CITY ISLAND: FOUR DAYS BEFORE PRODUCTION BEGINS
Welcome any and all new readers who may have found us thanks to Salon.Com where I've become a guest columnist (plug...). How cool is that? Aren't I groovy? Don't you want to touch me?
If you've landed here for the first time, you're in for a treat if I do say so myself. Starting this Thursday, I will begin posting a day by day history of the shoot of our movie, "City Island"--which stars Andy Garcia, Julianna Margulies and Alan Arkin-- complete with call sheets, production stills, outtakes and behind the scenes clips. The 27 days of the shoot (which began on a Thursday) will be recounted as they happened. Even the days off will be mercilessly blogged! All of this mishagoss is, of course, leading us up to the theatrical release of "City Island" on March 19th. So there.
Now, before I continue with the sinister saga of shooting "City Island", let me lay on you the cities and theaters the movie will be opening in. As I've mentioned before this will be a slow roll out, starting in NY and LA on the 19th then moving to eight more cities the second weekend. If people like the movie, more theaters will be added in these cities and then more cities (and suburbs) will be added. Viz:
Theater Name City State Circuit Name Playdate
THE LANDMARK 12 (WESTSIDE PAVILION) Los Angeles CA Silver Cinemas Inc (Landmark) 3/19/2010
ANGELIKA FILM CENTER 6 New York NY City Cinemas 3/19/2010
LANDMARK CENTURY CENTRE 7 Chicago IL Silver Cinemas Inc (Landmark) 3/26/2010
LANDMARK KENDALL SQUARE CINEMA 9 Cambridge MA Silver Cinemas Inc (Landmark) 3/26/2010
RITZ AT THE BOURSE Philadelphia PA Silver Cinemas Inc (Landmark) 3/26/2010
LANDMARK EDINA 4 CINEMA Minneapolis MN Silver Cinemas Inc (Landmark) 3/26/2010
LANDMARK BRIDGE THEATER San Francisco CA Silver Cinemas Inc (Landmark) 3/26/2010
REGAL SOUTH BEACH 18 Miami Beach FL Regal Cinemas 3/26/2010
ANGELIKA FILM CENTER - MOCKINGBIRD 8 Dallas TX City Cinemas 3/26/2010
CUMBERLAND 4 Toronto ON Cineplex/Alliance 3/26/2010
Now that we're done with that, a moment for our mantra: "City Island" is the people's movie. If you like what you're reading here and are intrigued by what we're doing, or if you've seen the movie and enjoyed it, please send this link to ONE FRIEND. Of course it would help if that friend was in one of the cities mentioned above, but the hell with that! We're just spreading oodles of joy and good will. By doing so, presumably, the movie will actually open everywhere. Check the sidebar--the right side of this blog--for links to the movies website and Facebook page. And send those to your one friend as well.
Okay. So we're less than a week away from principal. Now City Island, as a place, is small, precious and well protected by its staunchly supportive population. It was always important to us to not show up and trample all over everyones lawns and leave behind a years worth of detritus. In fact, this was a mandate ever since one of our earliest scouts. Because the following conversation happened:
We knocked on a door. Introduced ourselves. Said we were interested in filming here. Loved City Island. Wrote a whole script about it. The woman looks at us and says: "Are you 'Law and Order'?" Before we can say no, the door is shut.
So apparently that vernerable show had been on her block in the past and it was not a block party she was interested in revisiting.
Still, "Law and Order' is a tightly run ship and actually quite well known for taking care of the locations in which they work. So what was the problem in City Island? My guess was that this was not a place in which anything could go down in an impersonal way. Even if L&O did nothing wrong, they might not have let it be known how terrific it was to have shot on City island. Jesus, how could they? Their schedules are murderous.
So we took a two-pronged approach to dealing with our interpersonal realtions on City Island. Part one involved a fabulous woman-an angel really- who appeared early on to help us put together the physical aspects of the movie before it was even really a movie. Laura Tressel contacted me via e-mail to tell me that she'd worked in production, locations etc. for years, was based now in Burbank but was, in fact, from City island. Born and bred. A true local with a clam-diggers love of her home base--even though she now lived in LA. I was so moved and impressed to hear from somebody who only had heard that we might make the film and was eager--DYING--to be involved with helping us that I called her to thank her and tell her there was no money yet...
This didn't seem to phase her. I told her we were going on a reccee soon and she offered to fly to New York and meet us on the bridge that leads to City Island. And she did. Literally. The sight of this stranger waiting faithfully for us to show on that Saturday morning...you get how moving I still find it, I hope.
Part two was solved by Zachary Matz, our producer and a very strong indie-film presence--the kind of guy who's heard all these problems before and doesn't even bother acting concerned.
What he did was, to me, genius: instead of trucks hauling in and out of CIty Island every day--creating traffic snarls, wrecking people's feelings and patience, hurting plants and grass etc,, he created ONE BIG LOAD IN. Which is to say:
On the weekend before we started shooting, the circus came to town: a series of trucks and vans all made there way out to the little island and dropped off as much stuff as they could in numerous support spaces that Zachary and his staff had rented: people's garages, attics, stores on the main street that were closed, some that were in the process of closing--all of these places wound up being the hosts of our major equipment for the three weeks we were there shooting. And once all this crap was staged there, there was no need for more trucks to populate the little island. Our crew sort of disappeared into the island. If you didn't know we were there, you wouldn't have known we were there.
In addition to all the support space, we rented a couple of additional houses; one, a few blocks away from our 'hero house', was for the makeup/hair/wardrobe folks...and of course there was a "directors house", a place where I could stay at night and watch dailes with my DP Vanja Cernjul. My house was on the water and was about two blocks from set. An ideal commute, as it were. Vanja and I watched dailies every night, then passed out whilst trying to formulate a plan for the next day. Instead of a long drive in a crew van out to the northern Bronx, all we needed to do the next day was stroll across the street, coffees in hand, and discuss the days work. Surrounding us was the nautical charm and other-worldly pleasure that was City Island.
It was summer, 2008. After a mere seven year wait, the movie I had been waiting to make since the turn of the century was finally about to go into production in the city where I'd chosen to spend my personal and professional life...
Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 4:35 PM