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 2

Me (left) with my editor, Matt Epstein, on location at the Warner Theater in Torrington, CT on Day 2 of production on “Isn’t It Romantic?”

Sorry for the delay on this post.  There are so many things to do each day, even on non-shooting days.  I’ve finally found some time to file a report.  Day 2 went well, less hectic, but the inexperienced crew members have a few things to learn.

This Sunday, we shot the opening scene of ISN’T IT ROMANTIC? at the Warner Theater.  It was a much shorter day as the scene will only run about thirty seconds and it required fewer shots.  Additionally, I’m not in that scene so I was able to focus all of my attention on directing.

Things went very well.  I made a change on the fly on Day 2 as well.  Not nearly as dramatic as my move to get us back on schedule on Day 1, but I did substitute a different set up for the purpose of a smoother transition in editing.  Flexibility is always important in filmmaking and I am fortunate to have my editor on set to advise me in these matters.  That’s an important part of being a good director.  Listening to your department heads when it comes to their fields of expertise.  Unfortunately, you also sometimes get advice from non-experts who wish to help.

I have a number of crew members who have solid experience on movie sets.  I trust their judgement and listen carefully to what they have to say.  The final decisions are always mine, and they understand that.  The less experienced members of my crew are a different.  I need to speak to them at our next production meeting before we resume shooting.  They mean well, but cause distractions.

My 1st assistant director is terrific.  He’s been involved in filmmaking for forty years and gives me the space I need.  I need to instruct everyone in protocol.  A movie set is not a democracy.  The director is the emperor and his or her word is law.  There is a chain of command, much like in the military with a movie crew.  Any questions or concerns are addressed to one’s department head.  The department head reports to the 1st AD, who then goes to the director if necessary.

Sunday was not too bad.  Saturday was worse.  I had inexperienced people following me around commenting on whether or not I had enough make up on, telling they didn’t hear a line when they were twenty feet away in another room.  That kind of thing.  It was worse that day because I had my role to play as well as direct.  I’m going to tactfully go over set etiquette.  I’m sure they will respond well.

Margie Ferris (left) and Madeline Jaye rehearse their scene on the set on Day 2.

Sunday was a very pleasant shooting day.  My actors were terrific and so nice to work with.  They told me how much they enjoyed working with me and complimented my directorial style.  Not bad for a rookie.  I had a nice group of background actors too.  My co-star and writer brought a group of teenage girls who were so excited to be in a movie.  The kids were amazing.  I let them improvise some dialogue and they were natural and energetic and added so much to the scene.  It warmed my heart to see the joy on their faces.

I felt very good all day.  I was so excited after Day 1 that I only got about two hours of sleep, but my adrenaline keep me going.  I was on my feet all day, no director’s chair for me.  I was really comfortable with the whole process.  I’ve always picked things up quickly and directing seems to be following suit.

I’m really looking forward to resuming shooting on November 2.  Many things for me to do in the meantime.  I want to plan some nice camera moves for the rest of the film and I’m in every scene that we shoot from here on out.  More rehearsal time.  On November 2, we shoot my first onscreen kiss.  Lucky for me it’s in front of the camera.  I’ll have no problem because I’m performing.  In real life, I would be terrified.

At any rate, I’m pleased overall at how things are going.  There’s room for improvement and I plan to have an even better Day 3 and 4.  I’ve got to do this again.  It’s so much fun.



Can’t I Wear My Sneakers?

Tonight was another step in the preproduction process.  It was out of my comfort zone.  It also brought back childhood memories.  I found it amusing, but I have to admit, it was kind of fun.

One of my co-producers took me clothes shopping.  Wardrobe is an essential ingredient in a film.  Not only does the clothing a character wears visually reveal clues about that character, but the colors, textures and style are all a part of the overall look of the movie.  They help set the tone and underscore the genre.  It was an unusual evening for me, because I am not a fashionista.

I live in jeans, T-shirts and sneakers for the most part.  I hate shoes, they hurt my feet.  I wear polo shirts sometimes, and I really like sweaters in the winter.  I have no idea what colors look good on me, although people have told me that blue is nice on me.  I like black and darker colors in general.

I don’t buy clothes often and when I do, I attempt to get it over with as quickly and painlessly as possible.  I don’t even try things on.  If it turns out something doesn’t fit, well, that’s what closets are for.  So where do I put the clothes that do fit?  That’s what couches, beds and occasionally lamps are for.  (Only a slight exaggeration).

