Saturday, August 27, 2011

Oz Wars Episode V: Murphy Strikes Back

I recently read a quote from David Fincher. It said, "The fact is, you don't know what directing is until the sun is setting and you've got to get five shots and you're only going to get two." To that I have only this to say; thanks for JINXING me, jerk.

As anybody who's been following the Facebook or blog will know, last Wednesday was our day for shooting the Good Witch of the North. To that some of you are saying, "What? But I thought you filmed Glinda back in 2009." Well you just get the HELL out of here. But yes. Good Witch of the North. Wednesday. However, you may not know that filming was originally supposed to take place on Monday.

Our seamstress woes continuing to hound us, we needed to procure the GWN's costume through more... off the shelf-type ways. But we didn't want the costume to LOOK off the shelf. To that end, Sean scoured the internet looking for all the right pieces, a preamble to the ensemble we would assemble. He ordered the various parts from the disparate collection of websites, and chose the fastest shipping available for all. They should have arrived in time for the 22nd (that's Monday, in case you've forgotten). But they did not. Not all of them, anyway.

That meant we had to reschedule our shoot with Stacey. According to the tracking information, the costume was only going to be just late enough to annoy us, not late enough to cause massive delays. So we pushed back to Wednesday of the same week. And that Wednesday was kind of the day that the shoot HAD to be.

Very shortly Stacey was going to be both moving and starting a new job. On top of that... I'd been in Virginia since before the fourth of July. I don't know if any of you have ever lived somewhere for nearly two months with no income of any kind. Even with no rent to pay, you end up burning through whatever you've saved up. Very quickly. So Wednesday was quite literally the LAST day I could afford to stay in Virginia. Well, I could have stayed a few days longer. I just wouldn't have had the money to drive back home.

Oh. I'm leaving out a piece of that irony thing the hipsters and beatniks are so fond of. The week before, Sean had swapped shifts with somebody so that he could have the Monday of the originally planned shoot off. The shift he swapped for was on Wednesday. Which he'd previously had off. So he had to be into work by two, which meant he was going to come in, do the make-up on Stacey, and then head to work.

The last piece of the puzzle to slot into place: The effervescent Norman Rowe was allowing us to continue to use his air-conditioned ex-workshop as our shooting space, for the sake of the make-up. Even without himself present. What a guy! However, that's about a forty-five minute drive from where Sean lives.

So now that you're familiar with all the major players, let the story unfold. In case shooting with Stacey went past two, Sean and I went to Norm's in separate vehicles, so Sean could leave and go to work without stranding me there. I'm a little better with mornings, so I was out there before Sean was (more on that later). Stacey showed up a little early, and we went over a couple of things while we waited for Sean.

When Sean showed up with the make-up and costume articles, we wasted no time getting down to it. I didn't mention it on the blog, but we HAD done that second practice run with the stipple and new applicators and make-up. It went quite well. So Sean was feeling pretty confident in his abilities. And he stippled like an old pro. Stippled his brains out. Stippled Stacey's face off.

There's a good joke here about Sean waxing Stacey's upper lip, but I'm too afraid of Stacey to make it. Sorry guys.
It was cool to witness the process from the other side, watching the stuff go on all white and opaque, pulling and folding the skin as it dried. And despite Stacey being of similar age to myself, and quite honestly having nicer, tighter skin, the stipple was working better on her than it ever had on me.

Being Chloris Leachman sure is GLAMOROUS!
Sean finished stippling, he and Stacey both did a little make-up action, Stacey working the foundation, Sean working the... old people... spots... We got the wig on Stacey, no mean feat, considering her very ample supply of hair, and had a pretty decent ol' Good Witch of the North standing in front of us. Not bad for two hour's work.

"How're my highlights?" "You're whole head IS a highlight, dear."
Now. Sean sort of... doesn't function in the mornings. At all. That's not intended as an insult. In fact, he actually REQUESTED that I place this disclaimer here. So he kept forgetting things as he packed up his truck, and he actually had to turn back to get things on two separate occasions. Then he got about halfway along before realizing he didn't have his camera with him. The camera which he uses for his promo shots.

I know what you're thinking, clearly I had MY camera with me. And I did. And my camera DOES take stills. But it's not a still camera. So the resolution of the resulting photos isn't as high as with Sean's camera. Which meant that all our promo shots wouldn't match. And that would never do. So after he finished with the make-up, he left to go back home to get his camera, and Stacey and I got started filming.

But it was apparent as soon was we began that there was a make-up malfunction. The latex was starting to pull away from her mouth, something that didn't happen in the tests we ran on my face. The more she talked the more it pulled away. We paused a couple of times and tried to adhere it again, but it just wasn't happening. I called Sean and told him the situation, asked if we could just yank the latex off her and go young. A contingency he and I had discussed before.

I suggested we rename her the Sunburned Witch of the North and write in a tragic tanning-bed addiction backstory. I was voted down.
He said he wanted to see the problem for himself before committing to the yank. So Stacey and I took our lunch break while we waited for Sean to return. Then we recorded her dialogue for the Queen of the Field Mice. Then she did some more line rehearsal. We had a while, is what I'm saying. Forty-five minute drive.

So Sean returned, and after examining the stipple decided that we'd best yank. So we let Stacey peel her face off, and then discussed what to do. We were really down to the wire in a horribly uncomfortable way. We thought we knew what had caused the problem with the adhesion, but we were already running late, with no time to reapply the make-up that day. And as I think I've made abundantly clear, this filming HAD to happen that day.

The best we could do in our current circumstances was to do a little 2D make-up to age Stacey a bit, at least, and just get this stuff done. Sean painted all up on Ms. Pratt's face, then he had to depart with a quickness. Stacey and I then got back to filming the Witch.

Yes, I know. We're supposed to be the FAITHFUL adaptation. There's that irony thing again.
It went quite well, surprisingly enough. I had the rough edit of the Dorothy footage on hand to ensure that I got everything I needed. Stacey was pretty well familiar with her lines, she took direction well, and we were able to get through all the material in a timely fashion. And the performance is great. Exactly what I wanted this witch to be. Which is why we gave such a young girl the part in the first place. It was a good audition. And it's a fun, quirky, and comical character that provides us with quite a bizarre introduction to the Land of Oz.

Let's pause for a moment to reflect on this: She's shaking the recently desiccated remains off these shoes so that she can present them as a reward to a little girl for killing the very woman whose... powder now fills the air... In a children's story...
But at the same time, it's a little disappointing. Because visually, it's not everything that we wanted it to be. Hopefully it's still a part of the movie people will enjoy. Stacey killed it, at least, and her weird, upbeat performance is a good counterbalance to Mare's understated perplexity as Dorothy.

We'll just need to contrive some reason for the shockingly young GWN to be wearing an old lady wig in-universe... So be on the lookout for THAT in the tie-in media...


  1. To be honest, I like the "young" GWN look. But I hope you can do something to make that look less like a wig...

    The somewhat youthfulness could be seen by the Thompson fans as a foreshadow to the GWN's role in "The Giant Horse of Oz."

  2. And sometimes the Good Witch of the North has been depicted as a young pretty woman in the JAPANESE books, like the "Angel" ("Fantasy Land Fairy-Tales" for the English version) or "Super Anime Tales" little books.

    At least you know the difference between the right and wrong ways of depicting a character.

    Great Job so far and GOOD LUCK with the rest!!