Today we are continuing with the multi-part blog about Gretchen’s Lock. In case you missed the first part you can check it out HERE.
Filming: Day 1
After getting everything prepped and showing everyone the lock, the cast and crew were eager to begin our filming journey. We headed down the Vondergreen Trail that leads to Gretchen’s Lock and decided to shoot with the sun behind the actors. Like I said before, the weather was absolutely perfect for our days of filming. The bright sunshine coincided with the adventure the campers were on and their joking manner. So, we found a section of the trail that seemed like a good place to start. We looked at the trail that went slightly uphill and thought everything was in place.
Sound and cameras were rolling, “ACTION.” As myself, the three members running audio, and Danielle started trekking backwards the terrain proved to be challenging. A couple of steps into the take the boom mics were hitting branches I was tripping over rocks and roots and everything was going a little too fast. Side note, operating the Glidecam is an art form itself which I have not mastered by far. We decided to move a little slower and Danielle guided me by holding onto my belt and tugging to warn me if there was a step up, a rock, a root, a squirrel, whatever I couldn’t see behind me. After a couple of takes we began to find a rhythm and finished out the opening scene.
As we arrived to the trail offshoot that leads to Gretchen’s Lock the sun was still brightly shinning. However, as soon as we walked down to the lock the sun went behind the hill on the other side of the creek leaving Gretchen’s Lock in a shadow. I think the geography of the area and the bend in the creek set up Gretchen’s Lock to be dark, cold, and quiet which adds to its mystery. We quickly executed the takes and finished up before dinner time. Scene 1 was in the bag and we made the 15 minute hike back to the parking lot.
As pizza arrived the cast and crew quickly bonded and we gathered around the fire talking about filming the first scene. This group of people seemed to click instantly as we began setting things up for the night scenes.
Because the area we were filming is primitive, there was no access to electricity. We set up a generator for the lights we used for the campfire scenes. We placed the generator back in the woods and ran a couple of 100 ft extension cords. After running cords and setting up the lights we started the generator. Immediately the noise was quite prevalent and was going to be an issue with the audio. We covered the generator with a box that had ventilation and carpet to absorb the sound. This seemed to eliminate a lot of noise.
We position the actors and cameras and began to film. Right after the first take the lights faded out and the generator stopped. I looked up from my camera with concern. We walked to the generator and heard it making a hissing sound. I removed the box and felt the heat coming from the generator. Obviously we didn’t have adequate ventilation and it was overheated. We needed to relieve the pressure so it didn’t blow up (we joked about doing another film with pyrotechnics to calm everyone’s nerves. Gretchen’s Lock II: Gretchen’s Out for Blood). I was able to unscrew the gas cap and to release the pressure and we let the generator cool down for a few minutes. We started it back up and continued filming and decided we’ll deal with the noise in post production. As we finished with the campfire scene we headed into the tent.
The cast was super ornery at this time as they snuggled up in their sleeping bags and blankets. One of my regrets was not filming some of the antics that were happening in between the takes. After the cast got comfortable inside the tent four of us crew members went in to film the scene. Huddled in the corner was Danielle, Jacob, Amy, and myself. We knocked out that scene in a couple of takes and we moved outside to finish up the day 1 of filming.
At this point I decided we weren’t going to use the generator anymore because it was becoming a hassle. With the help of white foam boards we were able to light the actors as they walked through the woods. The story seemed to get more real as we ventured into the woods with flashlights, a camera, and a crew of foam board holders. The woods were very dark even though there was a full moon each night we filmed. At one point there were no flashlights on and the only light you could see was the moon in the distance and the glow of the campfire. We finished out and were done by 10:30 pm. We gathered all the equipment and loaded it into the cars and left the campsite.
On my way home I finally had sometime to think since Danielle drove separately. I was still in disbelief that this was actually happening and amazed that everything went as smooth as it did for the first day. I quickly grounded myself and began to plan things out in my head for the next day’s shoot which was jam packed…