A General Assembly

I’ve put together a very loose and general assembly of the footage according to the shooting script. Both producers, Ram and Shruti, looked over my assembly this weekend and gave some good notes for the editing process.

The first assembly is far too long but I am sure that with a few easy clean-ups, I will cut the time in a progressive way. I am also excited to play around with the footage, exploring different scenarios and paces in order to create the most dramatic and gripping piece that the footage will lend. Juan’s script sup notes are invaluable and have really helped me with the editing process especially the dinner table scene!

Looking at the footage made me realize yet again how lucky I was to work with such a talented and positive cast and crew. There are such funny moments and I can’t wait for you to see it. In the meantime, here are a few monitor snap shots from the editing lab.

– Margherita

P.S. Note to actors, when not on screen turn off your lavalier microphones… you had some pretty interesting conversations and I didn’t mean to be eavesdropping.

"so I gather you enjoy the harp"

"What brioche...."

"Music should alleviate the soul"


The next steps

First of all, happy new year! I wish you success, happiness and lots of films for 2012

I’m very excited to start editing. It has been two months since we wrapped ” A Gothic Tale of Gluttony” and I am ready to look at it with fresh eyes.

This past week, I transcoded and organized all the footage in Avid, an editing program. The weekend, I spent in the editing lab syncing image and sound. Scene one, the dining room scene, took me all of Saturday and that will probably be the easiest task for scene one. Everything else I synced on Sunday. Syncing was made so much easier and efficient through Petr Neubaur’s (sound Petr’s) organisation and notes.

Now on to the next step…an assembly.

Clean up and Equipment return at ARRI

On Sunday, Laura, Anna, Ronny and Joy restored the interiors of the fortress and cleaned up while Zuzana and I worked on the budget.  The castle is back in its impeccable shape and one can hardly believe that a crew of 16 people, 8 actors, 2 extras and tons of equipment held down the fort for 6 days.

Ronny, Laura, Zuzana, Petr (set name: “grip Petr”) and I returned the equipment to ARRI in Prague. Stan and Honsa came with us to help, which made the process much faster. This time around, Stan drove the sprinter. (At pick up, I drove it. Yikes!)

First, we went to return the camera close to Barrandov Studios and then the lights at ARRI’s second location. Here we had a coffee with Mirek Obrman, who is director of ARRI Rental Prague.

This morning, Ronny left for New York, Laura leaves tomorrow.  And the fortress is restored to it’s peaceful slumber while the only proof that “A Gothic Tale of Gluttony” every happened is captured on film, on photos and in our memories.

After a week of having to force eat, Johanna gets the giggles

After some great and intense days in which we wavered between complete self control and total anarchy with three gorgeous teams from New York, the Czech Republic and Moos and very nice fellow actors from Germany we ended up in the most obscure bar of the whole country drinking vodka shots and trying to find out how to use the jukebox. The next day most of the people left. Micky and I went to Berlin by car. After some very intense arguments with the GPS, which was constantly trying to find “new ways”, we passed bye Prague. Of course we were hungry! We found a parking space and a restaurant. We ordered. And between the moment the waiter brought us the food and the moment we finally got out of the restaurant we where attacked by hysterical laughing because what I got was exactly what I had ordered: ½ crispy duck. I didn’t even manage to eat half of it. Mainly, because I couldn’t stop laughing.

Thanks to everybody!!!


Day 5 and …

Today, we shot the scenes in the larder and then in the freezer…and wrapped all the actors: Andreas Berg, Benjamin Stoll, Micky La Rosee, Johanna von Gagern, Peter Lobkowicz, Julia Thurnau, Faye Angelina Amaris Adell and Peter Kollmann. I had a phenomenal cast and really enjoyed working with them! It will feel very empty without them.

Laura Moss, Anna Arco and Michal Krejci did a fantastic job to dress a “white box” warehouse space into a busy larder. It had no heating and it is winter time in the Czech Republic. The actors were all troopers with brave faces against the cold, wearing only silk evening dresses and black ties… and gorging themselves with food over and over again until they got locked in the freezer. Impressive!

And then finally, we shot Faye serenading them with the harp to their last breath.



Day 4– Happy Thanksgiving/ Feast with the least

Happy Thanksgiving to our American crew members–Laura, Ram and Juan. Sadly the feast we were following all morning was not that edible nor did it involve a turkey.  And also those who could eat, were not. After learning all that interesting stuff about crossing the line, I found that the morning seemed to drag on for ages. The work we were doing was so detailed and minute that it required greater, more patient minds than mine to cope with them.

