Sunday, July 22, 2018
Day 5: We had a beautiful, very long day, culminating in the Burning of Papers...I shall not tell you which papers for fear of SPOILERS :) Our male lead worked...and worked ...and worked in every scene. It must have been quite exhausting, but he never ever showed it, or complained. He is not only absolutely brilliant, a thinker, and a very hard and uncomplaining worker, he is also a mensch. Our lovely, smart, warm-hearted, and funny female lead absolutely shone in her scenes. I may need to just write that every day, because she is such a godsend to this movie... Some of the pictured crew are Camera Department folk. The grinning woman is Alisa Tyrrill, our D.P. The guy with the lens cap in his mouth is Ryan Brown, 1st A.C. - he who designed our monitor Mints Display. The Bearded Wonder is Mike Astle, our Gaffer. And in the back is Niall James, the Tall and Mighty Key Grip. The MoVi operator had to chase after our male lead up and down stairs at the end of the day...and did it brilliantly. The pretty lady with the lovely Astle child in her lap is Nancy Leonardi, our Lead Hair of Awesomeness. Our little indie feature, like every indie feature, lives and dies on the creative abilities of the entire cast and crew. Every day, we have hundreds of small questions, problems, and processes to be answered, solved and created. We put in months (and in Larry's and my case, 5 years or so...) of planning. But, sometimes, when humans plan, the angels laugh. A day you are supposed to shoot a garden party, the sky opens up with rain. Or, weather strands an actor in Boston due to flooding and flight delays and you must recast on the night before the scene will be filmed (thank God we got a great actor due to quick thinking by our incredible casting directors!)! We all have to stay on our toes. We have to be opportunistic problem-solvers, always on the look-out for solutions. Additionally, we all have to look out for ways to be efficient, economical, and elegant with our resources - cause we’re a little indie film. This morning, our excellent sound guy, Bob Marts, came to me with a great suggestion. Let me give you some context: we have some voice-overs that we need to record while our fabulous stars are in Seattle filming. But, every day we are on set filming, so of course there’s no time to go into a recording studio. A problem in need of a solution. Well, Bob solved it. Turns out, the crawlspace of the house that we are using for a scene also has marvelous acoustics. (Thank you insulation!) So, four of us, Carli Plute, our Boom Operator, Script Supervisor Andy Spletzer, our female lead, and I, trooped down to the crawlspace and jammed into our impromptu recording studio, and knocking out several crucial different voice-overs in a very few minutes. Efficient, economical, and elegant. Go Bob! And then there is Vicky Berglund-Davenport, our utterly brilliant Locations Manager. A genius at this incredibly-hard job. When you don’t have a big studio budget to build a sound stage to order, production relies on Locations to discover and secure just the right space to place the story. It was a special challenge to find all of our locations within a few miles of each other. The location that proved the toughest nut to crack was the home that would be the setting for the Marlow family in 1962. After many many....mannnnyyy weeks of scouting, and after trying out over ten different houses, Vicky found just the right spot. How does she do it? “I look at the outsides of houses and try to imagine the inside based on the outside. Then, I get some help from the Office of Film and Music, contact the resident, and ask.” Finding one house that fulfilled all the needs of our story was an epic search. But, our 1962 house has been found! I love the floors, the colors, the little bedroom that will house our young lead. The kitchen retains exactly the period look we need. The garden, ragged and overgrown, helps to tell the story of this family beset with larger concerns that pruning and weeding. We had been sweating bullets on this one, so today we are all filled with relief! And when we feel joy on set, we do have a 30-second Dance Party. 1962 has been saved, people! Get your groove on!
Thursday, July 19, 2018
Nuns! Bread! Corrie tears flowing joyously! SO many tears, because I was so very moved by the beauty of what our leads did, that I was kind of a mush-puddle at wrap (also, we JUST made the day:) and so I forgot to do the usual "Picture Wrap" ceremony for a very favorite human being that I have been privileged to work with for four precious days...serious DOH!!! God bless her, she said she forgave me, but it was very not cool of me. My only excuse is that I was quite emotional from the beauty of what she had majorly helped create. A very good day. Here are Alisa Tyrrill; my DP, and Mike Astle; my Gaffer, being amazing.
