Film Journal: Week 1- Went to Jail

Nobody knows the trouble I seen....

Nobody knows the trouble I seen….

This time next week the term break will be over and I will be back in classes for the spring semester. Upon reading over the syllabus for my production class I discovered that one of the requirements is that every Monday I will be required to turn in a journal entry chronicling my trials and triumphs from the previous week of production. (Ok, this one is a little late- I’m still getting up to speed).

I already write quite a lot about my adventures in filmmaking on this blog so it seems only right to translate this into the journaling that I need to do for class. Abbreviated, of course, for the sake of readability. With a little luck this will help limit my school-related posting to one day of the week… maybe with a special update now and then if something notable happens… instead of this blog turning into a litany of self-reflexive nervous blather.

Even though the semester has not yet officially begun, I know that I am going to need to hit the ground running and, to that end, I have been working to lay as much ground work as I possibly can. I will be the producer on the first project, which means that I will be responsible for a lot of the logistics right off the bat. I love my teammates: we call ourselves Team Precious thanks to a conversation we had during our first production meeting in which we discussed Words-That-We-Use-Inappropriately.  “Precious” is one of these words. We basically named ourselves “Team Inappropriate”. I love it.

I wanted to be sure to start off by saying how much I love my teammates because I suspect that I will mostly be complaining about them for the rest of the semester whether I want to or not. It’s just basic chemistry: no matter how inert the chemicals, if you add heat and pressure you’re going to start getting reactions.

For now we are still able to enjoy some time apart. I believe my teammates are also moving forward with preparations for the coming semester, but I don’t really know; we set up a Facebook page to communicate back and forth and I feel like I’m the only one who ever posts to it like that weird eager kid who really wants to be friends but tries too hard. I found out today that the auditions will need to be pushed back due to a scheduling conflict, but I only found this out after sending a mass email to all the actors confirming that the audition would be happening on it’s original date. These things do happen, but I’d sent several updates beforehand to make sure everyone was still on board and still ended up looking like a fool… or I will once I email all the actors back to reschedule.

The trouble is that it’s my responsibility so I just have to grin and bear it. It’s my responsibility to facilitate the audition date/time/space/communications and if I don’t do my job then the film doesn’t get made, but I have no real say over who gets called or who gets cast or what the vision for the script should be: that’s the director’s job and right now the director isn’t here with me to guide the ship. I just keep the engines running and the lights on.

In an effort to keep the engines idling, this afternoon I went to scout a potential shooting location at the Lincoln Heights Jail. It’s a magnificent scene of urban decay and quite popular with productions significantly larger than ours. Lady Gaga and “American History X”.  Productions with a budget for generators and toilets. But what the hell? Why not check it out?

A guide showed me around the second floor: part cell block, part interrogation rooms, part reliquary to productions-past. The lights are minimal. Some areas are Off Limits due to peeling paint of the lead based variety and crumbling insulation of the asbestos variety. Some rooms were lit only by the flash on my camera. In every one of them I expected to look at the viewscreen and see the hideous, shrieking face of a ghost. And it was COLD! Without air conditioning or shutters on any of the windows the inside of the jail was cold from the moment you step in the door.

At any rate, it was another day on this great adventure we call filmmaking. Went to jail. It can only get better from here, right?

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