January 28, 2013
I awoke at noon feeling refreshed after an incredibly intense night. I had a text from Justin, my boyfriend. He was clearly confused and unsure of what to say, especially since he had not really heard from me at all since we video-chatted before dinner on the 21st. He said that he believed in me, loved me, and that if I followed my gut, it'd all work out. It was helpful to hear, even though I knew he knew nothing of the situation or circumstances, and was just trying to be supportive of me. I went downstairs and only a handful of people were awake. Colin came over and asked to speak to me outside for a minute. I felt like it must be serious for jokester Colin to have such a serious tone. He told me that he didn’t want to worry me and that he wasn’t sure if he should be telling me, but he felt it was necessary that I know that Matt had what he believed to be a mental breakdown last night. For a second, I thought he was kidding, but he wasn’t. He shared with me that Matt had gone into the woods screaming, and there was some kicking of things and shouting of things that made no sense. Matt’s odd behavior apparently went on for a few hours, late into the night before he finally fell asleep. I knew Matt had been drinking a bit in the evenings, so I wondered if he was just really drunk. However, Colin was positive that it was something serious. He further described his behavior to me and it was puzzling and troubling. For Colin to be so concerned, I knew that I too needed to be concerned about Matt. Colin suggested that I find a way to take some of the pressure off of Matt, though he made it clear that he didn’t want to be presumptuous since he knew very little about the “behind the scenes” of getting stuff done. I thanked him for telling me and went back upstairs to think about what he had said. Of course I would have loved to take some pressure off of Matt; he was doing his job on top of splitting production manager duties with me, even doing occasional things that a PA would normally do if we had more PAs. I had no one to turn to. I couldn’t wear any more hats and I had already wasted a ton of breath on an incompetent production manager who should have been the one picking up the slack in the first place.
I decided to just go into Matt’s room to see if he was up and try to talk to him about it. If I could assess his mental state myself, I could figure out what I needed to do. I wasn’t sure if Matt would mention it to me, but reflecting on it now, I was silly for not thinking he would. Matt is responsible, dependable and honest. I knocked on his door and entered. He was just getting up. I said hey and asked how he was. He said he had something to tell me and then blurted out that he kind of had a breakdown last night. He himself said that he “went a little crazy.” I didn’t want to betray Colin’s confidence in that moment so I didn’t confirm that I had known. I asked if he was okay. He said yes but that it was a thing, and that he felt I should know about it. I didn't know what to do for him. I felt bad about the fact that I had yelled at him and wondered if I had brought it on, but that whole day was such a mess. Not to mention, I just had a bit of a breakdown of my own the night before, just not quite as publicly and not as concerning as Matt’s seemed to be. I didn’t think that I had to bring up yelling at him at the gas station again. I knew that there was this understanding between all of us that we were trying to cope with the situation in whatever way worked for us. Even if that meant screaming, storming off or ignoring each other for a period of time, that was fine because we all always came back and did what we needed to do to get the job done. There was also this familial bond between most of us, to the point where we knew that we'd be forgiven and that it wouldn't be held against us later. When you got right down to it, we were experiencing this together and were each doing our part, knowing that when finished it would be because of all of us together. So, I think we both knew that we didn’t have to rehash what had happened yesterday. We had to move forward. I just needed to make sure Matt was okay first. He said he truly was, and that he wanted to get back to work, so we got ready for the pickups we were doing that afternoon. The rest of the shoot, Matt was fine. He had moments of being really energized and then coming down to crash, but that was from the exhaustion and the whole experience getting to him; the same as it was for all of us. I don’t want this piece to be a tell-all. I didn’t want to single Matt out as a person who couldn’t hack it or anything like that. He had a lot of weight on his shoulders, and he ended up doing an amazing job. I just chose to bring this up because it’s relevant to my experience as the director. He was my right hand man and I went through the rest of the shoot at times feeling like I needed to protect him and not lean on him as much as I had earlier in the week. It was a little frustrating for me, but in the end he came through for us all.
It’s fascinating to think about how we all went into this survival mode, just as the characters in the film do. We were put in what felt like dire circumstances and were just struggling to make it. It was like we were living the themes of the film as we were making it. It was especially interesting to see the actors almost completely evolve into their onscreen personas; this was most evident in the dynamics between them. That’s their story to tell though.
