The weekend’s events

Saturday’s high level of productivity on the film pretty much counter-acted Sunday’s lack thereof.

Enjoying the perks: Curtiss (at center) and two of his friends, who were extras for the day.

Enjoying the perks: Curtiss (at center) and two of his friends, who were extras for the day.

I had over a dozen people at the apartment for four hours on Saturday for the first series of party scenes. I was afraid of not being able to get enough extras, but my actors came through and brought some friends with them. I filmed all the scenes that had been scheduled, plus one more that wasn’t, thanks to two of my actors being willing to learn some extra lines on their break. I filmed people taking fake tequila shots (read: white grape juice – but the limes were real), playing Rock Band and drinking games with ginger ale, etc. Possibly my favorite take was a lightning-quick game of flip cup around the table. It was beautiful.

Don't do too many of those, now.

Don't do too many of those, now.

Another great sequence was something I thought up the morning of; I had Maria, who plays the hostess of the party, do some normal party preperation things like wipe off a counter, open a can of Pringles, straighten up things collected on the table, etc. I had that end with her sitting by herself on a couch and I asked her to look somewhat anxious. Then I had someone knock on the front door, and when she opened it, several people walked in, talking all at once, more or less ignoring her and heading straight for the kitchen. With simple directions to Maria and to the “guests,” they nailed the effect I was going for.

I thought about it for a long time, and in the end, I decided to buy some beer for the fake party. I did this for a couple reasons: first, I wasn’t able to collect any empty bottles from a couple friends I’d asked to save them, and secondly, I decided it would make the party more realistic. As long as people didn’t down beers too quickly, and as long as all the liquor was fake, we’d be okay. It worked out better than I could have hoped, and you should have seen how psyched most of the actors were about this turn of events. This outcome did mean I couldn’t have my young cousins play extras, but I managed to get enough people involved.

Expenses: Four six-packs of assorted beer, limes, one bottle of wine (used as a prop, a fake housewarming gift), $40

I actually had a to call Doug and Chandra for advice about which brands of beer to buy. I want to incorporate Central Ohio/Columbus culture in this movie where I can, but I had no idea if the Columbus Brewing Company is any good or not. Chandra said she thought she’d had it, and it wasn’t bad, so I got that along with what I thought would be popular, the spring version of Blue Moon. By the end of the day, all the Columbus Brewing Co. beer was gone, and no one had touched the Blue Moon.

Going over some production notes.

Going over some production notes.

One thing that was different on Saturday from any other day of filming thus far was my level of control. With earlier scenes involving no more than 3 or 4 people, holding cast and crew’s attention was not a problem. However, when you triple that, you notice a change. I had to raise my voice a lot Saturday and remind people to be quiet during takes they weren’t involved in, and keep them from making shadow puppets on the blank wall behind one of my actors while he was on camera. Yes, I am serious. By the end of the day, I was a combination of giddy, with a nasty head/feet ache. I don’t know how teachers can shout for that long without their heads popping.

The thing about directing is that you have to, ahem, direct people and tell them what to do. All I wanted to do was make a movie, and I didn’t really think about all the decisions I was going to have to make, and how unpopular a choice could potentially be. I have never been a leader, and I am well aware of it, but thankfully, this hasn’t been much of an issue so far. I have been able to maintain control and still allow everyone to have a great time (including me).

However, I had to make a tough call on Sunday.

In between takes.

In between takes.

I had four scenes scheduled for the afternoon, from 4-9 p.m. All four of them required the presence of one actor, who still hadn’t shown by 5. I worked with the cast members who were there on time while we waited, and filmed some more silly party antics: a pyramid of red cups being knocked over by a hackey sack, a cup overturned on one of my roommate’s candlesticks, some more video game playing… but eventually I knew I was going to have to call and inform the others who would be coming later if the guy didn’t show up soon. He never did, so I called my other three actors. I’ve rescheduled two of the four scenes for this Thursday, but it really threw me behind schedule.

After several attempts and being unable to reach the guy on his phone, I e-mailed him last night:

“Sorry you couldn’t make it today, but we will not be needing you for any more scenes. Thanks for the work you contributed. -Meryl”

Another guy in the movie says he knows someone who might be right for the part and could replace him. I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Fortunately, all we will have to re-shoot is his character’s entrance with Becca.

In other scheduling news, my boss is letting me take a half day on Thursday to film the scene at Surly Girl. It was possibly going to be NEXT Thursday, but one of the actors in that scene just got hired for a job and she starts the 13th. It all worked out, and the restaurant manager was very flexible and understanding. I am so lucky my boss is, too. The aprons I ordered for that scene came in the mail today, thank God.

When Sunday’s plans went in the crapper, Brandon and I made the best of things. I did some much-needed work on the invitations for my sister-in-law’s baby shower, bought my cousin a wedding gift, and went out to dinner and a movie with Brandon.

We went to Baja Sol for the first time (I liked the salsa bar), and then went next door to see “Adventureland.”

What did I think of “Adventureland”? Why, thank you for asking. It’s not the comedy you think it is, I will say that much. If you thought you were going to get a movie with people puking over the sides of theme park rides, you’ll be satisfied for about 25 percent of this movie’s run time. Sure, there’s more (fake) vomit in this movie than there was in my fridge last weekend, but the rest of the movie hits hard with non-traditional comedic elements. You know, like cancer, anti-Semitism, infidelity, and trust.

Even though the trailer grossly misled me, I really liked it. It’s not just another hit-you-in-the-nuts comedy (even though there is a LOT of groin pain involved). It’s got more to it than that. And that girl from “Twilight”? She surprised the heck out of me. I think I may be a fan, even though “Adventureland” is the only thing I’ve seen her in.


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