We had one buffer day in between production day one and day two, which was much needed. I did not have much time to rest as most of the day was spent dressing the set. However, seeing the room come to life exactly as I pictured was enough to get my adrenaline going again. I love set design and handled the whole production design process. The walls of the room were set up with pictures of 90s and 2000s celebrities, school work from my middle school days, tags from old jean brands like “Paris Blues” with photos of bootleg-“Bratz” look-a-likes, Sailor Moon and Pokemon cards and even a sweepstakes photo to win the *new* 1999 VW Beatle!
On the morning of the shoot, I felt a bit more pressure in a much different way for this shoot since it was the personal part of the story. The room and home life was inspired by my own life and I knew that I had to do it justice. I never really set out to tell my own story but the old saying that all writing is autobiographical holds truth here. This project was originally inspired by revisiting my early 2000s childhood diaries and notes; however through numerous rewrites and the nature of storytelling, things began to take a whole new form. Either way, I felt a sense of duty to make sure that the extreme emotions of a middle schooler growing up in the 2000s were portrayed authentically. I did not want to let that kid down!
Evelyn had many challenging scenes to perform in that day. We had rehearsed the computer scenes, where she talks on AIM but purposefully left a lot of scenes in which Jessy hangs out in her room up for improvisation to make it feeling fresh and authentic. I wanted to show her expressing her uninhibited self - you know when you dance around like no one’s watching in your room? - except there were about ten people watching at all times.
We also had Eichin Chang-Lim, who played the mother of Jessy, on set for day two. She was able to nail her short but vital, dinner scene in only a couple takes! It was great to see the wide range of emotions that her character displayed in only a few minutes. Eichin was able to take what we worked on in our rehearsals and embody the character to elicit emotions of both sympathy and over-bearing repulsion.
Aside from the dinner scene, the day consisted of a lot of b-roll for the computer scenes where Jessy talks to her friends and crush on AIM. I plan on showing the chat scenes in a more visually appealing way - not just on a computer screen the whole time - so it was definitely something we all had to get into the groove of. I felt this style of shooting definitely was inspired by my self-taught nature of working as a D-SLR wielding video maker for internet videos. It was really cool to see Mike, our DP doing so many b-rolls on the Red Dragon rapidly and handheld. The unconventional nature of this day’s shoot was a challenge but provided us with amazing footage of many different things essential to being a tween in the early 2000s - writing in black-paper journals with Gelly Rolls, looking through J-14 magazines, rating boys in a “Boy Files” book and dancing to hits like “Dilemma by Nelly & Kelly Rowland”.
Thank you again to everyone involved! I have been editing for picture lock and have a few more scenes to go. After picture lock, we can move onto VFX, and sound mastering.It’s really crazy to think that this project is finally going to be finished soon. I have a mix of feelings from excitement - anticipating seeing the final cut and the response from something that I feel is just so needed for the nostalgia-loving “millennials” who are now in their adulthood - to feeling a little overwhelmed by knowing that the cut depends on me as the creator and editor. I know that I just have to keep my purpose in mind and make something that will do the hormonal, pizza-faced, shy and crazy, “Hit” music-obsessed kid of the 00s proud. Stay tuned for another post about editing the project!
*Answer: title reference song - Nine Days: Absolutely (Story of a Girl) Winners will receive a AOL free trial in their mailbox.
photos by: Kell Riches