That said, working on this set has taught me some interesting things about the way we understand perspective. On the close up shots, I learned about “cheating” where you gently mess with the perspective so as to create a fake perspective from where you are shooting, in some cases to create distance, in others, simply to create a better frame. I’m not just learning some awesome new jargon, but I also feel like I’m learning a lot about people management (and in a non-jargony way– I haven’t heard one mention of blu-sky thinking or synergy so we’re doing well). In their different ways, Margherita, Ram, Laura and Ronny are really brilliant in the way they move people around, get actors, grips, gaffers, and me to do what it takes and then some. (Yes, breathless, I know, but there we are. It’s true).

A big shout out by the way to Tereza Bajerova, our amazing production assistant, who has shown a stamina and patience well beyond her years, faced with a bunch of very stressed out cast and crew members snapping her. Kudos and much time off Purgatory, I think.

So to fill you in, we did a whole series of close ups, conversations and other dining room scenes, till we were all heartily sick of the place.

It came as a great relief to go down to the larder and cold store off-site late this afternoon which we had prepared in advance–despite the chaos of “company move”, we got there in the end and were filming enveloped in winter darkness.

Margherita, Ronnie, Focus Petr (we have six Peters on set, Boom Petr, Sound Petr, Focus Petr, Grip Petr, Tall Peter and Shorter Peter) and Juan came to check out the larder to see if we could still film this evening. Thankfully we were able to do three or four shots in the larder. This is the point in the film where the actors get down and dirty with the food they had hithertoo ignored. Esmeralde (Micky La Rosee) burst into the larder to find her friends Priscilla (Julia Thurnau) and Hieronymus (Andreas Berg) stuffing their faces on the feast that they had refused in the dining room. First she gives an embarrassed stare and then tucks in herself.

Here are some memorable (and not so memorable) shots from the day:

Mr Fix-It Michal irons the table cloth pre-shoot.

This is Robin Glaister, Joy’s husband, taste testing the ham to make sure it’s ok for the actors (oh and cutting it for them too).

Right. Bedtime. We’ll be out in the cold all day tomorrow.

Good night, and good luck. (for us)


Eye-line issues

So we’re behind the scenes, glued to the monitor. It’s close ups and inserts of the dinner party, today and having established shots yesterday, we’re now having to watch for eye line issues. Ronny shot Richard (Peter Lobkowicz) reacting to Priscilla’s teasing about skiing. There was a question of “crossing the line”, apparently a no-no.  Laura has been trying to explain it for me. It’s a complicated question of where the camera is placed when filming people talking to each other, so that it looks like they are facing in the right direction. With Richard, Ronny had to fake the camera angle so that it looked like he was turning to Eudile (Faye Angelina Amaris Adell). See above.

Back to work.


Day 3 — Food and more food

Chocolate consumption was up by a hundred per cent today. We were shooting some of the most difficult scenes of A Gothic Tale of Gluttony so it’s unsurprising that our dependence on that sweet, sweet almost-drug increased. Despite the hectic action, however, the day was over before we could say Jack Robinson (or maybe “prosim dej mi pivo”)

Jan Kupec has not only been feeding cast and crew delicious lunches and dinners (keeping tempers even) but produced an oppulent feast for the scenes being filmed today and tomorrow. Platters of perfectly pink roast beef adorned the table, flanked by venison mousse decorated with red currants and a whole salmon in aspic. He also prepared the pheasant which was served (endlessly it turns out) at the dinner we filmed today.

The garland hanging along the table is my pride and joy–conceptualised by Giulia Becker, Ronny’s lovely girlfriend, made by me and attached by the art department’s man of action and Mr Fix-It Michal Krejčí.

Actors were in make up at 7:30am while Laura Moss (Yes, I got my boss’s name wrong last night–for shame), Michal and I ran about trying to set up the dining room. Even with a long list which included remembering the chocolate cake, the wine (grape juice and vinegar water), glasses, spoons and what not, we managed to forget to put the wonderful menus and place cards on the table. We filmed three master shots, or large shots of the room and the scene today, so everything needed to look immaculate. Juan Vasquez kept an eagle’s eye on continuity sitting in the dark, glued to the monitor. He had to borrow my head-lamp (which I borrowed from Michal) so he could take notes while watching the screen. Joy, Laura and I were in hysterics during some of the takes because the actors got their timings so beautifully right.

