I arrived at the set late on Wednesday, about 8 pm, in time to see them set up and shoot the final scene of the day. The crew members on Sin Bin are working 12-15 hour days. I get cranky when I have to stay at work an extra 30 minutes, so there’s an understandable level of exhaustion among the production crew after they’ve been working for so long.
On the other hand, the actors in these scenes, all in their teens or early 20s, seem to have boundless amounts of energy, of which I am terribly jealous. Oddly enough, the film’s director of photography, Seamus Tierney, who is certainly not in his teens or early 20s, also has boundless amounts of energy. Then again, he’s half Australian; now it starts to make more sense.
The final scene they shot Wednesday takes place in a school cafeteria. The crew had once again transformed Chicago’s Irish American Heritage Center into a high school. Suzie, played by Emily Meade, walks through the cafeteria with suitcases, when she is stopped by Glenn—played by Chicago actor Chance Bone (his real name, or so he says)—who asks her to dance with him so he can impress another girl (off camera) he is eyeing in the cafeteria.
Two observations from this scene:
1. In the script, it calls for Suzie and Glenn to dance the Hustle as they talk. The music will presumably be added in post-production, because when they shot the scene there was no music, just two actors dancing and talking. This seems difficult to me. I can barely dance to actual music—although I try, oh I try—take it away and you’re left dancing to the music in your head, which for me means Mama Cass. I know, weird.
2. Although the scene was shot at night, it takes place during the day. The production staff recreates day time by shining huge floodlights through the windows. It’s very deceiving, and you quickly lose track of time. When this happens, I feel an insatiable urge to gamble.
I took some video yesterday of the scene I just described. I shot it with a Flip Cam, so there’s nothing fancy, and you do get a nice look at my thumb in the bottom right-hand corner. What you’ll see and hear in this video is the marker board bang, and then I pan over to the director, Billy Federighi, when he yells action. Sitting near Billy are two of the film’s producers, Brian Petsos and Dante Federighi (that would be Billy’s older brother). The actors, Emily Meade and Chance Bone, are in the background, acting. You’ll also see the movie’s first assistant director, Matt Corrado, giving direction to the extras.
Billy, the director, shot this scene about five or six times before he yelled wrap—or something like that—and everyone went home for the night. Here is a picture of Billy, right, and his first-assistant director, Matt Corrado, mere minutes after they finished day three. I took this picture with my phone, so forgive the poor quality. Matt’s eyes are usually—usually—not this frightening.
On my way out, around 9:30 pm, I found Chris Storer, the movie’ screenwriter, near the loading docks of the Irish American Heritage Center, smoking a cigarette. He looked exhausted and relieved. I pulled out my tape recorder to get a quick interview.
“Everyday there’s a new surprise,” he said. “And today was day three and there was a scene with [the lead actors] Emily and Michael [Seater] and, you know, I wrote it, and I thought it was pretty good on the page, but these kids made it fucking outstanding.
“It was … when they first meet—the first time they talk to each other—and the two of them are amazing together, a real heartfelt scene, and right at the end of it that little Gabe kid [Chicago actor Gabriel Notarangelo] flicks Michael in the nuts and on the monitor was one of the most priceless things—and dude, I hope it translates.
“It’s just weird—and I think this has been said about every film in production in the history of film production—there are parts in it where I’m like, I think there’s something special here. These kids are making this OK script outstanding.”
Yes, I’m thinking what you’re thinking, this man (Chris)—with all his “dudes” and “likes”—is a professional writer, and based on this script, a pretty damn good one. Dude.