Status Update

It’s been almost a month since production wrapped on ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? and quite awhile since I’ve posted.  I guess I’m overdue to bring everyone (okay, the three of you that actually read my blog) up to speed.  We’re still in post production and there is a considerable amount of work to be done.

I’ve gotten a look at the footage.  We’ve got some good stuff, but there are some gaps in coverage that will take creative solutions to make the scenes work.  I’m not happy with myself for allowing that to happen.  Granted, this is my first film, but it’s difficult.  I set very high standards for myself and it bothers me when I don’t live up to them.  My editor is confident that we can work around the problems.  He has over twenty years of experience and is very creative and talented.  He’s also a good friend who helps me stay calm when I start to freak out.

I”m a neurotic mess much of the time.  It’s very helpful in that I feel it’s the source of my creativity and talent.  It provides me with energy and inspires original story concepts.  It also makes me crazy sometimes.  For example, I find my performance in the film to be abysmal.  Other members of my team tell me otherwise, that I did a solid job.  My editor used the words, “Pretty damn good”.  Most actors don’t like to watch themselves and it’s so hard to be objective when watching oneself.  Nonetheless, watching me in a scene with the experienced and terrific actors in my cast looks to me like a high school pitcher trying to get major league hitters out.

I think part of the problem is I can’t buy into my character, Danny Kresky.  I look at the screen and I don’t see Danny.  I see me.  It makes everything else hard to buy.  I can’t get into the story because I know I’m not a highly successful writer/director (and probably never will be).  I’m not married to an amazing woman (and definitely never will be!)  I know, I should be looking at the overall story, but it is hard.

On the plus side, the sound is very good.  Poor audio is one of the major problems independent films face.  I hired a very good sound man and eliminated that issue.  I had two beautiful locations, four of my five main actors were excellent and my background actors were terrific.  We also had an excellent script from which to work.  As my idol Woody Allen said, “Experience has shown me that if you have a good script, you can do a miserable job of directing and still get a pretty good movie …”  I didn’t do a brilliant job, but it certainly wasn’t miserable either.  I did pretty well, I thought.  So I think we will end up with a pretty good movie.

SAG has invited us to submit it to their Short Film Showcase.  So glad we did it under a SAG contract for a number of reasons and this is now another.  It’s free to enter and if we get in, there’s a free screening at the SAG office in New York with a Q and A with the director and producers after.  That would be really nice exposure for us.  There is also a local film festival that we are almost sure to get into.  So, there are things to which we can look forward.

In the meantime, I am once again attempting to market my feature screenplay, SOUL MATE.  It’s a great script, the best thing I’ve written to date and I’ve got to get it on the screen.  If I have to, I will shoot it myself one day.  I’ve also started work on a new feature with my writing partner.  I’m very excited about that too.  We have a good story concept and our work on ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? has shown both of us that we are capable of great things together.

Sorry for the long layoff on the updates.  (Like anyone is paying attention.)  I’ll keep you apprised of new developments.  Hopefully, we’ll have a finished film sometime early in the new year.

Don’t I Get a Little Credit for That?

Me, at a production meeting for “Isn’t It Romantic?”

The title of this post is another of Danny Kresky’s lines.  Danny, of course, is the character I am playing in my upcoming short film, ISN’T IT ROMANTIC?  He says it to his wife in the climatic final scene.  With production growing closer by the minute, the line is apropos for how I am feeling now.

My confidence is growing every day.  The significance of what I’m doing is becoming more clear.  I’m directing my first film.  It’s really happening.  Nervous?  Sure, to a certain extent, but more than anything else thrilled beyond words. And quite frankly, fully prepared to do this job and do it well.

As we near the start of shooting, the preparation has intensified.  I send numerous emails and make numerous phone calls every day.  My  previously near crippling phone call phobia is becoming a just a memory.  I had to call a business representative at SAG today and I did it without batting an eye.  I’m getting good at this.  Really good.

I set extremely high standards for myself and don’t always appreciate each small step forward I make.  Today, I thought back to when I first started this project.  I wasn’t exactly sure how to proceed on things.  To be sure, I’ve had plenty of help.  My strategy from the start was to surround myself with people who know what they are doing and let them do it.  Still, I have to lead them.  They are following me, working to bring my vision to life.  I’m hitting my stride and driving the hell out of this bus.  And I did it the hard way.

I have never attended film school, never worked as a grip or a PA.  Never was present at a production meeting until the first one that I ran.  This has been on the job training in every sense of the word.  My experienced team members have counseled me, and I’ve taken that advice and run with it.  I’ve got everything under control.  When a problem occurs, I come up with a solution, or brain storm with team members and we solve it together.  I’m listening to suggestions and evaluating them carefully, using what I need and politely declining the rest.

In addition to our weekly production meetings, I have regular meetings constantly with various members of my team to discuss different aspects of production.  As the director, I have my hand in everything.  I’m also in constant contact with my cast and the owners of the locations.  At first, I was worried my social awkwardness would prevent me from doing this.  But I feel comfortable with it.  I’m enjoying it.  Looking forward to it.  I’m actually growing as a person at a rate not seen since childhood.

Another phenomenon that is becoming very clear to me is the growing respect I feel from my team.  They all loved the script from the start and were eager to be a part of this.  Now, I can feel the confidence they have in me.  I have told them all that we are going to make a great movie and they believe it.  Believe in me.  It’s such a good feeling and a real boost to my self esteem.

The question that I chose for the title of this post is the one I now ask myself.  I said I would rise to the occasion and I’m doing just that.  I seriously have to give myself a little credit.  And if I can do this in such a short time, in such a difficult manner, who knows what else I can achieve?  The sky’s the limit.  My days as an underachiever may finally be over.

I’ve struggled my whole life with a number of issues; self esteem, anxiety, depression.  I’ve been in therapy and made considerable progress but never quite got where I needed to be.  I feel like I’m racing toward it now.  I like myself more.  I feel like other people like me. Imagine.  All the money my parents and I spent on therapy.  I should have made a movie years ago.