Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Likes of Us - November '07

It’s over. When we started work on our little project, I never thought that I would be able to say those words. I remember thinking after the first week of shooting that November seemed so far away. There were many days along the way when I thought we’d never make it. We faced some roadblocks that seemed insurmountable. Somehow, someway, we managed to make it past all of them. And now that it’s all over, I can look back and feel not only satisfied with what we have accomplished, but also feel a great sense of accomplishment at having set a goal and then gone out and met it. We are only at the end of the first step of our journey, but I’m almost sure that we have passed the biggest test. As the Director Sandy Jimenez said to me recently, almost incredulously, “We shot a film!” Even when we wrapped it didn’t sink in that principle photography was over. It wasn’t until the following Saturday that it began to sink in for me. During shooting I absolutely longed for the days of nothing to do. I remember thinking about all the things that I would do when I had free time again. Well the time had come and I had nothing to do. It was almost like being finished with school when even though all your exams are done, you still feel like you should be doing something. I can’t say that I missed it exactly, but I did feel out of sorts to a degree. I found myself wondering what exactly it was that I used to do with my free time. At least for the first post shooting Saturday, I had the wrap party to look forward to, but still just sitting around my apartment, playing video games and watching TV, somehow felt very strange. The cast party was a blast. It took place at Antarctica, which also happens to be the location for our bar scenes in the movie. It was nice to just be able to hang out with the cast and crew without having to worry about call times, or writing lines or location issues or contracts or anything of substance. The only issue we had to contend with was how much we could drink while we still had an open bar tab. We just hung out and had a few (some had more than a few, but I’m not saying who) drinks and talked about the film. It was great to see everyone together for the first time. We were missing a few members of the team, but for the most part everyone was there. We took the obligatory cast and crew picture, had more than a few shots (car bombs anyone?) and generally had a great time. And now comes the nasty post-production process. Thankfully, I don’t have a big hand in this part. I’ll be along to take a look at the rough cuts and offer my opinion, but I will let the editor do his job. As with the filming, you have to have confidence in every person on the crew. It would have made Sandy’s job a lot harder if I was constantly second guessing his choices as the director and I’m sure the same can be said of our editor. The last thing he needs is someone looking over his shoulder and making a running commentary about his choices. Our DP was saying that cinematographers don’t make very good directors because all they care about is the composition of the shot. They don’t care if there’s an actual story, just as long as it looks good. Writers probably wouldn’t make the best editors either, because they would want to preserve every scene that they wrote. I know that our editor is going to have to cut scenes for various reasons and while I may not like them, I have to allow him to do his job. After editing, we will hit the film festival circuit and hope that we can drum up some interest in our little project. This will be a first for Charlie (Sr. Producer) and me. Sandy has some experience in these matters, but it will be first time that he has his own film to show. I’m not sure I’m ready for the comments that will come with the first public showings. We will have all the cast and crew at our premiere (whenever that may be) and I can only hope that they like what they see. I would hate to let down the people who worked so hard and gave so much in order to make this film a reality. I’m not particularly worried about critics because there is no one who is going to be harder on me than I am on myself. I’ve already told Sandy that I don’t think I’ll be able to watch the premiere of the film because the pressure will be too much for me. I think I’ll just be at a bar until it’s over. Hopefully the actors won’t want to hang me at the end of it. So what have I learned now that it’s all said and done? I’ve learned that making a movie is a lot harder than I thought. I’ve learned that I’ve got a lot of really good friends. I’ve come to appreciate Charlie and Sandy more than ever. I’ve learned first hand that New York is filled with talented people and that I was very fortunate to be able to work with a few of them. I’ve learned that nine weeks isn’t forever, even though it may feel that way at times. I’ve learned that you never have enough money. I’ve learned how to order lunch for 15 people. I’ve learned that eggs, bacon and coffee are essential to a good day’s shoot. I’ve learned that if you ask, sometimes people say yes. And I’ve learned that sometimes the best plans really are hatched over a couple of drinks at a bar. Thus ends my odyssey. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading about it. It’s hard to believe after a year and half of work, that shooting is actually done. I only hope that one day you’ll be able to go to the theater or local video store and actually see The Likes of Us. And since you’ve been reading this you’ll have at least one person’s viewpoint about how it all went down. I’ll leave you with words of my famous ancestor Confucius or was it Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day who said, “So make the best of this test, and don't ask why. It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time. It's something unpredictable, but in the end it's right. I hope you had the time of your life.” That’s all folks.