Transition Time

Now that ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? is in post production, things have settled down considerably.  I am waiting for my editor to do the rough cut.  He doesn’t like working with someone looking over his shoulder.  He’s experienced, very creative and I trust him completely, so I am having him do the rough cut without me.  He has the script supervisor’s book with all of my notes.  After he’s finished, I will take a look at it and then we will fine tune it together.

In the meantime, I am working on other things.  Basically, I am transitioning from director back to writer.  My partner and I have started on a new feature screenplay.  We’ve got a concept we both really like and are off to a good start.  It’s a process I’ve been through many times and with which I am very comfortable.  It is, however, the first time I’ve completed production so it feels less hectic and exciting.  The time spent in preparation and on set required so much work and energy on my part, that I almost feel lazy right now.

Another thing I am keeping busy with is reviewing my performance during the production of IIR.  I made some mistakes and there are things I will do differently the next time.  As a rookie director, it is natural that I would have made some errors.  A big part of why I made the movie was to learn, after all.  I think the main thing I need to work on is my organizational skills.  I tend to do things on the fly.  My mind works very quickly and I adapt and plan at high speed.  That’s all well and good, but my team doesn’t have access to my mind.  It is really important to get things on paper so that other people know exactly what we’re doing and how.

I also need to more clearly define the role of each person on the team and make sure that he or she knows exactly what is and isn’t a part of that job.  Coordination between departments is also critical.  I’ve given all of this a lot of thought and I am very excited about the prospect of directing another film in the, hopefully, not too distant future.  I have many ideas and a great writing partner to help me craft the script.  It will essentially come down to my ability to raise the money.  The business side of filmmaking is another area that I need to work on.  Networking and promotion do not appeal to me at all, but they are vital parts of the business and I need to learn them.

Overall, this has been a terrific experience and I have grown as an artist and as a person.  I went way outside my comfort zone numerous times and not only survived, I thrived.  I’ve got to do this again.  In the meantime, it’s great to be  a writer again, especially because I get to work with my talented and quite brilliant partner.  I guess I’ll be blogging about that until I’m ready for my next production.

A Few More Shots

Although production officially wrapped on Saturday, there were a few shots left to capture.  We needed some shots of the Kreskys’ car traveling for the montage of the trip to the inn.  No need for full cast and crew, and in fact, it was just me driving the car with my DP capturing the images.

The montage will have music under it, so we didn’t need sound.  Exterior, so no lights.  We did have to be careful to keep the camera at enough of a distance that you can’t see there’s only one person in the car.   I didn’t want to drag my co-star around unnecessarily.  We also had to keep the camera back in the shots from behind the car.  The license plates wouldn’t match.  I had the fake Danny Kresky vanity plate on my car when we shot on our location property.  I couldn’t take that chance while driving on public roads and highways.  Thus, in these shots my actual plate is on the car.

I also got a look at the footage and at a very rough cut of the entire film.  Not bad.  My DP threw it together just to see how the shots fit.  My editor is very experienced and talented and I have no doubt he’ll do a great job.  I believe we have the makings of a pretty good movie. Good feeling.  After all, we put a lot of work into this.

I’ve been going over the entire process so far and looking for mistakes I made and what I will do differently next time.  As a first time director, it was inevitable that I would make some mistakes.  I did some things very well but there is plenty of room for improvement.  I absolutely will direct again and next time do it better.  Learning and improvement was a big part of why I made the movie.

Day 4 Is Done and We’re Wrapped!

This will be a quick report.  I will post a more detailed one about Day 4 and the entire production process this week.  I may have a few pictures too.  I’m just still a little tired.  Saturday was a long hard day.  Today, my DP and I got some pick up shots of the Kreskys’ car driving on country roads.  We’re finishing them on Tuesday.

We shot four scenes on four different sets and then got some extra coverage in the form of close ups of Diana for the inn scene we shot on  day one.  Twelve hours of shooting.  Long and tiring and things got a bit tense a few times between different team members.  We kept it together though, got the shots and it was a lot of fun.  Plenty of stuff for the outtake reel.

I kept up the jokes, something I normally do anyway in social situations.  Being a comedian is in my blood whether I am on stage or not.  I love making people laugh and it helps keep the crew loose and having fun.  We had some hilarious moments.  We shot a scene between Danny and Diana in their kitchen that involved the most intricate prop work in the movie.  Two large bags filled with groceries dumped on a counter and me pulling out a box of cereal and eating some.  Lots of little adjustments needed to make everything run smooth.  It was pretty funny.  I may post some video clips at some point.

