Quick, Cheap and Easy. One week to a short film.

No, no, and not easy. I’m directing a short film, and had a great rehearsal with the main cast, but there is so much to do.

The thing is this, Alfred Hitchcock – what was it he said. He had the whole movie in his head, and putting it on film, that was the least exciting part. Something like that. I adore the work of Stanley Kubrick, I think that he is probably the best director, but although I have a lot of technical knowledge, I find that I am drawn more and more to the word, the screenplay, and working with actors. When I’m shooting for someone, it’s the image, crafting a moving image,  one that move the audience, supports the story, the emotional needs of the story and the actors. I just love working with actors.

As much as I really am a tech-nut, and I’ve done a bunch of tech stuff. I used to have a notebook with Kodak data sheets, and I love building things. I built a few video taps, and camera accessories. I love it, and that’s the easy stuff, there is going to be a solution that works, so the technical end, I love it, I eat it, I’m good at it and I’m bored with it.

What I love – directing actors, working with actors. It’s like the moment of creation, over and over, fresh, new and if you were wondering actors are not cattle, what they are is vital and important. What do I look for in an actor? Primarily I want someone I can direct. This doesn’t mean ordering them around, or treating them as if they are a moveable mannequin. I want to talk in broad swaths and let the actor develop the character. Then you just tweak the performance, a little more here a little less there, It helps I think, when the character is in the script, but as a director I love the process of discovering and honing the character. I imagine that must be the driving force for choosing to be an actor, plus the prerequisite of being at least slightly crazy.

If you think about it, you never really understand what drives you, oh sure if you think about it, you might figure out why you did this or that. When I was 21, I lost 30 pounds and exercised like a nut, because I hoped that might make a woman I was in love with become more interested in me. Now I jog because I have two daughters and I want to be around for them. However why I fall in love with someone, or don’t, or react one way or the other. Don’t know, can’t tell you. But Actors, well they have to know why their character does X or Y, what drives their character, what the character is feeling at this moment or that moment. It is all this technical knowledge, and then they have to take this info and perform as a person who is driven by this, but doesn’t know it. Because if you ask a Centipede how it coordinates its 100 legs, well they lose the ability to walk. So I love actors, although I think they are crazy – I will never date one again -, but what they put themselves through for their art and craft. Well. . .

So now I have my cast, except a bartender,  I am going Sag-Aftra (although I think after the merger they should have used either the name SAFTRA or AFTRAG – can’t you just hear the duck now.) On a side note (it wouldn’t be a blog post from me if there weren’t several side notes) – On a side note, Now when dealing with SAG for the short film contract, the paperwork can be started on line, and so far the process has been really helpful, Web support has been good, and the contract is moving along nicely.

I have still to worry about food, a food stylist, makeup, hair (note to self, next time write a film where all the characters are bald), and I’m trying to avoid panicking about all that has to get done. I have actors a script and a location. I also have my co-producer who is asking where my story boards are. Storyboards, look all I really want is to be on set. Yes the boards are necessary, important, but I’m not Hitchcock, or Kubrick and I really don’t work that way. I’m told Mike Leigh spends a lot  of time rehearsing with his actors, and finding the film – yeah, I like that. By the way, if you haven’t seen Naked, well it is hard to recommend a film with two rape scenes, but it is a fabulous film.

You see, in the end, for me, making a “film” isn’t about getting only what I see, it is about sharing a vision (ugghhhhhh sharing a Vision, sharing a vision – I’m watching too much West Wing.) Making a film isn’t about capturing the film you see in your mind, as if you were just making a copy or a print. It’s about that moment of creation, when you’ve assembled the elements, of something that only lived in your imagining, but required the collaboration of so many others to explode into reality.

Thanks for reading, and feel free to comment.




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