The one thing that consistently amuses me about the filming process is how the hierarchy of a crew resembles our government. The director is the executive branch, the cinematographer is the legislative branch, and the assistant director is the judicial branch. Each department checks and balances the other. And as much as it’s great to have everyone get along, creatively I think it helps to have the cinematographer and the assistant director battling each other. Because other than making the best movie possible, their goals essentially are at odds.
My mom asked me who is the most important crew member to me on the set. Not the person, but the position. To me, it comes down to four positions. Producer. Director of Photography. Assistant Director. And Editor. And I know it’s diplomatic of me to say this, but I’m not sure how I would rank the four in order of importance. But diplomacy’s for pussies. So here’s my order:
2. Assistant director.
Again, this order is not what is most important to the movie but what is most important to me as the director. And the final product is totally influenced by the taste of the editor. On a small budget film, which is the only thing I know, the assistant director is the one who has to be so keen on what we can do and what we can’t do. The DP, who before I shot these two movies I would have guessed to be the most important, is obviously huge and their taste and choices artistically influence the movie as much as anyone, but when you have to shoot 100 pages in 22 days, their hands are somewhat tied. And finally, the producer, who has the thankless job of running the production while still trying to keep a finger on the creative pulse.
Well, we’ve got one week left to shoot. Five days to be precise. And the most important thing I have to do is to convince the investors that we need 15 grand to add an extra day, the 23rd day. The big mistake I made on Stolen Summer was not adding a day. Miramax pretty much said to me on Stolen Summer that they would add a 26th day if I wanted it. The truth of the matter was that I didn’t know if I needed it. So I figured instead of blowing their money, I’d save it and after editing, I would have a better idea of where the holes were and go to them for money on reshoots. That backfired when they said “no” to reshoots. The problem is that if an extra day is only 15 grand or so, a reshoot is probably two to three times as much. Hopefully I’m not sounding preachy, but the reason for the huge jump is that the crew is signed for six day work weeks and so is the equipment. So increasing a work week from five days to six isn’t nearly as big a jump as crewing up again for a day or two. So for 15 grand, or $1500 an investor, I can take a guess at where my holes are and hope to fix some of them. But in the end, it’s a crapshoot because only until I finish editing can I really see where the holes are.
So next week, I’ll hopefully have an extra day to report and transition from production to post production.
CHECK BACK NEXT WEEK…
Production wraps and Pete races to edit the film and meet the Sundance submission deadline of October 3rd. Will he make it in time! Visit FilmThreat.com each Wednesday for the next exciting entry (or depressing entry, depending on how you look at it) in PETE JONES’ “DOUBTING RILEY” DIARY!
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