2/23/10

CITY ISLAND: PRODUCTION DAY FOUR



On the fourth day of production, we shot the above pictured scene between Vince (Andy Garcia) and Tony (Steven Strait), standing in a little boatshed behind Vince's house. Because of the size of the shed (small), one wall of it was built 'wild'--in other words, it was removable. Thus you can see how there was room for all of us and our gear in a space that appears in the finished film to be no more than five feet wide.

Production day four, according to the below posted call sheet, fell on a classic New York summers day--high in the mid-nineties with strong chance of rain predicted. Since we were shooting both interiors and exteriors that day, the juggling act involved staying one step ahead of the weather; were we outside at the optimum time (no precipitation for long enough to complete a scene once started)? And were we moving indoors at the right time (as long as we're indoors let it rain, though it's not great for sound...)? We seemed to have worked another perfect twelve hour day and shot slightly over four pages. Click to enlarge:



Actually I don't remember the weather being much of an issue at all. The production reports seem to bear this out as well.

What is a production report, you ask? Well, let's say that it stands in diametrical opposition to the call sheet which is a document filled with hope for the future, well laid plans, a good organized flow for a days work. The call sheet is made up the previous evening and distributed at wrap--it's the plan for tomorrow. The production report, however, is the recounting of what actually happened that day. Of chief importance on the PR is the number of pages scheduled versus the number of pages shot; the amount of film stock exposed; and the time of the first shot made in the morning and after lunch. And of course what time camera wrapped.

These facts inform the producers and the films insurers (the bond company) about not just the progress being made (or not being made) but serve as an indication of trends--how are things going on this movie in general? Does the first shot get made inordinately late after call? Does it get later every day? If so, whose fault is this? The cameramans? The assistant directors? How about number of pages being shot? Every film tends to slow up a little, perhaps even has a scene or two that keeps jumping from one day of the schedule to another--no big deal really. But are we falling seriously behind? If four pages are scheduled for a day and only two are shot, assumptions can be made: at this rate, the film is 50 percent behind which means the shooting schedule will double. And if you think a bond company is going to sit still for that kind of progress, you don't know bond companies. Click to read the (in our case) not so grim realities of our day four production report, viz:



In the hierarchy of the filmmaking process (or the "chain of pain" as it's known), bad news on a series of production reports will invariably lead to somebody being fired. Since the most grievous step that can be taken on a movie is removing the director, this is not an option. The cameraman? Not really easy to get rid of a DP either--their crew usually goes with them and besides, the DP is an artistic collaborator of the directors. The firing of a DP can really only happen at the behest of the director--not over his objection. So who's left? The first assistant director, alas. They usually carry the can for a film that's going downhill production wise--though of course they have less than nothing to do with why said film is falling behind schedule. Usually it's the director and/or actors who are having trouble communicating. But they don't get fired too often. Hence the chain of pain...

All right, kiddies, enough film school for today. Here's a treat having nothing to do with "City Island": the greatest pie fight ever filmed (supposedly) from Blake Edwards "The Great Race". Can you imagine what the production reports looked like on that film?



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