Preproduction Day 17

We’re less than a week away from shooting the film. The amount of decisions I feel I’m making on a daily basis right now only rival the amount of calories needed to sustain the human body.

First of all, and I’ve said this before, the key to making anything great is surrounding yourself with great people. The team working on this film is spectacular. Hard working, dedicated, ferocious, and filled with passion. I work as hard as I can every day because I want to make them proud to be part of this project.

After grabbing some incredible breakfast sandwiches from the local bakery this morning (Sweet 16th in East Nashville), I spend 4 hours with the producers chipping away at the script. We spent a ton of time the other night doing this as well. For me, this is an incredibly painful but necessary process. In the last few days we’ve trimmed at least 7 pages (probably more) and eliminated a character. Getting rid of that character got rid of almost 2 pages of dialogue.

The less we have to shoot, the more time we can spend shooting what we need to shoot. Eliminating a page here or there gives us that much more time to get the lighting and set right, or gives us extra takes so the actors can nail their performances. Trimming is painful, but so is sitting through meaningless banter that doesn’t move the story forward.

And let’s talk about that for a moment, shall we? Everyone’s time is valuable. Why spend people’s time making something useless? Yeah, sure, there are reasons to write meaningless comedic moments because laughter is important. But if you can make people laugh and move the story forward, you’re the winner. Also, if you have a film that’s 90 minutes long vs. 120 minutes long, that’s a huge amount of time for everyone, including the viewer.

We’re making casting choices right now. We’re hoping to hear some good things, but we have auditioned so many incredible actors. We start shooting some of the people we’re casting right now soon, and it’s a funny game. You want to fill your film with recognizable faces, but you also want to make the absolute best film you can at the budget you have set. Sometime your budget is low, so you can’t cast the names who would draw people to your film. And then you want to make sure you can get the best stuff for the film, regardless of the person playing the role. It’s a delicate balance.

I ended the day by watching my favorite film, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, with my cinematographer and one of the producers. We discussed transitions, camera angles, and lighting, as I absorbed a film I had already watched 26 times. I still love this film, and I’m always wanting to learn from it. Fun fact: A few years ago, I purchased my first blu-ray player so I could watch the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World on blu-ray. This was after seeing it in the theater 3 times. I’m kind of a fan.

There is so much paperwork involved in making a film. Having a killer office and amazing lawyers helps so much with these items.

Tomorrow is our production meeting, as well as a long meeting discussing the shot list and transitions from scene to scene. Here’s a general rule: the more you can accomplish in preproduction, the better prepared you’re going to be, and the better the film your trying to make will be.

Much like studying – the more you prepare, the better off you’ll be.

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