Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Wrong Line and How It Shaped Our Movie

So I hinted in the last post that we had the wrong line of dialog. It’s all my fault. In my crazed state of first time producer, director and all around smart guy, I couldn’t find the sheet that had the line of dialog. If that line was even a little off the film would not be eligible for the competition. A dozen people were starting to file into my house and I needed that damn, I mean darn, piece of paper.

Long story short, I called my co-worker’s team and asked for the line of dialog. Their producer said, “I’m not sure, I think it’s ‘I wasn’t always like this,’” or something like that. I can’t say for sure because, as I mentioned, I was crazed. It was not a malicious act to give us the wrong line, and in the long run it was good for us.

I doubt we would have gone with a time travel story if we had the line right. We decided that if you weren’t always like this, somehow you had to have gone back in time to make a change. With the collected brilliance in my living room, I’m sure we would have come up with something. But because we had the line wrong, we definitely were thinking about things other teams were not.

I woke up on time Saturday morning. Unfortunately, the lack of sleep made it very difficult to get out of bed. I’m not saying I slept in, but I planned to be at Boston Costume the second it opened at 9AM but ended up getting there sometime soon after 9. This would have been a symbol of the coming of a long, bad day, except of course, someone pulled out of the parking space directly in front of the store. One illegal U-turn and if I believed in fate, I would have agreed that it was on my side.

In my clouded mind’s eye I saw astronaut flight suits for my two 1950’s actors on the set of their ‘space-age’ mouthwash commercial. I knew Boston Costume was the place to go and it was. It was, that is if you wanted to drop $75 American on a 3-day rental for each suit. I had assumed a pricey rental cost so my back up plan was two $10 "Tyvek style" painter’s suits from Home Depot. Not to leave empty handed, they showed me the broken helmet for one of the space suits and offered to sell it to me for $20. It was a steal (and hardly broken). Later in the shoot day, friends Emily and Jen ‘futurized’ the Tyvek suits with colored electric tape, stencils and tin foil. The helmet topped off the ensemble and for under $50 bucks I had two original costumes that were better than I could have ever dreamed. (I have considered offering to sell them to Boston Costume.)

I also learned an important directing lesson here. I was no where near the costume design because I was on set trying to rally the troops and get something down on tape. I trusted the eye of two very talented people and was rewarded. I didn’t meddle or even have any instructions after I told my wife what to tell them. They ran with it and made amazing costumes. This is why I hate the term ‘independent film’. Collaboration is the key to making a film, of any length, scope or under any deadline. A huge team made a movie that one person could not have made.

More later…

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