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.
FRIDAY, AUGUST 20, 2010 After several days of shooting outdoors, we finally ventured indoors to shoot interior scenes, but things quickly got complicated.
Our hosts at the University of Washington were very accommodating about meeting the needs of our cast and crew. Of the 21 days that we shot Judas Kiss, 14 took place on campus. To shoot the movie, we variously had to shut down huge fountains, make jackhammers stop working, reprogram computer-driven environmental systems in futuristic buildings, reroute traffic and, finally, make college kids be quiet on a Friday night in their dorm rooms.
That last one proved the most challenging.
ANXIETY This was the day of The Big Sex Scene. To make sure the actors were comfortable, much of the day took place on a closed set.
“Even I wasn’t allowed on set,” recalled producer Carlos Pedraza. “These scenes had to be just right, and we only had a limited amount of time to film.”
But first, we had to complete one scene back in Guggenheim Hall, where we’d shot outdoors the day before.
The scene between Zach (Charlie David), the all-knowing film school dean, Mrs. Blossom (Laura Kenny) and Shane’s philanthropist parents, Mr. and Mrs. Lyons (Eric Helland and Stephanie Hillbert) appears at the 13:18-minute mark in the film.
COMPANY MOVE So far, we’ve unpacked and packed all our equipment from two trucks at the beginning and end of each shoot day. Day 7 was the first day in which we had to complete a “company move” in the middle of the day. That means shutting down production at one location, re-packing the trucks, driving them to a new location and unpacking everything again, knowing we’ll have to pack everything up again at the end of the day. Each company move can take hours — hours we can’t spend shooting, reducing the number of script pages we complete in the day. Pages we’ll have to make up for on another day.
The company move on Day 7 was from Guggenheim Hall to a dormitory, Terry Hall, on the opposite end of UW’s campus. And up to the the third floor of the building, all of which took a lot of time.
Once there, most of director J.T. Tepnapa‘s time was spent on the love scene between Danny (Richard Harmon) and Shane (Timo Descamps).
“We called Day 7, ‘Brown Chicken, Brown Cow,’” J.T. remembered, referring to the euphemistic music used in pornography.
“Obviously, we weren’t shooting porn, but it was the big sex scene of the movie,” J.T. said. “I was more nervous about the sex scenes than the actors were. Carlos told me to calm the eff down. And I was more worried about closing the set than I was about the actual scene.”
Closing the set turned out to present several problems. The scene is set in Shane’s dorm room. As a rich kid, he can obviously afford a large, single room.
“Trouble is, those don’t exist in real life,” Carlos observed. “Not big enough to fit cameras and lighting equipment, plus cast and crew.”
Instead, we made a large lounge in Terry Hall look like a dorm room. That’s where the trouble with the real-life dorm residents started.
Our original schedule had us shooting the sex scenes in Terry Hall on Saturday, August 21 — the night after all the UW summer school students living in Terry were to have departed from school. Friday was supposed to be the day we shut down traffic at one of UW’s main entrances to shoot another scene.
Campus security had requested we close off the road entering campus on Saturday instead of the weekday. That meant switching the Terry Hall scenes to Friday, the students’ final night on campus. “A night I’m certain they were planning on having fun,” Carlos said, “which of course means making noise. Not something we could allow on a film set. Especially one that was supposed to be closed for shooting love scenes.”
Students were actually still in their dorm rooms, hoping to have parties, while we had to erect curtains to close off views of the set, which was really just a large, open lounge area.
“We actually restricted use of the dorm’s elevators, and we went around shushing people in their rooms,” Carlos said. “All of this ate up time, and I was sure we were going to run into overtime — something we couldn’t really afford on our budget.”
J.T. recalled, “By the end, we were rushing through the sex scenes. Thank goodness we rehearsed them late the night before. I would have liked to have taken it nice and slow.”
“Nobody was happy,” Carlos added. “J.T. and [cinematographer] Dave Berry felt rushed, I had to intervene pretty forcefully to keep us on schedule, the students complained we were being heavy-handed, and the university was concerned as the shoot went late, late into the night.”
In the end, though everything worked out. “We finished with minutes to spare on our work day,” Carlos said, “and J.T. got all the footage we needed. I had to mend some fences with the university, but all turned out fine.”
And, ironically, because the set was closed this may have been the least-photographed day behind the scenes.