A short post tonight. Back shooting in Seattle today after a short trip to Olympia yesterday. It was a wonderful and crazy day yesterday as we had our longest day and shot so much stuff that it's a little hard to believe - portraits with Charles Peterson, steadicam with Bela, underwater footage at a swimming pool, an impromptu alley show with our friends The Pasties, shots in an office, at KAOS, the Evergreen State radio station where Nirvana played an important early show, and seemingly much much more.
Leaving Olympia last night made me feel a little strange - I've come there four times in the last six months and now I have no definite date of returning (aside from the notion of coming back with a finished film). And I'm so grateful to everyone in Olympia that was such a help in making the film there, especially Kendl and Joe, Evan, the Bushes, the folks on Pear Street, Heather at Caffe Vita and everyone who let us shoot in their business or house.
Today was the second day of our second round (the crew is calling it our "second season") of shooting. This time we are pretty much headquartered in Seattle and will be shooting here everyday except for a one day excursion to Olympia.
I was nice to see everyone again yesterday and it did feel like we hadn't really left (or perhaps had just gone home for Thanksgiving break, which was, essentially, what we did). And we picked up again with our rapid fire shooting style. Stop at Seattle Center, shoot for 30 minutes, go halfway up Queen Anne, shoot for 20 minutes, walk down the street, shoot for 20 minutes, and so on.
Today, we spent our morning at the Pike Place Market watching the place come to life as the sun rose and vendors arrived and began to set up their stalls. This scene was how I first encountered Seattle on my maiden trip here in 1993 and it was nice to recapture a little of that on film today.
Our intrepid production assistant (and all-around documentarian) Eddie sent me some of the photos that he took on the shoot the past couple weeks. I hope he won't mind if I post some of them here. More from my own collection and others will be forthcoming.
Sunday morning in a bit of rain with coffee and very little sleep, shooting portraiture shots with Charles Peterson.
Charles Peterson, far left, and myself in downtown Aberdeen.
We are now half way through the Aberdeen portion of our initial shoot and somehow, miraculously, we are a little bit ahead of schedule.
Charles Peterson came to town yesterday and joined us in shooting still and motion picture portraits of Aberdonians that we came in contact with. We are doing this in each of our cities (Aberdeen, Olympia and Seattle). First we recruit a subject, then Wyatt captures them on 35mm motion film, then Charles steps in and shoots them from front, back, side, capturing details - the bag they are carrying, the keys hanging from their belt, etc. These photo sequences will ultimately introduce Charles’ early photographs of Nirvana and Kurt - the only archival photographs that we will use in the film.
In pulling unsuspecting folks off the streets, we were able to get a good glimpse at the ongoing controversy in Aberdeen over whether or not to pay tribute to Kurt. I had heard talk of this before and I knew that the city’s decision to put “Come As You Are” on the “Welcome to Aberdeen” sign was not without struggle, but over the past few days we’ve learned that the divide between the love Kurt and hate Kurt camp is distinct. Seems that there are many who feel that recognizing his legacy will, in some way, condone his drug use or his suicide. (I’m not sure the folks of Memphis are as conflicted about celebrating a drug addict rock star...) We’ve heard from several who say that they just didn’t like or understand his music, they like “traditional” rock or country music.
I’m half asleep as I write, laying on the floor of my hotel room, exhausted from the little bit of sleep I had last night and by the energy expended on this, our first full day of shooting for the film.
My producer and I arrived in Aberdeen on Thursday evening, with most of our crew (about half from Los Angeles and half from Seattle) landing in town last night. After a dinner at a local (but apparently a chain popular in southwest Washington) Mexican restaurant, we all met to talk about the task ahead. Some of us, the more hearty souls, ventured over to a local watering hole where we got to know each other over pitchers of Oregon microbrew Mirror Pond (according to the bartendress, “the only one of the importeds that doesn’t taste like crap”) and took on the locals in pool and head-to-head karaoke.
This morning, on little more than three hours of sleep, we gathered together and ventured over to Aberdeen High School, where we were going to be shooting a number of scenes, both with students and without. Luckily for us, my old friend Bela flew up from Los Angeles for the day to shoot steadicam with us. Additionally lucky, the students were completely right on, just so easy to work with and excited and, well, totally real. When you’re around a bunch of actual high school students, you really realize how all the “high school” students on television are actually 24.
Returned home to Los Angeles after a five-day location scout/test shoot in Washington State. We flew up to Seattle on Tuesday (flying out of the Burbank airport, which would be ground zero for the big news story a day later) and got settled in with our 14 cases of camera equipment. Having previously been self-contained to my carry-on bag and single camera case, this was a new logistical puzzle to contemplate on nearly every move.
On Wednesday, we all loaded into a couple of vehicles and drove south to Olympia, where we wandered the downtown streets, shot a bit of test footage and generally tried to get our bearings. First days often seem like this, it takes time just to get yourself into the proper rhythm. Also, for me, figuring out the proper coffee schedule was key - too much in the AM and I'd crash by 3, too little and I'd crash by 11. But once the systems were coordinated, we were off, and we were officially rolling film. It wasn't until later the following day that I realized that this was a moment to celebrate.