Monday, December 20, 2010


less than a month from shooting next project, a 20 min comic piece homage/ripoff of 'my dinner with andre' but here set in portland featuring two friends sharing a brew, titled my beer with bill. Any ideas I had this time last year about how once I finish i'm your man things will be a little easier for me by virtue of the fact that I'll have directed i'm your man went out the window months ago. the same sort of challenges and limitations, some of them identical: lack of budget, difficulty finding location/s, surfeit of self-doubt etc.

However, locked location yesterday, which after weeks of being adrift in an ocean of inactivity was like finding dry land. as with i'm your man i desperately need a producer but since i don't have one i have to do this shit for myself which is good in the long term i suppose but in the short term only makes things more difficult and my inability to do them triggers my vicious interior voice which eviscerates me for not having done them. extremely uncomfortable. in fact the doubt got so loud this past week I actually began considering not doing this project at this point in time because things weren't breaking my way and the stress/strain was too much and, in downward spiral fashion what's the point anyway because the movie will be terrible etc. And then at breaking point I got a random comment from a stranger about i'm your man and it re-invigorated me. And i realized this might be as good as it gets. And that's fine.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

movie completion

the short has been done for a few wks now. been trying desperately to find a venue to have cast/crew screening and encountered some difficulties of all varietals: price, personnel, schedule, format, take your pick. it's frankly been frustrating and instructive at once. instructive in that i realize my frustrations stem from the mindset i carried which, to put it directly goes something like once i make the movie everything will fall into place. feel a bit child-like in voicing that expectation, like i was equating the completion of this task with the announcement to the universe that i am here, take notice (maybe 'childish' is the better term). couple possibilities are still on the line.

in related matter, was able to finally burn dvd copy of film so i can enter in local film festival. i say finally b/c there were multiple issues regarding format, FCE (which i have) vs FCP (which i do not), QT (which can read movie), IDVD (which cannot), IPHOTO (which i had to import movie into to finally get IDVD to read it) and somewhere along the way there was slight image compromise. on dvd, the brights are almost blown-out. but i'll take it for now.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


almost done. editing went in a fever pitch, in part due to outside circumstances (ie access to avid coming quickly to close) so i'm only able to comment in generalized ways, as opposed to breaking down each edit.
we shot a few parts in long masters (or 'one-rs" as i learned is industry-speak) so some parts of edit was merely a matter of laying shots together. that got done pretty quickly and then came the more difficult parts: the show open, the driving shots, in the exam room.

Since the first few minutes feature a couple running late for an appointment i wanted it to feel slightly chaotic, out of sorts, arhythmic. Judicious use of the jump cut came in handy.

The driving scenes provided a few challenges, primary among them a cell phone call wherein wife calls clinic to say 'we're running late'. We shot it stationary, the car parked. (this b/c I didn't want to make Lanie, playing the wife, feel uncomfortable driving and talking b/c a) she's not insured on my car b) days prior to the shoot a law took effect in oregon stipulating no driving and talking on cell phone. So when we shot it i assumed we'd just fix it in post. ha. The stagnant shot of them sitting as she talks on the phone completely killed the movement of sequence. Evonne laid the audio over some of the interior moving shots of the car and it worked perfectly, even down to performance, making it appear that Lanie is using a bluetooth and talking to receptionist as she's driving thru neighborhood.

inside the exam room had some challenges as well (despite a couple one'rs). initially i asked evonne to keep most of the start of the scene on husband/wife, implying a sort of connection between them but these only made the scene feel odd and lopsided. intellectual ideas do not always translate so well to the screen. When i watched dailies i thought i had a mess on my hands (completly a directorial problem), 3 performances that would have trouble when it came time to cut together. however, things fell into place wonderfully once we started cutting. the scene is strange and appropriately awkward. in the best possible way.

and then the end. i designed it to happen in three nice and easy shots: couple exits elevator w/ baby while other couple enters, reverse from inside elevator as couple watches baby couple, close on baby pushing in to couple in elevator as door closes. okay. fine. got the last two shots easily enough. but on set I failed to properly get shot one. the takes cut before the couple actually steps onto the elevator so when we went to the 2nd shot, the reverse, there was a huge disorienting jump that undermined the whole sequence. it was quite devastating for a few hours for me. i actually considered some manner of reshoot but there too many complications to make this more than a pipe dream. i know how it happened: on set, i was juggling two couples, a facility contact, the timing of an elevator door, and a baby. the performances and camera both looked great, but i called 'cut' about ten seconds too soon. each take. all three of them. I didn't cover it b/c i had designed it so well. ha!  we ended up solving it by letting shot 1 go as long as possible.