We headed out at 3pm and quickly noticed that we got more snow than when we shot the first half of the scene, and it actually worked out better. We lost light around 4:30, just as we were finished with it.
We had a couple hours to relax before nightfall. It was around this time that I became privy to some of the ‘real world’ drama going on inside the house: people hooking up or trying to, that kind of stuff. All of which I didn’t give a crap about, and I was glad it wasn’t brought to my attention earlier. Again, I’m not writing a tell-all or trying to speak for anyone, I’m telling my story and the aspects that pertained to my experience. As far as this is concerned, it’s interesting that I was too locked into my duties to really notice until this point.
During the evening, we took a few hours to shoot all of the over-night stuff we had missed days before. It was a quick night of just the coverage we had previously sacrificed to the cold. Everyone was much more relaxed and we got what we needed done. The shots looked great.
Interestingly, the shot we started to shoot when Rob’s lips couldn’t move on the 23rd, when resetting the shot this night, we all realized that the first version was on the wrong lens (as seen in the Sean/Jesse image in that blog post & below).
The cold had definitely been getting to John that night and it clearly was for the best that we stopped. The pick-up footage of that scene from this night is ultimately much more flattering.
At the end of the night, Emma came over in a very serious manner and asked to speak to me alone in the bathroom. I went in with her and she said that she needed to get some stuff off her chest because she was feeling resentful and angry, and she didn’t want to end up hating me. I respect her for being the one to address this because I was just going to ride out her not speaking to me as long as the film was getting done.
She began crying and explaining how the past week had been getting to her. She complained about not having the things around her that she was used to and having to share a room with the rest of the cast. I couldn’t help but feel dismissive of some of her complaints that clearly came from an incredibly privileged place. I also felt that some of the stuff she was saying were things she knew she was signing up for; things I made very clear in pre-production. However, I understand that being told what you’re signing up for is very different from experiencing it. Also, most importantly, some of what she said was very valid. She said she was very hurt by the fact that I yelled about her at Matt in front of everyone the day before. I apologized. I didn’t make excuses for myself, but I tried to explain where I was coming from. One thing she said really caught me off-guard. Through tears, she explained how hurt she was during shooting two days ago, the 26th, when I had not given her any level of acceptance or approval or even feedback during the emotional scene we shot that day. She talked about how she “brought it” every time and that she needed to hear from me that she was giving me what I wanted, but all she ever got was a general “that was great, now we’ll move on to…” I thought about this, and it occurred to me that she was right. I thought about Ryan and how I had spent much of pre-production worrying about his performance in the film. Prior to Summit, he was just my friend/roommate and an aspiring writer/director, not an actor. He connected with the role of Will and I felt he had potential, so I had him audition and ended up giving him the role. I worried for over a year that maybe he wouldn’t be able handle it, but when he delivered the performance I needed from him, I went over, looked him in the eyes, touched his shoulder and said, “You are an actor.” He later told me how those four words gave him such relief and confidence that day. I checked in frequently with Rob and gave snippets of feedback. I checked in on Ricardo and Lauren, and confirmed all was well. I did the same for Emma, but it was brief and rushed, and I suppose I never really spoke to her directly. Different actors need different things. It was a new experience for me to be aware of all 5 actors at once. I realized she needed praise. I should have known that. I had worked with her before. I felt like I had failed her as her director because I had not had any moments where I really stopped and talked to her or let her know that she was doing well. I never thought to stop and do that, because in my mind she knew; she knew how impressed I was with her performance and how proud I was, but I should have articulated it. I suppose I assumed everyone knew that we were fighting time and daylight that day, and that I was a little bit like a chicken with its head cut off. I guess the cast didn't really know this because I made it a point to hide it from them, in order to not distract from their performances. I apologized and tried to explain what that day was like for me, not just as director but as producer as well. I told her I wasn’t trying to excuse myself for being inattentive. I just wanted her to hear what I was dealing with and try to understand why I overlooked her need for reassurance. We came to an understanding and the tension was gone. We hugged and then parted ways for the night. The confidence I had in the morning, though wavering throughout the day, was still strong by the end of it. I got ready for the next day of shooting.