There will be blood. Maybe. Or maybe not.

We’re doing a practical effect where a character gets [REDACTED], thus leading to a lot of blood. Like, a lot of blood. What the special effects people have decided to do is wrap a pad around the actor’s torso where the [REDACTED] happens. Then, you know, blood. As I understand it, there’s a couple of ways you can do this. You can put a packet of fake blood in the spot and figure out a way to break the bag open at impact. You can cut around it so that the impact is off-camera and you add the blood later. Or you can feed the blood in from somewhere else, usually via a tube. We’re doing the tube method.

4 bottle

All of the methods have their own strengths and weaknesses. For the tube method, for example, the challenge comes in trying to get the blood to show up at the right time. Think about it. You’ve got a tube that starts in an actor’s clothes, which means it has to snake in from somewhere off-camera. That tube then runs to a spot that’s safely out of the frame, where it’s being held by someone who’s feeding blood into it. That’s a pretty long way for blood to travel on a schedule.

So you time it as best you can and you do everything you can to give yourself more time and more chances to get it right. You schedule lots of time around it, and it’s generally a good idea to have as many copies of the article of clothing that’s going to get bloody as possible. In our case, we’ve dressed the actor in a plain white t-shirt, the type you can easily get in bulk. We have, I think, 6 of them. That should be enough.

It isn’t.

The blood comes early. The blood comes late. It comes in the wrong spot. It comes before we even start the scene, like an over-eager teenager. Before we know it, we’ve gone through all 6 shirts. So, like any good production, they call lunch. Then, laundry.

Today we’re a bit shorthanded as well. Katie Schwartz our UPM is in Michigan at her sister’s wedding and Joe Pezzula is at a different wedding. That means that I’m the sum total of the sound and lighting departments for the day (well, night). Cut to a couple of hours later and I’m holding a light in an angle our stands can’t achieve with one hand and holding the boom mic with the other one. It’s a little tricky. Actually it’s a lot tricky.

Tomorrow Joe comes back. Thank God.

Filmmaker Lucas McNelly is spending a year on the road, volunteering on indie film projects around the country, documenting the process and the exploring the idea of a mobile creative professional. You can see more from A Year Without Rent at the webpage. His feature-length debut is now available to rent on VOD. Follow him on Twitter: @lmcnelly.

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