How hard is it to film a scene from a post apocalyptic film at what should be an abandoned gas station in small town Ontario? Pretty freaking hard I tell you. Two weeks ago I was about two hours northeast of Toronto in Ayton, visiting the set of Justin McConnell's post apocalyptic film The Collapsed. What follows is a brief account of my time on the set and a gallery of screen caps provided by Justin and some of my own behind the scenes shots.
It was day 4 of a 14 day shooting schedule so Justin hadn't gone deep enough into his production for there to be any spoilers. Justin and I were chatting a few days after, 'Today was squibs and pyro day', shakes fists at the sky! So unfortunately I don't have any juicy tidbits other than the scene breaks down as such: Family pulls into abandoned gas station; they go through front door; strangers with gas masks and bigger guns pull up; family flees through back door. Obviously it's not as simple as that but I'm not going to give anything away either. I want to be surprised and spoil free as the next person.
So what ended up happening was a very Canadian style to filming each outdoor shot around front of the gas station. In hindsight I understand you're not going to put a gas station in the middle of nowhere but it almost became comical how nearly every time Justin went to shoot a scene a vehicle would drive by. If you've ever played road hockey in your life you'll understand. 'CAR!' ... woosh ... 'FILM ON!' So many cars, trucks and bikes. And because this particular gas station also has a restaurant attached to it, it is a key meeting place for the local community. Lots of locals slowing down, waving or honking their horns. Love that small town spirit. Go Wildcats!
Upon reflection of the day I was free to roam around the set and watch the filming probably a lot closer than most filmmakers would allow and I thank Justin for that freedom to closely watch the production carry out. I think I pretty much understood the rules before I got there. Stay out of the way and shut the hell up and you would be fine. I was a little hesitant at first but since I wasn't chided or scolded as I got closer I kept my distance but was able to take in a lot. I was even able to stand alongside him during one shot and watch the scene unfold on the monitor. I also made a suggestion for a character's action that Justin made part of the scene. Nothing major but I'll know it's there. My own little contribution. Mine.
Justin and his DOP Pasha Patriki are using the RED 4K and everything they shot looked pretty damn impressive. Having seen more of the screen caps than the ones provided to us by Justin and watching some of the scenes unfold on the monitor things are going to look really good. And this is all before Justin takes all this footage into post. Can't wait.
Many thanks to Justin for the invite! Thanks to his crew for being so accommodating. Thanks to his cast - John Fantasia, Steve Vieira, Lise Moule and Anna Ross - for thinking I was someone more important than I really am. Really guys, I'm just a monkey in front of a typewriter in the grand scheme of things. It was a long day and not without its challenges but it was a lot of fun being that close to the filmmaking process.
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