07 May, 2008

Twilight Set, Day Three: Vernonia OR, Forks scenes

Thanks for the patience guys, not to mention the cheers! Here's the set report for day three!

I didn’t get back from filming in St. Helen’s until about 2am, so needless to say, I slept in the following morning. I knew I was going to be up all night for the final day/night of shooting, so I tried to sleep as long as I could and be lazy for the time that I was actually awake. So I stayed in bed, typed up my notes from the previous day, and organized everything for the long day to come. The cast was called to be on set around 2:00, but filming wasn’t likely to begin until 3 or 4, and even then it was driving scenes- which means I definitely couldn’t sit and watch the scene being filmed, as there’s not much room in a moving vehicle for even all of the crew, and there wasn’t a video village set up yet, so I didn’t rush to get there. I took my time driving to Vernonia Oregon, enjoying the unseasonably warm and sunny day- again, a very nice change from the downpour of a few days before! Vernonia is about an hour and change north of Portland, and I took the same road there that I took towards the coast on Wednesday, except well before I got to the mountains, I took a right turn onto a smaller highway that wove through the valleys. It was a beautiful road. It felt very similar to my drive through the Olympic National Forest in Washington as I approached the real Forks, WA, so it was appropriate that I was now approaching the ficticious one. On this road in Oregon, just like the one in Washington, there were big pines and cedars on either side of the road, sharp curves with a stone wall on one side and an impressive drop off on the other, and as I was approaching the town of Vernonia, there in front of me was a giant sign that said, “The City of Forks Welcomes You!” It was brilliant. It was an exact replica of the actual sign welcoming you to Forks in Washington. I noticed this attention to detail a few weeks ago when, looking at set photos (thanks bellaandedward.com for the thoroughness of your galleries!), I saw that the crew had created the Forks High School sign exactly like the real sign in Forks, and now again with this “The City of Forks Welcomes You” sign. This further proved to me that the crew was taking their job seriously, and were willing to spend a few extra bucks and put forth a little extra effort to have the details that will mean so much to the author, fans and residents of Forks, WA.

The attention to detail continued as I drove into downtown Vernonia and saw signs for 101 North (101 does run through Oregon, but nowhere near Vernonia, and it’s the main highway that goes through Forks to Port Angeles, so these signs were planted for extra authenticity), Forks City Hall, Forks Hardware, Forks Police Station and general signs that would be placed in downtown Forks. ‘Downtown’ may be deceiving as it was really just one street with a couple of bars, a bank, some antique shops and a mini town-square… it was very, very small, but so is Forks, WA. If you look back to my post about the Twilight Pilgrimage, you’ll see a vivid description of Forks, and Vernonia did a fine job of playing the role of a tiny town in the Pacific Northwest. I parked my car on one of the side streets between base camp and the main street where they were filming, and went in search of Greg, Wyck or Gillian. I didn’t find them easily but it wasn’t pressing for me to do so, so I once again stayed out of the way and took in all of the action going on around me.

They were filming general background shots of Forks to use in panning, intro shots etc. Again, it was supposed to be a rainy day in Forks and Mother Nature wasn’t helping, so the monstrous water truck repeated its action of wetting down the street every few minutes to give the appearance that it had just rained. They were about to yell ‘action’ so I ducked into an alley to get out of the shot and ended up talking to a girl named Catherine, who was one of Bella’s photo doubles, for a bit. She was very friendly. We were both trying to stay out of the shot, so there’s not much else to do but chat when you’re stuck in an alley! She said the filming had been a really good time, the cast and crew were very pleasant, that she liked working with Kristen Stewart, and while she didn’t want the filming to end, she was excited to be able to trim her hair! The only thing she was allowed to do to her appearance during the whole of filming was cut her fingernails so her appearance wouldn’t change from that of Bella’s. It’s crazy the things that I never thought about in the filmmaking process…

