Kaishakunin In Production: Weekend One

Last September, KAISHAKUNIN was a script and only a script. Fittingly, nine months later it turns into a reality. After many hours spent storyboarding, location scouting, creating a shot-list, casting, revising the script, etc. we are in production. So much needs to align to make it happen.

Calendars are cleared and cast and crew commit their time. Rent and insurance for the location are paid. Actors are fitted for costumes. Props are selected and acquired. A table read or two happens. So much time and effort go into the production before the camera starts rolling that it starts to feel like it will not come to fruition. Well, on the morning of June 11th, it finally did. We started rolling on location in York, PA at the Gessha Tea House.


With a 7:30 am call time and an hour and a half drive, we were up at 5 am.  The car was loaded up the night prior. Of course, it doesn’t go without a hitch. A camera mount I was using with the Shogun Atmos recorder snapped in half and left a screw stuck in a mounting hole. Rather than drilling it out and risking the monitor, I found a work around. Fortunately, deep in the menu structure, there is an option to invert the display.

Nothing worth doing is easy.

The key equipment includes:

  • Sony a7s with Metabones adapter for Canon EF Mount Lenses
  • Black Magic 4K Production camera
  • Atmos Shogun recorder
  • Jib
  • 650W fresnel tungsten light


The interior is perfect for the story. It fits the feel we want for two people having a conversation in an interior set in feudal Japan. And like feudal Japan there’s no air conditioning. And there’s a hot 650W light. And it’s 93F, the hottest in York in 2016 so far. We know how to pick them.

Despite the heat, our cast and crew were troopers. They bore through it without complaint and delivered the performances. Joe Patterson was a tremendous help with set up, tear down, lighting and staging. I had been on set with him previously, but this is the first time he’s worked on a film I’m producing. We would not have gotten as many takes as we did, otherwise.

The space is tight and there are only so many ways to set up a shot. We did the usual – master shot, over the shoulder, etc. We also got creative with extreme close ups, creative framing and overhead takes. Next weekend has more inventive takes with a motorized slider.


While I was primarily located in the tea house, there was plenty of preparation going on outside the tea house as we changed lighting set ups or were shooting only one actor. James Murray was on location and took some behind-the-scenes photos of our actors in costume.


At the time of this writing, we have exactly seven days remaining on our Indiegogo campaign. We’re going for our stretch goal of $4,000. If we hit that, anyone who already contributed or does contribute at the $25 level gets a professionally printed DVD. If you’ve thought about contributing, but haven’t done so yet, time’s running out.

Thanks to those that have contributed and shared, we made our original goal of $2,000 and it’s being put to use paying for the location rental, insurance, food for cast and crew and lodging over these two shooting weekends.

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