WELCOME TO PART 2...
Monday, 4 Mar
Shoot G / scene 16
...Hey! My cameraman showed up! Wish my lead had (sigh)....
This was an early AM shoot. Rush hour on the EL (subway). Two mini HI-8's, six leads, and one long repetitive shoot on a northbound Evanston Express from Fullerton to Howard (12 minutes or so).
Originally, I asked the CTA for approval BUT they wanted $1000 to shoot on their train. I told my A.D. to tell them "no problem" and that "the check was in the mail." ...hahahahaha
Cast and crew were scheduled to meet at the Fullerton Station around 8 am. Steve decided to sleep in that day but I couldn't blow off the shoot because everyone else had made it. These folks had jobs - school - lives of their own. I was paying them nothing. How can I say, "Oh well...let's try again tomorrow. Same Bat-time. Same Bat-channel." You can't. You improvise.
I shot around Steve. It was actually a pretty fun ride. We wound up going all the way to the end. Somewhere up near the north suburb of Winnekta or as Bert put it... "are we in Wisconsin yet?"
I shot around Steve! Now I had to retrace all my steps so, when I would reshoot his scenes, it would all match up when I went to post.
Can anyone say "background noise?" The audio was a complete wash forcing me to post dub the entire shot in studio.
"What we could see was just the steamer we were on, her outlines blurred as though she had been on the point of dissolving, and a misty strip of water, perhaps two feet broad, around her -- and that was all.
The rest of the world was nowhere...
as far as our eyes and ears were concerned.
Swept off without leaving a whisper or a shadow behind."
-Joseph Conrad 'Heart of Darkness'
Saturday, 9 Mar
Shoot F / scene 24
...The horror! The horror!
The biggest shoot of the project and (sadly) the last.
Shot in a two-level auditorium, this shoot comprised of 19 camera angles, 11 hours, 10 extras, 8 leads, 3 crew members, 2 cameras, and one flu-riddled director. Should I continue?
Once again, I started way too late to properly set up and ... those LIGHTS! Those f#@#ing lights!!
"Mother fu*kin' albatross is gonna hang over my neck throughout the production! Good lighting makes a good movie -- period! Shitty lighting produces a shitty movie. Guess what? I got a shitty movie!
-TB (Late Feb 96) |
I story boarded this shoot with my head cameraman.
He didn't make it.
I anticipated my A.D. to keep the extras occupied while I worked with the leads.
She didn't make it.
I anticipated three crew hands: Two made it. One had to leave mid-shoot.
Guess I anticipated too much, huh?
Of course, I didn't anticipate having a 102* fever, overloading the electric circuits, having no power for nearly 2 hours, and thinking I was Superman who would pull off this whole episode by myself.
The day's results: Failed to get 3 major shots of dialogue and several minor cutaways. Devoted too much time with the lighting. Attempted too many angles. Didn't consider my cast or crew who spent hours sitting around doing nothing. Bert, there the whole day, got zero time in front of the camera.
Finally, I wrapped the shoot with only 75% completed. It took nearly two hours to pack up the equipment, return it, and then stagger home several blocks.
I was fried.
Fever. Aches. Nausea. The flu had engulfed me.
This, indeed, was the end....
"Whether he knew of this deficiency himself, I can't say. I think the knowledge came to him at last--only at the very last.
But the wilderness had found him out early, and had taken on him a terrible vengeance for the fantastic invasion.
I think it had whispered on him things about himself which he did not know, things which he had no conception till he took counsel with this great solitude--
and the whisper had proved irresistibly fascinating.
It echoed loudly within him because he was hollow...
...hollow at the core."
-Joseph Conrad 'Heart of Darkness'
It took a week for me to recoup from the flu. I had yanked the cord out of my phone not wishing to speak with anyone from the outside world. When I finally lifted the shades and peered outside, a terrifying reality set in. I had just invested thousands of dollars and several months of my life to a project which would never see the very daylight I now stared at.
For weeks the project stayed in hiatus.
Cast, crew, and friends tried their best to lift my spirits; that the "show" must go on. Unfortunately time was not on my side, so I decided to salvage what I could by producing a 1/2 hour docu-narrative: "Beyond the Do-Lung Bridge." Tale of a man who had been pushed to the edge.
Shooting a barrage of 16mm footage with Bert - in the same vain of Willard and Marlow - I would mix the footage from Jumpcut with this quasi-surreal tale of a man and his journey of self-discovery.
Instead of things getting better, they got worse:
"To question, to question what this documentary is about just re-emphasizes the point I am trying to make. Why should I answer it for you? WHY?
