I wake up this morning, aware of the fact that in a few hours my first assistant director, Chinonye, will arrive, and we enter the last four days before rehearsal begins. In the thin light of that awareness (it’s cloudy outside today, I’ve yet to walk to get coffee, the semi’s are rumbling by my window), I’m flat humbled by the swift progression of this project—all the yesses, all the generous gifts of time and energy and even cash. How did we get here in a few short months? I take a deep breath (the moving boxes all unpacked now, the rugs and paintings and bowls in their places) and I know there is nothing for me to do but surrender. Surrender to the larger thing this has become, the swirl of the good many and the story that has risen up to be told. Nothing for me to do now but work, as I have worked, trust, as I have trusted, be willing to fail, as I have been willing. I can’t really do any more than that.
Chinonye is coming, that’s cause enough for celebration. She who was my screenwriting student, now my filmmaking mentor, who will show up with her designer shoes and sweet smells and sunrise smile (though one of the strongest women I will ever know) and brave the barn in the hot, thick July midnight and the ticks and the raccoons and possums and God knows what all. Oh, we are definitely going to get you some kick-ass jeans, Chinonye, and some shit-kicking shoes, and you’ll tuck your pants into your socks (which we will also buy; Eric has his own) and I will go before you into that particular dark night, and we’ll do this thing. You’ll give Eric the space to give me the space to give the actors space to surrender. You’ll keep the surrender on a tight (but not too tight?) schedule. And we will take what comes, knowing that nothing worth doing is easy and beautiful flowers grow from dirty origins and people make mistakes and it really doesn’t get dark until 10 pm in Putnam County, Indiana in July.
We’ll push gently, humbly, respectfully into the mud of the river bottom in search of the perfectly intact green shoot that can, if we stay mindful, grow into something you can’t help but look at, surprisingly resilient, many-petalled, breathing, responsive to light and dark and heat and cold. When you go out in the misty morning, it surprises you, floating on the water (though still attached by a long stem to the ground), its face warm and upturned to the sun, though its legs linger in cool murky darkness. Lotus flower.
Welcome, Chinonye. The next few days we’ll prepare for the arrival of the rest of the cast and crew. Soon we’ll all get to make something together. What luck. – Mon., July 1, 2013
ALL THE SMALL THINGS
Producing a film is a journey into minutia. You start out big. You have the idea. You see it in your head; it looks gorgeous. It’s everything you thought it would be. “Wouldn’t it be fun?!” you say to yourself and others. You all agree that it would. And so you decide to do it.
But then you actually need to do it.
And doing it involves trying to keep that big gorgeous idea in your head while attending to the details that make it all work – all the things that you never thought you’d worry about; all the things that could go wrong.
Lately I’ve been worrying…
- about whether the fireflies will still be around in mid-July
- about how to make a new axe handle look like an old axe handle
- about the difference between the ME2 and the ME4 microphone
- about whether that prop vase should be clear or yellow
- about how much noise a generator makes
- about who will let us into location on day 3
- about Firewire vs. USB 3.0 vs. Thunderbolt
- about what kind of bowl a Buddhist monk would use
- about Watts = Amps x Volts
- about how to buy a plane ticket for a minor
- about terabytes
- about how late it gets dark in Indiana
- about how much it’s been raining lately
- about invoices
- about pages per day
- about babysitters
- about extras
- about contractor bags
- about Ultrabounce
- about having food in the house where the crew from away is staying
- about permissions
- about contracts
- about what’s living in the barn
- about what I’m forgetting
And then, just like that, as if summoned by my fretting, a hummingbird appears outside my office window, flitting from flower to flower in a patch of day-lilies…getting things done, one flower at a time. – Thurs., June 27, 2013