France Location Day 3: Weíd

France Location Day 3: Weíd planned to shoot driving scenes and dialogue in the car in the morning, when we expected clouds and rain. Of course, it turned freakishly sunny, pumping the contrast between interior and exterior light too high.

We did exterior driving shots instead, and we found a great scene when we were looking for the single roadside grave mentioned in shot 31 in the script. It was very windy, clouds and shadows moving rapidly across the fields. At the intersection, the man jumped out of the car and searched for the grave, climbing the embankments, looking around. The light was beautiful; the scene was pretty spontaneous, and the camera was great.

Weíd set up a Glidecam, a counterweighted mount for smoothing out camera movement, and it worked pretty well. (As the shoot progressed, it became a challenge to NOT become addicted to the Glidecam; itís smooth, but moving shots are not the only game in town.)

Into town to shoot 35-42. We added a montage of the man asking questions/directions of several people, not just the woman in v2.0 of the script. The woman (and her husband) were pretty good. They hit their lines in the script, with an unusual sense of urgency and concern. Light and wind were problematic sometimes, but thereís definitely usable stuff.

After the scene, the couple was heading to lunch, and the woman said to me, ìNow, in New York, theyíll know what itís like here. To live surrounded by all these cemeteries your whole life.î I wished weíd caught it on camera. And the conversation afterward, when they met their friends at the table as well. There was a sense of real sympathy, but tempered with resignation. In addition to their own experience, locals have the 85-year stream of mourning/remembering visitors to deal with; the Somme has essentially professionalized the remembering business.

Shot scenes in the car after lunch, including the third phone call between the couple (34), and various driving and approach shots (30, 32, 36, 43, 46, 49, 50, 63). It went pretty well. Weíre not going to lack for dramatic landscapes or smooth driving shots, thatís for sure.

Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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first published: February 26, 2002.

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