Thursday, June 11, 2009

Netflix Short Director's Diary: Production

First shot of the day.

Kristin and I prepared as much as we could in ten days, but ultimately, we had no idea what to expect when we drove down to Asheville. Mystery is very alluring.

My assignment for this blog was to try and recreate the production diary I didn’t have time to keep during the shoot. But if I did, it would be a neurotic series of entries like: “5am, try to sleep for another hour. 7am, try not to barf.”

Instead, I will try to list a few of the moments of clarity I experienced during the process of making SAVE THE FUTURE. Think of them as notes to myself for future productions. I really hope there's another one soon.

  • Write two scripts (or outlines). You won’t use one, but it'll probably be another version of what you're trying to say, thus helping you strengthen your message.
  • Prep as much as you can, so you can kind of enjoy the shoot. (If you call being so exhausted you mix up everyone’s names and are at times reduced to communicating to actors in nonsensical strings of profanity enjoyable.)
  • Don’t worry about shaking hands with a man who just picked up a stillborn baby bird that fell out of its nest.
  • And don't worry about sleeping in a haunted house. Your brain will be so busy trying to get a metaphysical experience on the screen, you won't have time to scare yourself with ghosts.
  • Rain can be like playing with watercolors. Make the best of it.
  • Remember you still have time to rewrite dialog onset and during the edit (especially, if you’re working with VO). If you’re pressed for time, distill the meaning with people you trust. Dialog loves simplicity.
  • Let people do their work. (You know how it feels. Sometimes the muse only comes when you have a little privacy.)
  • Share. I couldn't have encountered a more generous group of artists in Asheville. There was no creative resource they wouldn’t have offered us for our project. I realized very quickly that I had met other people who believed that the act of creating something was the most important part. So no smallness showed up on set.
  • Take a bath in a claw-foot tub by candlelight even if it means putting off sleep another hour. You would have spent that hour unraveling anyway.
  • Chase geese. For Laduree’s ice cream shop, we stopped at a scrappy little restaurant with a red-striped awning in a country strip called “Poppy’s.” Bad hours, but took number. Meanwhile, had rural lead for field with flowers. Then Chusy suggested prep school lawn in town. Wasn’t interested, but went anyway. Too manicured; decided it was a wasted trip when we stumbled upon Exit 50, our poppy field. Way home from the restaurant Poppy’s, passed Philly Hoagie Shop. (Remember, this is the middle of North Carolina). Location was perfect for ice cream shop; hours were perfect, owner from South Philly and could not have been nicer. These synchronicities happened frequently, even through editing. Sometimes you’ve just gotta knock around a little.

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