Friday, April 16, 2010


finally i've seen the footage. rough assemblages starting to come together. this part can be painful. the shot that went so perfectly on set is in fact a shimmering display of directorial ineptitude; the cool, spur-of-the-moment on-set solution to a problem was in fact a lame, turgid and uneven choice that was latched onto for the sake of ease not the sake of narrative. And so forth. There's an ocean of dissonance between what you thought you shot and what you actually have and here, at the rough phase where shots and sequences are pasted in order but not finessed yet, it can be a tad dispiriting. But that's a given and you look past it. b/c there are also things that work better than you thought, there are serendipities, there are causes for joy...

here's a pic of progress from evonne

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

continued saga

boxed and shipped the hard drive w/ footage off to los angeles yesterday. i have yet to see the footage but i'm able to hear it. that's something i suppose. missing a codec. it's always something. absent finding the right codec i'm asking dp to export all the footage into a low-res movie file so i can at least view it. these are not ideal conditions for editing a movie but it's worth it to me b/c evonne is so good. now i just have to keep my fingers crossed that the truck carrying the drive isn't hijacked or destroyed or waylaid. more to come

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

footage vision quest

things taking comic turns of epic proportion of late. after weighing multiple factors, decided best course of action editing-wise was to get footage to evonne in LA rather than have her come up. this necessitated me getting an external hard drive. on 'good food' the file sizes were small enough that i sent audio/video files via yousendit over several days (not recommended unless you have a surplus of time and patience) but that won't work for these files. So, since we had amazon gift $ (and further since m allowed me to use the money exclusively) i decided to order a 500 gb refurbished hard drive. it was to arrive the following friday. it didn't come until monday. had it come friday i could have gotten the footage from dp but he left town for a wk on monday, so i had to wait for him to get back. i waited until he got back to format the external hard drive (an error on my part). when i plugged it in i learned that they sent a 330 gb hard drive not a 500 gb. my plan at this point became: take hard drive to dp, get footage, bring footage home and put on computer, strip hard drive, send hard drive back and have them exchange it for one i ordered.

i went a couple rounds w/ customer service. they claimed they sent 500gb. i disputed. they said i had to call manufacturer to verify. i said, can you please just exchange this for what i ordered. they relented. if i would mail back the hard-drive (at my cost), they would exchange it. fine. i stripped it, boxed it, mailed it back (note, actually m mailed it back on my behalf)

meantime, i tried to look at footage now on my computer. i only have FCE not FCP and apparently i can't read this file format w/ FCE, meaning i can purchase software for several hundred dollars or i can upgrade to FCP for twice that. meaning, i can't yet see footage. evonne is cutting on avid so i yousendit'ed her a couple clips to verify that she could see. she could not, so there is some error. my plan when i get the 500 gb drive is to put the footage on it and ship it to her and keep my fingers crossed. hopefully having the whole folder/s intact will alleviate the issue. this however doesn't address the necessity of the director being able to see the dailies.

then, earlier today, an email:

Dear Valued Customer,

Thank you for placing an order with Electronica Direct. We are very sorry, but due to an inventory error, the LaCie Refurbished 500GB Triple Interface Rugged Hard Drive - 301371-R (Refurbished by Lacie with a 90Day Lacie Warranty) that you have ordered has been oversold and is currently out of stock. Your order has been cancelled and a full refund posted to your account.

We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience this has caused you and regret that we were unable to supply you with the item of your choice. If you would like to get a different item instead, please let us know, and we will do our best to accommodate your request.

We value your business, and we hope to be of service to you in the future.


Customer Relations

back to square one.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

a few days later

I have the very good fortune to be going on vacation for a wk plus starting tomorrow meaning i won't be anywhere near the computer or script or anything related at all to the shoot. this is essential. i need a wall put up between the shoot (the things i missed, the shots i screwed up, the things i settled for) and post (the things i have). not sure yet of the particulars but i'm planning to fly evonne up to cut this over a few days.

saturday, the day i wrapped, after shooting, i was head in the clouds, feet off the ground, feeling so high and humming w/ the accomplishment of finishing. the very next day i felt a sort of mid-range depression settle in. something akin to post-partum. i was reminded that i did the exact same thing on the last one.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

shoot, day 2

Again, scattered, unordered:

yesterday's shoot was easier on one level - a lot of quick takes, insert shots - more complicated on another - 3 company moves.
again w/ the bare-bonesiest of crew (dp, me, margaret) and mostly 2 cast, the husband and wife. we started at parking garage of local hospital. the facility contact was willing to be an extra so i put him in white lab coat and had him cross behind the husband and wife as they exited hospital. the day before i re-envisioned the elevator shots, the closing shots of the movie, and realized i could nail it in just 3 shots, provided certain things (camera focus, elevator idle time) could be managed. they were workable and it all went swimmingly. last shot is a close-up on a baby, zooming past into a medium close-up of husband and wife in elevator looking out as doors close. took a few takes to get it but we got it. this shoot, compared w/ last week, i relied almost zero on the video playback (except in one instance to verify that a set of keys looked correct in the frame) and went w/ my instinct after/during watching takes. several times, this shoot and last wknd, things happened close to what i envisioned in my head. almost strangely so. it was too easy some times. i don't know if this is attributable to luck, to good planning, to proper dp and cast or the combination of all, but whatever alchemy we had was humming. i'm going to take a couple wks off, go on vacation, and not look at the footage until i return. otherwise i'll just tinker and mess w/ it. need to put up a wall between then and now.
feels great to have this wrapped.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

