12-08-14 Pre-Production

    Since H accepted my offer to produce there was a lot I had to talk to him about, to bring him up to speed with where I’m at on the project. He had to run an errand and I asked if I could join him. Actually, H doesn’t have a car right now, instead choosing to rent cars as needed. This sounds a bit unintuitive but, if you don’t need to drive, it actually may make more financial sense than owning a car.

    So, when I write, “join him” what I really meant was, “give him a ride” which could also be read “save him money”. He said yes.

    As it turned out, the errand was in Los Angeles. Now, I had a Film Independent meeting in L.A. later that night, so I asked H if he wanted to join me. The meeting was a Q&A with some programmers from the Sundance Film Festival about how to submit.

    H joined me.

    We came back to my place, I sent TRK to my iPad and H started reading. TRK is not a typical independent film project. At last count there are over 40 actors and 50 locations. Taking it on is a daunting task, to say the least. Add to that the fact that it’s about a very technical subject, compounded by the fact that we don’t have a huge budget, and the enormity of what I’m trying to do starts to become clear.

    I could tell H was getting a bit reluctant. His manner of speech, his mannerisms, they seemed to indicate he wasn’t quite ready to commit to it. But, he was still willing to try and help in whatever capacity he could.

    H and I have known each other for over ten years. There’s a lot of history. As the day wore on, I started to see some of that history come into our conversations and it gave me pause. My first thought was, “Is this something I want to deal with?” Meaning, are the tools H brings to the project worth the effort of changing the nature of our friendship from equals to my being in charge? Also, is that change something he would be willing to make?

*    *    *

    Later in the day, we were both tired. It’s been about 90 − 100 degrees in Southern California over the past week or so. We’re used to mid to low 70s. We were baking. And, we knew the day wasn’t going to end until around midnight because the Sundance thing didn’t start until 7:30pm and would surely go on until 9:30pm. Add the hour+ drive back to Orange County. Yeah.

    As I mentioned yesterday, H is an actor. He lives in a very emotionally vulnerable and open place. And, he was, understandably getting irritable. This reminded me of a couple other quirks that I’m going to need to address with him.

    I have an enormous respect for actors because the great ones allow their minds to change so completely as to basically become someone else. It’s a very delicate (read: dangerous) place to go, psychologically. It’s not something I can do and it’s not something most people should even try to do.

    The kinds of people who can do this tend to be emotional, sometimes even fragile. But, works of art are also fragile, so please don’t read that as an insult. Love is fragile too, but precious.

    I’m asking H to move beyond that emotional fragility and take on a completely different level of responsibility. To be behind the camera means that we don’t get to show what we’re truly feeling. Everything we do, everything we say, every nuance has to be calculated to create a specific emotion on set. In order to facilitate an actor I try and create a safe environment for them to do their extremely delicate task.

    This Thursday I’m going to meet H and see if he can set aside his emotional vulnerability and take on the calculated nature of an on-set producer. The hugeness of the TRK project doesn’t get me nervous. I don’t mind speaking it public. I’m not even afraid of dying. But, the thought of having this conversation with my friend, telling him some hard truths, knowing it may piss him off or hurt him, it’s not something I’m looking forward to.