I'm a bit late on this one and I'm going to break away from the recent format as it's been a long couple of days and a majority of it isn't really production related. I've slept maybe 10 hours in the last week, I've been tapped out and run down because of that, some damage control and trouble shooting missions and because of some gnawing, grinding thoughts and issues as we approach go time.
Fear has never been something I've handled well. It's seemingly always been omnipresent in my life in several ways and yet at the same time something to be conquered, more a sixth sense to alert me to dangers, opportunities or guide decisions than something to dwell on or affect me. I'm worried about my ability to lead at the end of the day with this project. I have full faith in this story and my desire to tell it, the one that's been calling out to me for the last three years despite other opportunities or wise words. I have assembled an amazing team that is working hard on every level to bring it to life and know they'll come ready to play and I know that I'll provide the canvas to create, to go with them to the ends of the earth, as far down the rabbit hole as possible to protect and guide the work into the best it can be. I don't know if that's enough and I'm worried--I'm fucking terrified something else is slightly lacking.
I don't think being a good leader is never being afraid or admitting you're afraid. I've said before, "you can't be brave if you're not scared", but it's how you handle the fear and the doubt, how you take on the same insecurities of others around you support them even when you're not sure yourself. I guess I know what I've always been capable of on a mechanical level, the "good soldier" that can get through any hardship, make the quick and important decisions, swallow any pain and grief and shoulder through the storm -- but even then there was always a bit in my heart where it came from organically, this pulsating energy, focus, drive and assurance even in the face of doubt and calamity. Even with this project about to happen, the obstacles over come to get this point, lately more than ever I feel like that part of me, that reserve is tapped out and empty. I feel everything I'm able to do now, how I perceive who I am is purely instinct and nothing more and I'm worried that in order to properly lead and do this the best way it can be I'll need to find that again.
I've never been afraid of failure before or to fall on my face so long as I tried and swung as hard as I could. And that's what I plan to do with this. I've also just never had so many things close to the chest be included in one project. That's the thought that keeps me awake at night. That I'll be able to make all the sacrifices, work myself to ashes, sift through the dust of destroyed personal relationships that collect along the way and I'll still fail the people I Iove and believe in that are part of this. That I'll let them down when they need me to not only be my strongest but also present and able. And it won't be because I don't know how to do my job or am working and pushing myself and everyone else to go the extra mile, but because my heart in some ways is still very much empty and that this project won't fill that but will depend on it being filled and I have to find the way to do that. I can bring production value, making the playing fields for the artists involved and do all the things necessary, but if I can't bring that extra, intangible heart and soul to this project and everything I do, simply because I don't have it in me anymore.. What will this turn out to be? How will I not fail? And so I toss and turn, exhausted and wide awake, pace myself around the room and run errands and run around the park and walk late at night, trying to solve a problem that is almost identical to the main character in TIDU.
I shake that all of and decide to keep trucking, using some much needed laundry time this morning to meditate and peacefully contemplate. Laundry and basic things like that, the bane of other people's existence is a simple pleasure. It's so basic and easy, not real choices or decisions. I fall in love it each time: bag goes in, quarters go in, detergent goes in, machine circles, clothes dry, you fold, you bag, you breathe. I treat the run down cold I've acquired from the changing weather and lack of sleep over some soup. The old asian lady at the counter must have saw the wreckage in my eyes because she gave me a fortune cookie for my simple 2 dollar soup order. I open it and it read:
"A person starts to live when he can live outside himself."
There's a bit of calm and peace in that and my laundry technique. I write all this because equal parts someone reading/no one reading and either this forces me to confront this issue and deal with it or at least accept and share that it may be beyond me.
Okay, so aside from all the meta-esoteric existential dilemmas---
What DID happen in production this week:
-- Finish the final bank transferring of our budget into the prod.co's bank account. The bank official I work with turns out to be someone from my graduating high-school class, his look of recognition coupled with the amount of money I'm transferring incurs a flash of:
1)you're still alive?!
2)are you a professional killer?
---I receive a call with our DP Gus (on his one day off of the feature he's shooting right before TIDU) about lenses and playing with lenses that have their own personality. He wants to confirm that I'm going for a more realistic look for the film, giving him examples of Scorsese and Spike Lee's works like "After Hours" and "Do The Right Thing" as well as the cinematography in "Eternal Sunshine..." I also tell him my intention of playing with every inch of a space and camera moves, especially several particular scenes in a tiny hospital room that amount to a lot of emotional growth between two characters but physically is just two individual chatting. This is complicated as not all locations are locked and even then I haven't has much time to tech scout them and walk around spacially or even confer with Gus. My goal to move both the camera and actors in the frame more than I have before while still shooting enough coverage (the editor in me) to help pacing wise when I need to speed things up.
---I cast a very talented actor, Bryan Dechart (as referred by the lovely Grace) in the silent but very strong and demanding role of "DAN". The role is crucial in with just a camera move and facial expressions Bryan has to emote equal parts sadness, confusion, joy and regret all tucked under a strong facade... I may also ask him to do this while standing on his head just to be a royal prick. He's down for the challenge, enjoying the script and we set up a coffee meeting to meet and greet Monday.
-I send off some photos of actors to our wardrobe designer Beth, out in LA and she sends a picture book of images for the main cast and their professional/personal wardrobes with accessories. Most of it is beyond spot-on and a few simple notes later she's back to work and touching base with the actors and their specs.
- I meet up with our vastly talented make-up girl Amy Forsythe for a lunch meeting/catch-up in Union Square. We go over some of the progress and previous ideas on the characters over Vietmanese. Molly sends an email during our meeting with some "Violet make-up" notes and questions on product. Amy decides to hang around and answer them in person, so we kill a few "happy hours" at a nearby watering hole, Resevoir. Over a few beers and some scotch I inform Amy we'll most likely, if locations stay locked as they are, will be shooting down the street from her in Greenpoint, learn the wonderful world of "LARPING" and convalesce over the lack of Kurt Cobain in our modern times. Molly joins us and we move to an adjacent, quieter surrounding of Argo tea. They go over make-up and hair bits, trying to make sure Molly is secure with her personal stylist doing the final color make-over and plan a "wig store excursion" with Grace for some other tests and ideas.
- I spend a few days working with Grant catching up on details and chopping away at location and actor scheduling. One of the slight challenges of having such an ensemble film is to try and utilize all the actors in a cost effective way without breaking up our locations and also meeting any important conflicts they may have with their personal and professional lives. While he organizes I send off the shot-list PDF to Gus (still on another feature) in-between chatter, question answering, and bursts of "I fucking love this program..." from Grant. It's always fun to see someone enjoy their work. I lock down a hysterical local comedian (who I will announce as soon as I can) in a supporting role and send him off both the shooting draft and his sides. He's extremely funny and a talented writer so I let him know that he's more than welcome to inject his own humor and personality into the role in both ad libbing on set and some rewrite/tweaking. We set up to meet right before a weekly comedy show he hosts in Williamsburg to meet and discuss everything.
- I have a sound meeting with Storm, Vita, Grant and and a fun new addition to the TIDU family, Phoebe Holiday, a young music student at NYU and talented artist who will be helping us create some of the songs for our acoustic singer/songwriter character "Daisy" (played by Jenna Laurenzo). She's sweet, knowledgeable, a jersey girl-by-way-of-Texas and very enthusiastic about the project. I talk to her a bit about it, send off the script and some notes and set-up a chance to bounce ideas back and forth as they begin to work on it.
Next week it'll be more of the song remains the same, with a locked down sched, our first rehearsals, music demos and the like.
The good fight goes on...