I’d always heard that continuity in eating scenes was a real nightmare, but I hadn’t appreciated how much. When Herr Geyer (himself) went around to serve the pheasant the umpteenth time, the sprouts had started to look pretty unappetising. It started getting difficult to remember whether Henry (Peter Kollmann) had already cut his sprout when Priscilla (Julia Thurnau) started talking about transcendentals or whether Hieronymus (Andreas Berg) had already turned towards Esmeralde (Micky La Rosee) at the mention of Brueghel’s Schlaraffenland.

At the risk of sounding like a star-struck teenager, I thought there were some really stirling performances today. Priscilla’s embarrassment at the sound of her stomach grumbling in the close-ups Ronny and Margherita filmed in the afternoon was really palpable, while the almost synchronised disgust of Henry, Fleur (Johanna von Gagern) and Hieronymus at the sound looked as though they had all found a rotten egg at breakfast. Eudile (Faye Angelina Amaris Adell) managed to put across the sense that she is an ethereal but also fanatical character who annoys the others present, in part because her obsessions are not parallel to theirs. Meanwhile Richard (Peter Lobkowicz) and Esmeralde, came across as the perfect society host and hostess.

Andreas Berg and Benjamin Stoll had some great pictures. The first is of Margherita directing. The second is of Benjamin as Alexander.

We also did some more work on the off-site cold room and it’s beginning to look more real, thanks to the help of Robin Glaister.

Tomorrow’s another long day in the dining room, so I’d better be over and out. Apologies for giving you only an arts perspective (“Art. Art? Where is Art? We need some dressing here”). I’m hoping tomorrow to get some quotes and maybe someone else will volunteer to do an update. Stay classy, San Diego.


PS One more comment: The lighting was golden and beautiful in the dining room thanks to the efforts of Ronny and our gaffer Pavel Rott. It was seriously beautiful today.

Day 2 — First shoot day–art assistant’s perspective


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Meanwhile the rehearsals and takes seem to have been going well. Like fellow set newbie, script supervisor, Juan Vasquez, I am finding the behind the scenes action fascinating. First all the actors get into place, then Juan takes a picture of the monitor for continuity purposes. Then the Assistant Director Ram Murali says the name of the film, the scene and the take and clicks the clapper board (as shown in the picture). Ronnie, the director of photography shouts frame, while the boom operator needs to make sure the boom (or microphone) isn’t in the shot. Margherita, as director, shouts action and the scene begins.

Laura Ross, my boss, the art director, checks the monitor for blips in the set. In one take, one of the lamps looked wonky and another one blocked out the frame so we had to move it and “cheat” by playing with our received notion of perspective and placing the lamp in a completely different place.

At some point Margherita yells cut. Ronnie is on the camera, the dolly grip is moving the camera along the dolly tracks, the lights and sounds guys are focusing on their stuff and at some stage, the actors show us what they can do.

In the scene being filmed today, Eudile (Faye Angelina Amaris Adell), plays the harp for an increasingly bored audience of her fellow dinner guests. One by one, we watch them leave, as Eudile continues to play with a passion.

The team also filmed various guests running through different parts of the house, trying to find their missing comrades (or maybe even the larder). We had a guest cameo of Herr Guntram Geyer who played himself.

After countless takes of Eudile’s concert scene and shots from different angles–the lighting has been difficult to get right as it is supposed to be late in a darkened drawing room–people started getting irritable. We didn’t manage to have lunch until 15:30ish. But despite fraying nerves and starvation starting to set in, everyone managed to be polite, patient and professional.

The indefatigable Alexander (Benjamin Stoll) has taken some great pictures which he has posted on his Facebook site here:

Listening to Eudile's concert
Juan, Laura, Margherita and Ronnie

Ronnie says: “It’s been a great day.”

Tomorrow we are filming the big dining room scene/feast for which Jan Kupec and his super kitchen crew have been cooking non-stop since yesterday morning. The (admittedly lame) joke going round the tables at lunch is that Dining Room is for death. In short, it’s going to be a looooong day. Art has its call at 7:30, because we still need to set up the dining room properly and also block out all the shots with Ronnie.

So with that in mind, thanks for stopping by, San Diego.

PS Our crew is really super super amazing.