Quint on the set of THE MIST: Day 2!! More gore! The coming of the mist! And much more!!!
Published at: March 2, 2007, 12:42 a.m. CST by quint
Ahoy, squirts! Quint here, once again reporting from the Bread ‘n Cakes section of The Food House on my second day here on the set of THE MIST.
I strongly advise checking out my Day 1 report if you haven’t already. I’m going to avoid repeating set description and character descriptions that I’ve already covered in Day 1, so if you haven’t read it and feel lost when reading… click here!!!
I arrived around 9:30am and immediately saw the tail end of yesterday’s scene put down. Once again it was two cameras, A & B in the supermarket. A camera is outside on the sidewalk looking into the grocery store through the glass windows and the open door. B camera was inside, on the people looking out the glass. Norm the bag boy was there as was Ollie, Amanda, Mrs. Carmody and the army boys.
A camera focused on the teenagers barely seen yesterday at the front of the store. There’s a cute brunet girl, a thin guy and fat guy. They notice the mist and the guys run out. “Let’s check it out!” The girl calls after them, hesitant.
One of the people in the store calls out, “Miss! What is it?” The camera moves in on her face, a mixture of wonder and fear. “It’s some kind of… mist.” It’s definitely a trailer line and the first couple times the actress delivered it, the line sounded a little forced, but she hit a few out of the park, making it sound very real and natural.
She runs out after the boys.
Sally, the check-out girl that made eyes with the army guy (Jessup) yesterday, approaches the glass and “Oh, my God!” with a hand up to her mouth as Jeffrey DeMunn, Harry from GREEN MILE, runs in with a bloody nose, blood splattered down his shirt. “There’s something in the mist! It took John Lee! I heard him screaming.” DeMunn did a great job on this delivery, by the way. It’s very big, hysterical, but somehow not over the top.
Bloody Nose screams for them to shut the doors, which they do. The A camera, looking into the store remember, sees the door shut and then pans along the glass seeing the worried faces looking out, ending with Marcia Gay Harden as Mrs. Carmody, her face stone-like, but her eyes jumping back and forth, a hint of the craziness that lurks within her.
After the take was gotten, Darabont turns to me and says, addressing the report from last night, that the reason he does the thumbs up and points at specific moments he likes within a take is to communicate with his script supervisor, always seated next to him, what he likes, so that she, in turn, knows what notes to take and which takes to print.
He also talked about the microphone he has, a wireless mic with speakers around the set. It allows him to give direction from the monitors when it’s something quick that needs addressing. Sure, he still leaves his seat quite a lot, whenever a situation needs his direct attention, but he said he learned about using the microphone from Bryan Singer on the SUPERMAN RETURNS set. It keeps him from wearing himself out as the day goes on.
The next shot up was the same scene, but focusing on Amanda (Laurie Holden) and Mrs. Carmody. Carmody is drawn to the glass store front, grabbing her bag from her cart and sizing up Amanda as she walks past, obviously not liking what she’s seeing.
So, like yesterday, I’ve been jumping between A and B stages. I ran over to B stage and checked out Nicotero’s unit… and also his film set. Heh.
I really, really love being able to jump between these two sets. On one I get to see Frank Darabont work with actors, setting up the drama, and on the other I get to see Greg Nicotero play with monsters and blood. To me that’s so much what I love about The Mist as a story. You get your cake and you eat it, too.
And boy was today’s cake bloody.
If you recall, yesterday an unnamed character was getting fucked up by pissed off and hungry tentacles. Today, I got to see some real gore and it was fascinating because it was a combo CGI and practical effect.
The hapless character is lying on the concrete ground of the loading dock/store room. He has a tentacle wrapped around his left leg. The shot is of another tentacle creeping up, splitting open revealing the little biting mouths (I got a closer look at these today and when the tentacles split, the edges have the black fang-like barbs, but the interior has little mouths… kind of like the tips of the swamp slugs in KING KONG). Then it takes a chunk out of this poor bastard’s right leg.
