Shooting Journal. Day Off 2.

Today we had our 2nd day off on the film. It’s smack in the middle of a run of overnight shoots, which is a little tough on the body.  I prefer to get used to working the overnights and stay in it.  But thats how it worked out; we’ll make it work.

The day was riddled with it’s usual fill of producing madness: Airport runs, ordering expendables from NYC, scheduling…. Basically, the day off is a time for producer Jeff and the production staff to get caught up.

So, lets set aside the boring stuff.  I realized I haven’t really taken the time to talk about our director, Jon Lindstrom.

Jon plans a scene with Michael

Regardless of the size, support or production budget of a film the director has to have, and be able to implement, a clear vision. Most often Independent film is the forum where directors can pursue their vision, as opposed to the studio system where visions are watered down to try and please everyone, which, in turn, pleases no one.  There’s no more proof of this then in the best picture nominations of the academy awards; an Independent almost always takes best pic.

Jon has done a great job honing his vision through preproduction and is now doing a great job to articulate it to the cast and crew.  Although Jon and McCaleb and I had been working on the script for years we had never worked together as director and actor.  Like with all things you can never know how someone will work under pressure and in the moment until they’re actually under pressure and in the moment.

This is the first feature for many of us on the production; we’re taking this step together. Jon has directed before, but this is his first feature. You would never know it if I hadn’t told you.  He’s calm, collected and willing to roll with the punches. And moreover, he’s an actors director.  Which, no doubt, stems from his own stellar career in front of the camera.

Jon works through a sequence with McCaleb and I

There are many different types of directors in the business.  They very often they come from different disciplines within the movie industry: editors turn director, writers, DP’s, Producers, etc…  The actor turned director is, time and again, the one whose stories I’m drawn to.  Tom McCarthy’s The Station Agent comes to mind. I love character driven stories and that is usually something that actor/directors are very in tune with. Jon has proven to be a great example if this.

Jon works with Ronnie, Jacob Knoll, and Walter, RIchard Bekins

We knew going into shooting that our schedule would only hold up if we shot quickly. Shooting a feature in 18 days is a bit masochistic.  Hahah. But it is doable. In my mind, it’s only doable if you have the right actors cast. Camera and G&E need their time to work.  They can not rush what they do since it often involves moving large pieces of equipment.  Rushing for them, is dangerous and often creates sloppy pictures.  They need to have their workflow.  Time is made up, or subsequently lost, by the actors. If you have to go 30 takes deep to get a performance out of an actor you’re not gonna make days. We were very conscious of this during casting and made decisions accordingly.

On the flip side, massive amounts of time can and will be lost if the director is not willing to move on from a set up. Jon has done a great job of getting what he wants and moving quickly. It’s a fine line to balance. Often first time directors are so meticulous about each scene that the film is thrown off schedule, blown over budget and, in some cases, never finished.

We’re 8 days in, and we’re right on schedule. We’ve had a great first week and a day, and we’ll continue to tighten our workflow as we move forward.

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