Okay. So we haven’t updated hardly anything online for a long while. Huge apologies. It’s summer, we’re making a movie, and we’re trying to make money back in California so we can continue to eat, pay rent, etc. It’s exhausting!
But we’ve been doing pretty well. We had a great shoot in July/early August and now estimate that we’re about 80% finished. Which is exciting and also a little scary. So much is behind us and yet we have a lot left to do. We can’t let ourselves slack off.
We’ll be back in the county in a couple weeks for about a week and half of filming – half of that with other actors, and the rest will be a lot of little pick ups with my character alone, exteriors, nature shots at all times of day. Then later in September we’ll be shooting the California segment of the movie in a weekend (about the first 8 minutes or so take place in San Francisco). And we still haven’t cast those roles! Nor do we have the money yet to shoot it! Oy.
Currently, in between a lot of day job work (that we’re so grateful for), we’re trying to get ourselves together and roughly edit what we have so far. It’s exciting to see our scenes lead into one another and start to tell a real story. And it’s also the best way to see exactly what we need for transitions in between scenes. That’s the scariest part for me – having no proper transition. Like a shot of the truck roaring past when June is angry or excited in between two scenes. Getting in and out of the truck shots (boring to do, but necessary). Not having enough shots “downtown” in the movie – which is really more of a combination between Baileys Harbor and Sturgeon Bay.
And then there are essentials to the sights and sounds of summer that are absolutely required for this movie. Ha – “required magic.” Example- in July I filmed Queen Anne’s Lace and the lush corn fields like nobody’s business. Aspen trees. Now we need to capture the sound of their rustling in the wind. The call of the mourning dove. Definitely some sunrises and sunsets over Kangaroo Lake and farm fields.
Oh California. You can’t compare. Sigh.
Anyway. Won’t go there.
For a change of pace, if you’ve been missing our behind the scenes POV on filmmaking, I’ll tell you something right now. Here’s a huge, embarrassing difference between film and almost any other kind of art: That stumbling time, all those moments where you make mistakes and talk it through and look like a complete idiot – whether it be the acting, the blocking, the camera settings, the lighting, the shot setup – usually you don’t have a record of it, if, say, you’re doing a painting. Sure, there are early sketches and bad starts – but they’re not a record of the act of creating. Those moments when your face is contorting with frustration, when you sound like you have no idea how to solve a lighting issue, when you’re trying to manage a big ol’ bunch of extras who are looking to you for direction (foolish you who should definitely not be in charge of so many people) – a LOT of those moments get recorded. (Of course, not too many – and thank God we’re not using film – but still a LOT).
And then, if you’re also the editor, which I am, you get to re-watch all of your idiocy while you label and select the video and audio clips – and you have to relive all those anxieties. And it’s only made worse when you’re acting in the film and you have to deal with your own stupid face staring back at you and your own nasally voice for every clip you label as “June” and wonder how on earth this person is going to make the cut.
I’m not being humble, this is truly the experience. We all think we look differently than we actually do. The majority of us hate our own voices when we hear them recorded. So, dealing with this over and over is a kind of torture. It’s a very, very, very stupid feeling. And constantly embarrassing. And the only way to edit this thing together is to keep facing it. Over and over and over again. It’s a kind of awful, humiliating discipline I’m trying to develop lately so that I keep facing the movie.
No one warns you about this. I should have known.
That said, for sanity’s sake, I try to mentally keep myself in the position of looking at myself as an actor that I’m editing together into a performance. And I did write the role for myself. But even so, I’m not sure if I believe myself onscreen all the time. Sometimes I worry if I seem distracted in my performance as the Director Me pops up in my eyes. Ugh. Tricky, tricky. What do you do? Cut around it.
Anyway, to wrap up this messy and distracted blog post (we’re going to the beach today for a much-needed mental break), I will say this – the embarrassment of facing your own shortcomings is absolutely worth it when you’re also actually doing the thing you’ve been talking about for years.
I cannot emphasize this enough. I have no idea who reads this thing, but if there’s something you’ve been dreaming about, talking about, avoiding, fearing – just do it. It is so hard and embarrassing and consistently scary to face fears, to stretch yourself, to commit to something huge and then show up for it over and over again – but what if you never do it? It’s a kind of death to stay too comfortable. I’ve done it. I think we all do at different points in our lives.
And there’s nothing like the highs that come from really pursuing a passion and actively working in the direction you want go. Knowing that you’re really doing the best you can.
Now, that doesn’t mean that this film is going to blow anyone’s minds or go off to Sundance (or anywhere in that stratosphere) – in fact, it’s really really flawed and imperfect (but beautiful, we hope). But, what a ride it’s been and will continue to be. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever tried to do. It’s sucked me dry of money and tears and energy – but it’s worth it. It really is. And it’s setting us up to make more. We will make more movies after this. Granted, it might be a couple years before we attempt a feature again, but this adventure has been pretty darn remarkable.