10/7/08

CITY ISLAND: MOVIE CRAZY

movieset

Sorry for the unexpected hiatus--I returned home to LA after sixteen weeks in New York this past weekend and found myself far more exhausted than I expected to be. The past four months of filmmaking have been essentially riding a wild bull--starting with our prep period in late May/early June, our shoot beginning a scant five weeks later in mid July, and jumping right into the editing after our pre Labor Day weekend wrap. We've screened the movie a few times now for invited guests to get a feeling of how it plays with audiences. It's quite amazing (and sobering) what you learn from sitting in a room watching your movie with a group...somehow things that you thought were perfectly timed are horrifically slow, and things that long ago you gave up on as hopeless seem to work wonderfully well. Robert Altman was a big believer in screening cuts of his films for invited audiences--rather than ask for specific comments, however, he would simply tell his guests: "Don't worry about telling me anything special. You watch the movie, I'll watch you..."

Below are two clips, both of which show-in their own ways--how completely absurd making a film truly is. The first is a simple, beautiful shot of a bus pulling out of a terminal and crossing the George Washington Bridge. Fairly straight forward sounding, right? I've said it before and I'll say it again. "NOTHING IN FILMMAKING IS SIMPLE!" Just getting a bus to use was a major problem--the New Jersey Transit busses were, for some odd reason, off limits to us. An independent bus line was finally found who would play ball with us--but we needed TWO busses and this somehow was a problem. (Why did we need two? Who knows? In movies you always need two of everything. So why should busses be any different?) Even shooting this shot was filled with drama--the Port Authority gave us a very short window in which to make the shot, maybe ninety minutes or so to get our equipment and two busses upstairs and ready to go. By the way, once you get on the George Washington Bridge, you're New Jersey bound, so kiss that bus (and a second take) goodbye. Come to think of it, that's why we had two busses--to send the second one out for a safety take once we'd lost the first one to the wilds of Jersey.

The second clip is of...a movie set. Our movie played the role of another movie--no spoilers so I can't tell you how it fits into the story. But we used our own crew to play the part of...a movie crew. The Assistant Director who tells Andy Garcia tht they need another take is, in fact, me. The guy standing around at the end (playing the second A.D. is, in fact our first AD, Eric Henriquez. The general air of confusion and hysteria captured in this scene is all to accurate. But as Sidney Lumet says in his book "Making Movies", "We really do know what we're doing...it only looks like we don't."





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