8/3/08

CITY ISLAND: END OF WEEK TWO

oldschoolhouses

Above is an old photo of the original schoolhouse on City Island. For the opening montage introducing the island, I'm looking for home movie footage or stills that show the place in period, like above. If anybody reading has anything to contribute leave a comment and we'll get in touch.

This past Friday night we shot the denoument of the movie, a kind of mad explosion of truth telling in the middle of the street as the Rizzo family reveals all their secrets. Sun went down at 8:30 and it took another hour to "light up the sky". We began shooting at nine-thirty--nine pages of dialogue to be covered about twenty-five seperate camera set-ups by two seperate cameras. Lunch was at eleven PM and we'd covered only a quarter of the material. We came back in and kept working. By three AM I was convinced that we wouldn't finish and would fall behind schedule--a disaster when making a film as tightly budgeted as this (it can actually mean not finishing the scene at all--ever...) We "turned around" (i.e. turned our lights in the opposite direction so as to shoot out the reverse angle continuity) at three thirty. And by five-thirty, as the night sky turned blue with morning's arrival, we finished the final set up, completing the sequence in its entirety and not even dropping a shot.

How the hell did we do this? I'm not sure. But I will say this: get a great crew--which I have--and stick to a well organized plan (which we did) and those guys can make anything happen for you. And above all: GET GREAT ACTORS. Andy, Juliana, Steven, Dominique, Emily and Ezra we're all on board and they were champions. Andy--who had the most challenging amount of stuff to do--was hoarse by the end of it. But he never wavered and his exemplary professionalism motivated everyone else.

And what was my part in all this? I'm starting to agree with Orson Welles that a director isn't necessarily the most important thing in a movie. Yes I staged the scene--with the actors guidance of course--and yes I planned the camera coverage (with Vanja Cernjul, my excellent DP). But I had the easiest job. The thing to remember about directing is that it really is a matter of setting events in motion and letting the talented people around you do their best work. Except for the enormous amount of stress I was undergoing (three AM was truly dark for me), I had the least amount to do.

Since it's the weekend I'll post something not precisely related to the movie but somehow reminiscent of it. When I wrote the "City Island" script, I had Tony Bennett playing in the background the whole time. His music is always linked, in my mind, to this story. Furthermore, Tony is a Bronx boy. And his birthday is today. So is my father's--and he was a Bronx boy too. Crazy! Here then is Tony Bennett--not exactly at his most attractive photogenically but at the peak of his 60's vocal excellence. This was from a Dean Martin show. And Happy Birthday, Frank De Felitta, eighty-seven years young today.

5 comments:

  1. Happy Birthday to yer Da and to Mr. Bennett.

    That sequence was 14+ pages long, and you did it in a day and a half.

    Be proud & happy, good man. Be content for 3 minutes, then get back on the horse that is "City Island" and ride her.

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  2. Great clip!!Nothing compares to those old Dean Martin shows where they just shot from the hip and ad-libbed some of the funniest skits.Thank god for dvd's so we can show our kids what real true talent is. And Tony's voice is still amazing after all these years,god bless he and Frank on their b-day!

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  3. Happy birthday to your Dad.My Mum's birthday was on Saturday as it happens.
    I just love this blog and look forward to it every day. Love the clips especially of Andy. I am a nurse and work night shift so I know how hard it can be to be at your best at 3am. Congrats to everyone for pulling off what must have been quite a night.
    From where I am in Australia I am loving the whole business of watching a movie being made. Would love to get to New York and City Island one day.
    Good luck for the new week of filming hope you can do it in the daylight now.
    Tell Andy lots of honey and lemon juice for his hoarse voice or something a little stronger if he prefers.!!

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  4. Hi Raymond,

    Happy belated birthday greetings to your Dad!!! Thanks for writing this detailed report on the filming of last Friday. Yes, you got a great cast and a great crew and I believe once you got Andy Garcia as the lead, you are on your way to film a good movie. I hope you guys don't have to work until dawn again.

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  5. Happy Birthday Frank. So when are we eating again?!

    -Jack (or Fred; Raymond can explain)

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