Thursday, April 9, 2009

The Short Film Saga, Part V

After the third weekend of filming:

The Bottom Line: We're now $113 under budget and half a day ahead of schedule -- just don't ask me how we managed that with all the stuff that went wrong!

Budget-buster or not, no way am I handling the catering for the fourth weekend. This was just too much on top of everything else I need to do for the shoot, especially when the meat I'd purchased chose not to cooperate. So, I had my "moment of losing it" late Friday afternoon, when I was still struggling with uncooperative meat and realizing that I hadn't even started on everything else I had to do to prepare for the shots we had planned for the next morning. (You want to see a confused face during an apology? Try saying, "I'm sorry. My meat wasn't cooperating, and I didn't mean to take it out on you..." )

Mind you, we kept losing cast and crew during the course of each day because of countless last-minute scheduling problems, so instead of 12 people to feed at the end of each day, we ended up with five. On the plus side, I've got food for the freakin' week now. On the downside, I could have cut my catering work (and stress) in *half* if I'd known.

Bizarrely enough, though, losing crew throughout the day actually turned out to be a good thing, one of those counter-intuitive lessons we never would have thought of on our own. With only three or four people behind the scenes instead of a crew of six or seven (or eight), we each had more work to do but actually ended up keeping a better pace. Whether that was because we just had fewer people to wrangle and make grasp what we wanted (and giving us more time to work with the actors so we needed fewer takes to get it right) or because of the specific people we lost, I'm not quite sure. (I'm leaning toward the specific people we lost -- at least regarding two of them...)

Of course, our lead actor pulled another fast one on Saturday. As soon as we broke for lunch, he announced that he had to drive home to "take care of something" that he wouldn't give us any details about. Swearing that he would be back in an hour, he showed up well over an hour-and-a-half later. Sitting around for an extra 30 minutes waiting for him didn't put any of us in a particularly good mood -- especially when we learned that he'd actually been back for 10 minutes but hadn't told us so that he could "finish a really good sandwich." (On Sunday, he started to joke about needing to leave again, only to have me fix him with an icy stare and tell him, "Give us your keys. We'll send Jeff for whatever you need." I wish we'd had a camera on his face when he realized that I wasn't joking.)

Sunday was the lead actress' turn, when she realized that she'd forgotten the dress she needed for the main scene we were shooting that day and had to drive back to her home in "The Valley" from our apartment here in "The Other Valley" and then back again. (We couldn't use a different dress, unfortunately, because we had to match it with some footage we'd shot the first weekend.) That gave us a late start (*!again!*), which was made worse by the director not having had any sleep and being sick with whatever this bug is that's been going around.

Basically, Sunday was a bad, *bad* start. A late beginning with an already-grumpy director is not a good thing. First, the director of photography took him aside and reamed him out for crossing the line on how he was dealing with us. Twenty minutes later, the director crossed the line with *me* for the first time, and I took him aside and reamed him out. (First time I've ever raised my voice with this man in the two years I've known him -- and another face I wish we'd had a camera on!) He managed to pull it together soon after that -- but not before he had the director of photography and myself literally *slapping* him in the face to wake him up. Took him a long time to convince us that he was serious about it, too. ("I mean it! *Slap* me!"/".....Oka-a-a-a-a-a-a-ay....")

Everything clicked by lunch, somehow, and we ended the weekend with some really spectacular stuff, and under budget, and ahead of schedule. Which means it looks like we can finish up everything else we need to shoot here on next Saturday, then go back to West LA on Sunday for that scene we didn't get on the infamous "Sunday From Hell" -- and still have time and money for the wrap party!

And it'll be nice to have a weekend again where I don't have to get up at 5:30 AM each day...