Tuesday, June 22, 2004
Day Fourteen

Jesus fucking Christ, what a night.

Blogging is just about the last thing I want to do right now, but I'm falling behind on these posts, and I know I've got another busy night tonight, so I figure I ought to make an effort now while I've got a little time. Last night was the big shoot at the party house, and a lot went on... I'm facing a few dilemmas because some of what's been happening is mostly interpersonal messiness and thus technically none of my business. That is to say, I fear that I might tread on territory that some would prefer I stay off of... but at the same time, all of this is not only having an impact on the shoot, but is also just part and parcel of the process. And the point of these posts is not only to document this particular film shoot, but also to provide one more case study of an independent feature film production, so it seems reasonable to include some of this. If anyone objects, I'll consider removing it... but I'm not making any promises.

The first drama involves our Executive Producer, Ginger, who's very cool and well-liked by everyone, not to mention the fairy godmother of this whole production. Opposing Ginger is Philly, the NYC punk-diva-queen-bitch who starred in a number of Todd Verow's films and previously attended the Co-op film festival with Mr. Verow; that visit went fine, which is what led to Philly being cast in this film. Ginger has been staying at Morgan's apartment; Philly is also now staying at Morgan's apartment. Ginger and Philly get along about as well as two things that don't even remotely get along... much of the friction is coming directly from Philly, though, who's making herself quite unwelcome in various unpleasant ways. At this point, nobody even really wants to talk to her; last I heard she was being written out of the film. Still, she's angry now, still encamped in Morgan's apartment, and god knows what else... at this point, neither Morgan nor Ginger dare enter, so she's essentially taken over Morgan's home.

The second unhappy episode involves the young actor who has been playing "Superkid" (the junkie fourteen-year-old) in the film, and playing it very well. His name is Adam, he's a very young-looking fifteen-year-old (he looks thirteen at most), and has been one of the most accomodating, patient actors in the whole cast. Amber and Morgan had made very clear to his father that the film was going to deal with controversial subjects -- drugs, alcohol, sex -- and Adam's father, much to his credit, took the time to get to know the crew and decided he was okay with all of that. Thus Adam ended up in a very edgy role that was written specifically for him, which culminated in an incredible scene last week (?) which was on its way to becoming one of the iconic scenes in the film.

But the inclusion of young actors always has its pitfalls, and tonight we fell into one of them. Adam's stepmother brought Adam to the designated meeting place tonight, reportedly saw some people drinking there, and decided she wasn't comfortable with the film and withdrew him entirely.

On one level, I have to grudgingly respect the decision even if I disagree with it... I'm sure she's just trying to do what she thinks is best. As a filmmaker, it pissed me off enormously... that was a shitty thing to do at the last moment, when we had made every possible effort to accomodate Adam's parents' concerns; there had been ample time to make these decisions when it wouldn't have damaged the film so badly. As someone who's had two stepmothers, it pissed me off even more... stepmothers are duplicitious creatures, and not to be trusted. I say this hesitantly, as my own mother is also someone's stepmother... but the fact remains that unlike stepfathers (who either are cool or bad, but never ambiguous), stepmothers go to great pains to appear to be "cool," while their loyalties always lie elsewhere. When it comes down to tough situations, a stepmother will fuck you every time. (Sorry, Mom, it's just the truth.) And last night, Adam got fucked.

So between Adam and Philly, we've lost two cast members in one night, and endured a lot of unnecessary stress. Combined with the usual crabbiness that goes along with an all-night shoot, things were fairly dysfunctional all night long, although not as bad as some shoots I've seen. We muddled through somehow. The rest of the party shoot was rigorous but smooth enough... we got all our scenes (with some modifications around the Adam-shaped hole), and nobody killed anyone else... so pretty laid-back, considering. Over the course of the night I was gradually coated with a thin veneer of sweat, stale beer, and insect repellant; and we got to see the less felicitous sides of some of our fellow crewmembers. But that's okay... that's all part of it.

In the morning we shot some more with Mark at Peabody Park, and then finally retired to the Co-op where Ginger and Morgan lamented not being able to go home and go to bed... I would have liked to have been able to help, but there wasn't much I could do for them.

It's shoots like last night's that really separate the genuine filmmakers from those who aren't really up for it after all... shooting, exhausted and frustrated, in a hot, dirty house, all goddamn night long, when there are a hundred other things you'd rather be doing at that moment. It's not easy, it's not always fun (though it really should be most of the time), it's certainly not glamorous, and often there are few rewards.

And if you think I've got some kind of "it's all worth it, really" statement to make after that, you're wrong... right now, at this moment, all I want is a bath and my bed. I have a vague feeling that in November, when we're enjoying the premiere in Chicago, I'll be very glad I did it, but this morning I can't imagine what I was thinking.
8:11 AM ::
Amy :: permalink
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