Were there any other issues that needed to be resolved before the cameras could roll?
At the same time, the director who had been attached to the project for a year decided that now that we had the money, he wanted to make some script changes and we parted ways and hired Roberto Monticello at the last minute and then we started filming.
What was the first day of filming like for you as well as the cast and crew?
The first day of filming was an incredible experience and it was because of what it took for it to get there, but the first day was amazing and it was scary all in the same instance. Here we were, myself and Christine, and here was a 30 person crew running around and the sets and other actors were all there because we hired them and it was our movie set so that was the exciting part. What was scary was that my first scene was with David Ogden Stiers, who I consider brilliant and as such, to have my first scenes with him was very intimidating, although he was completely gracious as you can see in the outtakes on the DVD. He joked about it when I messed up and he says, “Well somebody had to do it, I’m glad it was you,” and it really eased the situation, but still, to me he’s an acting icon and that was a bit intimidating, plus the fact that we filmed on a set in a Manhattan, New York building. The first five hours, we were treated to non-stop jack hammering, which was obviously a logistical sound nightmare, but our dream was there and the film was basically unfolding.
Despite Roberto Monticello being credited as director, this seems to be your film first and foremost what with your acting and writing. What prevented you from taking the helm on The Stand-In?
Basically, I felt that to direct, as well as write and produce and star in my first film, was a bit too much to take on especially because Brian, the main character, basically controls the film and I didn’t feel like I had enough experience to do the job. In hindsight, maybe I didn’t really make the right decision and maybe that has spurred me on to wanting to direct “Chatroom,” so that I could see my true written vision appear on the screen.
What did Roberto’s vision entail?
It was Roberto’s decision to shoot a lot of medium two-shots (two people in the shot at the same time, almost like profiles). There’s a lot of that, especially in the emotional scenes. You really need to see up close in somebody’s face when for instance Jennifer, who supposedly loves my character dearly, has to make the decision to break up with me. You want to see that in somebody’s eyes.
Did he ever tell you why he wanted medium two-shots for the emotional scenes as opposed to close-ups?
His theory was that tight close-up shots from person-to-person are very television and soap opera-like. Another thing that I felt the film needed was more camera movement. Brian’s life, when he moves to New York, is very hectic and up in the air and the camera should probably reflect that. The smallest movements add drama to a scene. It layers the scene because we are not staring at the same scenery and in life, we are always looking around, trying to see where we’re going and where we’re coming from and observing our surroundings and the camera needs to do that too.
You didn’t have your way with the close-ups, but weren’t you the producer? As a producer, wasn’t there some semblance of control allotted to you?
Roberto and our other producer had basically convinced me not to watch dailies, yet I was heading up the production and giving out the paychecks. They convinced me under the guise that I didn’t want to obsess over my acting performance. What I basically got caught up in was the fact that a lot of people trusted me with their money to make this movie and I think I tried to please too many people in just making sure that nothing bad ever happened to the film. A million mistakes were made on The Stand-In, yet it’s something I’m so very proud of and the most important thing, the heart of the movie, is still intact.
After filming on The Stand-In was completed, what happened?
At that point, any fear of me obsessing over the performance was done because principal photography was completed. And now again, as the producer of the film, it was mine to take care of. I was just making sure that the story could be told as I had hoped, the problem again being that certain things that I wanted were not shot and therefore couldn’t be edited. I did the sound with the sound mixer, I edited the film with Maria Barrow and I was basically the post-production supervisor. Roberto visited once or twice, but that was it.
Get the rest of the interview in part three of ROBBIE BRYAN TAKES A STAND>>>
Posted on April 22, 2003 in Interviews by Rory L. Aronsky
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