Twilight Set Day Two: St. Helen’s
Unlike the day before, my second day on the set of Twilight was gorgeous- bright blue skies, a light breeze, and a very welcoming and maneuverable setup situated around the town
When I arrived around noon they were filming the dress shopping scene with Jessica and Angela. Of course the weather once again wasn’t working for them; while it was gorgeous, it was supposed to be a rainy day in
The next scene was shot down the street- the infamous restaurant scene where Edward spills some of his secrets while Bella forces down mushroom ravioli (again, I felt such sympathy for Kristen Stewart… I have no idea how much ravioli she had to eat, but I’m sure it was more than she wished for!). Setting up the scene took quite some time as it was still daylight but they wanted to give the appearance of evening. All of the windows were covered in black cloth, white Christmas lights were strung over the trellis and the surrounding trees, and a big wooden toad sat on a stump next to the sign proclaiming the restaurant as “The Bloated Toad.” So it was no Bella Italia as it was in the book, I’m not sure why the change to “The Bloated Toad,” but it still looked just as I thought it should. One of the set dressers said they just found the carved, wooden toad on their travels and thought it was great and had to use it. I guess that’s as good of a reason as any to name your fictitious restaurant after an ill amphibian!
Once again I stayed on the periphery at first and tried to observe, but stay out of the way. The nice thing was that there always seemed to be a few people doing just what I was doing, and it was pleasant and easy to start a conversation with them. A woman standing next to me asked how I was involved, I told her my story of my studies and how they were nice enough to have me on set for a few days, and she told me that she was Catherine Hardwicke’s sister, Irene, and that she, her husband Lance and her mother Jamie were all on set that day watching Catherine work (Catherine is the director- IMDB her, she’s amazing). They were absolutely lovely. They are funny, friendly, they enjoyed every aspect of the experience as I did, and after about forty five minutes I felt like I was with my own family. We took some pictures, wandered the town a bit, and then headed to the catering tent for lunch. While enjoying our gourmet meal and chatting about the striking good looks of Rob Pattinson at the next table, Catherine herself came over to chat with the family. Irene introduced me to her with great gusto and Catherine was so gracious and enthusiastic. I definitely got the feeling that she is the kind of creative artist who can see the whole picture of everything around her but is able to focus intently and specifically whenever it is required. She asked me a few questions, and then summed up her thoughts about the adaptation of Twilight. She said that in one way, the film takes you further than the book does. She said “we can take you up in the trees and actually show you all of that crazy beautiful stuff. It takes you on a ride.” Like Wyck told me yesterday, she emphasized that this was a very contained book, as most of it was internal, in Bella’s mind. “With The Lord of the Rings you have this huge kingdom at your disposal. Forks isn’t naturally like that, so we expanded all of the action to bring it out, to make it more visual.” She added a few scenes and tweaked existing ones to make it more visual and have this 2D media translate to the screen, but all while focusing on the story and never straying far from the original work.
After this unexpected but extremely welcome interview, Catherine and Irene went on a hunt for the perfect mini-lamp to light Bella and Edward’s dinner table. After procuring said lamp and spray painting the bulb to the correct level of dimness, the scene was nearly ready to begin filming. I made my way to ‘video village’ which is a bank of monitors with director’s chairs set up to watch the filming that was going on inside. Ironically, the actors don’t really use the chairs, so I sat in Rob Pattinson’s chair for most of the day. The producers handed me a set of cans (headphones) so I could hear the dialogue and then I don’t think I picked my head up for about three hours. I’m afraid I can’t share the dialogue of the scene, but I can say that it was beautiful, their tones and intentions were spot on, Bella’s incredulous expressions were perfect and Edward’s eyes smoldered as they should. And the perfect mini-lamp looked perfect.
I’m a big fan of video village. It’s certainly exciting to watch the scene filmed live, but I also greatly enjoyed watching the scene as it would look on the screen. How the camera is angled, how it catches their eyes, and how people and props are strategically placed to frame the shot exactly as they want it framed. The cans were also great because not only could I hear the dialogue, but also the chatter between takes. The talk between Rob and Kristen, the comments by Catherine or Jamie Marshall (assistant director and co-producer), and the instruction, thought, and intent put into each shot before action was called. At one point Rob said, “I felt like I was falling apart during that take…” and Catherine told him, “Then go with it. Fall apart. Fall into her. You are falling so into her, just use that.” And of course the following take was flawless.
Irene, Lance and Jamie joined me in video village for awhile, as well as Gillian Bohrer, the creative executive from Summit Entertainment- the studio behind Twilight. Gillian, like Greg and Wyck, was another fountain of friendly and helpful information. She was eager to share her story, her thoughts on the adaptation and the details of Twilight’s journey from page to screen. I asked all three of them (Wyck, Greg and Gillian) if they ever re-read sections of the book before filming to refresh the scene in their mind and they agreed that like a good student, they try always to keep re-reading; not just to read for the test, but know the material and have it be fresh in their minds all of the time. It isn’t feasible for them to reread all of the time as they have dailies to watch, scripts to go over for the following days filming, and paperwork to complete every night, but they also said that at this point, the script has gone through so much work, and Stephenie Meyer has approved every line of it, that when the time rolls around for filming they can work off of the script alone and know that it still reflects the original work.
After another hour or two in video village, I realized, however, that this group of people really didn’t need to keep re-reading the book to keep it fresh in their minds. They were able to rattle off whole passages from memory, they could complete entire character conversations between them, and the one time there was a discrepancy over an aspect of the book (we got into a debate about the waitress’s hairstyle) the book came out and we found the tell-tale paragraph. Every aspect of this gave me a sense of their commitment to the film. In a video interview recently (I think it was the mtv.com video) Rachel Lefevre, who plays
I’m rambling now… so that scene was brilliant. I got some great information, I felt productive and incredibly inspired by the work happening there. They finished the inside shots of Bella and Edward at dinner, and then they moved outside to film the scene where Bella and Edward come to the restaurant just as Jessica and Angela were finishing and Edward offers to get Bella dinner. It was nice to be outside and moving around (it was frigid, so movement and hot tea were very welcome). While I was outside I met some of the Twilight Moms, another Twilight fan site. They were also a friendly bunch and enthusiastic about all that they had seen that day and eager to hear what I had seen too. Also on the sidewalk was probably half the town’s population of
We passed midnight while gathered around the propane heater (thank god for the propane heater, I think it’s the only reason I still have ten toes) and got the call sheet for the final day of shooting in
Check out all of the pictures here.
I beamed the whole way home, and was eager for the next adventure: an all-night shoot in