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.