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Aloud - filmingDay 1! We’re finally here! Producer/director PJ Hammond and writer/producer Tina McCulloch arrived at The Coffee Shop at 8:30 am, joined by Director of Photography Michael Jari Davidson, sound recordist Beni Harper, and makeup artist Davida Gragor. Morning shift barista Catherine Waring had opened up the café, and made coffee for us.

With her theatre background, PJ figured that this film shoot would be like Tech Day of a play (and she loves Tech Day). It’s the day when all the departments – sound, light, set costumes, actors – come together and try to make magic.   It can take 3-4 hours to set the first lighting cue, then the rest of the day goes quickly, in its own rhythm. Aloud Day 1 slateShe turned out to be right: the first shot of the day wasn’t until almost noon, but after that we powered through 8 pages of script! EIGHT!! And they said it couldn’t be done – a typical page count is 3 per day of shooting.

And this was accomplished despite several hurdles: two actors had to leave for auditions (damn – why did we have to cast such in-demand actors?) in the middle of the day, the location was STEAMING hot without the air conditioning (which had to be turned out whenever we were recording sound), and each time it was turned off, it seemed to take 2 minutes before the vents stopped blowing noisily. Plus traffic noise outside… the usual.

While the actors (Shannon McDonough as Laurie and Laura Vincent as Kai) were gone, PJ made the most of the time shooting close-ups of Jennifer Neales, the eager barista Ethan (Chris Whidden), and customers.

Cinematographer Michael Jari Davidson sets up a shot of Jen Neales.  Photo: makeup artist Davida Gragor.

Cinematographer Michael Jari Davidson sets up a shot of Jen Neales. Photo: makeup artist Davida Gragor.

Our wonderfully patient extras today were Suzanne Courtney (who displayed a wonderful “WTF??!” face when Laurie started ogling Suzanne in The Coffee Shop lineup!), Carina Cojeen (the Decaf Customer – with a line!), Michelle Nyamekye and Agnes Veres-Szogi (high school students who won this opportunity as a prize – they became known as The Lemonade Girls, for their order), Devon Hubka (who allowed us to download movie dailies to her computer), Jo-Anne Wurster, and Marinka Yosiffon. Angus Barlow operated the slate for Michael.  Dahlia Katz was an extra AND set photographer.

Shannon and Laura returned in time for our delicious lunch, ordered from Thai Lime a couple blocks away (1551 Dupont, http://thailime.ca/home/).

We had intended to shoot until 9pm, but dark clouds and a thunderstorm scuppered that plan. The extras were wrapped by 7:30, Beni by 8pm, Davida shortly after, and Michael and the last of the actors by 8:15. PJ and Tina were drinking (and eating) at Boo Radley’s up the street (https://plus.google.com/117319034150403232554/about?gl=ca&hl=en) by 8:45, having cleaned up The Coffee Shop with the help of evening barista Saab Narayan.


“Make sure you’re at appropriate ass-viewing distance.” – PJ to Shannon, directing her on ogling Jen.

“I’m a boob girl.” – Shannon’s response.

“When I don’t have to talk, I act really well.” – Jen, tongue-in-cheek, re: filming reaction shots.

“I just put cream in the fake coffee.” – PJ, mistaking a prop cup for her own.

“My tits are sweating.” – Shannon, when the air conditioning was off.

“Are all the cookies in the right place?” Shannon to Jen, after hearing her point out to Tina that an item sign on the cookie display had accidentally been moved.

And then there was a fascinating and quite graphic conversation between Jen, Shannon and Laura about …well, let’s just call them “lady parts”, shall we?

Fun, exhausting day. We laughed a lot. And will do it again tomorrow.