shoot, day 1

these are random, uncollected thoughts so bear w/ me:

day 1 of shoot is done. day 2 is next saturday. this was big though b/c a) 1st day of shoot b) shooting at location that took me months to finally nail down the particulars of. i had been worried about crew size, ie next to nil, since a problem on 'good food' was not enough crew, but it all worked out. given the tiny exam room (where we shot probably over half the day) and further given the facility contact who was hyper-concerned w/ the machinations and movement of every crew and cast member lest they accidently touch, move, brush against, or otherwise come in contact with any file, sign, item and alter it - it worked out to have such a small group. It was the DP and his assistant (for lack of better, she was also at various times, boom operator, script supervisor, footage logger) and that's it. Plus margaret who fetched coffee and lunch and tried to calm/reassure facility contact throughout day. Plus me, plus 5 cast members. We wrapped 2 cast members in short order and then moved into exam room.

for this one, versus 'good food', i found that i have more long shots, wides and/or masters that i'm going to hold in the edit. ie, less master then covered w/ singles on each person. it just kind of happened this way but it feels appropriate to the characters/scenario of this. had a on-set idea to pull away from man/wife as they're walking down hall - post doc exam - and since walking w/ camera was too shaky we put dp and camera in an office chair and i pulled back after action, running, as dp was zooming out. looks great.

couple self-criticisms: i'm learning that my focus ebbs as the day goes on. after the meal on this film and last, my mind gets more diluted w/ what we've shot already and it's harder to remember what i need versus, what we've rehearsed, versus, what we get. in keeping w/ that, i find myself settling for things that work versus things that soar. also, i felt like maybe i'm too vocal in giving notes to cast in front of everyone. maybe that should be reined in a bit.

all in all, a great day. cast all worked, location worked, shots look great. can't wait to shoot next saturday and
begin putting it together

Friday, January 15, 2010

eve of shoot

I have the lab coat, friend has the scrubs (i'll retrieve tonight), we've mapped out routes to coffee and lunch, i have everything on the prop list or at least will have it by tomorrow am. been in touch w/ cast for items they're going to bring. oh, procured insurance today! a giant step. further, the insurance covers me (ie the company) for the next 12 months so any further location needs in the productions in the coming year are covered.

intermixed w/ all this planning this week was the strange synchronicity (if that indeed is the correct word for this instance) to receive the final cut from editor of movie i directed - good food - last june. of all weeks. it's allowed me to look at the two films back to back, isolating certain ambitious leaps from that to this, certain directorial approaches from that to this, and so on. very fortuitous. And, i suppose, emboldening. onward.

energy level permitting i'll attempt to put up some notes and thoughts tommorow night

Thursday, January 14, 2010

frenzy, whirlwind

shooting in less than 48 hrs. nailed down set of scrubs (i'll p/u tomorrow) and having white lab coat overnighted to me at work tomorrow. yesterday went back to hospital for walkthru w/ facility contact and dp. everything looks solid
except the exam room has one giant blue wall. i'm positive it did not when i first scouted in oct which means we were shown diff exam rm yesterday which means i'll need to try and negotiate that point out on shoot day and see if we can move back to blue wall-less exam rm OR find some way to narratively use a giant wall of concentrated deep blue which thus far i have been coming up empty on.

further, hospital contact is insistent on liability insurance (contrary to what i presumed in last post). i got quote yesterday from local insurer $380. yowza. i cannot afford that. got another quote from insurer $500. finally talked w/ person who does our home insurance and she's able to issue me business insurance but
only in year long increments, for 350$. The good is that i can pay these on a monthly basis. meeting w/ her tomorrow AM and have been assured that i'll leave w/ documentation that I can present to hospital contact.

i was last told that hospital rental fee would be 500$ but yesterday she said the sooner we wrap on sat, the lower the rate we'll be charged. that's good news i think. should have ample time to shoot the scenes we need, giant underline on word 'should'.

made out prop list of needed items for saturday, still have a few i need to procure. tick tock.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

closer still...

many things humming now, balls up in the air, train running on the tracks. Hospital location confirmed for shooting next saturday. at first they were going to allow only a 1/2 day of shooting, apparently to offset their generosity at lowering the fee so much but for whatever reason - after i sent the draft of a location agreement to them, praying that they had forgotten about the million dollar insurance policy they wanted me to take out - they said 'we're all set'. perfect. doing a walk thru later this wk w/ hospital facility contact and DP and some things - start time, staging areas etc - will firm up then.

had rehearsal yesterday at house. actually DP came 1st at 11 am. went over storyboards, discussed possible ways to shoot certain things, camera mounts, wide-angle lens for very tight space that has slight distortion around edge of frame etc. we're on the same page on pretty much everything. he allowed that if he has a flaw it's his propensity to take a long time during lighting. i don't think that's an unusual trait among dp's.

