Director's Diary

Day 5 Saturday January 20th, , 2001
Today is going to be a mammoth day. I know it. We have five scenes that we are attempting to shoot today...25 shots, many many setups and two separate locations. Very ambitious. This is Ivan's last weekend of shooting. Monday he splits to head back to Massachusetts for college, so we are trying to shoot all the Andre Lane scenes that we can today. If we don't get it all in we can shoot some tomorrow. For the first time, I have prepared a list of shots and scenes for whoever wants one. Bonnie motivated this action as we have been attempting to define and redefine her role as Production Coordinator. She, like everyone else, is doing such an amazing job improvising. The crew on this set is 100% fantastic.

Today's insanity is very complete. California is having rolling blackouts due to some bullshit power shortage. I have trouble believing these things, but I experienced the blackouts on Thursday so I am very nervous. This problem, combined with a shot that I want to get at the end of the day out on Potrero Hill, has motivated me to rent a 6000 pound supposedly noiseless generator. The 12-hour rate is in the multiple hundreds. Ouch. But we are prepared for the blackout and that makes me feel better. Other craziness involves a fantasy sequence we are shooting today in which Andre, who is lying motionless on the floor, imagines destroying the kitchen in a rage. We are going to superimpose this footage over a static super close-up of his eyeball. So, of course, I should be getting breakaway glass so that no one gets hurt. But I can't. It's too expensive. So yesterday I went to Builders Resource and bought a three pane window that mimics my kitchen window and today we are going to recreate the kitchen in my basement and shoot all the danger shots down there. I am nervous and apprehensive about this, but hey! Art is dangerous! Anyway, everyone arrives and we get to work. There are some pitfalls here and there, like when my fuses get blown and we can't find the correct power box, and when the generator guy gets there and it turns out we have to pay more for the cables¼But soon we catch a groove and before long we are getting ready to film the fantasy stuff. We all huddle as far away from the action as possible. Some of the crew wears goggles and the camera is fitted with something to protect it. Ivan smashes the shit out of my plates and mugs and vases and eventually we even break the kitchen table itself¼oh shit. Then, in slow motion, we film him putting a chair through the "kitchen window". It comes out so great and everyone is excited about the footage. We march forward. We shoot Beth screaming at Andre and we shoot Andre stealing Beth's books, cd's and video camera, and then, finally, after 14 long hours, we wrap up out on Potrero Hill where we have just shot what Scott is calling the "coolest shot of the film". I hope a lot of other shots rival that one, but I am very gratified to hear the DP so excited about a shot. We go home, hang out a bit to decompress, and attempt to rest for tomorrow.

Day 6 January 21st, 2001
Oh boy, on our shot list, this day is looking so long. I immediately cut this list drastically. I figure we will have a 10-hour day that will balance the 14 hour one we worked yesterday. People are tired and burnt and I don't want to stretch anyone too much this early in the shoot. We have a few hours to pick up from yesterday and then we are going to Asher's house to shoot Dream 2, in which Madeline re-creates all of her friends into caricatures of themselves in her twisted sleeping mind. The morning runs late, but luckily people have already headed to the second location to set up. By the time we all show up there, it is 3pm and time to eat lunch. Today the stress is kind of thick. There are so many people helping out, which is great, but the space is tight and cramped and shooting is not easy. We finally get going and start knocking out scenes. Boom Boom, as Phil would say. We skip some stuff here and there in order to accommodate different people. We go completely out of order to shoot Alix's scene so she can go home and go to bed. She is six years old and it is past her bedtime. She is so completely focused on me during the shoot and she does her job so well and so professional seeming that I can totally see a future where she is a movie star. At six, she is poised and cool under pressure. Her shot is so cool. There is smoke everywhere in this little hallway that is stuffed with nearly a hundred balloons and she is nervous and a little scared. But when I say the magic word {action!} she delivers like a champ. Everyone else does, too. It is a frustrating day for the other actors. Mike, Asher, Dave and Holly have very little actual work today, but they are around and on call all fucking day long. I tell them we are ready, then we're not, then we are, then we're not. People deal with the confusion well, but I know it is difficult. We run behind more and more and soon 10 hours are gone and we are so far away from being done. Finally at 12 hours, the crew is ready to call it quits. I am bummed. I have missed a few shots, but one in particular that I don't know how we will deal with in the editing room. Everyone seems to feel like it will be fine, and even though I disagree, I understand how tired everyone is so I am just letting it go. Fuck it. But then, I have a discussion with one of the crew, who basically says, "what are you crazy? We have to get that shot! So let's just make it happen!" I am re-energized. We do have to get that shot! And we will! Okay, so I can't look into any of the other crew members eyes. But what are we doing here anyway? We are making a movie. And we have to make it the best we can. And that means getting the shots that we need. So we get the shot. Everyone is spent. We have worked 27 hours on the set for 2 days, plus another few hours loading and driving. We are a team. I feel sick and upset, but more and more confident every day that we are making something great. I personally plug all the machinery back into each of Asher's roommate's walls. Touch base with everyone at the house¼thank them over and over again. Make vague monetary promises. Go home and talk to Mike and Ivan and Holly until it is way too late. Sleep calls. Can't wait til next week.