Film Journal: Week 8- Second Go Round

I don't understand- why doesn't anybody want to confess to me?

Father Jesse just can’t understand why no one comes to confession anymore.

Well, our first film of the semester is officially complete and I can hardly believe it. I mean, I can believe it- when I think back to all the hours we spent working on it, but it doesn’t seem like there have actually been enough hours in the year so far to have gotten it all in. I also can’t believe it’s nearly the end of February or that in one week we will be shooting our second script.

The second script is the script that I wrote, so I get to be the Director. The difference between being the Director and being the Producer is like night and day. After the stress of Producing, the creative payoff from Directing is so satisfying that it almost feels like a wonderful, beautiful dream and I dread the day that I have to wake up from it. The work doesn’t feel like work.

I’ve never been *just* the director before: I’ve always been the producer and the director. This has definitely worked against me at least once in the past, so I am eager to learn what it is like to only focus on story, character, vision, beats, motivations, etc instead of focusing on meals, logistics, paperwork and scheduling. But I’m finding it extremely difficult to let go of my Producerly instincts: there are things that I know I do well and things that I’ve learned to do a certain way and it is very hard to not try to do them.

And this isn’t a critique of my Producer’s process- I absolutely trust his skills and dedication- and I know he is doing an excellent job. I would just be micro-managing if I insisted on doing things my way: for example in the lead up to auditions I kept bombarding him with emails about the actors who were called an confirmed and who I still wanted to call and how I usually did things and so on. I’m sure it was a nightmare on the receiving end. I finally realized that I needed to just shut up and trust the process and the right actors would show up at the right times.

And they did. We held auditions on Friday afternoon and saw dozens of good options for the main roles. The producer decided to send out the entire script to the actors so that they could arrive prepared with a good sense of the characters and the tone of the story. Considering that the title of the script is “The Glory Hole” (about a priest who attempts to hear confession in a strip club bathroom) this was a wise choice to let the actors know that our intentions were to make comedy and not porn.

Casting seemed like it would be a straightforward process: there were very clear front-runners for the two lead characters with equally strong backup choices. We had scheduled an afternoon for callbacks, but I went home that night and emailed a list of the actors I wanted to cast to my producer and we decided to use the callback time-slot to do rehearsals instead. It seemed like a done deal.

Over the weekend we had rehearsals with the two lead actors and began working through some of the more major scenes that they share. The actress that I cast as Camille wore street clothes to the audition but arrived to rehearsal in a complete top-to-toe Naughty Catholic Schoolgirl outfit complete with pigtails and thigh high white latex boots. If I’d had any doubt about whether she was right for the role (and I didn’t) that would have settled it.

It was fun to begin to see the script come to life in a way that I’ve never really seen before. In the past I’ve always, regrettably, given rehearsals the short shrift due to time and budget needs. I’ll be interested to see how much better of a performance I am able to get with several rounds of rehearsal and script breakdown.

And last, but certainly not least, today was the Final Sound Mix for our first project of the semester. We were scheduled for the earliest slot beginning at 8:30 and I neglected to consume any coffee beforehand, which turned out to be a bad decision. The mix was quite a success, but wandering out of a mixing room after finishing the film that had been our lives for the past six weeks felt anticlimactic. It’s so easy to just move on to the next project without celebrating our accomplishments along the way.

~ by Gwydhar Gebien on February 24, 2014.

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