For the past two weeks I've been directing 2nd Unit on a feature horror film in upstate New York. The low down on this gig is here. This past week there was a smattering of small tasks for 2nd Unit – little bits and pieces assigned to me to keep a day on schedule, including a couple of quick shots of a body being wheeled out of a house on a stretcher and loaded into an ambulance.
In addition to these brief bursts of activity, 2nd Unit enjoyed two big days of shooting. On one day we were sent to another town and tasked with shooting water. A lot of water - rushing under a bridge. This footage will be used in sequences to be decided, wherever our director/editor needs "flood" imagery. The town we were shooting in had recently been hit hard by a real flood, and the berg was still licking its wounds. Buildings, roads, and bridges had recently been repaired and re-opened, but much of the town was still a mess. In addition to shooting a lot of rushing water, we were there to get shots of the parts of town that still exhibited flood damage. I had a very small crew this day and we shot in nearly constant rain for hours. It was cold and miserable, but oddly relaxing, shooting far away from main unit, and enjoying a very rare instance of having plenty of time to do what we needed to do.
A day later, main unit was shooting in a funeral home / embalming room. No 2nd Unit was scheduled for the day, but when things began to slip a bit behind schedule, I suddenly found myself on the clock.
It was an autopsy scene, and the sequence centered around a corpse (her torso cut wide open) on a table. The table being used was a real embalming table where hundreds, perhaps thousands, of actual dead bodies had enjoyed their final moments with blood in their veins instead of embalming fluid. For the shoot, a fake dead body was not used – instead, the actress who played the now deceased character was asked to lie for hours on the table, nearly naked, and covered with impressive special effects prosthetics that made it look like her chest was open and her organs exposed. (This was the same actress I directed in a brief 2nd Unit driving scene the week before.)
Main unit started the autopsy scene. Our director shot the wide shots and all the dialog. Then he and main unit moved on to another room of the funeral home to begin shooting the next scene. At that point, the autopsy scene was turned over to me. 2nd Unit shot all the close ups to complete the sequence – including some squishy gore stuff.
There are two more weeks of shooting to go, and a lot of work ahead of us.
Thanks for reading.