A few people asked me after last week’s column how I could only lock 33% of “Doubting Riley”. I don’t mean to get boring or technical, of which my explanation will be both, but films are broken into reels. In our case, the film is broken into 6 AB reels. The sound guy has to start working on the film and he really needed to start working on the film a few weeks ago. So we’re going to give him two reels a week for the next three weeks. Which means after this Friday, I will be 66% finished with cutting the film.

A couple of guys stopped me on the Promenade the other day, asking me questions about making movies. It is the most humbling, and at the same time embarrassing, thing when complete strangers say hello, but that’s beside the point. The reason I mention this is that they asked me what the most important thing about budgeting a film is. And I imagine had they asked me this during pre-production, I would have said money for a name actor. During production, I would have said maximize as many days as you can from your budget. But since they asked me during postproduction, I answered reshoots. Which, with low budget filmmaking, is just a stupid answer. You’re lucky enough to find enough money to shoot for 18 days. Why would anyone budget for reshoots? As stupid as it sounds, I really think even with low budget filmmaking, budgeting for reshoots or additional shooting is really smart. It’s hard to recommend it for any film shooting less than 25 days, which is practically all films under a million dollars, but an extra two days of shooting while editing would be incredible. Because, as has been said many times, the movie that’s written is different than the movie that’s shot, which is different than the movie that’s edited. And only in editing is it possible to really see what’s needed.

I’ll never forget while shooting Stolen Summer, Miramax said I could have one additional day of shooting. And I said no. I said no for two reasons. One, I wasn’t sure what I would shoot with that extra day, which looking back was bad preparation on my part. And two, I thought by saying no I would create good will with Miramax by not looking like a money grubbing director so that when I did ask for more money for more editing, music, etc., they would know I needed it. What a mistake. Because when I asked for more for reshoots, they said no. I’m confident the reshoots would have made Stolen Summer a better film, but from a business stand point, Miramax concluded a better film would still have a hard time putting people in the seats.

One last thing before I head back into the editing room. These same guys asked me how I got Jeff Garlin from “Curb Your Enthusiasm” to be in the movie. And I realized I forgot to share one of the best stories about making “Doubting Riley”. Jeff Garlin grew up in Chicago and I was lucky enough to meet him a few times. We hit it off pretty well and at the HBO Emmy parties, he said to me that no matter where, when and how I was shooting my next movie, he wanted to be in it. People say anything at parties, but with stars in my eyes, I remembered the comment. So when I started casting for the movie, I called Jeff. He called me back and said he’d read the script. He called me a week later, exactly when he said he would, and said this was a bad time for him. He just finished shooting “Curb” and was moving homes, so he needed another week. He again called me exactly when he said he would and Jeff told me he had three conditions before taking the role. One, I can’t pay him. Two, he would fly himself to Chicago. Three, he would put himself up at a hotel. Jeff Garlin isn’t what you would expect from a Hollywood star, but everything you would expect from a Chicago guy.

Will Pete be happier with his film? Visit each Wednesday for the next exciting entry (or depressing entry, depending on how you look at it) in PETE JONES’ “DOUBTING RILEY” DIARY!

Discuss Pete Jones’ “Doubting Riley Diary” in Film Threat’s brand new BACK TALK section! Click here>>>

Posted on October 30, 2003 in Features by

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