View Full Version : A story from the trenches

05-20-2005, 09:06 AM
So yesterday was the first day of principle photography of the feature film that I'm currently working on. We began filming at the major location of the film. To secure this location I had to beg, borrow, and steal (figuratively speaking of course).

See, this location is actually the living room of a friend's house. He was a little stand offish about allow me to film there, but we finally arrived at an agreement. So my friend (let's call him "Jorge" to protect the innocent) agreed that I could film starting Thursday. So Thursday, being yesterday as I'm writing this, myself, the actors, the crew, and the equipment all arrived at Jorge's house at the appointed time. We all get out of our vehicles and ... no Jorge. "Ok," I think. "Maybe he got caught at work. We'll just do a little rehersal while we wait for him." Fifteen minutes later Jorge shows up and enters his house without so much as a "hello" or even an acknowledging wave. I glance over at my crew, a little confused, and give an encouraging smile. We then took the actors and gear inside.

Jorge had again disappeared to some other room of the house, but the living room has been cleared and was open so we began setting up the camera, running the wires for the mics, and setting up the lights.

Then two other people walk through the door. I didn't recognize these people so I just kind of froze for a second. They also froze, probably expecting to see Jorge instead of a movie crew. So after a few seconds which felt like eternities, Jorge came into the room, looked right at me and said, "See! This is what you get when you come over unexpected."

I replied "Unexpected? What are you talking about?"

Jorge: "You said that you were coming over on Thursday."

I exasperatedly answered, "Jorge, it *is* Thursday!" To which he didn't reply and instead left the house with these two strange people whom I don't know. So myself and everyone else just kind of look at each other. Now this situation was helped by the fact that everyone knows everyone else, so we were ultimatly able to laugh at this, but it was certainly a strange exchange. Deciding that we didn't need the instability of Jorge (given that his living room is used for about 75% of the film) my main actor called his wife and she agreed to let us move the entire production to their house. We packed up and drove over there. I expressed my unending gratitude to my actor's wife and offered her my first-born child, or any other payment that she required.

As we were setting up at this new location my actor's wife came out and offered to rearrange furniture, change the wall decorations, vaccume, etc. all in an effort to change her living room to be a better set. I was floored by her kindness and understanding to this group of people invading her home. And then I realized: Jorge's living room was completely wrong for the picture! This was the set that the film was crying out for and I couldn't hear it because I was too focused on appeasing Jorge and making his living room work for the material. I'm not the most experienced director, but I sure thought I was past a blaring mistake like that!

So it all worked out in the end.

What's the moral to the story? I'm sure there are many. If a set isn't working out, it's probably not meant to be. Film will always find a way. The show must go on. Like I said, there are many. But when we finally got set up and I could finally sit down and concentrate on the monitor and call "Action!" Then the magic started and I was reminded once again that everything that we go through to bring these little pieces of ourselves to the screen is completely worth it. There's nothing better in the world!


05-20-2005, 09:22 AM
Here here! Top drawer my friend! Top drawer!

Neil Rowe
05-20-2005, 09:24 AM
..nice move canning the location if the owner is not on the level and on board. ive done the same thing.. its hard, but its for the best. hope it turns out good for you!

Erik Olson
05-20-2005, 10:44 AM
I went through the whole day yesterday thinking it was Wednesday! Must be going around.


Jim Brennan
05-20-2005, 10:54 AM
Best thing to do, really. If you had gotten half way through and he changed his mind...

I am always asking favors to do films. Most of the time people are gracious about it. But if somebody gives me the "hey, I'm doing you a favor" vibe, I make other arrangements. There are tons of nice people out there, who love the idea of helping you with a film.

You are right about it all being worth it though. Gotta keep your eye on the prize.

Sad Max
06-06-2005, 08:48 AM
um...does 'ol Jorge spend a lotta time doing the demon weed, or something...?

"It is Thursday!" :shocked:

06-06-2005, 11:36 AM
I think Jorge is one of the people who are so non-confrontational they can't say NO to a friend despite how much they may hate the thought of saying YES. The fact he's non-confrontational is proven in how he just walked straight past you and your crew when he entered.

Sad Max
06-06-2005, 07:32 PM
Some kinda weird awful passive-aggressive bullshit.

Yuck. That crap always brings out my homicidal streak.

06-17-2005, 01:12 PM
I can relate, I had a day of shooting planned (Saturday) in a neighboring town, I had a one-shot actor lined up to do a shot with my principals. The whole schedule got setup on Monday. Then on Thursday night, we did another scene at sunset, different location, but we couldn't finish it because we ran out of daylight. So right then and there the cast and crew all agreed to attempt to pick it up Saturday morning before traveling to the neighboring town. It is totally not like me and I can only hope that my admitting it here in this public forum will inspire me to make sure I never make this mistake again, because I never slip like this. It's just not how we work.
I totally forgot to reschedule the actor.
Long story short, we missed him, and we couldn't meet up to get the shot when planned, I called him and apologized wholeheartedly, then got on with the shoot. Later in the day we went back to pickup that scene, and I decided to wardrobe up one of the crew and try to get the shot anyway, he did a really good job of filling the actors shoes, and to my surprise the lighting/ sun/ clouds turned out 500% better than they would have at all if we had ended up shooting it in the morning with the actor. Sometimes, things DO work out for the better of the production. I do not recommend that anyone be a jerk like me, and stand up people that you depend on, but DO be on the lookout for serendipitous occurrences that happen. When you go with the flow, be positive, and find ways to overcome or workaround the bottlenecks the production will be better for it.
I also have found that when you own up to your mistakes, take responsibility apologize, and then get on with dealing with the consequences, your crew, cast, and other people that help you with your filmmaking will respect and appreciate you for it.

06-17-2005, 02:16 PM
Happy accidents are great aren't they? Makes you sort of think that it's an absolute miracle that any film actually gets made.


06-17-2005, 02:36 PM
Good luck on your production Chris.

See you on Saturday unless your shooting.


06-17-2005, 03:06 PM
Makes you sort of think that it's an absolute miracle that any film actually gets made.

No kidding! And happy accidents aren't even the beginning. On the Hollywood scale, how hundreds of people can come together and create a coherent film is a miracle in and of itself. Then the fact that the film can impact the entire world on an emotional level is incomprehensable to me. On an independent scale, the fact that so few people can come together and make something that still has the potential to impact the world is ... well, the stuff dreams are made of ... er, maybe that was Burma Shave. I can't keep things straight anymore. :)

Good luck on your production Chris.

Thanks for the encouragement. We're still trucking along. Just finished shooting the major action piece of the script last night. It's coming together pretty well. We'll be shooting through August, so there's still a lot left to do. Then post starts. :laugh:


J.R. Hudson
06-17-2005, 03:38 PM
Sounds like Jorge is a little bitch unfortunately.

06-19-2005, 07:19 AM
I think what I wanted to say is that happy accidents are what gets productions done. It seems like good luck, but luck is very predictable, it you want more of it, show up more often and be as positive about everything that happens as you can be, and voila, there it is. - C

06-19-2005, 09:44 PM
I agree that favors from your friends are one thing but when it comes down to it you can get a whole lot more from someone who you don't know that well who is passionate about your project or filmmaking in general that you will get from a good friend who just can't say "no" to his buddy. Your lead actorís wife understandably wants your project to be the best that it can be because she wants her husband time to be well spent on your film, and thatís good that she is. Personally Iíve never had more bitching than I did when I used my old girlfriendís new Mustang as a picture car.