Saturday, August 07, 2004
Despair

I'm so fucking frustrated and discouraged about this film. Lee's film, I mean, not my own.

I've been fretting over this for some time now; the turning point seems to have been the day when we did endless takes of the (now notorious) five lines of dialogue. Sometime during that day, I just lost faith in the production, and for a film from which I'm getting so little in return, it doesn't make much sense to continue.

This is a major question for me: I fulfill my obligations where these jobs are concerned. When I say I'm going to be there for it, I consider it a point of honor to be there regardless of what happens. But this situation is becoming such a losing proposition -- I give all my useful time to it, and nearly every penny I have is going to the effort in one form or another; my personal work and my daily life are both suffering -- that I can't imagine why I'm making such sacrifices.

Point 1: When I initially agreed to do the film, it was with the idea in mind that I would be the camera operator. With only a handful of exceptions -- ie, when it was literally impossible for Lee to do the shooting himself -- I have not gotten to do any such thing. My work is menial and requires no particular skill; I feel like I'm being wasted. If I had more invested in the film itself, if Lee were an established friend, if I were being paid cash-in-hand, it would be different; I would do what I had to do, no matter how lowly. But the whole point of this, for me, was to get some practice, brush up on my skills... I'm not getting any of that.

Point 2: Anybody could be doing the work I'm doing, so I should be easy to replace, at least skill-wise. I adjust the tripod legs (a job that has become jokingly known among the crew as "peeling a grape"); I keep a log of the counter readings. It's not much. Even so, I feel unappreciated, taken for granted. I feel unimportant.

Point 3: It seems as though my every waking moment is spent getting to the shoot, working on the shoot, driving home from the shoot, or recovering from the shoot. The workshops at the Co-op are suffering; I can't write because even when I'm home I lack the energy; there are dozens of things I need to tend to, but can't because my time is already spoken for. My money goes to fuel to get back and forth to the shoots, or to feeding myself because we're not fed on the set.

Point 4: The shoot is becoming a monster. What was originally a two-week shoot quickly became a thirty-day shoot; by the time we began shooting, it was a six-week shoot. Now, because of problems in the production, it has become an eight-week shoot. I counted up the days, and our total production -- as scheduled right now -- is up to 61 days; right now we're in a run of 34 shooting days in a row. That is, without a single day off; not one.

Compounding my malaise is something that happened tonight. We were way too early to start shooting (as always; we arrive two hours before, and end up with 90 minutes of spare time, doing very little but watching Lee fuss), and too early even to start lighting effectively as the sun was still setting. The three of us went out onto the porch for a few minutes, assuming Lee would come get us when he was ready. And he did, in a very unpleasant way: with a comment dripping with sarcasm. I want to stress that it was a fucking tour de force of personal willpower that I didn't walk right that minute; I'm patient and laid-back, but nobody talks to me that way. Because of where we were, I let it be for the time being, but even now I'm seething and trying to figure out how to handle the situation. It was incredibly bad timing on Lee's part; I'm sure he didn't "mean" it (do they ever?), but already disaffected, that put me over the edge. With that ill-considered comment, I went from discouraged-but-trying to simply not giving a shit.

I must say this: I don't really want to leave the film. Not because of Lee -- I'm at the point where Lee's opinion matters very little to me -- but because I worry what impact leaving would have on my reputation in the local film scene. Were it not for that worry -- that people would get the impression that I don't honor my committments, that I'd lose my hard-won film karma, that leaving is tantamount to pussying out -- I'd be long gone by now. I do, however, want it to be over; I'd be quite happy never to hear about it again.

What a fucking mess.

Any advice? Anybody?
11:26 PM ::
Amy :: permalink
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