Abandoned Principal Photography Phase 1 (April 24) Part 2

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The two Stars of Abandoned Siakie Tetteh and Aaron Mathias look ready to shoot a movie. Photo Jevon Duff

 

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Filmmaker Terry Wickham goes over the Shooting Script for Abandoned, while Alexa Branco gets ready to make-up Siakie Tetteh. April 24, 2016 was kind of brisk, which you can tell by Wickham wearing ear grips and Aaron Mathias wearing a hat. Photo Jevon Duff

 

When filmmaker Terry R. Wickham got to the storied location he was having his suspense film shot at, he went about setting his car up for the first shot of the day.

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A view of the first location the team started shooting at Sunday April 24, 2016. Photo Jevon Duff

 

It was to be the introductory shot of the entire movie, a slow slider shot on the car sitting amongst trees.  Wickham explains, “I parked my car back on this grassy field, where we could put the camera within the trees to give the movie mood from the get go.  Though it wasn’t going to be a spastic-crazy fast camera move, I was kind of thinking of the beginning of Sam Rami’s The Evil Dead.  Plus so much of our movie takes place inside a ramshackle long abandoned facility; I thought it wouldn’t hurt seeing beautiful nature for contrast.”

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Director Terry R. Wickham cites the opening of Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead as inspiration for the surrounding he choose for the beginning of Abandoned. Photo Jevon Duff

 

Shortly after Wickham did this a couple folks from the location saw it and informed the filmmaker he couldn’t park on the grass.  Wickham asked if he could film on the dirt road nearby and was told if he could do it in 5 minutes.  Well anyone who has ever worked on a movie knows, you can’t set up and shoot a scene in 5 minutes.

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DP Adrian Popescu lines up the second shot of the day on Siakie Tetteh in the passenger, while Aaron Mathias performs from the driver’s seat. 1st AC Giorgio Savona reflects light on the actors from front windshield, while Production Designer Michelle Rickert looks on ready and Pat Reilly records the dialogue on 4/24/16. Photo Jevon Duff

 

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The director and his team tried, getting the first shot done but as they moved in to photograph the actors within the car, a State cop drove up.  Wickham says, “We didn’t have anything to hide and I explained we weren’t hurting anyone or anything by filming there.  He asked if we had a permission, we didn’t, so were told to pack it up.”

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Director of Photography Adrian Popescu looks pleased with what he sees on 4/24/16
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Jason Paluck photographs Director Terry Wickham going over the scene with his actors in the car, while Giorgio Savona looks on

 

Determined not to let the day go by without finishing the opening scene of the movie, Wickham asked PA Michael Porciello if there was place nearby that was wooded and vacant, where nobody would bother us.  After thinking about it he said there was an abandoned playground a 10-minute drive away.  So the film team went there to finish the 2 ½ minute dialogue scene for the movie.

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PA Michael Porciello (left) discusses what needs to get done with Director Terry Wickham. Porciello was key team member in many ways for the filming of Abandoned.

 

Terry talks about Michael Porciello’s contribution to the film, “I’ve been friends with Mike since he early 90s.  Since Mike grew up in the area we were shooting, he had expert knowledge of not just the place we were at, but what was close by.  Mike ended up engineering the arrangement with Scott McKinnon @ Main Street Pub for breakfast for both days on the first Phase and later on July 23rd. Plus Mike provided water and dust masks for everyone.  The fact he picked breakfast & lunch on April 23, 24 and later breakfast on July 23.  makes us all very grateful for him doing that.”

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Left to right Production Designer Michelle Rickert, Sound Recordist Patrick Reilly, inside car Aaron Mathias, Siakie Tetteh, Director Terry R. Wickham leaning down into car, 1st AC Giorgio Savona, DP Adrian Popescu (sitting), Production Coordinator/Editor/Still Photographer Jason Paluck, Make-Up Artist Alexa Branco

 

While at the dead end/abandoned playground location, the production had to deal with never ending planes flying overhead and one particular loud bird that landed on a nearby tree branch.  Wickham furthers the day, “When 1st AC Giorgio Savona did everything he could to chase that bird away it gave all of us a good laugh.  As far as the planes, I guess since it was a beautiful spring day, all sorts of planes took advantage, which made us wait out what felt like never-ending noise.”

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1st AC Giorgio Savona assists DP Adrian Popescu during the 1st Phase of Abandoned

 

Speaking of 1st Assistant Camera Giorgio Savona the filmmaker has nothing but praise, “I really enjoyed working with Giorgio.  I think everyone liked his warm personality and can do attitude.  He was definitely there to do what he could to help Adrian and it shows on the screen.  I’m sure he wanted to finish the movie but he couldn’t because he was filming a documentary in Russia, so we only had him those first two shooting days.”

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Make-Up Artist Alexa Branco strikes a pose with Abandoned Star Siakie Tetteh

 

Make-Up Artist Alexa Branco was a nice addition to the crew.  Wickham explains, “She took over for the original make-up artist who couldn’t make the shoot because of having a car accident shortly before the filming began.  Alexa has a friendly personality and takes her craft seriously.  I really appreciated her coming out, especially on short notice.  She was game to play one of the wrongdoers in the movie, but never got the chance when we filming resumed in July because she was on vacation.”

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Director Terry Wickham goes over the scene with Aaron Mathias who plays the photographer “Steve.” 1st AC Giorgio Savona looks on. 4/24/16

 

In the end Wickham and his team got the important first scene in the can, but lost the chance to finish the production that day because of being ousted at the locale.   The director was determined to set up another date to finish the movie, but little did he know at that moment it would take three whole months for everyone’s schedule to intersect.

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Left to right PA Mike Porciello, Director Terry Wickham, PA Jevon Duff, Production Designer Michelle Rickert, Make-Up Artist Alexa Branco, Sound Recordist Patrick Reilly, DP Adrian Popescu (kneeling), 1st AC Giorgio Savona

 

Wickham gives his final thoughts on the first Phase of Abandoned, “The situation we went through might of spooked someone on the crew, but but sometimes you have to take little risks to get things done.  I never approached the shoot blindly trying to think of every scenario that could happen, with backup plans in place. Anyone who has worked with me should know I always try to look after the cast & crew and make decisions based on their well-being.  But the fact is as a director you are always at war with everything trying to stop or compromise the movie.  For me, I approach it like the Terminator and will not stop ever, until the film is done to the best of my ability.”

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Pat Reilly booms his mic, while Adrian Popescu adds lighting touches with 1st AC Giorgio Savona and Production Coordinator/Still Photographer Jason Paluck stands ready for the next photo

 

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Siakie Tetteh as “Billie Winters” is exuberant  soaking up the experience of shooting Abandoned. Photo Jevon Duff