Tonight was different.  I am 100% committed to this film and will do whatever it takes to make it great.  As my co-producer pointed out to me, I have to dress the way my character Danny would, not the way I would.  So I was a paragon of cooperation, trying on different combinations.  The gray pants with the blue shirt.  the brown pants with the gold shirt.  This belt, that tie.  I even put on a pair of shoes.  Ouch!

Honestly, it was fun.  I am a very patient person and I trust the judgement of my team.  It reminded me of school shopping with my mother when I was in elementary school.  Back then, we were expected to wear dress pants and shirts as well as shoes to class.  My mother would drag us to the store.  In and out of the dressing room.  “Mom!  Why do I have to try it on?  It’s my size.  Can’t I wear my jeans, PF Flyers and Property of the New York Rangers T-shirt?  The collar’s too tight.  These shoes hurt.”  My mother put up with a lot.

Tonight had that kind of feel.  But it worked out.  We walked into a big sale.  (God, I can’t believe I just wrote that!)  We found some good stuff and now I can look like a successful writer/director instead of the “I’ve accomplished nothing” writer/director I actually am.  The magic of the movies.

Production meeting Tuesday night.  Promotional video and pictures for our crowd funding campaign.  So foreign to me.  Maybe next time, I’ll stay behind the camera.  Nah.  My ego is way too big.  Can’t deprive my audience of my incredible personality.

Setting Dates and My Color Palette

We had a production meeting tonight and made solid progress.  I was able to report good news to my team.  I found a car for a key scene in the film.  Our filmmaker protagonist and his wife drive to a country inn.  We need shots of them on the road and then exiting the car in front of the inn.  As a successful filmmaker, he needs to have an expensive car.  I placed an ad and a very nice gentlemen who is in the business is allowing us to us his Chevy Corvette at a very reasonable rate.  We’ve been very lucky so far.  There seems to be great support for the independent film community here in Connecticut.

Another piece of good news is that I was contacted by a very experienced camera operator who is volunteering his time and skills to us as an assistant camera person/lighting person.  We now have two people in that position, which will greatly facilitate the shoot.  Our new AC also has connections and is working on finding us a sound mixer, boom operator and perhaps an art director.  I am really sweating my lack of a sound crew.  Good sound is essential to a quality movie.

We also set a number of dates starting with our shooting dates.  We are shooting on consecutive weekends in October, 13 and 14, then 20 and 21.  This will give us enough time to prepare, the weather should be cool, but not cold and the falls colors on the trees will enhance the visual quality of the film.  At least I hope so.  Weather can be quite uncooperative.

As we still have three speaking roles to fill, we set a date for casting.  We’re going to use a casting site and put out an ad for actors to submit their headshots and resumes to the site.  Then we choose the ones who look promising to come in and read.  This will be an interesting experience for me.  I have auditioned many times.  This time, I will be the auditioner rather than the auditionee.  Fun!

A rehearsal date was also set.  I’m not going into detail there.  You all know what rehearsal is and this post is rather dull at this point.  So, let’s move on to something more fun and interesting.  And personal.  Everyone seems to like when I reveal personal stuff.

We were discussing things like set design and wardrobe and how coordinating colors makes for better shots and a more visually pleasing film.  The topic of color palettes for different skin, hair and eye colors came up.  You know how some people are winter, summer etc.  Now, I have never thought about any of this in relation to myself.  I dress primarily for comfort.  My clothes are always clean and not torn or anything, but certainly not fashionable.  I wear a lot of blue, solely because all of my favorite sports teams have blue as their main color.

Since I am playing one of the leads, people asked me what colors I wear and what my palette was.  I have no idea.  Well, that is going to change.  One of our co-producers is an experienced make up artist.  She is going to take me clothes shopping and work out what my palette is.  This is very funny to me.  It’s not something I ever thought I would do.  It’s not a macho thing, I find nothing wrong with a man choosing his fashions to look his best.  It’s just not something that I do.  My looks are not my strong suit, so I really don’t worry about them.

I am going along with this because it will help the production value of our film.  I will do anything that will make this movie better.  I also trust my team.   It’s part of the game plan: surround myself with people who know what they’re doing and let them do it.  It’s going to be funny.  I will probably laugh the whole time.  The whole concept of me looking at wardrobe and enhancing my appearance is so foreign to me.  But if I’m going to act in a film, I guess that’s part of the deal.

I will definitely post about the experience.  I’m sure you’re all dying to know what season I am.  My favorite season is summer, I was born in June.  But I don’t think it works that way.  I really am a dedicated artist.