Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Green Room

Tonight is the Best of San Diego screening for the 48 Hour Film Project 2010. And our team--Cane Toad Productions--is in it! Woohoo! For this screening, a jury of six sequestered themselves with screeners to determine who was included, and also who will receive creative prizes. So tonight we find out if we do!

I mention this in the context of green because, let's face it, after seven years--Cane Toad Productions has got it going on. It's not like we can control certain outcomes--whether our editor flakes on us, the software gets corrupted, or people just don't find our story compelling (once you decide, you have to commit--no time for second guessing.) However, we know what's involved now, how to plan, how long things will take, which hours will get really, really tough. But when I look back on our first year of sticking a foot in this, we were adorable.

The first cute thing is that David posted a Craigslist ad for actors, and a few actually responded. He asked them to come to his office, to audition I think, but what really happened is that he chatted them up, decided they were nice, and hired them. Which is how we ended up with Matt, a fun person who--bless his heart--is not an actor. A character, yes. A natural stuntman, sure. But not so much with the acting.

Having assembled an illustrious cast, rounded out by Walter (a white-haired, twinkle-eyed sweetie pie who bizarrely turned out to be my student's dad) and Deborah, who the guys all liked because she was a blond hottie (and, I must admit, a lovely person) we found we got lucky, because Walter holds the keys to all of UCSD, and I mean all. Not only did we get to film in a very official-looking research lab filled with important-looking machines, but we nabbed some "one size fits all" white coats while we were at it.

The Friday night "brainstorming" meeting degenerated fast. It was basically me and a whole bunch of computer nerds, none of whom seemed to find my increasingly far-fetched scenarios very workable. They were also strangely resistant to me starring in the thing, some excuse like "You're too old, and also not blond." As the hours ticked away, I was seized by a fascination with baked goods, and kept screeching about how funny it would be to have lots of donuts in the movie, and people talking about donuts. (You know what? The biggest laughs in the whole thing are about donuts. I rest my case.)

The wee hours found me on the internet, researching donut trivia. Which David thought was crazy. Crazy like a fox, I say. But I didn't actually write a script that night. That would have been sooo conventional, and I need creative freedom.

In the morning, we met for a team breakfast at a French cafe in La Jolla. Did you hear that part? The meeting for breakfast? In a FRENCH cafe? Sitting down? With tablecloths and plates? Oh, we were sweet. After some leisure time with crepes, we were ready to decamp to the lab, and then we spent until noon hanging out while I wrote script notes on a pile of napkins. Most of which I wrote as the actors were speaking. You know what? Works for me. (No one lets me do that anymore.)

Then we spent until about 4:00 filming a scene that involved four lines of dialogue and the gripping action of Deborah and me walking across a hall and into an elevator. Why did this take so long? Because my husband and his cronies were like fanboys at Fry's with the lenses and angles and depth of field and whatnot. Sooooo boring. And sloooooow.

David's co-worker Brian, who was producer, brought in lunch, but never dinner, and we were there until midnight. There were two huge boxes of donuts, but when I would reach for one, Brian would slap my hand away, saying "No eating the props!" He also spent a lot of time yelling "We've got the shot, and we're MOVING ON!" after which I would say "Uhhh, no. I'm thinking about 27 more takes." [He would later tell David that he couldn't work with us again "unless you get rid of that wife." David made the right choice, I believe.] I think maybe I didn't drink any water for about twelve hours because when I got home that night, I had to curl shivering in a ball with a strange malaise gripping my limbs.

Which I had plenty of time to get over, since we slept for eight hours. Yes, EIGHT. During 48 Hours. And the next day, David's co-worker Thad knocked politely at our door around 10:00 and he and David noodled on the computer for the rest of the afternoon. I went to the gym, and got them sandwiches. This is not what I wanted to do, but every time I leaned over and offered a suggestion, they basically said "You are an ignorant slut. Silence!" which wasn't super-encouraging. What they essentially did is each one edited half the movie and then they slapped them together at the end. When I would anxiously point out weird cuts and sound glitches, they would say "Deal with it. No time."

As the deadline neared, they rendered a version and we watched it on our TV. All the dialogue was out of sync. David said "That's it, we're out. No time for another one." I burst into tears. They tried for another one anyway, and miraculously, it popped out with 10 minutes to get to the finish line. Thad stepped aside and David and I RAN FULL OUT to our car, with no shoes on. That first year, "headquarters" was someone's house in Golden Hill, and as we sprinted up the street (ow ow ow) we saw various novice filmmakers sitting around on the sidewalk, trying to coax discs out of their Macs. We made it to the desk with about 10 seconds to spare, and I'm not joking about the full sprint.

And two days later, we went to the Kensington theater and watched that little movie on the giant screen, with a packed house (and about 500 denied out on the sidewalk, pressing against the velvet ropes.) And my mouth dropped open in wonder. We made a MOVIE. And saw it in the THEATER. We were like SUPERHEROES.

And that, Dear Readers, is how it began.


Jen said...

You still are like superheroes, only more experienced. :-)

Stephanie said...

Bring on the prizes! Good Luck!

Aunt LoLo said...

Awww.....weren't you sweet. ;-) Good luck!