Wednesday, July 14, 2004
Non-Journal, Day Three

Lee spent most of the night bumping up against the limits of what a volunteer crew will tolerate. He's doing the best he can -- I don't think anyone doubts that -- and his shots seem to be looking pretty good. But the crew-relations department is starting to bend under the pressure.

Last night's shoot was very rough: nine hours, mostly in stifling heat, on stale-corn-chip-and-water rations, without a meaningful break of any kind for the crew. I have seen volunteer crews mutiny for less; it's testament to how much we like Lee that nobody has walked. Still, it's pointing out the weak spots in his production skills; we've still got more than five solids weeks of shooting to go, and this has to improve for the good of the film. People can't work well unfed and unrested; we didn't leave the set until 3:30 AM last night, two-and-a-half hours late (really three-and-a-half if we take into account that the end-time was pushed back even before we began.)

The problem, as it happens, is really quite simple: Lee's still doing everything himself on the set, so it's taking much longer than it needs to to set up each shot. He's been very slow to release control over simple things like camera set-ups and sound checks -- maybe it's something to do with his animation background, where he had personal control over every aspect of the work he did. In any case, he's going to have to get over that if he wants to survive this venture. We've been giving him lots of slack so far (what with it being only the first few days shooting his first feature), but now that he's getting a handle on that, I think it's safe to start encouraging him to delegate more of the work. If we can get him to trust his crew and start directing (rather than micromanaging) the film, we'll be able to get through our shotlists considerably faster, I think.

(And no, I'm not just saying that because I want to get my hands on the camera -- although that too, admittedly. An under-used crew is a bored crew; and a bored crew is a crew that can obsess over how hot it is, how hungry they are, how much fun they're not having, and how much they'd rather be at home in bed than on this film set. Idle hands are the devil's workshop and all that.)
2:24 PM ::
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