Wednesday, July 11, 2007

So very tired...

Is it appropriate that "Once in a Lifetime" is playing as I write this? "Letting the days go by / Water flowing underground..." I'm staring at the daunting task of recapping the last three weeks of my life when all I really want to do is go back to bed.

As all right-thinking people who read this blog know, we're in the midst of shooting our new production, Splatter Movie: The Director's Cut, yet another odyssey-sized epic attempt at selling out and failing miserably, judging from the gorgeous footage rife with subtext. All the folks at the Hundred Acres Manor - Ted, Tom, Damon, Ethan, Brandon - have been stellar, upstanding folk who are virtually bending over backwards to accomodate us, even when it puts a crimp in their own busy schedules.

The weather, however, hasn't been as friendly. Last weekend, in particular, it hit about 90 degrees. The Manor, for all of its courtesies, isn't air conditioned - nor does it need to be in October, when it's open to the public - so it's difficult to get air flowing through some of the narrow hallways and the crowded make-up room.

Still, that gripe aside, the shoot has been nothing if not interesting. First, kudos and a big shout-out to our make-up team recruited by Eric Molinaris: Jimmy, Brandon, Scott, Steve, Luke, Collin - you guys are awesome. Lorena, our lead glamour make-up, is also particularly awesome. Special thanks to our other folks: Mike H., Carolyn, Jeff, Matt G., Aaron, Nikki, Nic, Catherine, Jon and our PAs, Jordan and Dan. And if I forgot anyone, trust me, I have more thanks to go around. I'm a very thankful guy.

This last shoot revolved around Tiffany Warren Yarborough and Sofiya Smirnova. Sofiya came in from Chicago to play herself playing herself. She's basically the "survivor girl" of Tesseract, the movie-within-the-movie. In Tesseract, she also plays an actress making the movie-within-the-movie-within-the-movie, which is called Splatter Movie. So she had a lot of screaming to do. Because we are the folks we are, we doused her with stage blood just prior to her screaming. It made the scream real. Sofiya also got the opportunity to beat on our Grendel character with a latex baseball bat. Which was not fun for the actor playing Grendel. Not fun at all. He still has bruises. Weep for him.

Tiffany is playing an actress named Brenda. If you've been in the business for more than eight minutes, or have gone to any horror convention, you've encountered a person like Brenda. She's the "gonna take the horror industry by storm, you ain't seen no one like me!" type o'gal. She backs this statement up with the false confidence that only comes in a bottle. Since Tiffany is the exact opposite of this type of bravado display rack, she had some work to do creating the bitchy, slutty, annoying actress. But she did so beautifully.

So those were good things.

Not good things: aside from the weather, we had our very first - and I mean very first no-show in ten years of filmmaking. For some reason, we had a hard time filling an admittedly thankless role of a second obnoxious actress to play off of Tiffany's Brenda. Our first choice dropped off the face of the Earth. Our second was asked incorrectly by an associate (both of them have since forgiven us). Finally, we turned to a blind recommendation - something we are always hesitant to do. We didn't know the actress in question, so that was a wild card, but she was suggested by a very good friend of ours, and that lowered the risk in our minds. This new actress answered email promptly, was good at communicating, did not sound like a drooling idiot on the phone, asked questions about the character. In short, she was doing everything right.

Friday night, she called Amy to double-check call times. We confirmed we'd reimburse her travel.

Saturday, she was due to arrive at 10:30. By 11:00, we figured "traffic". We weren't ready for her yet anyway, so no big deal.

By 1:00pm, she still wasn't answering her phone. We knew she was not going to be playing with us. And, for some reason, I wasn't bothered by this. We asked the crew for recommendations, got a couple more, but it was Nic who came through. A good friend of his - who co-starred with Amy in (don't laugh) Marty Jenkins and the Vampire Bitches - Ashley, didn't live too far away and was ready to jump in. She showed up just at the point when we were ready to start the scene, looked over her lines, dove right in. (And when you see the scene, you'll understand why I used the word "dove") Amy took all of this in stride as well and just adjusted her directorial skills appropriately. That isn't to say that threats of corporal punishment were not leveled... All the good directors use that as leverage though. So we're told.

Now, again, this should have driven us into a wave of panic, but we were truthfully too busy and way too fucking hot to really worry about it. Tiff was staying with us for the week. We knew we could recast during the interim if it came down to it. It wasn't a big deal. It could have been a big deal, however, given different circumstances. But we had things under control. I guess it helps to work under the worst possible conditions for a decade.

But, again, we've lost locations, we've been escorted from premises, we've had to reshoot 40% of already-shot footage when lead actresses move to Greece, we've been through re-writes, retitling, late-comers, heat stroke, missed opportunities, lost investors and post-poned projects, but we've never had a no-show. Now, things come up. Problems arise. Personal shit always rears its ugly head at the worst possible moment. When it happens, you call. You don't email someone thinking they'll get it eventually. We're understanding folk. Be honest with us.

Still, it worked out for the best, so there's no reason to bitch, is there?

I spent the bulk of yesterday fighting with my Mac and my deck but ultimately captured the four hours of footage shot (roughly an hour on four tapes, three cameras - we're not that good) and the majority is gorgeous, thanks to Jeff Waltrowski's lighting and all of his, Jon's and (particular shout out) Aaron Bernard's fancy camera work.

So we have three days until we have to return. The heat, as I mentioned, is supposed to break to a nice, comfortable 75, which will be a nice temperature in which to torment Rachelle Williams and Elske McCain. Then it's a weekend with Tom Sullivan. Then, we should have the majority of the film complete. Save pick-ups and reshoots, hopefully minor. I'll keep everyone posted.

Back to work. Miles to go before I sleep. And I should probably eat something today.

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