Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Likes of Us - September


The production is finally under way as my little summer project becomes my fall project. We are now in the third week of shooting and it has been interesting, to say the least. First of all it’s hard to believe that we’re really shooting this movie. When I started writing the script about a year and a half ago, I never really thought about it actually being made. It was almost a surreal feeling when the director called action on the first shot. I think we were all pretty giddy the first morning of the first day of shooting. That feeling didn’t last for long though. As the reality of the long road ahead of us set in along with the realization that we wouldn’t be getting much sleep over the next 2-1/2 months, I found myself asking, “whose idea was this again?”, with regularity. My primary job as writer is basically over at this point. While there are minor tweaks to made to the script, most of time is spent on my other job as Junior producer. One of my partners happens to be a week older than me, so he has claimed the title of Senior producer. The truth is that writing the script was simple compared to the demands of being a producer. There have been many issues to deal with from the first day of shooting. Because this is our first major production, we have been caught off-guard on more than one occasion. We’ve had location issues, we’ve had prop problems, and we’ve had an actor drop out without ever even coming to the set. At times it has seemed like God himself is working against us. We have a scene in our film that is supposed to take place in a funeral home. Now the problem with filming in a funeral home is that you are literally at the mercy of death. People dying when we need to shoot is just a little inconvenient. We had funeral homes booked twice which were ultimately cancelled because someone had the nerve to die. What I’ve learned on this adventure is that being a producer means never getting any rest. My free time is spent trying to make sure that we have everything we need for our next days shooting. When we are shooting I’m already worried about getting what we need for the next day. We are only shooting on the weekends because everyone has a day job. This would seem to an advantage from a producer’s standpoint because you have five whole days to figure something out for the following weekend. While having the extra time has been beneficial at times, I’m beginning to hate that extra time because it just gives me more time to think about all the things that could go wrong with the shoot. This week I devoted many hours of my time to making sure that we would have a parking lot to shoot in this weekend. You would think that finding a parking lot to shoot in would be fairly simple. That is simply not the case in New York. Space is at a premium in this city and apparently so are parking lots. I managed to find a great location and all I was waiting on this week was for the approval to shoot, which I was assured by the manager of the property, would be no problem. We did get our approval on Thursday with one tiny, little condition; we needed to send over our proof of insurance. We, of course, didn’t have any insurance. This may seem like a major hurdle to most, but not to a full fledged Jr. Producer. I sprang into action and searched all over the internet for someone who could provide us insurance on very short notice at a reasonable price. It took a little while but I managed to find an insurance company that specialized in short term insurance. We completed the application (thank you internet, I knew it would come in handy for more than email and porn) and got our policy back the next day. We sent off our proof of insurance and on Friday afternoon we had our parking lot for the weekend. The best part of my producing duties is that it keeps my mind off of the actual movie. As long as I’m working on fixing a problem, I don’t have to think about the fact that the film that I wrote is being filmed. I know that I wrote the script, but I am so far removed from it that I find myself asking other people about the details of particular scenes. The Director keeps on reminding me that I wrote the script, but it’s almost as if I’ve purposefully pushed it out of my mind. One of the unexpected things about making this movie is how attached I’ve become to everyone. It feels like we’re a crew of a ship, with the Director at the helm and the actors and crew manning the deck. The Sr. Producer and I are below deck looking at charts and trying to chart a course through stormy waters (wow, that’s just an awful analogy; I hope the script is better than that). We are actually losing one of our cast members at the end of this weekends shoot and it feels as though we’ll be losing a major part of our group. Because of the scheduling of the film, a few of the major cast members will be making their first appearances in the next couple of weeks, so as we lose one member of our little troupe, we’ll actually be gaining about four more. It’s all just part of process I guess, but this my first time experiencing anything like this. I’m still amazed at the commitment of the actors and the crew to the film. They all seem to have taken ownership of the film to some extent. I think they feel that if they don’t do their jobs, they’ll be letting down everyone else. It’s a very nice feeling to have people who are fairly new to the project compared with my two partners but yet still feel just as committed to making sure that we produce the best work possible. That at the end of day makes all the work and worry worthwhile. My goal is to make sure that I show the same level of energy and commitment that they are giving to the project. I can tell you that doubts and certainly exhaustion sometimes almost make me want to give up, but I know that I can’t because I’d not only be letting myself down, but I’d be letting down a much larger group of people who have given their time and energy to bring my script to life. I also have to say that my partners have been absolutely fantastic during this whole process. We had a dream a year ago to make a film together and now we’re doing it. And even through all the problems and through all the worrying, I’m still amazed that we are actually living that dream. I can’t thank them enough for that. Well that brings us to the end of this episode. I hope you’ve all enjoyed the ride. It’s like a rollercoaster really (okay, I promise to stop with the terrible analogies). Some people enjoy them, some people hate them, but everyone has to agree that they are thrilling. Anyway, I’ll be back in another month with more tales from the set. I’ll leave you with the words of the great philosopher Socrates or was it Mick Jagger who said, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find you get what you need”. Happy trails everyone, until we meet again…