Friday, September 5, 2008

Feelin' Like Francis

I feel like Coppola on the set of his Apocalypse Now and we haven't even started rolling camera yet. Where Coppola's budget ballooned out of control as a result of little elements missed and uncontrollable circumstances mounting up while they were shooting, mine is swiveling up like a dick in an ice box with only three weeks to go before shooting.

I was relieved for two days at the thought of all the large and larger tasks being complete with time to spare, but as I started jotting down the small and smaller things to do, I realized if I added them all up I was in for large and larger amounts of work. You could say I didn't prioritize correctly, but let's be serious. One guy, working full time, raising two kids, and trying to put a film together all by himself was just asking for failure in a prioritized world. Let's look at the problems to come:

1) Out of Money: The budget started at $6000.00. That quickly moved to $5000.00 realizing that all my work over the last year had really not left the film at that amount of budget, unless WE WANTED TO PAY EVERYONE. (What a novel idea.) Anyway, from $5000.00, I crunched the numbers to a VERY tight $4700.00. Well all of a sudden, that was too much and I needed to get it down to $4000 so I was pitted into shaving more or halting all progress and going out and raising the difference, so I was forced to cut the out of town crew we had hired which was heart-breaking, because we just couldn't get the hotel total where we wanted it to be. The funny thing is the out of town crew didn't go away. They said, "FU Garrick," and demanded they were coming to help if they had to pay themselves. As much as I like that spirit, I couldn't help but be embarrassed that not only could I not pay them, I couldn't afford to put them up after all this time of waiting. Then two days ago, I was told $3000.00 was all there was, which is not enough to make the film and has put me in a situation of either one- finding someone to borrow money from or two- finding a new location. There is no time for location scouting, contacting owners etc, so it looks like I'll be back where I was a year ago, preparing to sell somebody into investing in the film.

2)Crew Quarters: With the out of state crew coming in anyway, I am trying to refuse they spend their own money to stay over, even at bargain rates, so I offered my house as a free bed and breakfast. There is only one issue: I am having additional family room built on as we speak, BUT it's not done yet and sure, it's big enough to fit the cast, crew and their families, IF it is livable by September 27th. If it isn't I have enough room for maybe two if I'm lucky, unless I run my wife and kids out, then maybe 4 if one can fit on a 2 year old's bed. This is the biggest problem of all.

3) The Little Things: With this newsstand, I was so consumed with getting it constructed along with the magazine and newspaper design that I didn't realize, (or I did just failed to register it,)is that I'm going to need a lot more than just cigarettes and magazines at this stand. Those vendors sell magazines, crossword puzzles, potato chips, bubble gum etc... And just like the cigarette licensing I would/will have to avoid showing any name brands for those items as well. On top of that, I will have to construct some sort of side shelf to put all this stuff on and even another key point: The Newspaper Vendor has to have a stool to sit on. Every vendor has a stool. All that stuff as small as it is, costs money. Money, I now, don't have. Heaven forbid the newspaper stand after all that work, look plain sitting there in that alley. I don't know if I could live with myself.

4)Back to the Hotel: There was another thing, (a huge foul up,) I missed with our hotel location. The Quality Inn has plastic card entry everywhere. From the pool to inside, to the hall into your room, it is all card entry. This does not work for my story nor one of the key elements of suspense where we have close ups of keys entering locks and because we can pull off an apartment building with our angles and the way we're shooting it, leaving the card entry thing in the film would be a no-no. So now Adam and I have to build two fake door bases equipped with a door knob and lock on it to substitute for the lock leading in the building and the lock leading into Dana's apartment. Then we have to be careful not to show the card entry on any of the doors while shooting in the hallway or anywhere else.

5)Home Base: A luxury some would say, to others a necessity, but our idea of renting an RV was flushed the minute we realized we were running out of money. It was a big expense. The Rental was $668 for the three days and along with that a $500 deposit in cash was needed when we picked it up. Not a Credit Card swipe deposit, but actually cold hard cash. In the words of my daughter, Payton, "not too good." So as relieving as it is to be able to take $700 non-refundable funds off the bottom line, it wasn't so relieving to realize that the tool would have been completely useful. Since Saturday we would be shooting a slew of little setups all over Hickory, the RV would have been a perfect place to store and carry the main tools of the shoot. Since we would be doing makeup the RV would have also acted as the salon where Megan could work her magic without disruptions as well as a place we could keep the laptop and drive we need to load the footage from the camera. Ennix could work without disruption on his trips to empty the P2 card. From there it could actually be a place where 4 crew members could sleep be it in my driveway or in front of the hotel. And if nothing else, it would have been a good place Ryan and I could have gone to yell the stress out on each other. Now... I don't know. I live in frickin' KOA heaven and have yet to find somebody who would loan me a RV. (Do you blame them?) So now we will have to put up a tent or set up camp in the back of my Jeep. Not the coolest thing in the least bit.

So with principle photography looming, the proverbial low budget production plan shuffle begins. The last minute adjustments start happening that make or break a picture. I've had plenty of energy in past films to endure this frantic period. This one, I'm unsure of. I worry, I'll forget to do MY job. The job I planned to do when I started all this. Focus on the storytelling is my job, so why am I at Sam's Club trying to figure out if I only have the budget for the cheaper "Faygo" version or I actually saved enough a long the way to splurge and go with "Fanta." Why am I suddenly consumed with a fear that my room won't be done in time and I'll have no where to put the crew, instead of being joyous about the fact that in the next month I would have finally made the movie that took me a year to put together? As my next three weeks are limited in time and my financial responsibility at this point in time has to be shifted to my family, I fear what is not done on Jeopardy will have to remain undone unless the answers come and knock directly on my front door. I will do whatever I can whenever I can. If accommodations don't arise now, we will deal with it when the time comes. For now, I must focus on the story and making the picture… My job is what I have to focus on. The Unit Production Manager part of my job will just have to wait until I am mentally prepped to yell, "What the fuck are you waiting on? Roll the camera!"

Here is where my addition is as of this morning at 5:30am.

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