During a break in the filming, we peeked our heads around the corner to see what was going on just as Deon Boyce, the second assistant director, was walking down the street directing the extras on where to go. He looked at Catherine and me and said, “You guys, over there, cross the street to that corner when they yell ‘background’.”….. My internal response was… "WHAT?! You want me to be somewhere on film???" And my composed, external response was, “Deon, I’m not an extra, I’m not even a part of the crew,” and Catherine’s response was, “Deon, I look just like Bella, I probably shouldn’t be in the shot.” But he put us there anyway. He assured us that it was just for some background movement, Catherine wouldn’t be recognized, and I didn’t have to do it if I didn’t want to but it was fine if I did. Well of course I wanted to! I highly doubt you’ll be able to see me, I’m sure I’ll end up on the cutting room floor, but it was quite the adventure to be an extra for twenty minutes on the set of Twilight! Catherine stayed behind me as we crossed the street, just so I could hopefully give her a little bit of cover, so if you see a long shot of the main street of Forks, with two people crossing the street very far away, one of them looks like Bella and the other is wearing jeans, a black top and a backpack… you will have just seen my film debut. It was silly, but certainly a good story, and it gave a little excitement to the afternoon as it was most definitely a slow afternoon. I did get to see Catherine Hardwicke’s family again which was very nice. They didn’t stay long as Catherine was very busy and there wasn’t a lot to watch, but I’m glad I got to say goodbye and thank them for all of the kindness that they shared with me on set.

As the afternoon turned into evening, all of the driving shots were finished (Bella and Charlie in the cruiser, Edward and Bella pulling up to the station in the Volvo, and Carlisle with his Mercedes), and by about 7 or 8, we broke for ‘lunch.’ I sat with a few crew members who dealt with the greens on set. That’s right, there’s a whole team devoted to dressing the sets with trees, bushes, foliage and flowers. They hide set equipment and cover up elements that the directors don’t want to be included in a scene. For example, there was a big sign outside of the bank that said the time and temperature that didn’t quite work for the shot, so they covered it with a camouflage tarp and placed a number of tall, skinny evergreens in buckets in front of it. I literally did not know it was there until the very end of the night when they started taking down the cover. It is so interesting to see the details that go into these films, and the sheer number of people it takes to pull off one scene!

Anyway… after lunch/dinner/whatever meal I was eating at the ‘start’ of my day at 8pm, I meandered back towards the credit union that was doubling as the Forks Police Department for the evening. Video village was now set up behind the bank (in the drive-through, nonetheless) and I was glad to see the comforting bank of monitors, and the various directors chairs set up for the night’s filming. I dropped off my stuff, was handed a set of cans (Yay! It really made all the difference to hear the cast and crew in order to know what was actually going on in and behind the scenes), and walked around to the front of the building to watch the lighting being rigged and say good evening to Gillian. We chatted for a bit about the script's journey: how it gets from the director to the screenwriter, to the author, to the producer, to the studio, and back through the circuit again in the writing process, and in the middle of our conversation, a couple led their miniature pony right by us, effectively halting our speech. I told Gillian that this was the third or fourth time that they had paraded the pony by the set, as I had seen him a few times during the day, and that I thought they were hoping to get him into the film. Gillian looked at the pony critically and said, “Hmm… I wonder if Catherine [Hardwicke] has seen that,” with a smile. Sadly the little pony didn’t make the film, but he did watch the action with his owners for hours. Literally hours… there was a whole slew of fans and town residents who just watched the filming until about 3am. That’s dedication right there…

Eventually they set up the shot for a scene in front of the police station. This was an added scene so I can’t go into much detail (I’m sorry! I know that’s annoying!) but it was basically a small addition to enhance the menacing aspects of the nomads… something that I personally think is quite necessary; because if you think about the nomads in the books, they are the real villains, the ‘bad’ vampires, and we have very little introduction to them even to realize how scary they can be. We only see the Cullens, the ‘good guys,’ and while we can hear Edward say that he’ll be more protective over Bella because the nomads are around, there isn’t a lot of time for us as readers to get to know these characters before they are suddenly a huge threat. In the film, there is even less time to come to that realization, and I’m guessing that the nomads are going to be the main threat/conflict in the film… so they’re going to have to build that up a little bit. Anyway, this scene involved Carlisle, Bella and Edward. It was short, but certainly effective. The scene took place well into the film, and I could tell that Bella and Edward were a definite couple at this point, as Rob and Kristen played it so that they appeared much more comfortable with each other (as comfortable as Edward could ever be in close proximity to Bella, anyway). It was also neat to see the relationship between Carlisle and Edward, as I’ve read that this is something Rob was fascinated by and asked Stephenie Meyer about extensively when she visited the set. Carlisle is fatherly and mentoring, but never patronizing. It was pleasant to see the relationship as a caring camaraderie. This was my first time seeing Carlisle, and I was blown away by his appearance, and by Peter Facinelli’s embodiment of him. He just was Carlisle. He oozed Carlisle. As you can tell by the pictures that are all over the internet, he certainly embodies an ethereal beauty, but even his mannerisms, the way he holds his hands in his pockets, his upturned eyes when listening to Edward speak… it was difficult to think of him as Peter, when all I saw was Carlisle!

