January 24, 2013
We took the day off to transition to daylight the following day. Nothing too new to report except that I barely got another 4 hours of sleep and spent the rest of the day obsessively trying to figure out how we'd catch up.
I feel like for most of the shoot I was in this stifled state of panic over trying to get back on schedule, as I watched us continually fall ever so slightly behind each day. One key thing I took away from this experience was how hard it is to be the director and producer. I had done it for all my shorts, but they were such small-scale projects. It’s much more difficult with a feature. Most of the time, I just wanted to be a director and do as I pleased creatively, but I always had to be thinking about the bigger picture of budget and scheduling. In pre-production, I was responsible for almost everything including finding crew and locations, and securing funding. I even had to figure out how to pull off the practical effects (with the help of Chris, Art Director) because the makeup effects artist we had onboard early in the process bailed on us a month before production. A MONTH BEFORE PRODUCTION! I didn’t mind all of this in the beginning because it was my first feature. It felt good to be doing it all on my own in a way, but on set, it was just too stressful. When a sacrifice needed to be made, it was always the director in me who had to make the sacrifice because the producer in me said so. I suppose in the long-run, it’s a great learning experience to be able to reflect on the choices I made and understand why I had to make them. It’s probably better than being resentful toward someone else who was acting as producer and had to make those calls. But in the moment, it can be hard having an inner dialogue with yourself, weighing your options and being pushed to make a call at a moment’s notice when you’ve got other things on your mind. I suppose I felt like I was missing out on a few creative moments where I could’ve been working with my actors and not worrying about the business side of the film. On the flipside, however, I don’t really think I would’ve liked having someone breathing down my neck, making the calls I felt were mine to make. So, I guess I’m saying that if you can afford it, don’t be the producer of your feature, especially if you’re the director and writer. That’s definitely the wise choice, but I also feel like I probably won’t make this choice next time either because I have a hard time not being in control. (Two Years later, having now worked on ‘Kelsey,” and other large projects since, I say I would definitely at least always have a co-producer.)
I spent some of the day trying to figure out how much money had been spent so far. Without a competent production manager, and having to be my own ‘line-producer,’ it was very difficult and stressful. To me, one of the most important things on set is that my people eat and that they eat well. I had invested a lot in food, but they were going through it like mad. The super market runs were producing insane bills. I suppose I didn’t realize, having only ever shot in the summer before, how much more people eat in the winter, especially when they’re running on fumes. I also suppose I didn’t realize how consecutive shooting days would play into that. It’s weird when you try to cram a feature into 2 weeks, trying to shoot multiple days in a row. It’s like this paradox where it gets both easier and harder at the same time as each day goes on. Maybe that doesn't make sense, but I have to assume that that sentiment rings true for anyone who works in production. I guess it really depends on which way you’re looking, how far you've come or how far you have left to go. We had already accomplished so much; it felt great. In theory, the worst was behind us, but looking at how much we still had left to do was daunting.
I decided that bookkeeping would have to wait until after production because I had no time for it. Whatever people needed, I was tasked with finding a way to accommodate the request so that we could keep going. I had estimated the budget would be $15,000 in pre-production, and having crowd funded $12,000 and getting $11,000 after Kickstarter fees, I had already anticipated that $4,000 would be put on my personal credit cards, not including the car loan I had for the Summit-mobile. In reality, it ended up around $20,000 (still not including my car loan.) To this day, though, I don’t regret incurring this debt because of what was accomplished.
I decided to use the rest of the day to problem solve as much as I could. I sent a PA out to find some sort of face protectors/warmers for the crew to wear while outside for the rest of the shoot. (As pictured on me in the cover photo.) We needed to combat the cold as best as possible. Everyone was wearing an insane amount of layers, but staying warm remained nearly impossible. The most commonly affected body part was our toes. I simply do not understand how people keep their toes from freezing in the snow. Even with wool socks, good snow boots, extra wool socks, and toe warmers, our toes would still go numb. It was insanity.
Later in the afternoon, John decided to go out for a drink with Peter (1st AC) and Charlotte (Gaffer). I sat with Matt and attempted to go over my scheduling plan. He was weary, but he felt like we could do it. The greatest challenge we were facing was a high-angle, opening shot of the car driving down a snowy road that we had yet to secure. If you’ve seen our faux-trailer for the crowdfunding campaign, then you know what I’m talking about. That was a shot we needed to get during the day, but the roadside hills we intended to use for the shot were a ways away. We weren’t sure yet when we’d get it, so we put it on the backburner, figuring it could be a shot that’s done later, without the cast if need be.
Later in the evening, a few people were sleeping, but almost everyone seemed to be hanging out in one of the rooms. It was the cast, Matt and a few others. It was the party room, I suppose, particularly where the people who didn’t have to be out in the cold during the day would hang out. They told me to stop being such a “responsible mom” and hang out with them. I did for about 15 minutes. It was nice seeing that the cast and Matt were enjoying themselves, and it was great to feel that people actually wanted my company rather than completely hating me. I was, however, mostly worried that the camera crew felt this way, but they were out for drinks, or sleeping, so I had no idea. I just wasn’t in the right mindset to hang out and laugh. I had to go back to my room and get back into my director’s binder. I had to be up at 4am for daylight scenes the next day, so I decided to try and rest.