Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Likes of Us - August

I think it’s about time for another update on my little summer project. Before I start, I just want to explain how our little production company 700 Shades of Grey got it’s name. It comes from a conversation one of my partners had regarding his old black and white TV. Someone had the audacity to complain that the TV only got two colors. My partner correctly pointed out that it not only got black and white but 700 shades of grey as well. If you click on this link (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVzLjZ3n_Nw), you’ll be able to see our corporate tag in all its glory. The production is still in the “pre” phase at this point. Our starting date has been pushed back a couple of weeks as we struggle to get our cast and crew together. My stress level continues to rise in direct proportion to number of problems that we’ve experienced at this point. Our original plan was to start shooting next weekend. Those plans went by the board when we realized that our casting was not going be complete by that date. It seems impossible to imagine that in a city with about 1 million out of work actors, we can’t to put together a cast of twenty. The auditions were actually very interesting and exhausting. It was a two day marathon. I was impressed by how prepared the actors were. The painful part wasn’t having to sit through bad auditions (of which there were very few); it was having to listen to the same parts of my script read over and over again. I’m not sure how other writers feel about this, but listening to my own writing is quite painful. After a very short while it begins to sound as appealing as nails across a chalkboard. It’s the same as hearing your own voice on tape. It always sounds much cooler in your head. Thankfully the actors that we have cast at this point appear to be extremely committed to the project. I guess as the writer of the script, it should make me feel good that the actors like the material. It’s just that I know that actors will, for the most part, say anything to get cast. Actors are just like the rest of us and I know that I’ve been absolutely thrilled with every company I’ve ever interviewed with. As I said in the first installment, I was expecting some bumps in the road and along with the casting issues, we are also having budget issues. We probably should have stuck to the old axiom of planning on twice as much as you think you need. Instead we planned on exactly what we thought we would need, which is proving to be totally inadequate. That means that it’s time to discard whatever little pride I was attempting to hold on to and once again go hat in hand and ask for additional funding. It may be time to resort to the Max Bialystock method of financing. I think the most important advice that I could give to anyone who might want to follow us down this road is to get more money than you think you’re going to need. You’ll definitely find ways to spend it. I’m fairly confident that my next script is going to involve two characters talking in a room for a couple of hours. Actually the thing that keeps me up at night is my concern as to whether the script is worthy of all of this time, effort and money. Writing was essentially a one man job. My partners and a couple of friends certainly provided me with notes and guidance along the way, but I did most of the heavy lifting. Sitting at home in front of my computer doesn’t really involve anyone else. I could take and hour or a day to write a page or a line without any consequences. Now as we get closer to the actual start date, I begin to have a lot of doubts about how this is all going to come off. I have complete confidence in my partners and their abilities, but belief in my own script is another story. The delays in starting are certainly not helping those doubts any. I can only hope that when we do start filming, that I will begin to feel more comfortable with my own work. My partners are confident in the material and as I stated before, the actors are very happy with the script. I have no choice but to sit back and hope that what I have written is worthy of the considerable efforts that it will take to complete the project. The start of shooting on The Likes of us is closer than ever, but in some ways it seems just as far away as the day we conceived of the idea. Until the Director actually yells “action” on that first day of shooting, it will still feel somewhat unreal to me. I know that we’re getting closer, but it seems everyday brings more challenges to the fore. I’m confident that we’ll get it done, but it is much more of a struggle than I ever could have conceived. It has been an interesting experience however. And as the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you, only makes you stronger (Although I wouldn’t be too keen on a maiming). So besides the casting, budget and my rising anxiety level, the production is proceeding swimmingly. Oh, that’s right, I forgot about our scheduling issues. Using deferred payment contracts to secure the actors is great for a no-budget film like ours, but that also leaves you at the mercy of the dreaded “PAYING GIG”. We have already had to change our shooting schedule to work around one of our actors being unavailable for one weekend because of another commitment and I’m sure that we’ll have others as we go along. Our start date was postponed not only because we have been unable to cast a couple of key roles, but also because a couple of the actors that we did cast were already booked through Labor Day. Budget issues, casting problems, scheduling changes, rising anxiety level; I think that gives you a snapshot of our current situation, although I’m definitely being a little over dramatic (but who would want to read a story without drama). The truth is that while we have had a few issues crop up along the way, we have had more than our fair share of good fortune as well. So tune in soon boys and girls, for another exciting entry of No-Budget Theater. Same blog time, same blog channel. And in closing I’d just like to leave you with a few inspiring words from the great philosopher Socrates or maybe it was Casey Kasem who said; Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.