Shooting an Ice Cream Chaos

(This post references iSundae II: Attack of the Cones, part 2. You may want to view the movie before reading this post.)

“Alright everyone, on the count of three, start throwing spoons!” Clang. Thunk. Bong. Ping. Splat. Plastic spoons fly everywhere while the camera operator tries to stay out of the line of fire. “Okay, cut!” Clink. A stray utensil hits the floor. The director comes out from a safe corner and begins collecting spoons. “That was good! Let’s try it again from another angle.”

I wonder how many other filmmakers can claim to have been through a day like that? It’s not every director who can put “safely directed a spoon-flinging ice-cream-sliding action sequence” on their résumé. Or for that matter would even attempt such a feat. We did, and we survived. It wasn’t that hard, either.

We started the morning with the balance in our favor. All of the heavy set-up had been done the night before so we didn’t have to move furniture around. All we had to do was lug our enormous batch of fake ice cream out of the freezer, scoop it into bowls and top it with real chocolate and cherries. (That was a mistake. We hadn’t reckoned on spoons getting pulled out of the ice cream to be flung. Several costumes ended up with chocolate stains.)

Three very good friends had come to our rescue as miscellaneous party guests. We got everyone in costume—even though we had some trouble with rivets popping out of their holes—and set to work.

Ruth standing on stools to get a good shot

While the actors shoved bowls across the tabletop, Ruth maneuvered the camera all over the place to get the shots we wanted. At one point she was even balancing the tripod on some stools! Thankfully neither the camera nor the actors got hurt during the section. (I had this mental image of the classic “bowl upside down in the lap” happening to one of the extras.)

With the ice cream shuffle out of the way, we moved on to the fun part. Spoon Wars. While the main spoon flinging didn’t have to be rehearsed, we figured we’d need to practice the part when the spoon sticks into Stelen’s ice cream. Of course, the thrower nailed it the first try and the camera wasn’t rolling. It took several more tries to get anywhere close to what we wanted, and it still didn’t look as good as that first throw. We filmed a couple more shots, then unleashed the chaos! The basic rule was, “Don’t aim for anyone’s eye. Other than that, go for it.”

This was quite simple to direct and film. We just let the actors have fun throwing spoons at each other while we tried to get all the shots called for in the script.

We did end up having to cut a section that called for Kitty Cone to swing from a chandelier with a spoon clenched between his teeth because we didn’t have a chandelier. Not to mention Kitty Cone’s lack of teeth. The shot of Marelac firing multiple spoons made it in, though.

After we filmed, we cleaned up. There were surprisingly few ice cream spills (aside from the afore mentioned chocolate stains) although there were spoons everywhere. Then we all had real ice cream sundaes to celebrate and drove off into the setting sun and chilly winds for more filming. (That was an experience and half, I can tell you.)

Later Jordan added in the clinking noises that transformed our plastic bowls into crystal ones. Then he decided that the spoons sounded too much like plastic, so he and his siblings had a spoon fight with metal spoons to get some better sounds. (I’m rather glad I wasn’t caught in the middle of that. Sounds painful.)

Here’s a video of some of the things that happened while we were shooting the shuffle scene:

Behind the Scenes of the Ice Cream Shuffle from Phantom Moose Films on Vimeo.

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