Ah, night exteriors in LA.
Lacystreet Production Center is a backlot studio in downtown LA, just north of the city where the 5 and the 110 meet. It's an old textile mill that has been used in a variety of films ranging from Catch Me if You Can to LA Confidential. And it looks freaking amazing.
Due to problems with locations, we had scrapped the idea of shooting the crime scene and climactic fight until after New Years. But when I got the call that Lacystreet was available for 1 of our previously planned 3 nights (Sunday), we decided that it was too good to pass up for our crime scene, especially since all the actors schedules worked, we had a great crew lined up, and the editor was yelling at me to "for the love of GOD, at least shoot SOMETHING before Christmas-- we're supposed to screen this in April? There's no way we can screen this in April. You're out of your mind if you think we can do this by April..." Of course, this meant renting equipment for the entire weekend, and only using it for one night. Yeah, model of efficiency we are. Sigh.
Now normally, a night exterior would require a day of pre-rigging (setting up all the lights) so that when the rest of the cast and crew walk on the set for the night of the shoot, everything is ready to go (due to SAG regulations, you cannot legally shoot for more then 12 hours before taking 12 hours off--which is why you pre-rig). Of course, because we're students, and have the budget to match, we could only afford the location for 12 hours. How the hell could we do a days worth of lighting, and a full night of shooting (some 37 shots), in 12 hours? Going over the 12 hours (even illegally) was not really an option. The location contract was quite clear that for every hour we went over would cost an additional $500.
We got to Lacystreet around 3pm with a 30 person crew and a 5 ton grip truck. As the sun began set, and the lighting crew donned walkie talkies and started scaling buildings, ladders, and catwalks, production design started work on the alley (you know, with the required debris, fog machines, dry ice, flyers, trash cans, and fake blood that you've come to expect at a night time crime scene). At the same time, I was coordinating with Andrew Davis (cinematographer) about the first shot, which would be used for the end of the film (a sunset shot of Wraith atop a rooftop, battle torn and backlit by the sun). It would be sweet-- if we could get it off before the sun went down.