Similarly, it was also my first time seeing Charlie Swan, played by Billy Burke. Billy Burke isn’t what I had in mind for Charlie (I don’t know about anyone else, but I pictured a middle-aged, overweight kind of a guy… I’m thinking Cliff from Cheers or something similar), but again, once I heard Billy talk, saw him in uniform, and witnessed his interactions with Bella, I could see how this guy could definitely be Charlie. He had that rough exterior, the lack of outward affection towards Bella but a strong undercurrent of love for her that you couldn’t help but notice. I suppose Billy Burke is more the correct age than Cliff from Cheers anyway! The scene that they filmed between him and Bella on this particular evening will probably only be about 45 seconds on-screen, but it took well over an hour to get just right. They filmed the scene many times with both of them in the shot, then many times focusing just on Charlie, and many times focusing just on Bella. These scenes will then be edited together to pick the best of each moment to create a fluid and effective scene.

So while they were filming this scene, the rest of the cast was milling about, relaxing in their trailers, perhaps napping as it was about 3am at this point, and I was sitting behind the bank/police station in video village with Greg and Gillian. We were chatting around the propane heater (again, thank the gods for propane heaters; it’s truly the only reason I made it through the night) as filming wasn’t occurring at that moment, and who should walk around the corner of the building? None other than Rob Pattinson himself. Well, he shuffled around the corner more than walked as it was frigid, he wasn’t in a thick coat and oh yes, it was still 3am- we were all knackered. He came and joined us around the heater and we just chatted for about twenty minutes. Talk about surreal... yes, there was certainly that moment where I panicked a bit internally (do you really think there’s any way he could stand 6 inches from me and I wouldn’t swoon internally??), but slowly, very slowly, I realized he’s just a guy, he’s at work, we were both cold, slightly bored by the current lack of action, and in his case, wiped out from 45 days of filming in crazy conditions. We chatted easily about all manner of things (some are rather un-bloggable), but not about my work, as I didn’t want to impose on his relaxing time and turn into That Crazy Person…. so I just talked with him normally. I do wish I’d have been able to chat with him about being away from the UK, reminisce about our favorite British microbrews and winge about the miserable time difference (try having a meeting on the phone with your supervisor when you’re eight hours behind her! I imagine he’s having the same kind of pain with his friends and family!), but I’m grateful just for the exposure to an actor on set, and one as kind, funny and pleasant...not to mention as handsome, as Rob; it’s certainly not all glamorous, the hours can be long, the expectations high and the boredom factor ever-present. You could be sitting around for hours and within two minutes, you have to be ready to shoot a scene where your loved one’s life is in danger or you have to recreate a first kiss a hundred times over… I can’t imagine living any part of my day ‘normally’ when you need to tap into that kind of emotion at a moment’s notice.

So it was lovely to meet Rob Pattinson. He’s an easy-going, amusing guy. He’s certainly focused on his work, but doesn’t seem to be ruled by it. He was mulling over his future activities, jobs, possibilities, and all of them sounded lovely but he didn’t feel the need to pin down what would be perfect for him at this minute or what would be the best for his career. He’s just a guy in his early 20’s, and like a lot of us, he just seems to be going with the flow and seeing how things figure themselves out and trying to have as much fun as he can in the process.

The night/morning went on, and soon it was evident that the action was winding down (it was about 5am, and believe it or not, there were still a few dedicated fans on the corner!), as the trees were removed, signs taken down and lights extinguished. Of course I was hesitant to leave as I really didn’t want any of this experience to end, but, alas, it had to. As much as I wanted to camp out in video village for a few more weeks and keep absorbing all of the information around me, they were packing up, and I still had over an hour to drive home. I returned my cherished cans, sought out Greg, Wyck and Gillian and thanked them profusely for all of their time, honesty and kindness on the set. I’m not sure if it’s in their job description to be that kind, but they went above and beyond anything that I had been expecting. I already can’t wait to hear about their upcoming adventures involving the marketing, editing, scoring and promoting of Twilight… not to mention the work that should begin soon on New Moon.

(EDIT: Apparently that last comment was misleading... there is nothing confirmed yet for New Moon. Everyone seems to be thinking about it (how could they not?), and they're hoping to start writing this summer, and start filming sometime in the spring; but the rights haven't even been settled yet and Stephenie Meyer is slightly busy with The Host release... so no confirmation about it yet!)

So I left the set of Twilight drowsy but smiling, with a thousand thoughts congealing in my head. I watched the sun rise over the Oregon hills as I flopped into bed at 6:30am, blissfully exhausted and forever grateful for this amazing experience.

