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Sleeping on the Job

Edith Ivey sells the sceneAll of the scenes in Eunice’s room are pretty emotional, so Rebecca and Edith had some heavy lifting to do today.  Although for the second part of the day, Eunice was in a coma, so Edith just had to lie in bed.  But the way she did it – yikes!  Makeup had done a great job making her look like she was at death’s door, and she got so still, never reacting to anything around her… not the grips moving equipment, not the cat being wrangled, not the calls for action and cut.  After the scene was done and everyone was moving out of the room, I actually worried that maybe something terrible had happened to Miss Edith, but then she popped out of bed as her usual vivacious self.  It was kind of freaky.

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Confession Time

I went to the parking lot to have a quick cry after lunch today.  The morning was pretty bad – the cats weren’t cooperating, our gaffer told us he had to quit, and a bunch of other things went wrong.  On top of that, I haven’t slept in three nights because of nerves and excitement.  I felt the emotions simmering to a boil, and we were getting ready to film the scene that still makes me cry every time I read it.  I knew I couldn’t be on set blubbering while the actors performed, so I went outside for a pre-emptive cry.  And it totally worked!  When we filmed the scene, I was completely dry-eyed, while around me, several of the manly men were welled up and sniffling.  That scene is going to be so great on the big screen!

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We Made the News!

Well, at least one of us did.  I can only be seen in the background for half a second, but Brian did a great job representing us.  I think both Brian and Cliff really conveyed the passion and excitement all of us have for this project and what an incredible learning experience this is for the students.  Check out the clip here.

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The Wings of an Angel

Saying Goodbye posterWill Bryan, our talented production designer, has designed a movie poster for Saying Goodbye.  When he emailed it to us, he mentioned he had decided to go a conceptual route.  So I opened the file and thought it looked great; but being a word person, I’m slow to “get” artistic stuff.  Luckily Brian is more visual than I am, and instantly saw the imagery Will had created – the sides of the cat’s face form angel wings.  It’s so perfect for our story!

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Every Girl's Dream

At some point, most little girls dream of becoming an actress.  Not this girl!  The thought of performing in front of people has always made me queasy, but today I had to suck it up and deal.  Up until now, all the auditions have been through emailed recordings, but today we had a few local ladies come in to Genesis to read for the main parts.  Since I was the only other female in the room, I was “volunteered” to read the other parts, which just happened to be for women.  While I found it interesting to watch the live auditions, being in them was a different story.  I don’t know how actors do it – it felt like the camera was burning a hole in me. And kudos to the auditioning ladies who did such a great job acting opposite me as I completely stunk up the joint.   

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Virtual Casting

The audition footage is rolling in!  Richard has been sending us recordings of people trying out for the four main parts from talent agencies around the southeast.  I spent five hours tonight watching people act out the sides.  I’m a writer, but I’m not sure I have the words to explain how freaky, awesome, painful, funny, and sometimes moving it was to watch people bring my characters to life.  It is going to be so hard to narrow it down to just one person for each part.  I was especially fascinated by the different interpretations people had for the exact same words on the page.  Each person brought something special to the part, even the not-so-great auditions.  I wish I could combine all the best bits into the perfect über performance.

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Kickin’ It Old School

Old School ScheduleBrian mocked me for doing this, but it made planning the shooting schedule so much easier.  We have the EP scheduling software, but even though it has a snazzy drag-n-drop feature for the scenes, I find it tricky to read the scene strips.  The characters are assigned numbers, so I have to remember if the cat is 3 or 4, etc.  The strips are all the same size, so it’s difficult to tell at a glance if the scene is long or short.  The software does a lot of cool stuff, but I was having a hard time figuring out an ideal schedule that took into account actor availability, wardrobe/makeup changes, and whether a set was already lit or not.  So I decided it was time for an arts & crafts project. 

I cut/taped index cards to visually represent the length of each scene.  Then I listed the characters in the scene in their assigned color.  Each set also had its own color, which I used to write the scene number and description.  I also wrote in any special notes, like whether the scene was emotionally demanding or whether a drastic hair/makeup change was needed. 

I laid them out on Brian’s kitchen table, and we were able to experiment with combinations, then see at a glance if the schedule was balanced or had any snags.  Once we were happy with it, we plugged the finalized schedule back into the software.  I know it’s ironic that the gal who works at a software company preferred to use index cards, but the system worked great.  And even with the cutting, taping, and fun with markers, I still think we figured out the schedule faster (and with a more logical design) than we would have while squinting at small strips on the screen trying to remember who the heck 7 is.  And despite the initial mocking, I think Brian liked my system too!

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Picking Sides

No, Brian and I aren’t fighting and forcing the rest of the crew to pick a side… at least not yet.  And for the record, I’m always right, so it’s safer to pick my side in any argument! 

Actually, we just finished picking the casting sides, which are excerpts from the script for an actress to read for her audition.  With my wishy-washiness, it was tough to pick the perfect scene to judge whether the actress would be able to capture the true essence of the character.  “Oh, we have to use this one because she cries.”  “And we have to use this one too, because she’s dancing.”  “But wait, we also need this one because we have to make sure she can do that eyebrow quirk perfectly.”  And before I know it, I’ve picked the entire script. 

So we took a step back to decide exactly what each character had to nail to be convincing and used that to guide our picks.  We ended up with two scenes for each character, a high point and a low point, to see their range.  I can’t wait to see the candidates reading our lines!

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The Truth Hurts

Brian and I had our first in-person meeting today with Richard Futch and Matt Sefick about casting.  Richard had some hard truths for us about which actresses we can realistically afford with our budget.  My countless hours of searching for the perfect people on IMDB circled merrily down the drain.  Good thing Richard delivered the message in such an upbeat way.  He even had audition footage of some very promising (non-famous) candidates, so that helped sooth the sting.  It will be a treat seeing some of these very talented actresses audition using our script.

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I’m So Dizzy

My head is spinnin’ from the Producer’s Workshop today.  Brian has worked as a producer before, but this is all new to me.  From 9-5, Tom Busch taught the participants about the responsibilities of a UPM.  He demonstrated breaking down a script, scheduling, and budgeting.  He showed us many of the accompanying documents, such as the assumption sheet, projected cash flow chart, post schedule, contract lists, deal memos, day out of days for cast and various departments, *deep breath* complete schedule, call sheets, and production reports.  And he also gave us a brief tutorial of Movie Magic.  Whew - just typing that wears me out!

It was a great crash course, and Tom had a lot of entertaining stories from his Hollywood experiences to illustrate his points.

The most nerve-wracking part of the class for me came near the beginning.  Because Tom used our script for his demonstrations, everyone took the first fifteen minutes to read the screenplay.  I held my breath as the sixty people in the room read our words.  Were they laughing at the right time?  Crying in the correct place?  Or were they bored out of their minds?  Flipping pages have never sounded so loud!  Fortunately several people told us afterwards how much they liked the script, but that could have been because they were angling for a job on set.

After it was over, Brian and I had the pleasure of taking Tom to dinner, where we got to pick his brain even more.  I just hope I can retain all of it.  The scary thing is I get the feeling he just scratched the surface of everything I need to know.