***By David Schick.
As I rolled up on to the warehouse on Wheeler Street, the set location for Magic The Gathering The Musical, my interest piqued with excitement. This was my first time on a movie set of any kind, let alone a puppet musical, I had no idea what to expect.
Within the first three minutes, I got stuck in between two sets of security doors. I wondered if this is what “closed set” felt like.
After a frantic text to Director Molly Coffee, I was released by one of her many assistants, Lindsay Sperling, who then led me through the warehouse to the MTGTM studio.
The doors to studio 14 opened and from that point on it was… well, there’s just no other way to describe it. It was magic! Movie magic! Musical Movie Magic! (Okay, I’ll stop)
About two-dozen crewmembers scurried around the warehouse space, which appeared to have everything and anything one would need to create a puppet film.
The shelves of power tools, ladders, paint buckets, miscellaneous fabrics, props, cameras, lights, fold-out chairs, monitor displays (including Coffee’s personal flat screen), and a very generous snack table that had whatever you required for a blood sugar boost really made it all feel like this is what it means to “be on set.”
I arrived just in time to watch the first scenes being filmed. No speaking, or singing, just puppet gesturing. The level of concentration and amount of time for preparation to film a 5-10 second scene amazed me. The thought of what it took to even get this far boggles the mind.
“I just try to keep everything moving,” said Won Chung, MTGTM First Assistant Director, when I asked what he did. The crew functioned like a beehive or the legs of a centipede, individual actions that worked cohesively towards the same goal.
Amy Rush, one of the many MTGTM puppeteers, said that while she didn’t know anything about Magic: The Gathering, her geekyness for puppets is what attracted her to this project. “It’s puppets, and nice people.”
The atmosphere was more relaxed than I thought it would be. My predisposition came from all the crazy mishaps that you hear about happening on Hollywood sets; a stress level you can cut with a knife.
However, on the set of MTGTM, not only was it playful (spontaneous laughter from watching two puppets mimic an open-mouthed kiss) – it was very productive as well.
“So, what do you think?” Coffee asked me.
I think that Zombie Cat Productions has a very bright future in the film/production industry, and I hope that I can continue to be a part of all its… magic!
“No 20-sided dice! Don’t make me geek out on you!” –Molly Coffee