But just to leave you hanging… I do still have more things coming! I got into a couple of great conversations with Wyck about adaptations and Greg about film budgets and how that can affect the overall integrity of a film (cough Eragon cough), but they will have to be topics explored more thoroughly later… so stay tuned for that!

Comment away! The more action on the blog, the more it gets me thinking and producing additional information!

Check out all of my webshots from the day in Forks/Vernonia here.

Sorry there aren’t a lot of them; that whole ‘no flash’ rule plus most of the filming being inside moving cars or inside buildings didn’t allow for a lot of photo taking!


Southern Princess said...

I don't think I have ever been so interested in the making of a movie. You have done a marvelous job of describing the interactions so well that now I am hooked. I am in so many ways a great deal like you. My interests are so varied - there are a million directions I would love to go in no matter how different they each may be of one another. Thank you for adding a new subject that I will be reading up on. Understanding the process makes me appreciate my favorite movies even more. You did a marvelous job on keeping us informed & interested. You have made us all feel as though we were truly with you during this experience, for that alone I am forever thankful.

Linz said...

Thank you! I never really even thought about the legistics of movie making, but you have described them so very vividly! I will definately look for you in the movie!! (Fingers crossed!)

PS - congrats on meeting Rob! And congrats on playing it cool so well. I would have passed out.

Also - I got the link from the Lexicon. Thank you so very much for sharing your experience!

Jennifer said...

I'm absolutely thankful that you posted your experiences of being on set. I'm about to finish college and I want nothing more than to be one of those people, onset, doing whatever. Anything! I have never felt the urge to be involved in a film as badly as I do for the Twilight Saga. When I'm through with classes, I'd love nothing more than to be a part of their crew! Do you have any idea of how I could go about that? If not, that's ok, but I am just so interested I thought it couldn't hurt to ask : ) Thanks again for the amazing report and pics!!!
I don't have an account, so feel free to e-mail me, by the way: gcdreamer82187@yahoo.com. Thank you!!

Chelisa said...

That was really interesting and I look forward to your next blog...thank you for taking time to write all of this!

FireIce said...

Your account of the behind the scenes of filming is very thorough and professional. It's refreshing to get an alternate view of the action from someone with a knowledge of filmmaking and a love for the film itself.
As a native Oregonian, I appreciate your attention to detail while describing your journey to the set. I love the natural setting around here and am so happy that Stephenie M. chose the Pacific NW as her location. If you do get a chance to talk to Wyck Godfrey, it would be interesting to get his take on Eragon and what could have been done differently to make that a more successful film. And, what is he doing for Twilight to ensure that the true essense of the book is captured on film? Thanks for all your hard work!

lily said...

I think its awesome your able to be on set with the crew. Glad your able to share your experience with the rest of us. It's awesome.

Thanks so much for sharing.

Debbie said...

I really enjoy reading your blog about the filming of Twilight. It so cool to get a behind the scenes look at how a film is put together. Your writing is wonderful and so descriptive. When you talked about meeting Rob, you probably felt like Bella felt when she first met Edward. Kind of neat, huh? So many people have commented on other sites that after they saw the teaser trailer that they hoped the movie would be just like the book. I'd love to tell them to come read your blog. They then would understand more about the differences between the book & the movie. If I haven't said it Thank you for sharing your experience with us. I look forward to your future blog entries. And your pics are great too.

SarahH said...

I really enjoy your description of the filming. It is so interesting to learn about the whole production, not just the actors. After reading your blog, I feel like I can see the larger picture. Please tell us more, it's all very fascinating.

megs said...

So fun to hear about your adventures. Thanks for sharing them with those of us who have no hope of going to a film set and meeting Rob Pattinson! Love it love it love it! Glad to hear that Billy Burke is working out--I thought he was a little too robust looking to play Charlie myself, but hey, I'll give anyone a chance. Thanks!

Alex said...

Thanks a bunch for these blogs :D I've never taken this much interest in a film (and book by the way) before, and with these blogs I'm actually learning a bit :)
You're awesome!

Anonymous said...

You, my dear, are a very lucky person. I have never met a celebrity, (But I have seen one from afar!), and wish I had the chance to meet one. Robert Pattinson is a definite score on the hot o meter! But, I give you points for staying calm and acting naturally! I am pleased you are enjoying yourself. Feel free to look at my blogger!

Kevin and Natali McKee said...

I really enjoy reading your blog. What an amazing opportunity, you know we are all jealous. The only thing I really want to say is, I hate the site to view the pictures. I don't know if I am doing it wrong, but I have to scroll all the way down for each picture.
Thanks for the details on the set.

jacksparrow022 said...