There was a practical tentacle, the one that was already wrapped around the left leg, and it was much bigger than the ones I saw yesterday. This was at least 10 feet long. In the previous report I said the tentacle reminded me of an earthworm, having a slightly segmented body, but seeing the bigger tentacle showed that the segmented ridges disappear after about 4 feet and quickly turn more wrinkled, looking more like an elephant’s trunk. At least in texture. It’s still a fleshy pink.
So, they had the big tentacle wrapped around the left leg of Gino Crognale (of KNB, standing in for the actor) and two crew members were holding his arms. It was a sick game of tug-o-war as one man had a hold on the tentacle and was pulling with all his might while Gino was struggling to keep his legs in frame, the two crew members pulling him back.
Another crew member was standing by, his arm painted completely green, with spiked finger-tips.
You see, KNB sewed a blood-filled water balloon into the slacks, hiding a prosthetic gore piece, presumably the leg piece I saw Gino working on yesterday.
They rolled and had a few moments of struggle as the crew played tug-o-war with Gino. The count down… 3… 2… 1… and then the green-armed man darted his hand in, gets a grip on the bulging section of slacks (not that one, pervs), squeezes, making the balloon pop, splashing blood everywhere, then rips out that bloody chunk, leaving the nasty prosthetic underneath.
Everett from CafeFX (when he finishes giving lap dances to the other VFX crew members onset… he tried to give me one, too, but I had to refuse. I am, afterall, a professional.) will go in and digitally remove the bulge on the thigh and add in a CG tentacle snaking up between his legs.
I love this stuff. I’ve always been fascinated by movie magic and the meaty, bloody chunk looked so great… and the explosion of blood when the balloon popped was fantastic. I love that they were able to keep the gore practical while adding in these CGI elements.
On the first take, Nicotero was counting down 3… 2… and then whatever was securing the practical tentacle snapped (I heard it was a belt loop on his pants). So, they were able to stop before they wasted the pants/blood balloon. Looking at it, Nicotero said he wanted to keep the take because they could reverse it and instead of the tentacle pulling away and off the leg, it would now slide and latch right on. A good old school trick.
There was a lull after that at B stage, so back over to A stage I went.
I met Frances Sternhagen for the first time when I got back to video village. We had a nice little chat about Richard Farnsworth, with whom she worked with on MISERY and even a little on Carl and Rob Reiner. She was a very sweet lady and her work so far as Irene has been fantastic.
The crew made some headway and I got my first bit of dialog from Mrs. Carmody. The new scene started with Bloody Nose running in, saying his dialog then Mrs. Carmody saying “It’s death… it’s death out there…” She gave a variety of versions of this, from eerily calm to a version where you can hear a slightly crazed edge to her voice. I think Darabont liked the calm version more because in future set-ups she used the calm voice much more frequently.
Following her dialog is an older dude with a thick mustache who has the answers. He says it’s a pollution cloud! Some kind of chemical explosion!
Bloody Nose tells everybody to stay inside. Norton wants to leave, suggesting making a run to the truck to David, still holding Billy. David says to wait a minute, prompting another man to say, “Screw that! I’m going to my car!” He runs out of the store, to much protest from Bloody Nose.
A few beats and he screams. The few that followed him out, William Sadler in the lead, back up real quick and slam the doors shut. Another beat and some crew members move a rig, a giant piece of silk cloth, over the light outside the store, diffusing the light coming in and causing a shadow to roll over the crowd in the store. Of course, this represents the mist rolling in.
Jane approached Darabont around this time and said he was having some trouble knowing how to react to the screams. Darabont said they’d give a few different things a try and I think they ultimately settled on David’s instinct to protect his son and calm him down. In the shots that came up later, there was a worry in David’s eyes, but outwardly he was expressing calm, trying to sooth the terrified child in his arms.
We broke for lunch and after a quick bite I got back into the store, mostly empty since the majority of the crew was still at lunch, and caught up on writing this day’s report. As I was writing, I chatted with a grip who was rigging up the swinging florescent lights with monofilament for a shot later in the day. Lots of Arnold Schwarzenegger quoting, especially from PREDATOR as he was going about his business.