One particularly funny moment was when we were getting our final shot.  It was a simple scene of Danny and Diana entering the inn and walking down the hall to the lounge area.  There was only one line of dialogue.  It was mine and a very easy one.  My final line to be captured.  In one take, I blew the line.  As I called cut, all of us, me included, broke into laughter.  My last line and I couldn’t get it!  Nice moment at the end of a long day.

That’s all I have time for right now.  As I said, look for a more detailed post coming soon.  There’s a lot more to tell.  This was quite an experience and hopefully I gave my editor enough good footage to cut a good movie.

Day 3 Is Done and I Got My Gray Skies!

Today was the third day of production on ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? and despite a late start and a shorthanded crew, things went extremely well.  We shot all exteriors and got excellent footage.  Overall, I would say it was our best day so far.  And the weather cooperated!

The first shots we captured were of Danny and Diana departing their home in their car and arriving at and entering the inn.  As I posted before, both locations in the same house.  My first day shooting exteriors, my car’s film debut and my first time driving in a film.  We got terrific shots of all the car stuff.  There’s one I particularly like with the car parked in front of the inn.  Diana is seen through the passenger side window, while Danny leans down to open her door.  Reflected in one side of the window is the inn, on the other side, Danny’s face.  It’s a really creative and beautiful shot and credit for it has to go to my DP.  Very well done.

We planned to shoot the Kreskys departing their home in the back entrance to our location property.  It didn’t look that nice though.  The house next door had beautiful pillars and looked really nice.  The owner of that home very graciously allowed us to get the shots of the car exiting his driveway.  Very nice.

I felt even more on top of things as a director than I did previously, despite the fact that I also had to act.  I felt much happier with my performance as well.  We shot the final scene where Danny and Diana argue and then make up.  It looked beautiful!  There were still nicely colored leaves on the trees, my sky was gray and it was all hazy and romantic.  The light was so beautiful, I almost cried!

I did pay a price for my gray skies.  It was cold!  I was in a mock turtleneck with sleeves rolled up and no jacket.  Just what the script called for.  It was cold  but I tried to tough it out, even when my co-star wrapped herself in a sound blanket between takes.  And she was wearing a jacket!  I told everyone how I was like the players on my favorite football team, the Giants, when they played in the 2007 NFC Championship game in Green Bay and it was forty below and they were in short sleeves.   The cold did get to me eventually and I took my script supervisor’s advice when she insisted I use a sound blanket as well.

Lots of fun too.  For the first time, we had a few forgotten and blown lines by both of us, which is always funny.  The crew also got a big kick of of my failed attempts to charge down a steep, stone staircase into the argument.  Much tougher than I thought it would be.  You know how you when you watch the outtakes of a film, it looks like they’re having so much fun?  Let me tell you, we do!

I also shot my first onscreen kiss and I was much more nervous than I would have anticipated.  I’ve done stage kisses before and normally never get nervous while performing, but I was tense all day.  My co-writer and co-star noticed it when I was talking non-stop.  As she well knows, I chatter at top speed when I’m nervous.  When we broke for lunch, I realized I was uptight about the kiss.  The problem is I am really attracted to my co-star and have been for a long time.  We’re just friends and I’m fine with that, but I can’t help but feel what I feel and it’s taking me some time to get over her.

I spent some time alone during lunch getting myself together.  When we were set up to shoot the scene with the kiss, my co-star, realizing what was happening, teased me about it.  That actually helped relax me, and after a few takes, I settled in and did the scene pretty well I thought.  It’s an authentic looking fight and love scene if I do say so myself and now I feel really good about it.  I even finally confessed to my friend and colleague how attractive I find her.  It was good to finally get that out of me and now I can relax and enjoy our friendship.

Good day for food too.  We have typical low budget indie meals, cold cuts and stuff.  But the owner of the house made us a big pot of lentil ham soup that was delicious!  Very pleasant surprise on a cold day.  After the shoot, I took my DP, 1st AD and Script Supervisor out to dinner and we had a great time.

We wrap tomorrow.  I’m looking forward to another great day and getting production done so we can move on to post and a finished film.  I will miss the shooting part of it though.  Making a movie is hard work but it is so much fun!