3.30.2004

We wrapped principal photography on Sunday at about 9 pm. At the end of the last shot Wolf very kindly reminded us to say the magic words, "That's a wrap!" Wolf's good with things like that. It was a completely exhausing but utterly fulfilling weekend where we basically shot the whole end sequence of the movie. Somehow my best friend from high school stumbled onto the location looking to use a restroom and ended up being in our big slumber party scene. There were a lot of things like that on set, where something bizarre happened but you didn't have time to think about how weird or funny it was because something always has to be done very urgently. It's kind of a good antidote to the usually over-contemplated lifestyle.
...It's exciting to be able to re-enter life a little after a period of intense artistic self-obsession. I mean, I don't even know who's still running for President. I'm still riding a little exhausted euphoria from the knowledge that somewhere in these 37-odd DVCAM tapes is a way cool 2-hour movie, and doubly high from the fact that I managed to get the raw footage without dying, (seriously) injuring anyone else, or going into monstrous credit card debt that would require me to eat rice gruel for the next year.
...Of course we still have a bit more to shoot, pickups and exteriors and whatnot, and a whole mess of post-production to do. So keep those checks and contributions of free telecine stations flowing in. The really really painfully trying part, however, is done, and it feels great.

3.22.2004

There's that old saying that Talent recognizes Genius, but Mediocrity sees nothing higher than itself. I see this borne out repeatedly in the casino, the paraphrase would go something like "Working people take note of situations and contexts, Rich people just flap their lips and feel important." Basically, the large percentage of customers in the Big Room are feeble morons with wads of cash who need to feel that they are on top and in control at all times. If they don't get pampered, they get uneasy, and if you don't respond to their requests/rants/orders, it is cause for vehement disapproval and retribution, despite the fact that these requests are made in completely incoherent gibberish because the people are, by virtue of their class status, not used to talking with people but rather at them, and, as mentioned above, they are also impossibly stupid. But the point is, it's always your fault, their uneasiness, which just leads to more hassle for you, the smiling casino worker. The only thing you can do, sensibly, since it is impossible to reason with them (for they are Mediocre and are incapable of seeing beyond themselves) is to avoid conflict by imaginatively making up scenarios in which they are correct, so that you can get along through the rest of the night. This takes quite a bit of re-ordering reality, which is where the Talent part, I think, comes in. The dealers, floormen, and to some degree we bankers have to work together to maintain this fictional Lala-land where not only are the idiots tolerated, they are also somehow Geniuses and always right. It is maddening work, but apparently someone has to do it.

3.19.2004

So we just finished 5 days at the State Building in Van Nuys. It was probably the hardest thing I've ever done. By the end we were running out of PAs, running out of food, running out of social graces, but everyone who was there was working like mad up to the very last shot. Wolf and his tireless crew, despite us making up 90% of the shots at the last moment, made every shot stunningly beautiful. The actors, despite us making up many of their lines slightly after the shot was decided, made every moment work. The filming is almost done and I'm desperately excited to start editing. Right now however I'm going to go to sleep for approximately two days.

3.13.2004

INDIE FILMMAKING IN THE AGE OF TERROR

...So it's 6:30 AM today and my phone's ringing, I imagine it's someone from cast or crew with some last minute crisis that will require solving before 8 AM calltime.
....Soooooo wrong. It's the LAPD. An officer asks me if I'm renting a truck parked outside the Van Nuys state building (where we're shooting this weekend). Yes, I am. We parked it there last night with all the grip gear because we thought it'd be safe. "It's causing quite a stir," the officer says.
...More on this later.

3.09.2004

I woke up Sunday totally sick, head nose and throat all bad, and thought, this will be the day it all falls apart. Jen is off as a second-unit-of-one, grabbing footage of "Winona" running the LA Marathon, I am supposed to get today started, people are arriving in a half hour, but I'm pretty sure the effort of forming an intelligent thought will cause me to throw up. We're actually shooting at my apartment today, but I don't even know if I can handle replacing the toilet paper roll, much less making a creative decision. All I want to do is hide in a corner and phlegm myself.
....Nine hours later, we'd made our day. We got great shots and had time for beer and hanging out afterwards. Everyone was great, really nice and professional and accomodating. Carrie even made me lemon ginger tea. Jen arrived just in time to steer the ship, and despite the hostility of our carport location (cars moving back and forth, power supply problems, ad nauseum) the whole crew worked marvelously in sync -- AD, camera, art dept, makeup, sound, everyone was on the ball and helping each other. I know that's the way it's "supposed" to be but it's always keen that it can happen in such a low-budget situation. It was also sunny like a summer day and everyone was a bit giddy. Which was funny because we were mainly shooting a scene involving a suicide attempt, so there was a nice light atmosphere against what could have been a dark moody day. This scene will come out particularly nice I think, Mary is great in it, and will be a strong kickoff point to our movie.
...Our next big task is going into the next location for five days straight and trying to shoot out a good 40% of the movie, almost everything we need to finish it. All our big action movie and special effects shots in this section. Buddha grant me luck and a little free labor, even though I know Buddha doesn't really do that.

3.05.2004

Those gamblers are sucking the life force out of me. Being near them you realize what a waste of space a human being can really be. All that screaming and superstitious gesturing towards nothing. On the funny side, however, there was a guy at my table today who had a penny lodged in his ear. "For luck." Of course! What else could it possibly be for?