P&P – Day 1 – Home Invasion

Still from footage of the first day of shooting

It was our first day of shooting. I was nearly naked, in a too small bathtub of cooling water, being watched by a crew of a dozen or so people, most I’d met for the first time today. And this for the next 8 or so hours. Who put me such a compoundingly uncomfortable position? Who had allowed so many strangers to overtake our home with overflowing activity and equipment? After 15 months of pandemic induced quiet and companionable solitude with my husband, now suddenly I’m exposed to all these people in my home, my naked skin literally exposed in my own bathroom with just flesh toned swimming trunks to shield me? Who is the asshole responsible for all this?

Oh, right. That asshole is me.

Director of Photography Jason Chua and 1st Assistant Camera Jennifer Liu

We were shooting “The Pit and the Pendulum – a musicabre“, my second musical adaptation of a classic Edgar Allan Poe short story (“The Tell-Tale Heart – a musicabre” was the first). I imagine many readers of Poe’s works now raising their eyebrows: how does a modern day bathroom feature in Poe’s 200 year old story of Inquisitorial torture? It doesn’t in Poe, of course. Yet in my movie musical adaptation there is action set in modern times that serves as a framing device to the bulk of the film which is faithfully set in Poe’s diabolic dungeon. Shooting these framing device scenes required me spending a day in a tub while Ed and my comfy nest of a home was swarmed by that hive-like species called filmcrew independentalis.

Jennifer and Jason and some of the film equipment overwhelming the apartment
Lots of different shots from different angles also required a lot of stepping into the bathtub to anchor lighting and set up camera angles.
But only I had to undress and get submerged in water when stepping into the tub… but then again, can’t complain, it’s my own damn fault, right?

We had scheduled 10 days to film “The Pit and the Pendulum – a musicabre”. For many practical reasons we had to shoot the bathroom scenes first. So here I was, first day on set, directing myself and the crew in my swimming trunks sitting in a tub in my own home, and thinking, well, this is not exactly the least awkward way to commence a film shoot.

Did these scenes have to be filmed in my own bathroom? Not really. But the producer in me liked that the rental for the space was $0. The director in me and my cinematographer Jason Chua liked the look of the room and the idea of having plenty of time and access to the space to plan out all the shots, even if we both also realized the tub was really too small and the ceiling should ideally be higher and everyone would be in really cramped quarters.

2nd Assistant Camera Han Jang Houston

But we did it. We got all our shots, which included scenes with my husband Ed Elder.

Yes, just as in Tell-Tale, Ed is featured in P&P. And this time we even get to see his face! And hear him speak!

It’s quite the promotion.

Still from footage of the first day of shooting

About dannyashkenasi

I'm a composer with over 40 years experience creating music theater. I'm also an actor, writer, director, producer, teacher and general enthusiast for the arts.
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