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Micro-Budget Screenwriting-The First 5 Pages- An Analysis
Oct 15th, 2014 by paul peditto

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Good Reader, I have an apology. I write endlessly about Chat, the damn micro-budget I made last year, because I’m a multitasker. Yeah, I have to fill space at Script Gods. But the good folks at Self-Counsel Press agreed to publish my micro-budget filmmaking book Surviving Outside Hollywood (Life Lessons For The D.I.Y. Filmmaker) so a lot of these posts will go there too. Apologies for the navel gazing…

I’m hoping today’s post helps your own process of writing the first 5 pages of your screenplay. Whether micro-budget or a Studio movie, the first 5 is valuable real estate. You’ve got to nail it or risk losing the reader/audience.

Today we’ll look at the first draft of my script for Chat, and then compare it against what actually became the movie.

Remember that famous expression about movie (I believe attributed to Fellini?) There is the movie you write, the movie you make, and the movie you edit and that the public comes to know as THE movie. But the script you write and film you end up with can be very different sometimes.

All scripts should do four things these first 5 pages: 1-Establish the POV character (protagonist) 2-Establish the Tone 3-Establish the World 4-Establish the beginnings of Conflict.

So, here are the first five pages of CHAT, and the changes that happened(in bold):005

FADE IN:

INT. CHAT OFFICE HALLWAY- NIGHT (PRESENT DAY)
Floating, down a fluorescent nightmare. A long, narrow corridor leads toward a bathroom door. The door opens wide…WHITE OUT.

This was filmed and presented at the top as is up to the rough cut. The audience feedback we got showed confusion on this opening so it was swapped out for a shot of Falcon, our protagonist, in the same chat office hallway right at the top. Less confusing and more evocative. It also sets up the creepy tone we want, the lead character, and the world in a single 10 second shot.

This is also the first of MANY times I disagreed with the director Boris Wexler. I came up with a new opening that reached more into Falcon’s mind, that was not as literal, that flashed images at the audience and took a piece of a monologue from a future scene and put it right here, right off the bat. Boris preferred his new open, and with directorial “discretion” and diplomatic balm, basically told me we were doing it his way.

INT. FALCON’S DARK ROOM- DAYs
FALCON, 45, eyes open and ringed red, disturbingly fucked up.Dimmer switch at a 5 watt flicker. Falcon lays back and listens to a WOMAN’S VOICE.

WOMAN’S VOICE
Always the falling, bottomless, silent body, spirit at dawn, dawn on nightmare.

This was filmed as is, but moved.

INT. FALCON’S APARTMENT- DAY
Dim world. Fifteen watt lightbulbs, pitched blue. Well-kept home of a scientist– doctorate diploma, honors and awards framed in glass, library of science manuals and biochemistry books– genius stuff.

RAPID SHOTS – FALCON
Peeking out from blinds, drawing them closed fast.
Expertly inserting a set of contacts. The tray with six other pairs of contacts from strong to extreme light protection.Falcon in the medicine cabinet, pops open a large 500 count bottle of Xanax. Knocking the Xanax down with one- two- three cups of espresso. Frail, hair uncut or combed, Falcon nervously dresses in a suit and tie, readying himself.

This was also filmed as is. It establishes Falcon as a scientist, but also as a man with suffers from photophobia, a disease of the cornea. This is a man who can’t handle light, and shuts himself in as a result.008

EXT. FALCON’S APARTMENT- LATER
Falcon emerges, holding a large wreath, staring up at the sun. He places powerful protective sunglasses over the contacts, stepping into light.

EXT. STREET- CONTINUOUS
Alien landscape, cars and people move very fast, dizzying. A crying child, a jackhammer at a construction site, the screaming of an EMT van passing with cherry lights blazing. All these exaggerated, hypersensitive for Falcon, who walks with wreath toward…

EXT. CEMETERY- LATER
Falcon bends, laying the wreath again a newly dug stone. He stands back to observe the wreath, the stone, the empty cemetery.

EXT. CHAT OFFICE BUILDING- LATER
Falcon looks up at a piece of paper with scrawled writing, then at a nondescript commercial building. He moves inside.

INT. ELEVATOR- CONTINUOUS
Yellow floor numbers pass, reflecting off Falcon’s sunglasses, an inexorable rise.

All these scene were shot as is and open the movie exactly as described. This takes us through about the first 2 minutes of the movie. Boris felt with good pace. For me, I felt, and still feel, we could have trimmed time off here. But so far, no major changes.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Playwright as Screenwriter: David Mamet
Oct 7th, 2014 by paul peditto

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From Merriam-Webster:

icon

noun \??-?kän\

computers : a small picture on a computer screen that represents a program or function

: a person who is very successful and admired

: a widely known symbol

Gotta be lonely, being an icon. Genius is defined by its very absence in every day life. You know you’re in the presence of genius because of its rarity. You know it when you see it.

See more at my Script Magazine article.

