterous bunch, they actually seem excited that we’re there, especially after we bribed them with T-shirts.

The really fun part is that many of the staff and residents have agreed to be extras, so the scenes look more authentic with people milling around in the background.  Cynthia Scherbaty, the resident life coordinator, has been a huge help in getting us the people we need.  A few of the residents have been bitten by the Hollywood bug and are the first in line when we need some “atmosphere.”  It will actually be a fun drinking game once the movie is done – take a shot every time you spot the same lady in multiple scenes.

 

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That Darn Cat, Take Two

Mason the cat with Kelly the trainerOr rather cats in this instance.  Of course we’d heard the old adage about never working with animals in a movie, but since this was the story we were telling, we had no choice. Like we mentioned earlier, the cats haven't been as cooperative as we had hoped they'd be.  The trainers tell us that Marmalade is under the weather (would this be kitty flu rather than swine flu?) and that’s why he’s refusing to cooperate.  So his backup Mason has been promoted to hero cat – unfortunately, this is his first movie, and he’s still learning the ropes.

In one of the scenes today, Gabriel was supposed to jump up on the bed with Alma.  Mason could not be lured onto the bed with food.  Kelly, one of the trainers, was determined to get us the shot we needed.  So she hid under the bed with Mason pretty much sitting on her head and pushed him up onto the bed at the right time.  Desperate times called for desperate measures, and from the angle we were shooting, it didn’t look too obvious.
 
Luckily, later in the afternoon we discovered the secret to getting Mason to “act.”  Most cats perform for their food reward, but Mason didn’t seem to care.  For the walking down the hall scene we were trying to capture, he would turn away from the food and head in the opposite direction.  Several of the crew members figured out he wanted his kitty carrier - the little fellow just wanted a cat nap.  So for the rest of the shots, when we needed Mason to walk, we lured him with his kitty carrier rather than food.  It was great to see the team work together to get the footage we needed when things didn’t go according to plan.
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Kitty Explosion

Cats everywhereToday is the second day of filming, and all the scenes take place in Eunice’s room.  Since Eunice is a big fan of cats, the art department has gone to town decorating with cat stuff.  Luckily, we did not have to hit every store in town to find such a plethora of kitty tchochkes because Jocelyn has several friends (Mary Rudisill, Cary Davy, and Jenn Ludwick) who had cat paraphernalia they were willing to lend us.  From figurines to towels to a quilt, all these touches to the room help convey the fact that Eunice is a cat lover.  Thank you, ladies!

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It’s Finally Here!!

First day of filming!Today was the first day of shooting!  The entire crew worked together like clockwork and in no time we were shooting our first scene.  It’s not the first scene in the movie, but it’s the first scene chronologically (it’s a flashback) where Eunice welcomes Alma to the home.  Edith and Rebecca nailed their parts, and it all went off without a hitch. 

We wish we could say the same thing about the rest of the scenes.  Unfortunately, the cats were not really feeling it today.  We put Marmalade in for his first scene, which was a simple walk down the hallway, and he flopped onto his side and refused to cooperate.  Then we tried Mason, and he said if Marmalade didn’t have to do it, neither did he.  Eventually the trainers were able to coax a performance out of him, but it was not the smooth sailing we had been hoping for.  Hopefully things will go better tomorrow.

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Getting to Know You

Getting to know youBecause we’re bringing together students from two different schools, as well as professionals from around the southeast, we wanted to make sure everyone had a chance to get to know each other before we start filming tomorrow morning, so we gathered everyone for dinner tonight.  Cliff generously agreed to let us host it in the big studio at Genesis, and we had Rusty’s cater dinner southern style – fried chicken and bar-b-que – yum!   Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, although you could feel the nervous anticipation in the air... or maybe that was just Jocelyn giving off all those vibes. 
 

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We’re Almost There

Matt SefickToday was the big prep day before we start shooting tomorrow.  The four principal actors arrived for their hair, makeup, and wardrobe tests.  After only seeing videos of them playing our characters, it was strange meeting and interacting with their real selves.  They were all extremely nice – not a diva in sight.

The animal trainers also arrived with Marmalade and his back-up Mason.  The cats have that regal “Yes, I’m a star” look, but then again, most cats do.  The trainers also brought two absolutely adorable orange tabby kittens.  They are brothers who are in training to be doubles for Marmalade and Mason; and if they aren’t careful, Jocelyn is going to run off with the kittens when the trainers' backs are turned. 

The crew was there to unpack the truck and get everything set up and ready to go for tomorrow.  The art department was also running around like crazy bringing Alma and Eunice’s rooms to life.  The staff and residents at Agapé were probably wondering what they had gotten themselves into… and seeing that overwhelming amount of activity, we may have been wondering the same thing!