Friday, November 9, 2012

All-American Chopper

Today the time came for me to pay for my sins. For so long I have teased Sean and Steve about looking ridiculous, and now my own time has come. Today we filmed my little cameo, a non-speaking role as one Nick Chopper, the original human form of the Tin Woodman. And it was a pretty awesome day. Maybe one of my favorites.

For reasons that may become apparent later.
Yes, that is location imagery you're seeing. I knew I wanted to do something stylistically different with Scarecrow and Woodman's flashbacks, but I was never really sure what. Grading them a heavy sepia wasn't going to cut the mustard. After discovering the Yaglas and their multi-home property, an idea began to form. Like the Kansas scenes, the flashbacks would all be location. That way the fantastical, stylized Oz we have is only present when we're experiencing scenes through Dorothy's eyes. To the people who live there, it's just as mundane as Kansas is to Dorothy.

But with more whimsicality and less soul-crushing depression.
The Yaglas kindly agreed to let us use their property again, and we were allowed access to another lovely period house they have. That takes care of one crucial element of the shoot, but Woodman's tragic backstory is nothing without a Nimmie Amee to woo. Which meant we got to spend part of the afternoon with a newcomer to our production; the effervescent Tina Cody. She graciously drove down from DC to spend a couple of hours performing the small role of Nimmie.

And at least half that time working around my screw-ups.
After we filmed her two short scenes, we bade Tina farewell, and Sean and I took to the woods for an equally important, but far less satisfying, round of footage. That being the montage in which Nick Chopper dismembers himself, limb by limb. There was an initial awkwardness inherent to the fact that I was framing shots with and directing myself, which I learned today isn't a super-terrific process, even with the help of a friend. There was also the whole limb-loss thing...

When in doubt, go method.
I had to don the chromakey green suit under my Nick Chopper wardrobe, and reveal it bit by bit as we slowly worked our way through my body parts. Each time a new limb presented itself, we had to break so Sean could cut tape markers for me to apply to the suit for tracking purposes. To facilitate the placement of CGI Woodman limbs. It's also difficult to figure out physically workable ways with which to dismember yourself with an axe.

It was slow work, and these short bits ended up taking more time to shoot than the earlier scenes featuring minor dialogue and three characters, (Nick, Nimmie, and her mean old boss). But both shoots went quite well and we got a lot of footage I'm pretty excited by. Most of which is more or less done right off the bat. Which is just oh-so nice.

Tomorrow's going to be another busy day, so I'll be giving you another in-depth report, skipping the weekly update.


  1. Certainly not how you (in general - the book fans) imagine Nick Chopper the NON-Tin Woodman, but this should be interesting. And Nimmie Amee does look Good.

    You don't have Nick speak in the flashbacks? Creative decision or technical decision?

    Coming Along, Coming Along Nicely indeed!

    1. It was Sean's creative decision, I guess. Script's been that way since 2003. I assume it's because Nick already narrates the whole thing, and Sean wanted to keep the pacing as tight as possible throughout.

      I'm curious, how DO the book fans imagine Nick Chopper? Denslow never really showed much of him, and in The Tin Woodman of Oz Neil drew him with pretty much the hair I had, though no moustache. His dress is a little more colonial than what we put our Nick in, but we're keeping it pretty Old West like Denslow did (or as he called it... contemporary). I'm not so familiar with the Oz series past Baum, is there some definitive depiction out there?