Three weekends ago, February 19-21, the wonderful cast and crew of The Last Client got back together to shoot Episode 2 of the web series. Preproduction began back in June 2015 with weekly crew meetings on Slack. It was amazing to see the hard work pay off when we arrived on set the first night. There was great energy in the air and we all hurried to get the gear set up and ready to go.
That Friday night, it was COLD. And there was a 40% chance it would start raining before we wrapped for the day, which we were nervous about because of all the camera, audio, and electrical gear. Because we had to wait until it got dark to shoot, we did a half-dozen rehearsals and made sure to eat whenever we got the chance.
We shot in downtown Campbell, which meant that the Friday night crowd shouted unintelligible things at us as they walked past. A few friendly strangers stopped by to ask us what we were doing. Other than that, we were left alone, which surprised me because I expected a lot more commotion for an exterior shoot.
The first night’s shoot went well and although it did start to sprinkle during the latter part of the evening, we were all happy with the footage we got. We got to the final shot of the night…and that’s when things got weird.
Remember in the movie To Kill a Mockingbird when Atticus sits in front of the jail, reading to Tom and the gang pulls up in various cars to confront him? Well, that happened to us. Except the cars were all the same old Chevy trucks, each in a different color. They pulled into the U-shaped driveway one after another like they’d just come from a car show.
When the engines shut off, people got out of the trucks, and I honestly thought we’d be in for a fight that night, like a literal fist fight. We all stopped filming and looked on in confusion and intrigue as the men walked to the grassy patch of the driveway and began smoking, not paying us any mind. Finally convinced we weren’t going to die, we continued filming. After we wrapped, we gave them our leftover food, which they said they’ll pass on to the local homeless shelter.
And that’s how Day 1 ended.
Day 2 started early, 9 am in San Francisco’s Mission District. We got to the medical set, which turned out to be something we weren’t expecting (Google “The SF Armory”), and quickly put together the room. There were lots of cool sets lining the hallway where we were shooting and we even used a padded cell for rehearsals while the actors used various bedroom sets as their dressing rooms.
The anticipation was high throughout this shoot because this is probably our most climatic scene in Episode 2. We were struggling a little with time, stressed that we’d run over, but we managed to pull it off, thanks to the amazing and hard-working crew.
There were a lot of technical aspects to figure out for this shoot because we had to do a lot with very little space. For example, we had to find the best way to make a tiny room look like an endless hospital hallway. Chris, our DP, was the real MVP for the shoot, especially considering the amount of time he spent holding the Movi.
As soon as that shoot was done, we all packed up in a hurry because our next shoot was in two hours in Sunnyvale. We broke down the set and got out of the room in record time; I was shocked to see it only took us 15 minutes. We hopped on 101 to race down to The Patio Bar and spoke with the location owners (who were so friendly, accommodating, and excited to have us), and prepped for the next scene.
I can’t give away too much yet, but we managed to pull off a lot of visual aspects I didn’t think we’d be able to do. There was definitely a lot of improvising going on that night. Major props to our crew for working creatively to pull this off.
It was also cool to explain what we were doing to bar customers and passersby who were interested. We were able to get this great location thanks to Brian, who went to talk to the owner, Becca, multiple times during preproduction.
Again, it got cold really fast, but this was our last exterior shoot so we braved through it and tried to keep moving in between takes. This scene was a fast-paced, action-packed one so there was a lot of productive energy on set.
We wrapped Day 2 six minutes early and were all pretty tired because we’d just filmed for 10 straight hours and still had another day ahead of us. We swapped our initial plans to go out as a crew for heading back home to sleep early, which was completely fine by me.
Day 3 was definitely the most relaxing of the weekend. No complicated set ups or shots. It was an interior scene too and working in Kayla’s house was easier than trying to work around a bunch of contracts and commitments we had to pay close attention to.
I think we were all expecting it to be way easier than we prepped for though because all of a sudden, we’d burned through the four hours and we only had 10 minutes left to shoot a whole new scene. There was a bit of freaking out, though it was productive stress, and we managed to get what we absolutely needed for Episode 2.
Due to an incredible stroke of luck, we also managed to shoot the scene we needed for the beginning of Episode 3, which we would have had to come back for if the actors weren’t so considerate and accommodating with their schedules. After cleaning up our gear and resetting all the furniture, we were done!
The weekend went by fast and it was kind of bittersweet at the end. But Episode 2 was shot and we were all excited to keep moving things forward. We all went out as a crew afterwards on that Sunday and had dinner and drinks. Then we said goodbye; Jon, our 1st AD was flying back to Michigan the next day. Now we’ve reverted back to our weekly crew meetings online where we’re currently smack in the middle of postproduction.
I want to thank my talented cast and amazing crew for the shoot. I’m incredibly lucky to have such a hard-working team believe so passionately in my writing. We’re all excited to bring our fans more content from The Last Client’s sci-fi world. And another huge shout out to our Indiegogo contributors. We wouldn’t have been able to shoot Episode 2 without your donations. Stay tuned for updates!