So, it's been a bit and there's A LOT of ground to cover…
I'd been putting off posting anything because this was always meant to be a production blog, but alas things were at a strange standstill, a
menagerie of "maybes", "possibly's", and "I-think-so's"… then when things finally picked up I had no idea where to begin. So, I've devised a new way to update and chronicle this journey even in the face of chaos... It'll be sparser and leaner (sometimes) but it'll be more frequent... So let's go back a bit.
I assembled some of the production team of TIDU and cast to a read-through of the script and a meet-and-greet. It was a chance to see old faces and to actually hear the script I'd been living with for almost two years out-loud and come to true-life for the first time. It was a great experience, flowed quickly in two hours and there was laughter and excitement. Hearing the script out loud gave me an idea of a few things that still needed to be refined and could be switched/cut. I was elated, I was inspired and I was ready to go back to war to try and get this project up even if we couldn't make the January date.
I was rolling on an inspiration high when an "incident" happened while the cast and crew were meddling outside. I got to see the flip side of the excitement and commitment, the passion and drive that had made such a fun experience for all. I won't go into details (it's not worth the time) but i will say there's a lot of ego and insecurity in
this business and when given enough time to marinate in disappointment, fear, rejection and forgone calendar days it can
create the ugliest of monsters. I also got to see startling strength and unity in the face of said monsters, a chance to realize we are only in control of ourselves and our own actions, not the situations we find ourselves in. I don't know if there's ever a more dangerous thing than "good intentions" and the delusion that can come from feeling righteous or experienced. I've seen a lot of misinformation and what I to call "party words" tossed around. I've also seen a lot of nitpicking and attacking and self-aggrandizing that does damage not just to those who happen to be around to get a blast of the shrapnel, but to the giver of said emotional dogmatic diarreah. If you hear a lot about "passion" and "family" and "the work" and "community" and "indie spirit" and "DIY"... don't pay attention to the words or the sounds. Go deaf. Breathe, close you eyes and then really look again. See what happens in actions not in fancy words that might appear on t-shirts and banners...
I have a coffee meeting with lead-actress Molly ("Violet") to go over a few bits, catch-up and discuss "the incident". If ever there was an example of that which does not kill us makes us stronger, she shows it, even more raring and ready to go. We talk deadlines once prior commitments calm down for her after the holidays, the status of the project and possible post-production assistance. She's aware of what the role requires, how much the movie depends on her our "unofficial quarterback" and is excited for the challenge and more than ready to rise above any expectations.
I hop a bus in the early AM at the shadow of my old home away from homeless, Port Authoriy, to go to Reading, Pennsylvania. I've been invited to attend and screen "...Around" by my dear friend, mentor and former teacher Lisa Eichhorn. Lisa is an actress and human being of the highest caliber, classically trained, well regarded and still humble enough to decline screening two of her films at a festival honoring her in her own hometown so that a former student of hers could show the film. It's an amazing day where I use the two hour each way bus ride to go over script and do some storyboarding/shot ideas. I'm met in Kutztown by Lisa who introduced me to her father and friends and then rushed to the theater. I haven't seen "...Around" in almost a year and maybe for the first time, especially in a theater, I'm detached enough from the experiences of making it, getting it out there and living it to actually watch it as a movie. I see it in a way I hadn't before... I love it, I always will and am very proud of what we were able to accomplish but I also realize how much I don't want it to be the quote on my tombstone. I want to tell another story. I want to do more, bigger and better.... I want to show what I can do and my team, as well.
The post screening Q&A goes well, bantering back and forth with the audience who seemed to really love the film in that universal way that it's been responded to in various cities and across age groups, races and genders. The idea of youth and finding your way, your "home" and reconciling the past with present and desires for the future under the backdrop of Gotham.
January as a stat-date is shot and any momentum is seemingly beginning to dissipate. Ideas of shooting trailers, scenes, doing more pre-vis work and fundraising while all fairly good methods in times of uncertainty and outside-the-box pondering feel more like half-hearted and delusional attempts to seem like SOMETHING is done and CAN BE achieved. Nevertheless I meet with a producer and discuss scenes to shoot and possible budgets to do so in February, possibly even shooting the shit out of the first 10 introductory pages and then still using it for the finished film. We'll have to chat it over the DP and other crew to see if we could even hope to keep that kind of visual consistency, but... well, it's something, right?
A miracle if you will is found. A production budget of 200k is possible and my immediate phone call to one of the producers to ask in all honesty if we can actually pull off the film right and do it justice for that amount. YES. It's going to be tighter than I may have wanted and various sacrifices will have to be made, but after some consorting I realize it's the opportunity I'd been looking for… the "chance". I'll come out swingingThe movie is a go.... an early Christmas present and then after the glowing and letting certain folks know the news comes the realization that time is a ticking and there's no turning back. I know what the next years of my life will be like, the faces I'll see and the challenge we all have to rise to… and everyone's away for the holidays!!!
Another Christmas in NYC. The city is far from empty but from the way it looks on the street, magically sparse and decorated it might as well be. I do some work at an open cafe, jotting down some notes for the eventual first production meeting with myself and my two producers Grant and Lee. I wish and am wished a few Merry Christmas and proceed to find a place to watch the PBS airing of "...Around". Four years of the best hard work of so many came to it's final honor. The WNET/CH13 PBS film screening series aired "…Around" at 11:30pm. A fitting end to show a story that has always first and foremost been a valentine to NYC to the city itself. I couldn't think of a better present than the one-two combo of "…Around" having a last victory lap and the very official start of TIDU.