I really love hearing about your set experiences! I've been following your blog for a while, and it almost feels like I was there too. (I wish...). I'm looking forward to hearing more in the future!

Shauna said...

Hi there. I just found this site from Twilighters, and I must say I'm pretty fascinated by you. I'm 19 and a college student in Los Angeles (I moved here from Texas last year) and I have no idea what I want to do with myself! But I'm mostly interested in this nomad life you speak of, and the degree you were talking about. I'm a creative person so I love film, reading, writing, drawing, etc etc, and I'm really inspired by you. I know this comment is all over the place, haha, but I'm not quite sure how to convey how happy I am at finding this journal. I'm definitely going to read through it, because it sounds like something I'd really like to do something =) I'm really glad you had the opportunity to observe on the Twilight set - that must have been really beneficial. And you definitely make me feel better about my obsessive tendencies XP

Mildly Insane said...

That's awesome. :D I completely agree with the Eragon part. I kind of got irritated with that movie.. Thank you so much for sharing with everybody! It is greatly appreciated. :D

Anonymous said...

Wow you are so lucky!! And you got to talk with Robert!! Did he share anything juicy with you? Inquiring minds what to know.

Sarah B said...

Thanks for the awesome blog again! Just curious to why you were unable to talk to Rob about the UK...did it just not come up or did you think it made you one of those "crazy people?"

Oh, also, you may just be getting the best PhD ever! Is your work going to be published? (is that a dumb question?)

Holly said...

Wow thank you so much for this, it's really interesting. And OMG you met Rob! Far out, congrats on being so composed... I don't think I could've done that! lol

sarah said...

Ah, you're soo lucky to have met Rob and seen so much on set. *sigh* lol. I heard from a while back that they already had the script written up for it and that some of the actors have already renewed their contracts for future Twilight movies. So when you said "work to soon begin on New Moon," does that mean that they've already decided to make it into a movie?

Kiki said...

I loved your input on Carlisle! I really feel like they did an awesome job casting Peter Facinelli for the part! He looks amazing with the blond hair- totally Carlisle! Great blog! I enjoyed reading it!!

erik said...

MAGGIE! the potential.
the sheer potential of creating an academic blog network.

of course, my blog would NOT be a part of such a noble endeavor :)

Roxanne said...

WOW! Again! So lucky, what I would do to be in place! You are so lucky to have met all those wonderfull people! I love reading your blog, your insight is so interesting. It helped me open up my mind to the way movies are done now and hopefully I wont be too sad about the changes between the book and the movie since I now there will be some differences! Keep on writing and Ill keep on reading! :) Thanks so much for your post!

Beth said...

I appreciate your blog on your trip to the set of Twilight.

It was nice reading this because I'm about to go into the Film program at the University of Oklahoma.

My main goal is to write and do some other work in film (that other part is undecided)

and I enjoyed this blogging of it because I know that I will need such an experience like this to get some sort of idea as to what I will be doing.

If you can spare any time to comment back or message me on my LJ (_faded_dreamz_ ) is my username there...

There is a link to message me there on the user info page or just comment somewhere and I could get back to you with a way to contact me outside of LJ or something. I would really appreciate that.

I'd like to chat with you on this sort of thing since you've experienced it.

I think it'd help me a lot... Thanks again!

m~ said...

I've really enjoyed reading your blog. I agree with you about Charlie. I thought of an older sort of round guy. I look forward to seeing how it all turns out.

When I was your age I wanted to design sets. I didn't follow through with my dream so I glad to see you are doing just that.

I also love to hear the how and why of things like the extra scene to establish the bad vampires. So much of Twilight is in Bella's head and our imagination, I'm sure it will be critical to include those things in the movie.
Thanks for the glimpse into Twilight,

Jackie said...


Your blog was so detailed, i really enjoyed reading it. Thank you so much for your detail and the great pictures!


Im From The Gorge Here The Dalles To Be Exact But Ive been To Vernonia And Its Cool But Wierd To Think Theres Such A Big Movie Being Filmed Here In The Area!!!
But I Love The Pics And Im Only Hopeing The Film Is As Decent As The Books Because They Were Rather Amazing!!!
But Its So cool To See Sets All Around Here!!!
I Saw The Set At Multnomah Falls And Got Way overly Excited, Its Not Every Day You see A Huge movie set AnyWhere Especially In Your Home Area!!!
But I Love Your Blog Hope You Do Well With Your PHD And Have Fun In Europe It's amazing I Hear!!!
TTYL!!! Take Care!:D

site said...

The guy is definitely right, and there's no question.