Monday, December 5, 2011

Rime of the Awesome Mariner

Last Wed:

Albatross is a bar in Astoria. A real bar with a jukebox, a pool table, the occasional poker game and lots of gay karaoke. In other words, a perfect bar. And exactly the kind of place the character of Amy would work in and Hidell would find himself having one last beer in. I really like Albatross.

The first scene we shot was great - Amy and Hidell sharing a cigarette out back by the dumpster. Even though she doesn't smoke and just had a tonsilectomy, R lit up a smoke and gave M hell, exactly as I always pictured Amy would. R gets Amy and it shows in such brilliantly subtle ways.

The second scene - frostbite central. No more shelter from the wind and it's literally freezing out. The only thing that saved poor M from catching pneumonia was the fact that we rolled out of memory on the camera after the third take.

Last Sat:

We invaded R's apartment at 11am and didn't leave until 14 hours later. The longest day of the shoot and one of the best.

The great thing about not having any money is that you have a ton of time. When you are using someone else's money (or your own) to pay for your shoot, you are constantly working against the clock. When money is not in the equation there is no clock. Something doesn't feel right, you can take a two hour sushi break to talk it over with the cast and crew and work it out. This is a luxury that well funded filmmakers would kill for.

Next on Lifestyles of the Poor and Infamous: First kisses and bedtime for bonzo...

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Not Getting Arrested Is Always Awesome

Spent Saturday chasing footage around town. Almost got all of it, too. Employees at Port Authority were visibly nervous about the way we were casing the joint, yet security at the U.N. was very helpful and even suggested a couple of angles to us.

Tip #327: The U.N. only hoists their flags Mon - Fri. So that awesome establishing shot of all the member nations flags imperiously flapping in the breeze while your hero stares down the cold blue walls of the Secretariat Building - not happening on the weekend.

Got some great stuff of M being a scary mutha in the bathroom. I keep telling myself, "it's only a movie. It's only a movie. It's only a movie."

Up next: Rime of the ancient lesbian mariner...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Newtons & Coffee

Irony: when you're filming at the film dept. of a major east coast art school and you have to bring in all of your own equipment. Who do these students think they are, using the school's gear to make movies and whatnot?

Originally we were going to film in the summer, so Hidell's costume of t-shirt and jeans was selected. Which is fine, except that we now filming in near winter and the temp on Friday night dropped into the 30's.

Good acting is not about a 1,000 yard stare or screaming "hoo-hah" at the top of your lungs, it's when your body is shaking uncontrollably because you're going into hypothermic shock, but the minute you hear "action" you're as still and smooth as a balmy night in the tropics. M is turning into quite a fine actor.

After working for hours in the freezing cold, fig newtons and shitty office coffee suddenly become the greatest meal ever.

We got to get these exteriors done before it snows. Or the cast catches pneumonia.

Next stop: ahh, um...I'll let you know when we get there...

Friday, November 11, 2011

Car Crashes & Other People's Garbage

Feed your crew first, then they'll be more willing to freeze their asses off while you try to figure out which unmovable shadow you hate least.

The "meet-cute" (the scene where the romantic leads first meet and either fall in love a first sight or hate each other at first sight) has been done to death. As a writer, I tried to make mine different, which means instead of love or hate, they're practically indifferent to each other. As a director I respect the writer's intentions, but c'mon, we can do better. Thank god my cast are a couple of patient geniuses.

And such patience and genius come in handy when a rear-end collision happens across the street from your outdoor location and you have to wait for the ambulances, firetrucks and police cars to go away. Did I mention it's November in New York. And cold.

However, the Hero of the Night award goes to Jamie, our gaffer/boom op/asst. camera/human swiss army knife for huddling in an entire apartment buildings worth of garbage to work the boom. Her olfactory suffering was made worth it when M forgot she was in the garbage and jumped out of his skin when he saw the mic darting at him through the trash bins.

The Smoothness award goes to BD. In college we'd make fun of his creepy way of walking, but the man IS steadycam on legs. Which will be put to the test tonight when we're shooting in near freezing temps.

Up next: "Amy and Hidell sitting in a tree/B-O-M-B-I-NG..."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Dick or Treat

It was the Saturday before Halloween. Both M and R had to work. It snowed. We weren't supposed to film. But I'm a dick.

Hidell's big moment where he crosses the point of no return had been meticulously scripted, plotted and in all ways prepared. This was the first scene I had envisioned and the entire project has flowed from that initial mental image.

Then, we lost our location.

Without enough time to gather the necessary actors, props and costumes to capture the epic moment of turmoil that I had envisioned years ago, we were given one hour to film whatever we could without a crew or sound before we kissed the location good bye forever.

Stripped of all my pyrotechnics, all we had was an actor in a chair without dialog - and M delivered beyond my greatest expectations. That single close-up of Hidell coming to the inevitable conclusion is so heartbreaking and terrifying that I can't believe I could've wanted it any other way.

Best Halloween ever.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Wonder & Stink

In the 13 years that I've been going to Coney Island, this was the first time that I've ever been there and there wasn't any wind at all, which means that the sound is a lot cleaner than I expected. The movie gods have smiled upon us.

R and M are really nailing it. M's instance on riding the Wonder Wheel was inspired. I find that I don't get afraid of heights if I keep my eye to the viewfinder, because then it's just a movie and not a 300 foot plummet to concrete and sand. Unfortunately, R did not have this luxury but did an incredible job of channeling fear into excitement.

We got to such a good start it really feels like a shame that we won't go again with the two of them for a couple of weeks.

Took us 3 hours to get a 10 second shot of Hidell staring at the Statue of Liberty. Afterwards M and I joked that we're turning into a real movie shoot.

Went down to Occupy Wall St., which is not on Wall St. Hippies ruin everything. They glom onto real social issues and infect everything with their lack of reason, facts and hygiene. Got some good shots of Hidell wandering around the mess of screaming people and looking lost - can't tell if M was acting or not.

Next stop: Dead bodies and smokey treats...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Half In the Can (which is another term for toliet)

"To fail to embrace my dreams now would be a disgrace so great that sin itself would not be able to find a name for it." - Werner Herzog, Conquest of the Useless

All the math says we're halfway finished filming and it's only taken 17 months. But I feel that the next half will take longer, even though we should be wrapped by end of the year. By the time the feature film is finished it will have taken 3 years of my life total.

Looking forward to seeing Hidell get slapped around by Amy. If last night's read-through was any indication, R will have fun with it. Glad she decided to come play with us.

J had a good idea about the stoop scenes. I checked it out on my way home and (as usual) she's right.

Next stop: Coney Island, Liberty Island, Manhattan Island, No Man Is an Island and all points in between...