I was moved from the Bread ‘n Cakes section to the Milk ‘n Eggs section because the set-up after lunch took over the Bread ‘n Cakes section a bit, so they moved all the actors and little old me out, although Darabont and his script supervisor still had enough room to work.
The new set-up had A and B cameras elevated. B camera was on a ladder, about 10 feet in the air, looking down the length of the front of the store, front windows on the right, tills on the left and the majority of the people in-between.
A camera was up on a hydraulic lift so that it was nudging the ceiling, aimed down at the mass as they gathered at the front windows. The hanging florescent lights were just barely making the top of the frame, that’s how high up they were.
At this angle you could see through the glass windows down to the first 5 or 6 feet of concrete leading out to the parking lot, so when they rolled you could actually see DeMunn staggering to the door, looking over his shoulder (on a later take he ran flat out at the door, which I kind of liked better) and the “Screw that!” guy running out to his car.
This angle was very interesting because it’s the first time you see the people in the store move as a mass and not individuals. You kind of see the mass mentality.
They ran through the whole sequence and ended with the grips outside pulling the silk sheet across the lights again. You can see them clear as day through the window, but it’s safe to assume they’re going to be replaced digitally. It was really cool, though, because you could see the shadow of the coming mist gradually roll across the whole group.
A quick trip back to B stage gave me a glimpse of the actor, not a stand-in or double, getting fucked up. Remember the shot from yesterday involving this poor bastard, torso wrapped in tentacles, clutching for dear life onto the lip of the metal door, half in the loading dock and half in the mist.
It was that shot, but now with the actor, so they had him hold his head back so the camera could see his face really well as he screamed and shook the door.
When I got back to A stage, they had the cameras off the ladders/lifts and were back at eye level, getting a specific shot of the “Screw that!” breaking through the crowd to run out to his car, including nearly bowling over William Sadler.
As the “Screw that!” guy reaches the door, DeMunn stands and screams at him, “Mister! No!” but that fucker has already bailed.
Sadler runs out after the guy, but he stops a few feet from the entrance, a small group of people gathering behind him. This guy will have disappeared into the encroaching mist by now and when Darabont calls out, “Screaming! He’s screaming!” everybody outside jumps and hustles back in, Sadler saying, “Shit-shit-shit-shit-shit” as he slams the door.
Everybody got their coverage this afternoon. Marcia Gay Harden was covered in a medium shot, profile, and from just the other side of the window in close up. There was also a take where she fearfully grabbed the open door after the “Screw that!” guy runs out and pulls it shut, fear on her face. When she delivers her line, “It’s death… it’s death out there,” she spoke it a few different ways, my favorite being the one that sounded like a revelation, a realization to her. She also said it as a plain statement, but the revelation take makes more sense to me for her character. She really views this as the beginning of her calling, as batshit insane as it is.
Ollie (Toby Jones) and Bloody Nose have a moment, which was great to see because it was my first exposure to how Jones is playing the kindly store manager. It’s a small scene in which Ollie comforts the man and tries to get an explanation. “What is it? What’s in the mist?” The man responds, “I don’t know… it happened too fast…” The “Screw that!” man runs out, Bloody Nose rises shouting at him to stay and Ollie holds him back.
When the man screams in the parking lot, Ollie quietly says to himself, “What is going on?” And Mrs. Carmody’s “It’s death,” happens right away, like she’s responding to him.
During this series of takes they rammed this fork lift looking thing… hard… right into the set, making the windows shake and causing the actors to jump away from the window. Specifically Mrs. Carmody. This is the beginning of an earthquake that hits right after the mist engulfs the store. The monofilament I mentioned earlier has to do with this quake, but they didn’t get to that today. Tomorrow will be more on the earthquake.
This day everybody got covered well, with all the main characters getting a shot with the shadow of the mist rolling over them.
They had to really roll in the greenscreen for the final few shots of the day, which took some time as the front windows span the length of the building.
