Director's Diary

Day 7 January 27th, 2001
This weekend we are shooting the first of our larger group scenes, a dinner party between the five principals. This should help us get an idea about some other shoot days coming up where we will be dealing with between 17-50 people. We have four parts of one scene that we are attempting to get today and tomorrow and everyone is feeling pretty confident. Today's challenges involve shooting angles. We are shooting one night scene, but it will be day for most of the shoot. So we decide to shoot from one side away from the window for most of the day and then turn around at night. Because of where his character is positioned, Asher will be doing most of his lines at night, today and tomorrow. Everything goes pretty well in the morning. The stress that comes with the territory starts to abate. Andreas, the new Assistant Director, is on the set and working hard and that is clearly helping. Also, Bill is now the Production Designer and Holly has been elevated to Assistant Producer, so I feel like a lot of people are sharing some serious responsibilities with me. This is very good.

As the night rolls around, I am getting excited for Phil's monologues. I have decided to slightly depart from the strictly narrative style that the film has been rolling along with. Phil is such a maniac that I have decided to make some of his lines into more of a non-linear collage. So I am stoked to film them, because I am going to have him do some different things that I haven't informed Asher about yet. Meanwhile, Bill has made the backyard look beautiful from the kitchen. These window shots are going to have quite a lot of texture. So, just when we are ready to go, we blow a fuse. This is not unusual, we have been blowing fuses from day one at every location we have been at. But, for some reason, though Scott and Bill are in the basement, the lights are not coming on. I go down to check out the situation. When I get down there, I hear Bill telling Scott that we have blown out a 40-amp fuse that powers one whole side of the houseĽOh fuck. I certainly don't have another one of those. Hmmm. Well. Okay, I am starting to think, perhaps we are done for the night. What? Oh, wait. In the dusty confines of this little fuse-box area, there just happens to be sitting there a few extra fuses, and in moments we are set and ready again to move forward. This is so fucking typical of the miracles that happen on the set each day. Seemingly unchunkable walls constantly get chunked and somehow, under tough circumstances, things keep working out.

So we finally, get to this exciting Phil shit and I have him go completely crazy. He does his thing multiple times and at the end I have him look directly into the camera and smear bananas all over his face. Twice I fuck up and laugh during filming. Good thing it was me and nobody else. When we finish this section, we have worked 12 hours and I decide to call it quits for the night. The crew has worked many long hours lately, and I figure everyone could use the break. Even so, we hang out for a few more hours until passing out for the night.

Day 8 January 28th, 2001
Back on the set, we start cooking early. We address some continuity issues early and then we get pumping. By 1pm we have knocked off the second part of our four-part goal. I am feeling optimistic. We roll through the away from the window shots in the afternoon and everything is going really well. The lighting set-ups are looking so cool, the food on the table looks sumptuous and the actors are really capturing what I am after. Mike, Anne, David, Asher and Holly are all looking so good and working so hard. They all have a different on set presence and they are all interesting and fun to work with. Another goal I had this weekend was to shoot many takes on everything and that is showing up in a serious way by how much film we are shooting. Yesterday we shot 1200 feet and today we are shooting copiously. I am sure we will shatter our record of 1900 in one weekend.

By the late afternoon we are ready to do the complicated set-up for the window shooting. This takes awhile. By the time it is done, it reminds me of forts I used to make as a child. There are stands and lights and gels and cloth hanging off them. So many things, so much stuff and somehow it is rigged so that it does not reflect in the window. Again, this is magic. Sometime I will post some of the photos we took of this and everyone can see what I mean. Finally we get shooting. The shooting goes smoothly. Everyone remembers their lines. People fuck around a little bit here and there (ASHER!), but mostly everyone just moves forward. By the time we get to Anne's lines, I am just having her go through them as series without other people talking. She handles it like a pro. I love these guys.

Meanwhile, it is now past the 14 hour mark. I am not supposed to work the crew past 14 hours. We still haven't gotten the last of the four goals and I realize that we are not going to tonight. It is a bummer. But one I am easily able to accept. Truth is, I could go another few hours easy. But I think mutiny might happen if I suggest that. In all actuality, after I call it a wrap, no less than three people tell me we should have gone forward and finished the last part. Oh well, I think, live and learn.

When all is said and done, we end up shooting 3100 feet of film for the whole weekend. This is a number that I am astounded by. Holy shit. So much film. I can't help but think about the processing fees and the transfer fees from the lab. Oy, I need some money. These thoughts mostly leave me alone during the shooting days, but now at the end of the weekend it all comes back. Of course, I am also super stoked about everything that we are doing. Each Thursday we get the film back on videotapes and this Thursday we will get much more than usual. I am so excited to watch it. I am still convinced that we are making a very good film.