Richie: Film Production During a Hurricane

Hey everyone! Some of you may know I’ve been in the process of directing a short film. I’ve come to find out that during production problems you had never anticipated will always come up. Sometimes minor or sometimes major, but they always have to be addressed and solved.

This past Sunday, my crew and I were all on location filming in Allston. A few minor problems began to pop-up like I thought they might. The owner of the house we were filming at woke-up late and we started very behind schedule, a truck at one point parked right in front of the house we were filming at and the sound became a nightmare so we had to wait it out. We were able to roll quickly with the minor things thrown at us and keep on filming. We finished right on time and began traveling to the next location. That’s when the major problem came.

One of my main actors has been coming from Queens, New York every single weekend to act in the project. While we were on the way to our second location, with five more hours of scheduled filming time, my main actor was called by a friend back in NYC. “They’re shutting down the entire MTA at 7pm tonight until Wednesday” he told me once he got off the phone. It was already 12:30pm and the trip back to Manhattan is usually sometime in between four and five hours. If my actor took a bus home when he had planned to (at 6pm that night) there would be no one in Manhattan to take him back to Queens. (That is, even if buses would have been running that late to New York.) I offered for him to stay at my place, but his grandmother who also lives in Queens was going to be completely alone during the storm, and with no transportation back, he might’ve been getting back days late which he did not feel comfortable with. I had him quickly take the T over to South Station and see if there were any more buses. The plan was to keep setting up and the next location and if there were no buses back to NYC, he would come back and act in the remainder of the scenes. If there was a bus, we would have to scrap the whole day, which was also difficult since I already had another actor on his way from Portland, Maine for the next scene.

The actor ended up calling me from South Station and he had been able to catch a bus for 1:30pm. He cut it very close but he called me later on letting me know he had made the final subway of the night. While the whole day of filming had to be cancelled, the following scene was a big party scene, so I had ample amounts of food and the actors and crew who were there were able to relax and mingle a bit. Everyone left early and was able to focus on other things they had later that night. It ended up working well, almost as an icebreaker for many and everyone was understanding that nothing could have been done about Hurricane Sandy abruptly changing our plans. We still had a U-Haul van and plenty of equipment taken out, so my producer made a quick call to a singer/songwriter who had been asking my friends and I for quite some time to film an acoustic session with her at her home. Within two hours we were able to shift our plans quickly and ended up filming a great set with this artist!

I’ve been having a crazy time rescheduling shoots with all the actors’ availability but the whole experience was extremely helpful. It was a very high stress situation, but as the director it was a huge learning experience for me and I now feel prepared to take on anything else thrown at me!