Monday, January 21, 2013

Take A Chance

Friday morning I immediately got a call from my brother telling me that our Dad had a stroke. My Mom and Dad are in the Philippines and sometimes it's tough to get even a phone call through to me. I got a couple of texts and then a phone call from my brother in Texas.

Dad had a stroke, was rushed to the ER, and that's all anybody knew.

I was already under pressure as I was banging my head against the wall trying to figure this script out. I needed to write and shoot a script for this Poptent Ad that needed to be shot on Saturday and then edited and uploaded before midnight Sunday.

Going through the creative process of writing a script can be creatively painful. Because you want to create something truly great and you constantly compare what you've written with what you know you can create. So you beat yourself up alot. I spend alot of time pacing, talking to myself, doing push ups, and pounding my head on the desk as if the really great ideas might shake loose from the back of my head and tumble out of my ear onto the page.

Never happens.

Trying to do this on a deadline is worse. Now time is against you. So I bang my head on my desk even harder and swifter.

Trying to do this when you're worried about your Dad, that's a whole other ball game.

That entire day I did nothing. My intention was to get alot of work done. Re-write the Ad before it needed to be shot the next day, work on VFX and editing for REDD. But I was too distracted. I literally just sat at my desk for hours. I was paralyzed until I could hear any news from my Mother.

Eventually I had to force myself to work. I had to realize that no matter what happens with my Dad, I still need to get things done. Still need to make money. Otherwise I'd end up broke AND worried, so I had to find a way to put all my worrying energy into creative energy.  Wanna know how I did it?

I have no idea how I did it.

I had to slap myself around a few times. And when I finally tried to do work, I was really just going through the motions. But it's something. And I needed to do something. This Ad needs to be done. These re-writes need to be finished, and I needed to prep for the next days shoot. And although I was worried about my Dad, I had to realize that doing nothing wasn't good for anyone.

Thankfully I was able to squeeze out an "OK" re-write to the script I had written that week. This was a 90 second Ad that needed to be treated more like a short film, and I really wanted to nail this.

Thankfully my Mom called me later that evening. Told me Dad was fine. He was probably going to be discharged the next day depending on the results of the MRI which would tell what kind of nerve damage there is if any. I was relieved but still worried about that MRI. When you're waiting to hear about a bad situation you expect the worst, but I think the worst part is not hearing anything at all and not knowing what's going on. I would have been relieved just to hear anything. Thankfully the news was not as bad, but I kept thinking about that MRI

Brandon White
The next day we got on set and I knocked out the first few shots. But I now that I had a (somewhat) clearer head I wanted to really think through what we were doing.

We spend a good hour re-working dialogue.

I always talk about how movies aren't written, they're re-written. And the truth is that those re-writes happen well beyond the computer screen.

I write the script. I re-write the script. We run through the script on set, maybe even shoot some pages, and then I figure out what's working, what's not working. I know there are certain phrases that work in my head, but may not work with the actors. We do some cutting, re-phrasing.

I plan out my shots before hand, but I also have to consider what the set looks like when we get there. You may see something that you didn't know you could do when you were planning. I also consider what shots I need that are on the page and even not on the page. Need to make sure I have everything. We're on a tight deadline, no time for re-shoots.

Amanda Elizabeth
We do close ups, medium shots, wide shots, establishing shots. We do interiors and exteriors. Need to make sure there is sound. I check each shot to make sure the RODE Mic is picking everything up.

Really good performances from Brandon White and Amanda Elizabeth. Thankfully Brandon is a writer and producer and I can bounce ideas off of him as far as these on set re-writes go.

We knocked out all of the footage and then some, but the entire time I was dissatisfied with this particular story. It didn't have the right bookends, and I felt like the wrap up of the story was weak. I was hoping sometime during the shoot I'd come up with something brilliant to shoot. Instead I came up with a few decent ideas to plus this Ad. Nothing that was a home run.

I'll just have to try to reach that epiphany during editing.

Talked to my Mom again that night. She says Dad is doing better. He'll need physical therapy, but otherwise he should be fine. But I'm still worried. Worried about my Dad. Worried this may not be the last time this happens. Worried about my Mom and all she has to deal with through all this.

Then I pile that all on top of my worries about this Ad.

Can I make the deadline? Is this going to be the best that I can do? Will I find an epiphany that will plus this Ad to make it something special?

Then I pile even more on.

Will REDD turn out the way I see it and feel it? Holy crap! I need to double check the list of backers and make sure we've ordered all the shirts and merchandise. Can we produce the right quality DVD with the amount of content I want to put on it? Oh look I have to correct the IMDB page for the billionth time. Will people like this movie? Will they get it? Will they want to tell people about it?

Next thing I know I'm sitting at my desk, staring into space, head filled to the brim with worry.

So I have to remember this quote:

And it's true. Worrying happens. We all do it. But it really doesn't do any good.  You have to fight it. Ignore it. But I think we all tend to invite it because on some level we think that it's wrong to not worry. Like if I didn't worry about my Dad then that would make me a bad person. But I realize I have to separate WORRY from CONCERN. Worry paralyzes me, stops my day, distracts me. Concern means you acknowledge your worries, your fears, you care about something, but you're still able to move on. At least that's how I'm interpreting it.

So I climb out from under the pile of worry and head into editing.

I load all the footage in. Start sorting through the best shots. Laying everything out on the timeline I start to piece together how this is all supposed to go. I go along with the script sure, but I start to see a pattern that I didn't see and couldn't possibly see until I have it all in editing.

Editing is where the third re-write happens. The manipulation of those images helps you mold that story into a full fledged movie.

But as finally get all the pieces in place, that epiphany never came.  The video itself was just ok to me.

The epiphany would only come with the music.

The score is the 4th re-write. For me it seals it all down and really brings it together. The music tells it's own story and at the same time enhances the story at hand. Or at least I hope it does. You tell me.


So my Dad seems fine now. Finally got the Ad done and uploaded.  Now I'm back to work on REDD. And I do want to thank everyone who has messaged me and commented about my Dad. I appreciate all the love and support. I truly do. It means alot.

And speaking of REDD we're kicking off our third round of fundraising. 

We had our first successful run with Kickstarter last year. This last time with IndieGoGo we raise over $1,500. And now we try to collect what we can to help us increase our marketing budget. We're gonna need as it's always tough to get people to know about a movie, especially a no-budget indie like REDD.

Also, many folks messaged us saying they were sad they missed the last few and many of them really wanted an Associate Producer Credit, so no here's another shot at it.

I knew doing a feature like REDD was going to be a huge undertaking. But I was expecting so much of life to knock us down. Missing my brother when he passed away. Worrying about my father. The loss of April's Mom, Dian. On top of the countless obstacles that get in your way when you're trying to accomplish anything. It has been a rough ride getting this movie done.

But we're so close. And I can see that our efforts are going to be worth it. Will this turn out as good as I hope it will be. Are people going to love REDD?

I'm not worried.

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