2 cast, man and wife characters, arrived an hr later. we went thru script beat by beat and ran a few scenes. i have played this script in my head hundreds of times and am keenly attuned to any variance, for better or worse. hence when they have an idea about how to play something, which may be a perfectly valid instinctual approach, i have to find a way to show them what i'm thinking w/o doing line readings. it can be a challenge, even w/ great actors, but it certainly lays at my feet. further, i'm forced to consider whether my reaction is against what's best for the film or what's in my head. What's in my head is, by now, an empty construct. A blueprint at best. So, I have to allow for actors to find something i hadn't thought of, which may actually improve or better what I thought would happen. further, there will be on set rehearsals, in character, w/ actions most times, which will again, change the shape of the original.

An hr later the Dr character showed. The 4 of us sat around the table and repeated the same process: going thru the scene - the big 5 minute in a room scene - beat by beat, then reading thru. Same thing happened. I had to find ways to explain certain beats and what i was going for w/o line reading. I fear I got sidetracked in clouds of abstraction and may have at times, done the line reading, albeit in a conversational way. that's on me. in any case, we got through it. ran it a few more times
and by the last time it was humming. the actors 'get' it. as does the dp. very excited to shoot now.

funny, an hr before day started i was nervous about it. nothing really to be nervous about but i couldn't wait until it was over. i kept putting my mind toward later in the day when we could watch a movie or go to dinner or anything but rehearse. at some point a strand of thought floated in, if i was meant to direct i would not think this way, i'd be excited to rehearse. Thinking like that, aside from being common to me, can quickly metastasize, threatening to undermine everything as it doubles, triples in size. it's another way for the mind to diminish your own undertakings. During the rehearsals i was able to silence that voice and by 4 pm i was humming and buzzing w/ excitement about the shoot, so much so that i couldn't concentrate while i tried to watch a movie. that earlier strand had all but dissolved. remember this for the next one.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

tight space

holy crap. just dawned on me this afternoon that 5 straight min of the movie are in a teeny tiny hospital exam room. 3 actors. plus camera and boom and director. i am suddenly nervous as shit about how to pull this off. going to split the scene into three segments, for narrative sake and for shooting sake, but then need to determine what will distinguish - if anything - shooting approach from one segment to the next. it's a chess match between patients and doctor. triangle. doctor at apex, patients at base - but if we shoot that direction, there is very little to do, very few places for camera to go. consider keeping camera on patient who has little dialogue while doctor and other patient run down a list of informations. what does that get me?

Monday, January 4, 2010


Things tightening. Shooting in less than 2 wks. rehearsing w/ dp and actors this wknd. yesterday i sat down to start storyboarding and immediately hit a snag in my visualization of the opening and started rewriting script. minor changes but it was necessary for me to see it first. i filled the last two speaking roles but i still need to find a couple w/ a newborn willing to let me film them. if you know someone be sure to let me know. still need to get a couple wardrobe items, plan craft service and transport to hospital location. the final shot of the movie is a couple stepping in to an elevator while said couple w/ newborn exit. i know the exact elevator i want and have been toying w/ the idea of merely stealing the shot but this am i called the facility and am now waiting for them to give me a ruling.

bulk of movie features couple talking w/ doctor in exam room. i'm trying something slightly risky in that i'm going to rehearse them separately. that is, i'm rehearsing couple w/ a reader filling in for doc, and rehearsing doc w/ a reader filling in for couple. this is more than a scheduling snarl, well it started as one, but it fits the movie, since the whole scene is a power trip, a chess match between doc and patient, w/ doc having upper hand, that it seems appropriate (if risky) to have them meet for the first time on set. I'm going to tell them to run the scene w/o stopping even if they screw up their lines, and the dp will try and get what he gets. if it - or any part of it works - then it'll really work, at least in theory. it could be an epic disaster but that's on me i guess. the actors are all great. they can handle it.

storyboarding and working w/ sag to get waiver for one sag performer. fortunately they have a low-budget option, unfortunately it's supposed to be in to them 3 wks before production starts. I sent it in anyway, waiting to hear. also, need to get pix developed, matted, framed to hang on wall in couple's house. go, go, go.