Monday, January 7, 2008

On the first day of shooting, Mike Harring gave to me…

…a reminder of how much work it is to make a film.

So, I was present for the first day of filming. Unfortunately, my schedule won’t allow me to travel along for the rest of the fun, but I thought I’d contribute some thoughts from the first day.

I kinda figured I should do it because Mike and the rest of the crew are going to be waaay too busy to even look at the blog (most likely). Here are my musings:

**Did you read my description of “My best of shooting…” below? Well, the first day of shooting was Mike’s “best” day. It was a bit difficult at times, but Mike and the crew rose to the challenge.

**The first day of shooting is a bad news/good news proposition: The bad news is that it will always be one of your toughest days. You are just getting to know your cast and crew, you are starting to realize the limitations of what you have planned (i.e. reality is settling in), and it’s the day people are most likely to make mistakes. The good news is that it is the day the crew is at its most enthusiastic. Everyone is happy to be there, and energy is high – this is what gets you through that first day.

**Filming = Waiting. No matter how many films I make, I always seem to forget this. Filming is like playing football (for those jock-minded folks out there). You do all this preparation (practice, in the case of football), you assemble your crew (team), there’s lots of talking on the set and you’re constantly shifting your plans in light of what’s occurred (exactly the same on the football field), and then the actual shooting takes place which is fifteen seconds of chaos where you’re praying for the best (or, in football terms, the ball is hiked).

If you’re not used to filmmaking, this waiting can get frustrating; however, it’s part of the process. For those not used to it, suck it up. ;)

**Self-deception is necessary. This is something director Sidney Lumet says in his terrific book on filmmaking, “Making Movies.” A director has to plan, prepare, and believe in what they’re doing, but doubts will creep in. It’s inevitable. That is when a director has to “fool” himself into the feeling that it’s all going to turn out great. I’m sure Spielberg had the following thoughts on some of his films:

“An archaeologist with a whip? How did Lucas talk me into this?”

“An alien that eats M&M’s? People are going to think I’m retarded…”

“A black & white Holocaust drama? Is anyone but my mom gonna want to watch this?”

It should be noted that self-deception isn’t the same as being delusional. Self-deception is allowing yourself to believe the best is going to happen. Delusional is thinking you can film a sci-fi epic for $5,000.

**Mike has a great crew, a terrific girlfriend, and a wonderfully supportive family. Crews will come and go, but if the crew maintains the energy and dedication I saw on the first day, the next 3 weeks in Mike’s life will be happily bearable. A girlfriend who is understanding of filmmaking insanity is something that can make the next year (and, potentially, the rest of your life) worthwhile. And a supportive family? When you have that, what do you need an Oscar for?

To the cast and crew of MRR – and especially Mike – keep up the fantastic work!

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