We’re kicking off a new segment on Film Shortage called ‘Breaking The Scene’, where we choose a specific scene that really captures our attention in one of our featured films, and break it down to get a behind the scene look with the director of the film. We thought we’d start off with a particular film which has only one particular non-cut scene, and created as a part of an anonymous production called ‘Takeaway Scenes’.
Today we’re breaking the rooftop scene from ‘005 Jumpers‘, found between 00:00 & 09:21 (yes, that’s the entire film), and spoke with the ‘Anonymous’ director (I think), of the film.
First of all, why the anonymity behind this entire project, and what was your role within this particular film?
Anonymous:Think about it.
If you jump through the film with the scrubber it looks like quite an elaborately edited and storyboarded scene, how do you prepare for countless camera positions within one take? Was any of it improvised?
Anonymous: Originally we planned to film the scene with a roaming camera, more like our other scenes, opening with us chasing Paul up the stairs and out onto the roof. But once up there, the camera can’t go on the other side of Cody, which means he would be looking away half the film. So we chose to give ourselves an ever stronger restraint: shoot on a tripod. The trail of compositions was developed with two constraints in mind: camera can’t move, and blocking dictates composition. If the actor wants a closeup, they come closer to camera, and so on. The film opens on extremely wide to emphasize the humor of the situation, and slowly changes as things becomes more serious. As for improv, high speed dialogue doesn’t really allow for improvisation.
The fireworks added so much impact to the depth of this scene. How was that planned out? Something you certainly couldn’t rehearse.
Anonymous: We circled 4th of July on our calendar and went roof hunting. The scene was rehearsed for three months in preparation.
How did you prepare for the fireworks technically? With the lighting exposures and even audio recordings?
Anonymous: We brought three different light meters onto the roof, arranged them in a triangle with flashlights pointed to the north, south, east and west, then ritualistic crushed the meters with tire irons and crossed our fingers before pressing record.
You claim that everything is real in this film, was the actor really on the ledge?
Anonymous: Real actor. Real ledge. Arguably a real idiot.
The scene runs almost 10 minutes long, did everything go as planned?
How many full takes did you have? I’m assuming it was a very short window with the fireworks.
Anonymous: Everything never goes as planned in long take sequences. We lovingly call these the “tradeoff scenes” — each take is always the best for some moment, so you have to focus on the big picture: performance, heart, serendipity. We shot ten total. The main fireworks ran for roughly 25 minutes, so we timed the second take to climax with the display. The flashes and explosions when Paul reaches for Cody’s arm are really the end of the show; the silence at the end is a genuine denouement.
Your anonymous actors were great, how much liberty did they have with the script?
Anonymous: We have to keep some secrets.