Editing a movie is hard.
Here's a recent one from Richard Day, our fearless leader....
I thought I would be able to update this more during production, just like I thought I would be able to do a lot of things during production, including go to the gym each morning before we begin. I still can’t quite process that level of delusion — staring down the barrell of a day that was guaranteed to include moving a hundred pound tripod mounted cineslider at least fifty times — just as a for-instance — I thought I would have it in me to go push around heavy things just because.
This is my third movie, I should know by now that during production there is only production. You can’t see friends or make appointments or watch television or walk your dogs or make phone calls or even stay on top of your delusional plans enough to cancel them as they are revealed to be impossible. Maybe it’s just the same way you can’t really recall pain quite right, or maybe it just seemed like it would get easier the more I know what I am doing.
That last one may well be true for all I know, but the thing is the way we are making this movie has almost nothing to do with the way we made the others. On those the gaffer would position the lights and then the director of photography would announce he was ready and I would say “sweet.” On hard days I might have to go up to him and ask what was taking so long. On this movie, in contrast, I am relatively speaking on my own. There is no D.P. to line up pretty shots, no script supervisor to keep track of what we’ve shot and owe, no assistant director (in the usual sense; I’ll get to that) to get the actors to the set and the set moving forward, and no lighting designer or video tech to make sure our whites aren’t blowing out or our blacks being crushed. It’s a lot to keep track of in addition to all the other stuff a director has to do, and it doesn’t help that much of it is technical and I’ve never exactly been that stereotype-busting hardware-store-and-sports-loving gay man you tend to meet a lot on television but rarely in real life.
My technical klutziness is pretty formidable and always fully on display. In the first day I think I had my SmallHD monitor battery plugged into the wrong hole. It’s an essential piece of equipment so I called the manufacturer in a panic, they sent me a replacement overnight, and it has sat unopened since then as my “defective” one suddenly works great again now that I know my way around it. My Cineslider immediately failed, a part stripped from the inside. They too sent me a replacement part immediately and overnight. I’m not copping to anything, but “stripped from the inside” just sounds a little too much like me to believe it was them.
I also spent a full day trying to learn Steadicam, a process with two steps — balancing your camera, and shooting with it — neither of which I mastered before donning to vest to shoot some of the least-steady footage I have ever laid horrified eyes upon. Of course I shot the whole scene with it, so we’re stuck using it; bring Dramamine. The Steadicam is the only one I blame the company for, though. You really can’t market something as a consumer item when its proper use requires a solid year of training. Having said that a Cineslider you push from left to right and I broke mine inside a day.
Still, I am slowly getting the hang of all this, and it’s kind of a thrill to be able to swap out lenses in two seconds or change out batteries with one hand. At the end of it I will have all sorts of manly new skills I will never need again in my life.
My secret weapon though is that I am in fact not alone at all. We don’t have a crew per se in the sense of department heads with experience, but for reasons they alone fully understand we do have an incredibly committed and resourceful troop of volunteers. Bryan Wilson showed up one day with no film experience and is now our assistant director, a title which does not have its usual meaning because the only crew to keep track of is Fenando Christopher — a Kickstarter walk-on actor who shot his part and just stayed — and a rotating squad of semi-regulars. Meanwhile Michael’s b.f. Max Maxwell drives from a full day’s work at his real job to our set to handle lighting until we wrap, and Billy Brooks, a lighting and effects wizard from Dreamworks, started dropping by after reading about us online and has been crazily invaluable, just in part because half this movie is greenscreen, something even big movies regularly fuck up.
I’ve always liked film sets because on them people just get it done, which is refreshing when you live in a flake incubator like Southern California. And there are enough people wanting to break into the industry (which at this point is like trying to stow away on the Titanic) that you can cobble together a shoot one way or another. But I’ve never been involved in something like this, where the entire thing is not only paid for by fans of the first film but actually made by them too. I am endlessly appreciative and increasingly certain that all their efforts are resulting in a film that is better than the first in almost every respect except its Steadicam.
Evie (Jack Plotnick) and Toby (David Dastmalchian) filming a scene.
Richard Day, Writer/Director/DP on Left.
Key members of our fabulous volunteer crew: Bryan, Max and Fernando dutifully looking on.
And Michael Warwick, our producer, doing sound and nonchalantly looking at the camera.