19 Rochelle Slates the Last Shot of the Day

COURTING CHAOS – Crewing on a Feature Film in Venice Beach

On location in Venice Beach – working on a feature film – not a bad way to spend your summer vacation! For the last few weeks I’ve had the privilege of serving as a PA, and even an extra, on the set of New Zealand writer/director Alan Clay’s Courting Chaos. Over the next few weeks, I’ll also be working as a Post PA for one of my LMU professors, who is editing the film.

Alan’s first feature, Butterfly Crush, won a string of Best Feature Drama awards at US Indie festivals last year and was released in North America by Vanguard Cinema and Indie Rights and he has a NZ/Australian co-production feature film called True Believers, from his novelBelievers in Love,’ in development with John Cleese attached.

Courting Chaos is a romantic comedy set in Los Angeles, about an innocent Beverly Hills girl, Ginger, who falls for a Venice Beach street clown named Chaos. For the relationship to succeed, she must overcome her inhibitions and become a clown herself. The film features Rachelle DiMaria as Ginger, Alastair Bayardo as Chaos, Nancy LaScala as Darlene, and Jessica Howell as Madonna, along with a talented supporting cast.

Most of the filming was done on Venice Beach, but we did shoot one day at the Westside Comedy Club on 3rd Street Promenade. During my first day on location it became apparent that we weren’t the only film shooting on the beach, because our radios were picking up strange transmissions and so were the radios of the “other” crew filming that day. It turns out Ride, with director/star Helen Hunt, was filming on the beach with us and we all spent that day trying to distinguish which radio communications were meant for us. Ride continued to shoot for several days on Venice Beach throughout our shoot, as well as a couple other crews for films that shot for only a day or two, but our radio problems were resolved.

As a side note, for a couple of days, Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich’s 377 foot yacht, Luna, was anchored near the Venice Beach pier, so I’m including a picture of it, along with shots of the Courting Chaos cast /crew and Ride production, all taken on location.

[more after the gallery …]

The other complication for our first day on location was the result of me rushing to the shoot without any sunscreen. So, naturally, I got a relatively bad sunburn. I wasn’t alone though, because other members of the crew also forgot their SPFs on the first day at the beach. Ouch.

As a PA, I did all the usual tasks. Then one day, when a featured extra didn’t show up, Alan put ME in there — as a surfer! The part required that I carry around a surfboard for a couple hours. I’ve never picked up a surfboard before, so it took me a while to get the hang of holding and carrying it just the way Alan wanted me to. I also had to turn my shirt inside out because it said “Loyola Marymount” across the front. Sorry LMU, no product placement.

One practical issue I noticed right away was the difference between shooting around LA — where Angelenos are so accustomed to film crews everywhere that they barely give you a second look — and shooting in a location heavily populated with tourists (or “shoobies” as they’re referred to on Rocket Power) who gather around asking questions and taking pictures. The latter situation requires a little more crowd wrangling than I’d experienced on other shoots. In spite of all these added distractions, our talent did an amazing job staying focused and giving great performances.

We also had an incredible crew that included DP and steadicam ninja Dan Kneece, who rocked one of my favorite setups for several days, a Fig Rig. He explained how you could make your own with PVC pipe, but it would be sort of octagon shaped, rather than circular, and not nearly as smooth to use. I learned another interesting fact from Stewart, our producer: no matter where in the world you are filming, a camera’s focus distance is always measured in feet and inches. I found this interesting, because a camera’s lenses are always designated in millimeters. The crew I had the pleasure to work with on Courting Chaos was a fascinating group of skilled professionals who made this a terrific learning experience that was also great fun.

Keep checking my blog for more information about post-production, and for news about when and where you can see Courting Chaos. I think you’re going to like it!

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