Shooting more commercials tomorrow. This should do it for the preshoots. I have so much nervous energy -- it's like Xmas eve every day. I didn't even notice it was freezing cold at last weekend's shoot until we wrapped the last shot. Then the body said, oh, by the way, it is hell of cold.
....Wondering who this Natalie person is who wants to PA in our props dept. 415 area code...probably another recent Bay Area expatriate? This would warm my heart.
....Can I also say that shooting in LA is both a blessing and a curse because you have to contend with things like "Pilot Season?" Where else in the world would your artistic project be held up by something called Pilot Season? All these great no-budget movies coming out of Texas and Nebraska are, I'm sure, are facilitated by the fact that the people who do filmmaking there know no one but each other, have only each other to rely on, and have no other important auditions or high-paying commercial gigs to distract them. It's just a little surreal. Perhaps soon they will institute a "Reality Season."
...Note to self: "Blue Harvest."
The shoot was hard, 'cos of the wilderness factor, but the footage turned out great. The crew, except for that one guy who went to the bathroom and then disappeared for the rest of the day, was completely awesome, totally dedicated. And the actors, especially the ones in the last ad, worked really absurdly hard doing a completely ridiculous thing repeatedly in the dark and cold of Topanga Canyon. But it's the coolest shot ever, so in theory it was worth it.
...I'm kind of inarticulate right now 'cos of still being high off the shoot and also exhausted, but I want to thank in writing Ben whom we met in the parking lot of Chapman Leonard and who out of the blue offered to drive our rented dolly track over to where it needed to be. (This after determining by eyeball that the 10-foot tracks were going to fit into Jen's Honda hatchback very badly if at all) We didn't even do the usual LA exchange of cards or emails, so it was really just a spontaneous kindness between strangers with no personal-gain payback involved. Those are nice. Thanks, man!
First day of shooting tomorrow! We're pre-shooting 3 fake commercials that the aliens show to the focus group members. My first "spec" commercials. Very exciting. As long as it doesn't rain.
10 Things I Dislike About Gamblers, continued:
1) They never ever shut up. Things they never ever shut up about include: how much they are losing, how much they were winning before they were losing, how they would have won if "this" had happened, how much it is the dealer's fault.
2) They take no responsibility for anything. Everything they lose is due to the fault of the dealer, someone else misplaying a hand, someone standing behind them, touching a card wrong, or otherwise violating the superstitious sanctity of their stupid little world.
3) They take credit for winning. As if some force other than dumb luck had anything to do with their occasional wins, they gloat and preen and scream about the totality of their skillfull victory. They talk about being "hot" or "shaking good" or "having feeling" as if it relates to something. They try to present themselves as good people. This is especially noxious when relating to the game of pan 9, an infant's game that would quickly bore monkeys with its dull repetition and complete lack of a learning curve. There is nothing to learn.
4) When they lose, they become your best friend. The shoeshiners, as they're known, hang around behind whoever happens to have money and ingratitate themselves by cheerleading that player, commenting on extremely obvious things that happen to go in that player's favor, and basically maintaining a constant stream of blather (see #1 above) in the hopes that the player will give them $25 in return for going away.
5) They complain until they get their way, then complain some more.
6) They are amazingly stupid. Again, this may be specific of the California casino environs in which I work, in which all the players lack basic skills like counting numbers past 10, listening comprehension, and reasoning skills.
7) After a 72-hour stretch spent hunched over a card table, they tend to smell like butt.
8) They are emotionally undeveloped. Little things upset them, like accidental physical contact, a word they don't understand, someone pointing out when they're wrong, too much sugar in their coffee. Then they will try to exact quick, loud revenge, begging for attention from the floorpeople and fighting against the perceived violation of their rights "on principle." There is nothing funnier than hearing a gambler say, "it's the principle."
9) They sometimes win, which maintains the illusion in their minds that they are good people, God favors them, and they should continue in their ways, because, they reason, they must be doing something right.
10) They are constantly all around me.
Did a full cast read-through today. It's really a wonderful bunch of people. If only I could pay them enough to do nothing but this movie for a month, I would have no problems. But alack. I need one of those rich Vietnamese gamblers to fall dead into my lap in the parking lot, their horded bankroll dropping innocently down my pants.
...Oh I guess then I would still have to concede that the ending has a problem. And locations are a problem, and, apparently 24p without an uncompressed editing system that can do advanced pulldown is a problem. But after tonight, I really, really, really, love the cast.

