Where do I begin? How can I possibly un-scramble my brain into some formation of a blog post?
A sampling of my thoughts at 8:30 this morning: Wellllllll, we could do the 28th instead of the 24th for the bonfire scene and then move the country road scene to September, how long should Elliot’s hair be? and upon looking at the script – I would never say this this way – I need to rewrite this entire movie, and this movie isn’t original at all – why am I not like Richard Linklater and playing with form for my first movie, I am a failure, no, this movie’s completely fine, it will be sweet and lovely and subtle and simple and the actors are wonderful and the scenery is breathtaking and somehow I’m going to learn how to act again within the next week because we fly out in a week and start shooting in a week and a half and how on earth are we going to decorate the Ephraim Village Hall for the wedding and schedule the various music acts and the acting scenes and where are we going to get some big black fabric to cover the windows so we can shoot a night scene during the day and is that even possible, I hope they have a ladder, I hope Finn’s hair has grown out enough for continuity (Finn is my dog who had a recent haircut), and how are we going to hang up the Chinese lantern for lighting on the go, and I have to email all the extras, I have to email everyone who has ever lived……
It goes on, on, on. If you gave up on reading that halfway through or earlier I don’t blame you. Ouch.
And yet. Somehow this thing, gradually, is coming together. I know, in the end, it will be a complete and utter miracle that we made this movie – but there’s something fascinating about witnessing a miracle happening very very slowly before your eyes.
As hard as this is, as draining as it can be to think of all these details, as often as panic rushes through me followed by paralysis – the truth is that there as also been – very quietly – a kind of ease and grace with how everything has happened. I just have to slow down and see it.
Yes, there are little bumps all day long. I remember my high school drama teacher saying that putting on a play was creative problem solving. Every day, that’s what this project is. Creative problem solving. And somehow – every problem gets solved or re-worked into a better solution than we could have planned ourselves.
A thousand decisions. I’ve heard that that’s what a director’s job really is – making all those decisions. I see that now. Yes to this wedding dress, no to that lighting idea, yes to tripod for the exterior shots, no to tripod for the more emotional scenes, yes to those glasses for the flashback scene. Keeping yourself together while making those thousand decisions is the real trick now, I see.
One of the things I admire most about singer-songwriter Gillian Welch – hear a lovely song above – is her precision. Every great work of art I believe requires the artist to make some tough, precise, and clear decisions. I think people from the outside like to call that “vision.” I can tell you that in the middle of it, it doesn’t feel anywhere near so lofty.
And not to compare myself to Gillian Welch. Far from it. The truth is, I’m an amateur director. But – I also stubbornly know what this movie is supposed to look like, sound like, feel like. In the midst of this brain storm going on (like you saw above), I need to stand firm in what I know will make this movie the best it can be – while remaining open to the fluctuations of the myriad details that can change on a dime.
We fly out a week from tonight – a Red Eye. Saturday the 17th is our first date for shooting.
It’s a long road to next week right now. But I can’t wait to get started. Time and again, I prefer the creative part of this experience to the details of scheduling and fundraising. I want to work with the actors and the camera and sound and light. I want to be in the moments of this movie, seeing them actually happen in real life – outside of my mind. Finally! Get me outside of my mind.
Every single part of this process is overwhelming. But somehow, I see this movie forming and taking place. I can’t wait to make it happen in real life.