“THE YELLOW HANDKERCHIEF” director, Udayan Prasad
There isn’t a filmmaker I know who wouldn’t mind 10 percent more of absolutely anything he or she can get. The one thing we could all do with, probably, is 10 percent more sleep or rest because we seem to get just about none during a shoot. Somehow our bodies keep going until wrap and then we either collapse or go down with all the bugs we have managed to keep at bay for the duration of the shoot.
To be serious about the question as far as The Yellow Handkerchief is concerned, I could have done with at least an extra 10 percent on the schedule. The reason is simple: Kristen Stewart is under the age of 18 and there are very strict limitations on the hours she can spend in front of the camera on any given day.
We were making a road movie and anyone who has had to film in and around cars immediately knows how time-consuming that can be. Furthermore we were filming in Louisiana as summer approached which meant that from around 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. the sun was pretty much directly overhead. That does not make for interesting lighting as far as most exteriors are concerned, especially with the visual style we had in mind. Normally the solution would be to film exteriors before 10:30 a.m. and after 3:30 p.m. and fill in the intervening period with interiors if at all possible. Well, that isn’t always possible, and anyway, for lead actors who are also minors, the clock starts ticking from the time they either leave their residence for set or arrive at base camp depending on how far the latter is from the former. It certainly cannot be stopped and then restarted when the light becomes more favorable. So we were left with the choice of either having great light for the start of Kristen’s day and harsh light for the rest of it or the other way around.
The solution, and there always is a solution because filming has to continue, was to pick locations bearing this restriction in mind and try and design the schedule accordingly. However making movies is an organic and sometimes unpredictable process with curve balls coming at you when you least expect them. That’s one of the reasons why it is so exciting. So there were times when we just had to bite the bullet and roll camera. It was either that or have an unfinished film on our hands and that was not an option. What really saved us was the fact that we had Chris Menges behind the camera and if he doesn’t know how to find a solution then, believe me, there is hardly a soul on this earth who does.
[PREMIERE SCREENING: Friday, Jan. 18, noon — Eccles Theatre, Park City]