Wednesday, June 16, 2004
Day Nine

It had to happen sooner or later; in this work the messy day is as inevitable as the tides.

We started shooting at the Memphis Zoo -- the scene was of a young father and his small son -- and for the most part that went acceptably well. We were a little behind schedule, but just about scraped by. It was, however, raining again... not enough rain to chase us inside, but enough to saturate clothing pretty thoroughly within ten or fifteen minutes.

It wasn't until the next scene that we started moving into clusterfuck territory... it took place in the "party house," and until recently our location was the house where Morgan lived until a couple of weeks ago, known locally as the Meda Mansion. (A mansion it ain't, but "Meda Dungpile" doesn't roll off the tongue as well.) You'll notice that I said Morgan lived there until a couple of weeks ago... at which point he and his housemates were evicted. The landlord said, however, that they could still shoot there, so the location remained as it was. That, in retrospect, was a mistake.

When the crew arrived at the house this afternoon, it was occupied by several workmen (who were busy changing the interior appearance, something that would continue over the next week at least), and the landlord, who apparently was in something of a stroppy mood. Morgan wasn't refused entry, but decided (wisely, I think) that shooting at his old house probably wasn't the best idea.

So, already half an hour late to start shooting, Morgan was off searching for an alternative location. The scene we were shooting today was innocuous enough -- a brief exchange, nothing more -- and several homeowners were willing. At least, they were willing until they heard what would be entailed this time next week: this same location also has to be used to shoot the party scenes, which will involve an overnight kegger that will be open to practically anyone, during which we'll be shooting. To his credit, Morgan was completely up-front about this, but obviously it narrowed our options considerably.

We did eventually find a house on the rough side of Midtown, but by the time we got there (in ten cars... we're usually pretty good about carpooling, but in the confusion we just couldn't figure it out) we were badly rushed -- people had to go to work, people had to get to class. The crew was deposited outside (where the morning's rain was rapidly evolving into steam -- we got hit by the water once as it came down, and again as it went back up again), the shots were taken, and we were done for the day.

I'm still slightly wary of the situation... if this new location falls through, we'll not only have to repeat this process, but we'll also have to re-shoot what we got today. I don't have any reason to think this will happen, but it just feels risky.

After the shoot I hung around the Co-op for the workshop -- blissfully it was led by someone other than me this week. Afterwards a group of us went to the Glass Onion; all film people, but comprised largely of the "cool" kids... y'know, the people who are presumably "important" in the local film scene, but whom you don't actually see that often. The kind of people who get the few paying jobs when the well-funded features come through town.

I'm not actually very good at these gatherings. Invariably there are one or two people I'm really interested in talking to -- I mean, genuinely interested, not just networking talk -- and then a bunch of people I kinda feel like I should talk to, just in case. Once I get there, one of two things happens: 1) I get into a conversation with one of the people I really like and hang out for a couple of hours, or 2) I don't, and leave after the obligatory half hour. The schmooze is not my forte.

It was a reasonably pleasant night in any case; it struck me on the way home that, if I were inclined to remain in Memphis, tonight would probably be the night I actually began to break into the regular, working professional Memphis film industry. On a certain level, it kinda feels like a waste not to use this, as I've been dangling here for so long... but I truly, deeply want to move on, even if I have to start this whole process over again somewhere else. Anyway, by the end of the night I essentially had a formal offer to do some work on a film by a guy named Lee... this is the one I hinted at before that would begin production in July. There's no money involved (alas!), and by my normal rules it's not something I'd do -- there's not likely to be much payoff in this for me. A little good karma, maybe, and possibly some help when I do my own short in November -- both of which are valuable things, don't get me wrong -- but this is more a stay-in-practice kind of job than a career builder. (At least, that's how it looks at this point.)

But, as it happens, Lee is a really good guy... I mean, a nice guy, a decent guy. He knows his way around, his production is well-organized (a huge factor in convincing me), his goals seem reasonable, and frankly, of all the people I know who are currently talking about making a feature film, Lee strikes me as the one who most deserves the chance. So, my altruism has won out, and I guess I'm going to be working on Lee's film from the beginning of July through the rest of the summer. It should be interesting, the polar opposite of Morgan's film both in style (Morgan's really into a very naturalistic, fluid aesthetic, whereas Lee's more inclined towards a classic cinematic style) and content. And it'll keep me off the streets, even if it doesn't do a thing to help me save up for a much-needed new laptop.
1:42 AM ::
Amy :: permalink