Unless I’m on a beach wading in perfectly clear seawater, the ideal temperature for me to exist in is 65 degrees F (that’s 18C for everyone else on the planet except the USA). I keep interior temps at 65F all year long. I sleep better, think better, and create better. But, there are times when I can’t control the climate. So before scheduling a movie shoot, it’s always best to consider where you’re going to shoot and what the temperature will be.
Dennis Hopper once told me it’s better to shoot in sweltering heat than it is to shoot in bitterly cold. He was right. It wasn’t until my first winter shoot that I realized how debilitating it is to shoot a movie in cold weather.
When the temps get cold enough, and the wind chill kicks in, it can be beyond miserable. In addition it can be dangerous. Frostbite is a concern. It’s really hard to operate cameras and things with huge padded gloves. Imagine being an actor, trying to compose yourself and stay in character when your body starts involuntarily shaking. Or what about the blood draining from your face and leaving your nose bright red and cheeks pale? These are problems that one must deal with when shooting in the cold.
There are some dangers when shooting a movie in the heat. People are at risk for heat stroke and the sort. But, tolerating the temperature impact on your body is manageable. It’s easier to provide water to people, make sure everyone stays in the shade whenever possible, and avoid heat exhaustion. Sometimes it happens, of course, and usually when the heat index is higher than normal (this is like a wind chill but reverse).
I’ve filmed many movies in warm temps. My first film PEP SQUAD was produced in the humid Kansas July and August. It was disgusting. Actors make-up sliding down faces, and several people on the crew just smelled bad.
STUCK! was even worse. Filmed during early summer in Macon, Georgia, where the humidity is so thick you can cut it and put it on a piece of toast. The place we filmed the jail cells was on the second floor of a building with no air conditioning. The owners refused to open the windows at night to cool it down for us. So we had to work in miserable conditions. Visually it looked great: everyone a little shiny with sweat and the contrast in B&W worked out in our favor.
During CASSEROLE CLUB we filmed in Palm Springs, and I made sure the air conditioning ran throughout the shoot. Some people have the belief you should shut all the appliances off, or turn off the AC when you shoot. That makes no sense to me, because you’ll just add room noise back in later. It’s super easy to match the frequency of the room noise and air nowadays. Maybe back in the day this was harder. Anyway, I’ve never worried about shutting off the AC or Heat. Or unplugging the fridge.
Likewise, think about other factors such as: is it hurricane season? Tornado season? Rainy season? Dry season? Allergy season? How many hours of daylight versus night will you have? In real life, it would always be ideal to live and work in an environment steady at 65F. So think about that when you get ready to shoot your next movie.