The whole thing about gamblers is, they're the least thoughtful people in the world. All that stuff that you take for granted about co-existing with other people, such as not making others wait for you, not gloating when you win, not spitting in others' faces, not stealing others' food or money, and not complaining when something happens that is clearly nobody's fault....these are all things that gamblers cannot not do, that is, they love to do them. They can't imagine what it is to do something on behalf of someone else, because they don't really understand the concept of "other people;" other people are just potential conduits of money, and whether they win it, steal it, beg it, or con it from you, it is the only reason they will ever have any interaction with you.
...Meanwhile, the movie's going really well, on paper. We looked at a lot of good locations and now have a rough idea how long it will take to shoot this puppy. Of course there's till the matter of securing dates at those locations that somehow coincide with the frantastic schedules of actors and crew....but the whole project seems a lot more finite now, whereas last month it felt overwhelming. Whatever hangups we face, it's only, as They say, a matter of time.
A few words on peoples' names in the casino. First of all, it's a mainly Asian clientele, so everyone has some cutesy Anglicized name, and there are about a million each of Kims and Lees. At any given table, the majority of the women will be named Cindy, Kelly, Kim, Candy or Connie. It's important not to confuse Kimmy and Sexy Kim (sadly, there is no Lil' Kim), or to mix up the Korean male Kims and the Vietnamese female Kims. Most males are Tony or Tom. Everyone, depending on age and sex, can be generically addressed as Mama or Papa or Sister or Brother. Latinos are "amigo" or "mijo." There are two similarly abrasive screaming Vietnamese Mamas with dyed-orange hair named Mrs. Robinson. I haven't figured out if they're related or what they have to do with Simon & Garfunkel. Likewise, there are a couple of continually drunk Korean woman of "sister" age who are addressed as Koko, even though I'm pretty sure neither of them are actually named Koko. My name on the table is "Corporation." Meanwhile, the PA system pages a recurring cast of characters with even more cheerfully improbably names, such as Eddy Eddy, Juanita Juanita, Bill Gates, and Bobby Diboote. Most likely, these paged names are all code for something, just as most of the names in the casino are a generic corruption, assumed so as to hide the creepy fact that you're a compulsive gambler from yourself and your true name.
....Also, if someone is calling you "Honey," it's probably because you're making an ass of yourself.
We got our first rave review on the new script!

OK, it's from one of the main actors, but still, heartwarming.

Still need a location, though. Anyone have an office building, or, alternatively, runs focus groups for a living?
Happy Current Year! Now's the time to get serious on the life ambitions now that all that holiday angst is out of the way. Here are my resolutions for 2004 (Previously have never been big on resolutions, but since leaving college I notice that if I don't go into my year with some sort of rough plan, there's a strong chance of accomplishing exactly nothing):
-- Film, and complete, Target Audience 9.1.
-- Finish the script to above. This should have been the resolution for last year, and actually has to be done within the next, say, 48 hours.
-- Produce a play or musical in LA. I'm thinking something involving video games, anime, and/or casinos, that bashes the right.
-- Find a new job. My friend Jo who got me this job feels we have both been doing this too long. She is right.
-- Decide whom to vote for for President and support them in ousting Bush.
-- Move to new living quarters.
-- Get an all-region DVD player and increase library of small-budget indie American movies. (A shallow goal perhaps, but it's important to have a few easily-realized goals on the list so that something can be crossed off while the longer-term projects are being worked on)
-- Make and spend time with some new friends in LA, and reconnect with old ones.
-- Go see some doctors while I have health insurance.
-- Develop a plan for paying back all the people who are nicely supporting TA91, which will hopefully involve finding a distributor and theatrical release.

10 list items looks sufficient. Here's *hoping* the internet doesn't suffer a massive catastrophic collapse over the next year, because I ain't writing this down anywhere else.