After three long, sleepless days, I'm finally finished principal photography for the short film I was holding auditions for last month. It all went quite well for once; only one day went over schedule, and only by an hour, and only because one actor turned out to be extremely high maintenance and took more than a dozen takes to get two simple scenes finished. He was the sort of actor who was utterly convinced that he was doing things right and would just ignore you if you told him to do something in a different way -- and of course, after the tenth take of him fumbling the punchline, he finally admitted that he didn't even understand the joke he was supposed to be delivering.
Other than him, everyone else was great, knew their lines, weren't morons, etc. We got unlucky with the weather on Saturday and had to film outside scenes when the temperature was below zero (and everyone had to wear tanktops, since it was spring in the script). Tempers flared, especially when the aforementioned high maintenance actor kept interrupting takes to ask when he could go home, but the footage was all nice and no one held it against us. I made sure to cook a lot of food for everyone on the last day, and we filmed in a nice, warm university building then, so it ended on a high note.
One lesson learnt: When filming a scene with cigarettes, buy way more cigarettes than you could ever reasonably need. We had enough to do a few takes, but we didn't take into account the fact that you'd have to keep cutting the cigarettes in half with scissors to make them look like they'd been smoked a bit, when filming later portions of the same sequence. Luckily there was a convenience store a few minutes away from the set so it wasn't a big setback, but for what it's worth I'll file that in my memory bank.
Another thing to add to my "how schools are disgustingly incompetent at everything" list: there's no way for a handicapped person to get on and off the second floor of the school building we were filming in without knowing an obscure passcode for the elevator. Campus police doesn't know the code, student services doesn't know the code -- apparently no one other than the staff (who aren't there every day) knows this code. There's even a sign that says to contact campus police if you're trapped on the second floor in an emergency... except, as I said, campus police doesn't know the code, so you'd have to immediately escalate to the actual emergency services. Combined with the fact that an able-bodied person can simply walk up the stairs to this floor -- what the hell is the point of forbidding elevator access to it? We were filming on that floor -- with permission, obviously -- so it's not like people are forbidden to go there.
It took me and my wheelchair-bound friend over an hour to figure out a cheat that could get him to the second floor (you can go down to it from the fifth floor, perplexingly). We were both furious. When I get the chance, I'm bringing this issue to the relevant authorities, because it's totally unacceptable that that school (which might as well be a private corporation in the wonderful education system of 2012) can get away with spending all their money on watering the grass, erecting "no smoking" signs, and filling the tanks of the professors' Lamborghinis, when there are so many blatant, dangerous safety violations all over the goddamn campus.
Typical issues, though. I'm actually still amazed that every group at the school got the memo that we were going to be filming on the second floor... usually working in a school means that there's maybe one or two profs who know what you're doing there and you spend half the day explaining yourself to the cops. Everything went better than expected.
Overall, a stressful but very rewarding few days. I only got an hour or two of sleep every night between them and my limbs were all sore as hell by the end, but that's part of what I love about this job. I just finished sleeping like a sackful of bricks and I'm on top of the world once again. Now it's time to start post-production.