Preparation

Timing

As I mentioned in the previous article, the script was rejected for the educational series. I was really bummed, and honestly, upset/angry about it because it felt, to me, like it was a diva decision. My perception was that it was not chosen because it didn’t serve some of the talent involved and wasn’t their idea.

Months later, I was very grateful that the script wasn’t used. I firmly believe that I would have been dictated on how to everything, every step of the way, and, ultimately, I would have hated the film.

So, what then? It got filed away to stay away until the right time. Most likely to be forgotten and never shot. But, that’s okay. I would rather not shoot something, than shoot it wrong and hate it. The story is way more important to me than that.

Fast forward nearly a year. We are in early 2017 and Jacob informs me that some of the talent we were aiming for was going to be in Lubbock for a short time and that we should shoot the short. I could be wrong, but, that’s how I remember it.

Okay, well, it’s crunch time. That meant that I had to go through and really start dissecting the script into a shot list and a schedule. Not a big deal; I do it all the time; and, when I write something, I generally have location, composition, and blocking all worked out in my head, anyway, and will include it in my script.

 

With a little help from Jacob, I get his old iMac keyboard hooked up to my iPad and start writing out the shot list on an app that I can only use on my IOS devices because it’s no longer supported on Windows.

After getting through it, something occurred to me, the script ends in the darkest place that it could end. How on earth could I have done that? This isn’t a story of despair. It’s a story of hope

New ending

What now? Wow. I felt like a dummy. I knew the ending of the story, but, I never actually wrote it and it completely shifts the whole dynamic of the film. The problem I ran into, is that I didn’t want to tell anyone that I was adding to the end. Most of the time, I’m fairly certain with my writing. I know what works and what doesn’t in regards to the story, but, I’ve never written anything this personal. Most of the time, it’s comedy, action, or semi-suspense. Never drama. Or at least, never drama this hard. Needless to say, I was terrified. Then it all came crashing down. Self-doubt. Is this ending right? Is it cheesy? Is the talent going to be right? Can I actually direct this? How am I going to pull this off?

It consumed me. I was scared to death that I was making the wrong decisions. Decisions that only I could make. This is my story. Nobody could tell me if I was headed the right direction or not.

Eventually, I told Jacob. I expressed that the ending wasn’t complete to me. The real-life incident that led me to write this film, in the first place, was left out. It was depressing and that’s not why it was written. I sent him the new script and he loved it.

“I was scared to death that I was making the wrong decisions.”

Talent

A massive key ingredient was going to be finding the right talent. We had our actress, but, no actor for the lead, and that was going to be the hardest part to cast.

After some reaching out, Jacob came up with a friend of ours who is a professional actor. GREAT! He was interested! OH CRAP! That means he’s worked with real directors and I feel like a hack.

Instead of letting that bury me, I pulled out a book that I purchased a few years ago off the recommendation of Stu Maschwitz. The book is about directing actors for TV and film. The book is a treasure trove. The problem is that, while my reading speed is average, my ADHD prevents me from really absorbing what I’m reading because my mind is in 20,000,000,000 different places, and I had less than 20 days to read the book before we were to commence shooting. That’s not much time to prepare. But, it’s what we had. It took a level of resolve that I don’t ever put into reading to really get into the book and learn and understand. I did it. I managed to really start cranking through the book. At the same time, I started making notes on my script. Writing down playable actions for my talent to execute. Writing down character history, facts, whatever will help my talent to really assume the identity of their characters.

 

After really diving into that, Jacob informs me, one morning, that our male talent is actually going to be in town for a few hours the next day and we can do a screen test with him. Oh man… Well, it’s time to put up and see what I really learned.

Jacob and I decided to set up a little lighting in the apartment where we are planning to shoot and have things as accommodating as possible for our actor. While I finished prepping our practice set, Jacob went and picked up our friend, Stephen Hardin. Once they got back, we quickly began because we had limited time.

It took Stephen and I a little bit to get in the swing of things, but, we worked a little bit of magic. I was really excited.

“I’m not advocating worrying about every what-if, but, if you walk through life shocked and upset every time something doesn’t go the way you expected, then you are setting yourself up for failure.”

Disappointment

Wow. Things were coming together rapidly. I try my damnedest not to be a pessimist, but, I also try to keep a realistic outlook that when things are running too smoothly, to be prepared for something to go awry. I am thankful for smoothness, but, I find that if I’m constantly on the lookout for something to go wrong, I’m a lot less disappointed when it does. Now, I’m not advocating worrying about every what-if, but, if you walk through life shocked and upset every time something doesn’t go the way you expected, then you are setting yourself up for failure.

Nevertheless, it happened. Our main talent was accepted to SAG-AFTRA (actors’ union), and that put a complete stop to the project.

One thing I haven’t mentioned is that this is a zero-budget film. Doesn’t matter, there are certain union requirements that cost money. While I understand that it is a good thing that protects actors from being taken advantage of, on the flip-side, it seems to take advantage of the little guys. This happened to us and it felt like a massive blow to the project. (side note: we are very happy for Stephen, becoming SAG is a huge thing for his career and we harbor no ill feelings about it. We’re just sad that things didn’t work out like we hoped.)

However, we continue on, and it seems that it relieved some of the pressure that was involved in things coming together too rapidly and is going to give the story some time to breathe before more final decisions are made.

Most likely, additions will be made to the script, because, after some rehearsals, it’s way too short. So, we shall see what happens next.

p

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