Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Caterpillar's Tale Production notes vol. III

Three things that I never thought I would ever say to my children:

1: Don't play with the rats
2: Now, I want all of the sweetness and light gone from you
3: Become one with the caterpillar

Well, I said all of that and more today as my daughter joined two other fine young actors to play the Three Witches in "A Caterpillar's Tale".

After transforming my living room into a cross between a hidden corner of Wes Craven's mind and Liberace's breakfast nook, we waited for our actors to arrive. The wonderful Geri Hamilton, who also provides the voice of the Crabapple in another scene, arrived with our actors in tow. She set to work immediately, handling hair and make-up chores, transforming three lovely young ladies into three gorgeous gypsies. Add to that the costumes Gina Davis and I collaborated on choosing for each, along with her work on our daughter's styling, and we were ready to film a pivotal scene.

Cue the caterpillar!

Gina and I were up late the night before, (again) putting the final touches on the custom caterpillar puppet that will serve as the star of our production. We brought him out for his debut, much to the surprise and awe of those gathered. He's creepy, he's cool, and... just a bit sad, which is exactly what I was hoping for in a star.
The shoot began as so many do, with manic discussions and explanations of lines, blocking and motivations amidst the curling irons, eyeliner and glitter spray, (why is there always glitter spray?).

We progressed smoothly through the script, with just a few bumps and tangles. At one point, I thought we wouldn't be able to do the song. I received a very cool song a few days before, but there just wasn't time to produce it and no one would have had a chance to learn it before shoot day. So, I pulled together some lyrics to fit the mood of the day. But then, and this is the coolest thing about working with ultra-talented young actors, we bounced a few ideas around and came up with an idea to shoot it that actually turned out better than what I had originally planned. By placing the camera lower than the actors, and shooting upward, they could read the lyrics and appear to be looking at the caterpillar, which, essentially provided a caterpillar's point of view shot for a pivotal segment in the scene... bonus!

If today's work is any indication, this is going to be a terrific production.

By the way, when you have kids on the set, and rubber rats as props scattered around, someone's going to pick one up... that's just a given, I guess.