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Sunday, October 24, 2004

Coming down from the shot, 10/24/04

Every night since we wrapped production, I've had dreams that wake me up in the middle of the night. I'm on set directing, and everybody’s working hard, but we can't ever get the shot off. Hours go by and my mind is just racing. I'm setting and re-setting up the shot, but we never roll film. It's one of those frustration dreams that never let's you get to any kind of conclusion. I used to have similar ones when I first started editing professionally, when I wasn’t as knowledgeable or experienced as I should have been to be doing what I was doing. I’d have some bizarre, frustrating dream and I’d wake up and think about it. When I got back to sleep, I’d dream it again, but with the scenes rearranged. I’d wake up again and analyze what I’d done differently in my re-edited dream. I’d go back to sleep and re-dream/re-edit it yet again. I’d do this all night long, never really getting any decent sleep. I called it the non-linear editor's nightmare. Anyway, it's back, but now I'm on set and I never get anything shot, let alone to the edit.

For the first time in over 2 years, I took all the garage rock out of the CD changer in my car. Garage was all I was listening to anyway, but in my obsession with this beach party rock and roll monster movie, I felt like I had to immerse myself in all things garage to prepare for the shooting of the film. Now that we've wrapped shooting, I can, at least while I'm stuck in traffic, finally think about something else for a while. Mostly I'll be thinking about the script for “Skunk Ape II”, in which the audience will catch up with lead character Theodora 5 years later, when she's playing early ‘70s country/rock music. I went out and got the Gram Parson’s Anthology to start my ‘research’ already.

Here's another recap of the shoot:

DAY TWO (Tuesday, October 5)
Location: Stockbridge Citgo / The Garage

Day Two is when we shoot the climatic scene of the movie with the band playing a party and the Skunk Ape attacks. It's just 3 scenes, less than 4 pages, but it's also lots of setups, wrangling extras and we have to finish by midnight. We have an early call on Wednesday and we have to return to this location later in the week, so we don't want to annoy the garage owner. Call is 5:00 pm, but the day starts for me at 2:30 when Claire, Mary and Cynthia arrive at my house for another band practice and session with Melissa Sandefur, our hair/make up artist.

On all my short films, the ‘cast’ has been my friends—mostly co-workers at Cartoon Network and Turner Broadcasting-- so this was my first time directing professional actors. I've talked to other film makers who have said that working with actors was their favorite part of the process. Having gone through it, I have to agree with them. Working with the actors at rehearsals and watching them turn my script into characters and my admittedly forced dialog into normal-sounding conversation was amazing. Everyone on the cast was remarkable, not one forgotten line and not one false performance during the whole production.

Anyway, back to Tuesday night. With our strict 5 to 1 shooting ratio, we can only shoot a few angles and then just a few takes of each scene. Nevertheless, DP Evan Lieberman and I plan 22 set ups for the climatic scene, half of them facing the stage where all the action happens and half of them from behind the stage. Due to the time it takes to flip all the lights around, we have to shoot all our shots facing one direction, then the other. Determining the most efficient order to do this is the job of the Assistant Director, Alex Orr. It's also his job to bark at cast and crew to make sure everyone is aware of the plan and is doing it. Alex did a fantastic job throughout the production, but especially on this day. We are able to shoot all but 4 of our set ups and those are cutaways and close-ups that we can pick up later in the week when we return to the garage location. I also have to thank all my friends who dressed up and showed up to be extras on a late Tuesday night 30 miles outside of Atlanta.

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