It's all come together. Almost. Shooting is set for January the 3rd
through the 9th. Equipment has been located, relocated, and located again as I learned
just how ethereal things can get when dealing with government funded programs. Getting
working equipment in a timely manner, I later discovered, is pretty key to a film shoot
but apparently I was easily suckered
into overlooking a lot when it comes to saving a little money (we call this the Wal-Mart syndrome).
Most of the equipment we got came from professional houses, and they all cut us serious price
Ben Kimmel is going to be in Atlanta on personal business, so I ask him to pick up the camera to save me a trip. The camera is a Arriflex SR-II with all the trimmings. It's a camera that is so
well made I had to put up my house insurance to get it.
Of course, at that point, I couldn't have told a well made camera from a regularity
Three days before Christmas, I became aware that Kodak was going to close for the holidays. Unfortunately,
that was the day it was actually closing.
With only a few hours to get film, my friend Xenia tracked down a friend of hers from when she
lived in Atlanta. His name is Cecil Seymour. Cecil agreed to drop what he is doing and take a cab to go
get the film. This was amazingly nice of him and it sure saved the whole production. Two hours later, I am on
the phone with a credit card and Cecil is there
to pick the film up. Unfortunately, the person at Kodak is making an incredible ass of himself.
Cecil obviously doesn't know the first thing about film so the Kodak guy keeps laughing out loud and
making comments to the
other employees about how I could be so stupid as to let a total stranger pick up my film for me.
Personally, I wasn't worried. Not
only because Xenia gave her okay on Cecil, but I mean, really, what is someone
going to do with 18 rolls of 16mm black and white film anyway?
Later, Xenia explained the trouble was likely because Cecil was black. I must say, if there is any justice in the world, that employee is long gone from Kodak, off winning "Least Retarded Worker of the Month" awards flipping burgers at a Burger King in Fishkill, New York.
As for Cecil, before the film was completed Xenia lost track of him and I have never been able to track him down to thank him. I at least feel I owe him a copy of In the Heat of the Night.
Rob goes off on a ski trip in Colorado. He will be gone until a couple of days before the shoot. I was upset that he was gone. I had
become completely dependant on him but it worked out
okay and I became a little less intimidated about the whole filmmaking process. As important as
that is for a director, I would also say I was very fortunate nothing went wrong while he was gone.
Ninety percent of the shooting is going to take place inside my house. Half the people involved in the film are
from out of
town and also have to squeeze into my house. Even someone like Steven Spielburg doesn't get to enjoy the convenience of
swinging out of bed, walking to the kitchen to make coffee, then either conceptualize,
work with an actor, or just review the set without even having to get dressed. On the down
side, though, my house started to get a little smelly after a while.
So the first day of shooting arrived and the whole crew assembled. We were scheduled to shoot a couple of scenes today. One near the beginning of the film, and the other near the end. We shot these scenes together because they are supposed to be very similar, in one Coco is in bed with Ben. In the other, Coco is in bed with Eric (Don't go getting any funny ideas about the film if you haven't seen it, now.) We had figured the shots themselves shouldn't be too hard.
Around 4:30, Rob returns with some of the equipment from South Carolina. He inspects the other equipment. In great contrast to me, Rob is fully aware that the SR-II is not a regularity aid and spends some time admiring it. Unfortunately, Rob also discovers that the crystal cap is missing from the Naugra sound recorder. This is truly a discovery that only Rob could make, since he was the only person there who even knew what a crystal cap was. They guy who rented us the Naugra said he could bring it to the airport. I know this is going to cause a delay, so I ask Rob if it's important. Shortly thereafter, we dispatch someone to the airport to pick it up.
So we ended up waiting a while. Mostly the cast and crew just talked. The bedroom had been prepped much earlier. Rob is content to mess with the lights and the camera. I check in on him a couple of times, but there isn't really anything I can do to help, and he gives me one of those you-don't-even-know-if-a-crystal-cap-is- important, get-out-of-my-face looks. Rob excluded, there's a great
sense of excitement and energy in my house but little focus. It's something
I would find intolerable now, but back then it was quite endearing; The sweet thickness of a whole group
of people in mutual anticipation.
We ended up shooting late into the night. Not so good a start.
We have an aggressive
based on time estimates I had carefully pulled directly out of my ass, so running late on the first
day was quite the ulcer-inducer, but we got it done, and Rob assured me my schedule wasn't unrealistic
as long as I remained focused. Still, I moved the starting time up for the next day and sent everyone to bed.
One of the amenities of this shoot is, since the house is so overcrowded, all the rooms in my house are doubled up with people. Vic and I crowd into the bed that we are actually shooting on. This was a prop bed that Keith had built by putting a futon mattress on a sturdy 2x4 frame. Being a prop, it was designed to look soft. Being only a prop, I really didn't have any room to complain that it felt like I was lying on a towel over concrete.
Exhausted from the first day, lying on the stiff bed, I engaged Vic in a monologue about the amazing experience I felt the first time I actually called "roll camera." and we shot the first bit of film. Vic probably knew that very night I wasn't going to give this up very soon. She probably also knew the moment I started talking about it I would find fifteen or sixteen different ways of describing the same experience to her. Apart from actually shooting the film, it was my favorite tactic for denying her sleep.
For all my exuberance, that first take is long lost on the cutting room floor.