The Indie Chronicles: Dealing With Delays Like an Adult Instead of the Whiny Adolescent I Want to Be
a blogumn by R.B. Ripley
As you may recall, I’ve been muscling a short film into production since August. Everyone around this town always says that getting the money is the hardest part of producing any film. Well, I got the money (well, about 88% of what we need) and that was EASY compared to scheduling. And permits. And catering. And hiring keys… and… and…
We were so close…
The bus stop bench and sign for the first day of shooting are sitting in the back of my Prius, taunting me. That’s how close. But again, logistics reared their ugly head and not all of the moving parts lined up.
I feel a little like the take in an Indiana Jones movie that got left on the cutting room floor. The one where Indy races to get out of a dark, dank, airless, vermin-filled room before the stone door that’s rushing down from the ceiling traps him. He races across the room and slides through barely making it out. Except his hat has come off and sits just on the other side of the doorway and the stone is about a foot from hitting the floor, so Indy reaches through and…
The door closes on his arm, trapping him forever where he’ll soon wither and die a hideous, painful death due to dehydration and being eaten alive by a rare, jungle-born virus.
Yeah, that scene…
By nature I am not a patient man. But this project has actually helped me acquire some of that good stuff. Which I will now exercise to the best of my ability as we regroup and try to get 20+ schedules lined up for our 5 days of production.
On the silver lining side of things: I am, however, beginning to understand many things about our industry’s glacial pace to which I previously professed understanding but, while those ideas were based on kernels of knowledge, clearly was mostly a fine use of my wild imagination.
The truth of the matter is that I am profoundly worried about disappointing everyone – the actors, the crew and even myself.
Somewhere in my subconscious I’ve intrinsically linked delay to failure. I break out in sweats having to make the phone calls to everyone letting them know that the long weekend they’ve blocked out on their schedules and used their remaining vacation time to secure has gone, in a phrase, to hell. I’ve not slept the past two nights because I fear people will hate and shun and mock and ridicule me for this change in plans. In the bright light of day it does seem a tad overreactive, but it doesn’t make me feel any less guilty about disappointing everyone and wasting their time. Perhaps I haven’t shed all of the Catholic guilt I thought I unloaded years ago…
Don’t get me wrong, deciding to direct this short film has been an amazing experience. I tell everyone who will listen that the best thing I ever did as a writer was finally screw up the courage to direct something for the screen. EVERY writer should have to do this with a 1-page scene before they’re allowed to write anything longer than one page.
In all the books I’ve read, all the time I spent in class and rehearsal earning that MFA, all the articles I’ve read and other writers I’ve heard speak – none of these, or even the combination of these have proved nearly as valuable as having to sit down with a script and simultaneously look at it through the eyes of producer, director, costume designer, sound designer, editor, production designer, hair and makeup artist and actor. THAT is how this writer learned to really see the elements of what I’ve written and how they work (or don’t work!) together.
We’ve rescheduled the shoot for three weeks hence. Many thanks to fellow scribe Clark Perry for his flexibility and general support in using his abode as a location.
Now, if I only had the patience to deal with this bounty of good stuff…
The delay is a good thing because I/we are not ready. There’s still story-boarding to be done and conversations to be had with all those people I mentioned to make sure we’re seeing the same thing in each shot, that we understand one another and that all of us have the opportunity to do their best work.