Monday, February 14, 2011

Talking dirty and influencing people...


Finally trick the bat cave out with some internet and rush off to a meeting at Momofuku in the East Village with the lovely and talented Grace Folsom ("Sara"). It's the first chance I've had to really sit down with Grace since she was cast because of our crazy sched's , the holidays and recent work in a play in Philly. Grace is a young and vibrant actress, bursting with energy, hysterical and smart; it was like having. We exchange NY tales, nutty relatives and she fills me in on the etiquette of being "waivered in" on a 50cent film and fainting on set(something I can actually relate to!) all the while tossing in her love of Ben&Jerry's and impromptu animal impersonation. There is no lovelier way to have a friendly chat and we go over some of her work on "Sara" and finding a balance in her liveliness and illness. Grace is the perfect "Sara" for so many reasons and will be an important core on the success of the overall film and several important scenes. She and Molly will meet up and begin to solidify the great chemistry they already share as we move into rehearsals in March. I leave her to work at the library for a bit, sending out emails and setting up the rest of the week...

I chat on the phone and prep with Grant about tomorrow's sound meeting, the budget and then about the journal blog I'm keeping on "Things" and life. It becomes over an hour long conversation about writing, sharing, the nature of the beast and it makes concrete what I'm trying to attempt here by not only flexing my creative writing muscles "without" trying... but to document this process in a way that I never really tried with "...Around". I'm going to put it all out there, good and bad, interesting and boring... My hope is to honestly portray what is happening with the film, keep people in the loop but also show what an independent film process can be. This isn't DIY and this isn't big studio filmmaking... this is the middle ground I'd like to show other aspiring artists is attainable with the right amount of effort, thinking outside the box, respect for the craft and your associates and overall persistence.


I touch base with Molly about setting up a meeting with a post-production company and our impending "script-go-over" this coming weekend, send out a few emails and hop the F train to Park Slope to meet with Carlos "Storm" Martinez, our post-sound guy. He gave us a tentative sound budget that included some color correct work with his contacts and we decided to tentatively cut that out of the budget as well as negotiate on weeks of mixing. Grant is along for the ride to talk rates and keep track of budget flexibility. We also chat with "Storm" about the score, the mock super band that will be portraying "Remy" 's group "Only Hurts when I Oui!" and a possible venue in the area for our concert scene to be confirmed later. It's a great meeting, always good to collaborate with someone who is as jazzed about a project as you are if not more so.

Grant and I chat over a burger about our post-budget, how much each department side can and should have based on our previous experiences. Grant is a set veteran and I have far more in post-production working as a dub technician/editor/assistant editor/producer-editor or "predator" for various ad agencies and media companies. We have honest discourse and find common ground...

I realize then how much of this process is going to be about finding the line between creative freedom and fiscal responsibility. Many of my decisions and overall process is going to be about treating the people I'm working alongside with the utmost respect and offer them as much creative freedom as I can while attempting to get my vision, all the while still maintaining order and not letting this project financially unravel or short sight any particular department.

We also chat about locations and our upcoming scout... already scoping out potential lofts in Brooklyn that, once secured, we will try and find the other locations in the surrounding vicinity to save time and use the loft as holding/office when not shooting in it. This centralized game plan will simplify much as the production rolls onward in April.

(the "loft aesthetic")


I spend the day organizing the following week and doing a slight rewrite on "Things". I chop out an excess and expensive scene in the middle of the flick that I realize would be chopping room floor anyway and am adding a slight scene better introducing the character of "Zooey" (played by the amazingly talented Lynn Justinger) and Gabby(Meissa Hampton)'s Green Wrath actor friends.  It's a lighter day then I'm used to and I spend a few hours catching up with an old friend over dinner and a beer and call it an early night after some work on my shot-list in prep for the whirlwind weekend coming up.


I touch base with Molly and our make-up artist Amy Forsythe who accompanied her for a consult with Molly's hair colorist about her "Violet make-over". It goes well and our first test will be sometime in early March, though Molly itching to start transforming herself may chop at her goldi-soon-to-be-ginger locks sooner. I polish off and export the "Blue Shooting Draft" to Grant and the various departments that need to look at and continue to work on the shot-list.


I do some work at the library and set-up a meeting with a possible costume designer Beth Anne Kelleher (another great referral from Amy) and head off to Astoria to meet in the elephant cave of actress Molly Ryman.  Today are agenda is to really touch base with where we're both at for a long chunk of time on the creation of Violet and the entire piece, going through the script scene by scene and locking down our goals and process so she can go off to do her work and meet back with myself and the other actors at rehearsal. Having both a prior working and personal relationship with an actor is a blessing in that hopefully a trust has been already built up or at least has an initial foundation and you know each other's process, strengths and insecurities. We exchange our views on Violet and the answers and work done on a Q&A. We exchange personal history and information that relates to the story and Violet, once again a comfort built up over having a previous personal/professional relationship with Molly. It's an honest discussion

We finish up at a diner near the subway and are affirmed that we are indeed on the same page and all that is needed is the upcoming weeks of work, physical transformations and melding with the other actors.  We also have a special "Violet date" towards March where Molly will first fully unveil the girl you will all come to know and love this time next year...

This is a scary and beautiful opportunity for Molly to step into her own and tackle something she's never been given the full chance to do before. I have to allow her enough freedom to allow her to grow and create the physical representation of a human being that I created and who shares a few facets of myself. I also have to help guide her, earn her trust and support her in that creation and realization of it in order for the film to work. There's a lot of pressure as there normally would be for any undertaking of this size and she's fully aware that there are eyes on her and this project, not necessarily looking for her to fall on her face but not expecting her to hit a home run. I know Molly as I know myself and those similar unimaginative, uninformed ideas and prejudice I've encountered... we always rise to the occasion. I have full faith in her abilities as an actress and assure her that she cannot fail herself or me so long as she really swings away. She agrees and we are ready for the fun, the excitement and the work of what's to come. We say goodbye and I head back into the city for a quick bit of writing/work and pass out early, suddenly drained.


I spend the day running errands and setting up the following week as well as getting a bit of exercise in to keep my brain and mind sharp. I run to a late meeting to grab a few beers with Raina, a friend of a friend, who has slowly but surely begun breaking into production of the last few years both in lighting and as a producer. She's an intelligent and passionate young woman who's slowly been building a rolodex and projects. It was also a unique opportunity to tell the "Legend of David Spaltro" from the beginning to someone who'd never heard it, hopping and skipping from train station/film school to other countries to the movie about the train station to the financial fall-outs and back again... someday I'll write that autobiography pop-up book. I promise... (call this all a warm-up)

A late night call to set-up a possible location scouting mission in the morning and the continued debate over Red camera package v.s. Arri's Alexa in terms of best serving the budget and project with Grant. There will still be a bit of debate and due diligence but we're agreed on what our end game should be in the decision.


Valentine's Day... or as I often referred to it in previous years, "detached drifter Christmas"... It's a beautiful out and I decide to make the day a bit easier on myself after a location scouting mission falls through. I go to the park after some banking/financial dealings and finish up my shot lost in Tompkin's Sq.Park, proving once again I'll never be a house cat and maybe do my best work on park bench/chess tables...

Coming up... more casting announcements, locking down locations, costume designs, sketches, storyboards and more with April 3rd is less than 7 weeks away...

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