Director's Diary

Day 22
March 3rd, 2001

I can barely believe it is March. The days, they roll on by. This weekend we have some funky stuff on the agenda. Today we are shooting some scenes of Madeline Berger at her therapists office, Dr. Anise Satron. The good Doctor is really not such a good doctor, and we are emphasizing the pain with a 360 degree dolly shot throughout the scene. Our goal is to blacken everything out except the actors, so they appear to be floating in a pool of nothingness. We are filming at my house in our basement. Amy has, yet again, given me permission to invade the sanctitude of our home. I keep promising we are done shooting here and then we keep needing to shoot here again. The horror, the horror. The actors today are my sister Anne {who plays Madeline} and my mother. It is always a little easier to shoot just a few actors, and I feel fortunate today to have a small cast, because we have some new faces in the crew and everyone is getting adjusted to some new working styles. All in all, things seem to be going very smoothly.

Of course, a day on the set cannot go by without its calamitous difficulties. So when the dolly creaks, the tracks are not level and the sound appears to be sucking, I am not surprised. A funny joke to say on a film set is "We'll fix it in Post." Ha Ha Ha. That is so funny. Yet, we make the damn joke over and over. Post Production is looming hard on this project now that we are so close to the end of filming. There will be many sound and otherwise issues to deal with in post. This is normal, especially for a feature length film. As much as it gives me an ulcer to think about, it still seems like a fun challenge that we will face in the coming months.

So, because of the extensive setup, it takes us close to five hours before we are ready to shoot the first shot. I look around at my basement and it looks so damn cool. There is black paper hanging from the ceiling in a giant circle with a track and dolly on the inside of the circle. Lights are clamped to the ceiling and there are two black chairs in the middle of the circle with the actors deep in "therapy" upon them. I love it.

We break for lunch after the first shot and everyone chows down on something yummy that Holly has prepared for us. Basically Holly besides being the awesome actor that she is, has also become a catering god to us. And as a lifer vegetarian, she has shown a great knack for cooking meat…She is the style council.

After lunch, we are all business. We get down to work and shoot this six minute scene four more times. We shoot it mostly going in one direction around the room, but then for the hell of it, we shoot it the other way, too. We shoot and shoot and suddenly we are done shooting these scenes. It is early, maybe sixish. So I figure, let's get some other stuff accomplished. We quickly setup and shoot three more shots of Madeline in three different rooms in the house. I am amazed at our speed and efficiency. Finally, it is around 10pm and we call it a night. We go to bed with a nice sense of accomplishment. Tomorrow we have outdoor shots planned, car shots, bicycle shots. It needs to be clear weather for continuity purposes from other shooting days. Rain is on the forecast. What the hell is going to happen? I slug down my valerian root tincture and fade out to the sounds of rain drops on my rooftop.

Day 23
March 4th, 2001

The alarm goes off, disturbing me from my nightmares about rain pour pouring down. All night, I dreamed about rain rain rain. Or was it a dream. I look out onto a grey and wet landscape. Hmmm. Hmmmm. Hmmmmmmmm.

Okay, well. Hmmmmmmmmmm. Okay. Okay, okay. My original idea for this film was to be full of grey rainy days, so fuck it. We'll shoot a bunch of city shots today and hopefully it will clear up in time to shoot the other stuff. Scott, Jason, Andreas and I jump into my pickup and head out onto the road. At our first stop, I get out and stand in the torrential downpour to direct traffic around our illegally parked vehicle. I never saw Titanic, but I find myself thinking "Fuck James Cameron, I am the king of the world." I am wet, cold, tired, and fucking exhilarated. This feeling starts to fade as the feeling in my legs starts to fade. Ah well, exhilaration lives next door to depression, so I split the neighborhood.

We drive around and shoot SF for the next three hours. We shoot in North Beach, we shoot in China Town, we shoot up at Coit Tower. We shoot at upper Market. We shoot all over town. I am not sure where I will use these shots, but I am glad to get them. This is such a typical bay area day, and my goal is to capture this feeling.

We stop and eat at Big Nate's BBQ, owned by NBA superstar Nate Thurmond. We get a huge bunch of meat candy and by the time we finish eating, we are done, shot, garbage, compost. We are so sated, I think we are going to pass out. Ooof. So we go home and while there is a brief respite from the rain, we shoot Holly cruising around on her bike. I think we got great footage. At one point a car passed us with a dalmation sticking its head out the window. It looked very cool and we had fun. Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the rest of the gang were cleaning up from last night and we were getting the car ready to go out on the streets and shoot. But, alas! The rain, it starts to come down. AAAAAAARGHGHGHGHGHGHGH! What shall we do?

Back to my basement. We set up methodically and specifically. We have someone on either side of the car with yellow "streetlights" going back and forth over the car. In the rear are the taillights of approaching vehicles. In the front, we have breaklights, we have cars passing cars and we have fill. Also, we have Phil and Adam, in the car, heading to Beth's dinner party. We shoot.

And we shoot. David and Asher are awesome. They have their lines and their characters down so well by now that I wonder if they dream as themselves or as Adam and Phil. These guys nail the scene from head on and then I decide we need to do closeups from either side. So we move the camera and shoot Asher. Then we move the camera and shoot Dave. We are running out of film and we are working deep into the night, so we are just doing one take on everything we are shooting at this point. But it is going very well. The actors occasionally wish we could do a second take on something, but we must push forward. I watch closely and feel like we are getting enough great stuff so as not to worry. The head on shots were so great, I could see not even going to the closeups in post. We shall see. Somewhere around midnight, Holly makes milkshakes. I am lactose intolerant, but I drink a huge one anyway. It is instant karms. I pay dearly. We push on and finally finish around 2:15am. Holy shit, we shot for over 17 hours today. Without complaint. Everyone did great. I am so impressed by these folks. They are my family. I am totally looking forward to finishing production so that I can have a somewhat normal life again{????????}, but I have come to rely heavily on hanging out with these people. Life will be very different without this weekend ritual. We clean up, call AAA to jumpstart Scott's car, hang out and recap the day to one and another and finally, around 3:30, the house is empty. I pass out in bed like a zombie. Can't wait til next week.