Why did T.S. Eliot include in his works such lines of ambiguity? Why does he force his readers to decipher historical quotations; decode metaphysical and anthropological allusions? Why does he impose upon us a mosaic of literary fragments that can only, at best, create disenchantment, confusion in the minds of men?
Perhaps he was reacting to the advent of mass culture which frightened him to inject obscurity in his writings was true.
Perhaps, he saw that the learned man, the literate man, was becoming too commonplace and felt it was needed to devise works that would make him work harder; take new risks." --TB (April 96)
I began to explore the process Coppola went through. I embedded the images from his wife's documentary Hearts of Darkness into my brain. I poured over each line of Conrad's novella "Heart of Darkness." I plunged myself into the works of T.S. Eliot. Scrutinizing the concept of the hollow man. I found myself working up the river, through the same jungle, Marlow and Willard had confronted.
"...you lost your way on that river as you would in a desert...til you thought yourself bewitched and cut off forever from everything you had known once--somewhere--far away--in another existence perhaps." -Joseph Conrad 'Heart of Darkness' |
I began to fall off from this secondary project and found myself searching for answers to questions of "what it all meant." I became quite the fanatic delving into the concept of why the film failed. Who was this Steve character I created? What drove him? What pushed him to the edge? What possessed him to push those involved to the point of total disappointment?
Lo, I wasn't asking what "his" shortcomings were but ... my own.
"Last month, I went to the see the movie Se7en. I laughed at the ludicrousness of Brad Pitt receiving his copy of Cliffs Notes on Dante's Inferno in order to solve a serial murder. But the other moviegoers - they didn't laugh. Was it that... they found this unfunny?
Or was it that... they were unfamiliar with the concept of Cliffs Notes??
We are no longer hollow men, empty at the core. Nooo, it has gotten worse. Do we now need cliffs notes for the concept of Cliffs Notes??
In our world ...
...our world of Dennis Rodman's hair color ... cheeseburger Mc Happy Meals ... and MTV Spring Break News, it is WE who have become much worse than hollow.
We have become shades -- SHADOWS of the hollow men!" -TB (May 96)
Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralyzed force, gesture without motion.
So goes the concept of the hollow men. It's one thing to discover something about a person you thought you knew but.... when one uncovers a secret, a mystery, about oneself - and embraces it - it is then, when one reaches (I believe) what the character Kurtz had attained.
Not fear, nor courage.
Not hate, nor love.
Not failure, nor success.
Acceptance. Peace of mind.
To reach the latter, you must embrace the former.
The accepting part for me was harder than I thought it would be.
clawed my way...
up a mountain, only to find that half way up --
I no longer wished to see the world from it's summit.
Perhaps the concept of "Sour Grapes" has taken on a --
whole new meaning?"
-TB (Late May 96)
Few weeks later, I wound up in the hospital and would spend a good part of the summer recuperating. The docu-narrative never got made. I left the Windy City feeling bitter - dejected - defeated.
Winter of 1997-98.
I dig through my notes, the video clips, the drudgery that once was my "big" project.
Time to speak my peace. Accepting who I am.
Time to let the world know that failure isn't always a bad thing. It taught me a great many things (not only about the process of filmmaking) but about people - about myself. I believe I understand (to some extent) what Coppola must have went through in the making of his personal apocalypse.
"I have become like the moon underneath the waves that ever go on rolling and rocking. It is not, 'I am doing this', but rather, an inner realization that 'this is happening through me'...when man is devoid of self-consciousness and he loses concern over what impression he is making, art reaches its greatest peak."
--Bruce Lee "Tao of Jeet Kune Do" |
The process of making Jumpcut allowed me to take a hard look at who I am. At what I wanted from life. So, had I failed? I don't believe so. What is, after all, the meaning of success?
"Success:   If you have tried to do something and failed ...
you are vastly better off than if you had tried to do nothing and succeeded." -unknown
UPDATE: SUMMER 2002...
Jumpcut ...the rewrite.
Since posting this tale on-line four years ago, Iíve received many comments from fellow actors, filmmakers,
and writers. Several emails have even been requests to read the script. I never sent it out though, simply because the
script wasnít ready for the world to see. Click here to see what I mean.
This summer I decided to reopen the "vaults" and do a major rewrite. The first thing I did
was put the script in a proper, linear timeline to see if everything made sense. (Something I hadn't
done before.) To my surprise, it did and even had legitimate plot points or breaks from one act to the next.
The major thing I noted was lack of characterization. There wasn't a strong heart at the core of the tale. I decided to 86 several scenes and create new, fresher
ones which delved into the characters and their relationships with one other. These scenes have greatly improved the storyís appeal.
At the moment, I'm finishing up the rewrite and by Labor Day 2002, I hope to have a vastly improved rendition of Jumpcut.
Where it goes from there?? Well, only time will tell....