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Day Two was absolutely glorious. Our brilliant, talented, and very genial crew filmed many wondrous actors, in several large group scenes, many of whom I have worked with before, and ALL of whom I respect and adore. Especially the two that were my offspring. Here are a beloved few:
Monday, July 16, 2018
A few morning glitches and "first day delays" were easily overcome by this crackerjack crew, and we sailed through the afternoon, feeling very blessed and upheld. I really do have the "A Team" on this one, in every department, and certainly with the cast. Before we rolled, we heard from Kate Becker, from the Office of Film and Music, and from Chris Compte, our SAG rep, and at lunch we heard from Niall James and Lisa B. Hammond of IATSE. Before we rolled, we had a few moments of quiet gratitude. My heart was very full as we pulled off the first shot. It has been many years since Larry and I first had the idea to approach Stephanie Kallos for the rights to the astonishingly-lovely novel that I based the screenplay on. Many. Years. And many attempts to get the money, and the crew and cast, together. I rejoice in 29 more days of beauty ahead of us! And now I think I will fall over in exhaustion... ( Pics: Tallis' hands by the slate as he kindly played an extra for us today; Rachel Thomson, our Production Designer; Justin Vinall, our Key Set PA, with me; and the Bill Johns Orderly Hunk Squad :) So. Very. Grateful.
Sunday, July 15, 2018
I cannot tell you how happy I am. But, as it was pointed out to me today, by one of our incredible stars, at rehearsal, I am also more calm than I have ever been, been the night before any other film that I have directed. Why? 1) Our amazing, joyful, mellow, brilliant crew and cast. 2) Prep. It really is the secret to a good shoot. From bringing on our Locations Manager and Line Producer in January for a July shoot, to bringing on our glorious DP a month before the show, we have chosen to invest in solid prep. And I know it will pay off. I have that Christmas-Eve feeling of excitement and quiet glee. And huge enormous piles of gratitude to God, all our prayer partners, and my amazing team. Here we go! God bless us, every one!!! Setting my alarm to 5 am and trying to fall asleep at 9:30...we will see how I do:)
Thursday, July 12, 2018
Today we are four days out from principle photography on my biggest movie yet, "Language Arts". We start shooting on Monday. How can I express my delight and gratitude adequately...I think there is no way. This movie is so close to my heart that is is as if it were a part of my body. Even though Stephanie Kallos wrote the novel, and not I, I adapted it into a screenplay. And much about the story resonates with my story, and the story of our family. I believe Stephanie even wrote a chapter based on some of what happened to our family in the 90s, when we were overtaken with toxic mold in our Ballard house (some effects of which still trouble me today, actually). Is it autobiographical? Not exactly, but it has many, many shared elements. I have a talented, experienced, brilliant and, thank God, generously-collaborative crew, and the cast of my dreams. It is the biggest cast I have ever assembled; with 39 speaking roles, 18 featured extras, and many more regular extras. And even with that, I had to exclude many, many gloriously-talented Seattle actors; some that I have worked with multiple times, and some that I have only dreamed of working with. So it goes. It is actually one of the toughest parts for me when casting, and when crewing up: excluding beloved folk, because there is no way that in the current paradigm, we can hire them. I have to recover for a day or so after decisions are made, but then I give myself full permission to rejoice in who we GET to work with!!! I want to hug myself every time I think of the talent and crew. Thank you GOD for these people!!!! Tech scout and production meetings have happened, wardrobe fittings are well begun; locations are secured (thank God), sets are being created, hair and makeup are being designed, camera and electric packages assembled, transportation is being locked down...we are on the toboggan and rushing down the hill!!