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How I Shot That (LAFF Edition): Capturing Emotional Scenes with George Takei in ‘Eat With Me’

How I Shot That (LAFF Edition): Capturing Emotional Scenes with George Takei in 'Eat With Me'

David Au has directed shorts such as “Fresh Like Strawberries,” “The Boxer,” and “Family Gathering.” At the Los Angeles Film Festival he will premier his first feature “Eat With Me”; a food dramedy that explores the communicational gap between parents and their children, and the wonderful power of food to overcome it.

What camera and lens did you use? We used a Sony PMW-F3 camera with Super Speed Prime lenses.

What was the most difficult shoot on your movie and how did you pull it off? The most difficult shoot would be the day we shot our finale scene at the pop-up restaurant. It was an ensemble scene in which we had different individual moments with the entire cast, along with 30 background restaurant patrons, and a lot of prepared food and drinks as props. On top of that, we had another emotional scene between Sharon Omi and George Takei to shoot at a different location earlier in the morning. Without saying, that day was the most hectic day of the entire production.

First off, we made the call to cut one scene from the day which we moved to a pick-up day after principal photography was over. For the rest of the day, we were able to pull if off simply because we had the most hard-working crew around who worked far above and beyond the call of duty. We also had amazing producers who always had the cast and crew at the top of their mind, so were focused on doing what was needed to keep up morale while keeping the day on track. Throughout the day, they stayed communicative about the day’s activities, were actively troubleshooting, and of course, constantly fed the cast and crew delicious food.

What’s the one thing you wish someone had told you BEFORE you started your movie?
With the amount of development and preparation that goes into a production, the actual film shoot itself goes by unexpectedly quick. Before I knew it, it was already the end of the shoot. I did wish someone had warned me about that before, so even at those very rushed moments, I would have allowed myself to savor every second of it.

What’s the worst piece of advice you ever got?
Someone said to me once that as a producer, you should only care what goes into the frame of the film. So craft services and meals for example, do not go into the frame, so you can skimp on food. I disagree 100% with that advice. It is crucial to keep your cast and crew happy when you’re working under an indie budget with a lot of overtime. Delicious, comfort food is the best and easiest way to keep everyone happy. It’s worth every single penny.

What’s the best?
The best advice I’ve gotten was that I should never compromise my creative integrity due to the stressful environment onset. A lot of people will tell you that you don’t have time for anything more, and in reality, you probably don’t. However, it is absolutely crucial to make sure you have EXACTLY what you need, if not more, before moving on to the next shot. Because, at the end, you’ll be the one in the editing room regretting that you didn’t get that extra take.

What advice do you have for aspiring or first-time filmmakers?
I think my one advice for first-time filmmakers who are going into production is: don’t try to cram everything into each day. Be reasonable with your shoot schedule. There are a lot of unknowns on-set that you couldn’t even begin to predict, and having that buffer will allow you to shoot each scene more freely. And if you have time left on the schedule, do another take. It won’t hurt to add it at the end.

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