I bid goodbye to a strange, transitional, dream-like, work infused and sometimes cripplingly depressing year of 2010... I see it as the end of an era and the start of a new, of limitless possibilities that, sweet and surreal, have already begun to show themselves as we gear towards making "Things" in 2011. After imbibing a few cocktails at a loft party high above Union Square I begin to realize that for the longest time my mantra was "embrace the fall". A throwaway yet highly personal line in my first film that became both tagline, battle cry, personal philosophy and eventually name of a production company; it was viewpoint towards life that you can always be prepared and that the worst may happen so just roll with and take the hit, get up and try again. For this new year, for these new journeys it no longer seemed to fit… tonight the new mantra was born.
Embrace the future!
New opportunities and clean slates, new relationships and the ability to be surprised (even by yourself) and not always try and have the road map or things figured out, to throw caution to the wind and chase the dreams of youth with a renewed vigor and added wisdom of experiences past. To forgive those who needed to be forgiven. To put your faith in SOMETHING and SOMEONE. To update this blog more than once a month (probably) and to come out swinging along with those who will step-up and fight along side you to take it back and push it forward.
April 2011 I'll be back in the saddle again, with a 200k budget running around NYC with an amazing collection of talented, giving and collaborating artists.
A bitterly cold Sunday in Union Square is the setting for the first real meeting amongst myself and my two producers to go over "Things" locking down the budget, the duties, and the April start date. It has a feel of catching up with old friends, some of the rythyms from the production of "...Around" reemerge littered with confidence, experience and wisdom of the last few years. We're extremely excited at the prospects and amount of time we will have to produce "Things" as well as the group we have already assembled. Grant begins work on the budget and sched and Lee starts on forming an LLC, finding legal counsel and opening up the bank account that will house our funds.
Amidst the whirlwind chaos of the ignition of pre-production I decide to take over a friend's rent controlled studio and make an honest attempt at not just some kind of transitional living but building a new HOME. It will be half-office and half-living area (when I can actually make it back--have always been far from a "house cat")
I see the Broken Social Scene play for two hours at Terminal 5. An amazing show and a band that has been the soundtrack to many a writing and editing session both on "...Around" and "Things".
I celebrate my birthday from 4pm-4am... from what I remember of the day many of my multiple families were there to help celebrate and destroy any inclinations of a still decent alcohol tolerance.There may have also been an hour nap in the middle of it for me... a "half-time" if you will. The Jets also prove they will break hearts anytime a small boy believes in them ever winning any kind of championship again.
My official day of birth. Severely lacking fluids, on two hours of "sleep", and working against the ungodly temperature drop (6 degrees Farenheight with wind chills making it feel very subzero)
I'm up at 9am and running many bank errands, touching base with cast and crew, emails and begin scheduling a casting for Sunday to finally lock down our "PARKER" by having a select group of male actors read with Molly. I finish around 5pm and catch a quick nap
I meet with Molly in Chelsea for a birthday cup of coffee and to chat-up some "Violet". It's a fun and productive meeting, feeding and energizing each other with our thoughts that line up at exactly on the same page. I say goodbye after some info exchange about the actors reading for "PARKER" on Sunday and head to Williamsburg.
I spend the remained of the evening into the early morning going through the script and breakdown with Grant over PBR and Curry, clearing up any confusion over what is going on/needed in any particular scene. Before the night is over we've formed a symbiotic mind meld, I am the the fragile and uncertain white swan and he is the dark and broodingly seductive black swan, together working ourselves into a ragged, psychotic frenzy (with the occasional Ecstasy and alcohol fueled NYC club rave). This kind of precision and getting on the same page is essential early on during the production. Grant is thorough and in depth with his breakdowns serving both thematic and financial urgency and giving both cast and production the best possibly war plan com this April. He's also elated at how centralized this production is as opposed to "...Around" and the standard 3 company movies a day (at least) to make 190 locations in 21 days.
Up at 9am (ouch) and back to work on the script and some minor revisions as well as contacting actors schedule. to read for "PARKER" this coming Sunday. I've found a new cafe to work out of, watching the heavy flakes land over emails and diet coke. Apparently this tiny little East Village cafe is the new place for film business to be discussed as a silver-haired PR rep for a foreign language film nominated for an Academy Award is loudly placing calls, attempting to work AOL, and sighing in mini-defeated breakdowns. I give him a knowing nod and realize never before has the veil of the "glamour" of the business been better pierced.
I run to Astoria to meet with my other producer Lee to go over some legal matters and retaining fees and meet with a potential Sound Mixer for the film. This will be a key position to fill and one I will do with all the trepidation of a girl on the first date in years since leaving the boyfriend that beat her. Let's just say when it comes to production sound on set... I've been "hurt before". Lee has assured me he's good people, the two of them becoming fast friends and bonding over a contest feature film shot in Utah over the summer. The three of us have friendly chatter and production story exchanges over beer as by the large windows we can see what looks like a frozen end of the world picking up steam. Leave with a good feeling and wander home amidst the snow, enjoying the quiet beauty. I do some writing to play catch-up and prep some budget work over a whiskey as the storm rattles outside until I force myself to bed.