Production Journal - "Room Service" Shooting Summe



So I just wrapped up this short comedy called “Room Service” (I posted some about it during pre-production).

There is not a ton to write because the entire project takes place in a hotel room (except for one scene in the lobby) during a small amount of time. Thus once a general look was established, it was just about maintaining continuity.

It was one of the more challenging projects I have done in terms of time and size of the working space, but it also was really enjoyable. We worked really long hours, but no one complained, let alone seemed to mind because it was a fun set I guess.

The logistics of filming in a small practical hotel room just meant that we had to get real “cozy” with each other at times. We moved a lot of furniture around through out the shoot, which of course takes time. We had several dolly moves and obviously a Panaflex GII with either Primo primes or a Primo 4:1 zoom with a 1000’ mag on top all mounted to a dolly has a large footprint.
(clearly illustrated in this picture ;) )

We were not really on super wide lenses; our widest was a 17.5 which was only used sparingly. We spent more time on a 35 and 50. We also tended to stay more on our zoom (4:1 17.5-75) to allow us to go between focal lengths because sometimes we couldn’t get the camera into place because of space. The only real downside to that, which was not a huge deal, was that the zoom is a 2.3 and our primes were a 1.9. We were shooting 5217 rated at 160, so that little extra stop could have helped in some of our wider shots.

The other big factor was a limited schedule to get a lot of stuff done. Being in one location helps, but with this script there was a fair bit of dialogue, but more importantly a cast of two or three people who come and go and move all over the room while one character (Howie Mandel’s character) stays in bed. All these people lined up worked nicely in the 2.35 format, but still required us to light every part of the room, while seeing every part of the room. The only problem is, if you are seeing everywhere, where do you light from? We worked it out, but it was a challenge at times, and sometimes we had to make compromises.

As I said briefly before, we approached the lighting as follows:
My gaffer built a large overhead “ambient” source that just brought up the shadows in the middle of the room. We then just worked off motivating light from the general direction of a table lamp besides the bed.

The overhead rig was downsized from the original 12 globes to 8 after testing what we were getting from it. It was skirted off the walls and then diffused:
Here is what it looked like before diffusion:

And here is the final rig:

Here was what our basic setup for the day was on the wider shots:

We had, going from right to left:
A 2x4 Kino with Hampshire frost
A Kino Parabeam with probably opal on it (I don’t know what they call the larger size, but this was it)
A 650 for a lamp gag
And then basically a few Dedos for soft backlight and the overhead ambience.

We also did two shots in the lobby of the hotel which was great just because it got us out of that hotel room.

It was just a nice shot of the front desk that fit the 2.35 frame nicely. Basically this was the setup:

A large frame of light grid with a few 2ks behind it (I don’t remember how many). This was to light the general lobby area. There was also a small Chimera lighting the women working at the desk. The chimera was full grid I believe. A little fill from below was provided by a 4’ single Kino below the counter (on the actress). We placed two 650s behind her providing a subtle “double hair light”. A little “room tone” from a 1k par into the ceiling finished everything up.
(a wide angle security camera had a better view of the setup than I did)

I shot everything in the movie clean except the lobby, which I used a #2 GlimmerGlass filter.

All and all I really enjoyed the shoot. The director (Kevin Castro) did a great job keeping a cool head on a shoot that was very complex due to tight scheduling. He did really well.

I also have to sincerely thank my crew who did a great job and worked super long hours on this one:
My 1st AC Ken Bender, 2nd AC Darrell Harrington and also Elhanan Matos who filled in for Darrell.

My Gaffer Chris Hughes and his crew, and Key Grip Alex Simon and his crew.

All these people worked really hard for not a lot of money, so I thank them!

Kevin Zanit