For 21 days, we are re-living the process — day by day — that brought Judas Kiss to life two years ago, with reminisces from the creative team, behind-the-scenes photos and video clips.
TUESDAY, AUGUST 17, 2010 Coffee is what a movie set runs on. Judas Kiss director J.T. Tepnapa was never much of a coffee drinker.
Writer-producer Carlos Pedraza commented, “J.T. was so hyped with excitement the first couple days of the shoot that cinematographer David Berry assumed all the energy was caffeinated in origin.”
“On Day 1, I was totally excited,” J.T. recalled. “Dave told me to calm the fuck down. I was bouncing off the walls. On Day 2, I was still excited. Dave thought I need to lay off the caffeine. I don’t drink coffee, though.”
J.T. labored under the misapprehension that he could “eat healthy” while shooting a movie. “I was still eating sandwiches and salads, and I think the crew was feeling sluggish, too.”
On Day 4, we were shooting the scene in Topher’s music studio (it starts at the 04:26-minute mark). “We were taking forever on the music studio scene because it required so many different angles and managing the lighting,” J.T. said. “It was time to start drinking coffee.”
“He was never the same after that,” Carlos observed.
THE SHOOTING SCRIPT had called for Topher’s party, which we shot the day before, to be filmed indoors at night, but we couldn’t accommodate moving to a night shooting schedule without a lot of added cost and time, so the entire event became set in the afternoon.
The challenge was to make the entire day look like it was the afternoon, even though we began early in the morning and continued well into the evening (summer days in Seattle are very long, thank goodness — one of the reasons we chose to shoot in August).
The music studio set also gave production designer Rodrigo DeMedeiros a chance to show off, as he integrated the look of the Chens’ home with the added touches that made it look like it belonged to an avant-garde movie director.
Among the props and set decoration Rodrigo designed, were two posters for Topher’s movies, Blood and Barcelona and Blood and Chance. His photoshoot with Seattle model Stephen Mitchell yielded two beautiful posters, and Stephen himself appears in the film as himself.
TIME TRAVEL Rodrigo decided that a film about time travel should include some visual cues to hint at the metaphysical conundrum faced by the main character, Zachary Wells (Charlie David). Take a look at all the set pieces that appear later in the film by clicking on the photo below to see full-size.
Filmmaking is a lot like time travel, too. For example, we shot both the beginning and the end of Judas Kiss on Days 3 and 4. For continuity, we had to take into account little things, like the fact that Zach’s face at the beginning of the movie is stubble-covered; at the end he’s clean-shaven.
That meant we had to shoot scenes on Day 5 without him, because in the rest of the film, he appears unshaven. You’ll see how we managed that tomorrow.
A BIT OF A SLOG Because the music studio scene required shooting from so many angles (what we call coverage), it took a long time to film. So J.T. was anxious by the end of the day to shoot the movie’s final scene on the rooftop between Zach and Topher (Troy Fischnaller) — a sunset-type of shot, filmed by a slowly ascending camera.
“Big studio productions use something called a jib for this,” Carlos recalled. “The only one we could find to rent in the Seattle area wanted an outlandish $1,200 for the day. I’m too cheap a bastard for that, so we rented a scissor lift. And J.T. was ecstatic. Like a 12-year-old.”
“I was so excited that I got to ride the scissor lift for the closing shot of the movie,” J.T. said. “YAY!”
The scissor lift provided just the right cinematic look we wanted for the film’s ending as we rolled to credits.
“We finished the day with time to spare,” Carlos said, “so it was a happy ending for everyone.”