I forgot to mention earlier in the day I talked with Thomas Jane a little bit and he brought up that he just got the script for PUNISHER 2, but he hasn’t read it yet. “I hope it’s good.” That got me talking about Roy Scheider and asking what it was like to work with him in the first film. Jane said he was great and that in that scene Jane wore white boat shoes identical to the ones Scheider wore in JAWS as an intentional reference. That got my respect, of course. The man knows how to sweet-talk me, obviously.
I also briefly met the set photographer, Ralph Nelson, who convinced me in the minute and a half that I talked to him that he was the most amazing photographer that has graced us lowly mortals. I actually haven’t seen any of his work yet, but he said he was, so who am I to doubt his word?
Taking some time to catch up on my notes, I noticed William Sadler come over and take a seat next to me. I said hello and told him that the talkbacks were a Sadler love-fest on the last report. He looked genuinely flattered and asked for the address of the site. I said a lot of people were fondly remembering BILL & TED’S BOGUS JOURNEY and he smiled and even put on the Reaper voice for a couple of seconds, totally making my day.
He then told me he had a personal webpage and asked if I would post a link to it. So, if you want to go over to www.williamsadler.com and say hi on his message board.
Sadler was called away and I found out I could move back to video village and did so. On the way I ran into Frances Sternhagen again, this time sitting with Susan Watkins (playing the Real Estate lady). Just now, looking up IMDB in my hotel room, I found out she was a script supervisor on FRIDAY THE 13TH Part 4! How cool is that? I’m going to have to bring that up if I run into her tomorrow. I love Part 4… that’s the Corey Feldman crazy bald kid one!
Sternhagen had picked up two books from the book rack, next to the farthest check-out counter. Of course, the rack is filled with nothing but Stephen King books. It looked like they had damn near every King book ever published. Sternhagen had The Dark Tower Concordance and The Green Mile. She said she doesn’t understand the Concordance, not realizing it was kind of the like the appendices on LORD OF THE RINGS, so she was going to start reading The Green Mile since she’s only ever seen the movie. She’s such a sweet lady, always with a smile for everyone.
It’d be incredibly boring for me to go over this specifically, but I’ve been fascinated listening to the producers (the lovely Denise Huth and Randi Richmond specifically) talking to Darabont about the little money things. Like the difference between renting this vehicle to that vehicle, what they can get for cheap or return for a small rental fee.
I’ve been lucky enough to have visited many sets in the last 10 years and you never hear this kind of thing as a visitor and it’s one side of the business that I’ve just never been exposed to. I’m sure it gets old really quickly, but today I loved eavesdropping on these conversations.
The last two shots of the day were pretty cool. With the giant greenscreen curtain set up outside the store, that gave Darabont license to shoot fully out of the front windows.
After a day of filming everybody’s reaction to the mist rolling in and filming the darkness falling on the crowd in the market it was finally time to turn the cameras around for the big establishing shot of the crowd lined up at the wall to wall windows, stretching the length of the storefront, watching the fucker roll in.
They played the scene from “Screw that!” guy running out into the greenscreen all the way through Carmody’s “It’s death” line. The framing on the A camera was pretty much the entire length of windows, so when CaféFX adds in the mist rolling in on the greenscreen… well, it should be a really kick-ass and creepy shot. Everett lowered the lights outside as the mist was supposed to be rolling in.
Today’s last shot was one of my favorites of the day (not beating the great gore shot on B stage, of course). It was a single steadicam shot starting at the back of the crowd, facing the windows (and greenscreen beyond). It was one last “mist rolling in” shot, but this time as it rolled in the steadicam glided through the crowd, in between people, eventually getting to Mrs. Carmody at the window and stopping as an over the shoulder shot outside, through the window just as the room gets dark from the mist blocking the sunlight. Beauty of a shot.
It was another fun day… two more left! I better get some sleep… but before I go… once again, I’ve written this on the fly. I’ve tried my best to be coherent and avoid typos, but forgive me if any escaped my view.
Also, there seemed to be some confusion in the last talkback about whether or not this is a theatrical film. It is. Dimension is putting it out. Darabont has final cut, I’m told. Look for a November release. Theatrical. And hard R. Hell yeah!