Screenwriting & Mortality
Oct 1st, 2014 by paul peditto

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  • ·         GENE PALMA

Gene Palma was the street drummer in Taxi Driver. C’mon, you remember him…

 

When it came time to shoot Jane Doe, I wanted him bad for the movie. I tracked him down to the St. Francis Residence. To call St. Francis a roominghouse would be lying. This was beyond stew bum. This was the checkout joint—where they force the door open and find your dead body, a week late on rent no more. No relatives, no funeral words or sendoff, a pauper’s grave. The last lousy deal in a lifetime of lousy deals.

So, I found him. Knock on his door. It opens, barely a crack. “Gene… it’s Paul Peditto. I’m the guy from the movie.” He didn’t understand.”No,” he mumbled, “I…no…” “Gene, we talked.” It took awhile to get through to him. Gene stood before me in purple-tinged hair, uncombed Roy Orbison sideburns and spotted shorts. I tucked a couple bucks into his palm. This seemed to help his comprehension. I told him I hoped he could do a cameo. We’d be shooting in the meatmarket district, tomorrow. “Please, come down.” Christ knew if he’d show up.

Next day, he appears. I introduce him all around. Not a person knows or remembers him. This was a reknowned artist in his own right, long before his Taxi Driver fame. So we shot the scene. Our protaganist Horace shuffles along the meatmarket district, the landscape mostly depopulated, only Gene and his greased back purple-tinged hair, passes him. We did the scene twice, in the can unremarkably. Pretty forgetable moment, actually, unless you knew that the extra guy Horace was passing was a legend.

He walked off, completely anonymous, that day. And died shortly after.

I was honored to meet him.

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  • ·         CHARLES BUKOWSKI

Charles Bukowski was my friend. Only met him once, at a National Public Radio performance of the play I adapted of his work, Buk, The Life and Times Of Charles Bukowski. This was 1992 and he had seen better days. He was gimpy, slow moving, in and out of poor health. He was still an imposing hulk of a man though, and when he cried during the performance, that was as good as it got for me. We corresponded for two years and some of those letters appear in his third letters book, Reach For The Sun. When he died in 1994 I went out to Los Angeles to pay tribute. He was buried in San Pedro and when I got out there, I found a simple plot. Certainly not the Jim Morrison Pere Lachaise cemetery plot covered with joints and wine bottles, graffiti declaring, “You were the Lizard King!” No, this was more…literary. This wasn’t a rock’n’roller resting here, but a poet. He had a clean, simple tombstone, that looks like this:

bukowskicharles

Don’t Try. I couldn’t figure out what that epitaph meant. Even driving back, I puzzled—what’s that mean? From the horse’s mouth came this excerpt from openculture.com:

 “In October 1963, Bukowski recounted in a letter to John William Corrington how someone once asked him, “What do you do? How do you write, create?” To which, he replied: “You don’t try. That’s very important: ‘not’ to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It’s like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or if you like its looks you make a pet out of it.”

So, the key to life and art, it’s all about persistence? Patience? Timing? Waiting for your moment? Yes, but not just that.

Jumping forward to 1990, Bukowski sent a letter to his friend William Packard and reminded him: “We work too hard. We try too hard. Don’t try. Don’t work. It’s there. It’s been looking right at us, aching to kick out of the closed womb. There’s been too much direction. It’s all free, we needn’t be told.” 

bukowski

Right now you’re asking what the fuck any of this has to do with screenwriting. Just hold onto your ADHD balls, and I’ll tell you.

My thinking is that it means: Perspective. Perspective from the grave. Understanding that NOTHING is as important as we make it out to be—in the light of death.

When I think about so many of my students placing SOOO much importance, for instance, on screenwriting contests placings–it saddens me. A scam has been perpetrated. I can assure you, folks, placing Quarterfinals at the Page Awards, or Nicholl Fellowship, or Austin, in the grand, cosmic scheme, means fuck all.

What is this desperation all about anyhow? Have you ever stopped to ask why it’s so important that you make your movie? Movies are about illusion. How many movies from 1914 have you watched lately? What makes you think you’ll be one of the miniscule few who survives one hundred years from now? Why is that so important that you that you will do whatever it takes to make it happen, including burning your here and now present tense? Is legacy worth it?

Which brings us back to Bukowski. Maybe it’s time to step off, to gain some perspective on your commitment to to proposition of movie-making.

DON’T TRY.

 bu_la_drawing

How To Raise $25,000 On Kickstarter
Sep 23rd, 2014 by paul peditto

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Today we’ll continue on with our Kickstarter-theme, trying to help you, Good Reader, find that micro-budget dough so you can join the ranks of Joss Whedon in making micro-budget films.

Previously we talked about the Main Copy, and what it had to accomplish. Remember, the Kickstarter campaign needs to have:

  • Main Copy
  • Perks
  • Video Script(s)
  • Individual email to every human being you’ve ever known
  • Follow up materials

These are the materials that helped us raise $25,000. Here’s hoping it helps you raise a few coins toward your own enterprise….

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  • PERKS

Should be apropos of the movie you’re making. Funny if you’re making a comedy. Cyber-sex-themed if you’re making a flick, like we were, set in a online XXX chat room. You’ve got to use your imagination when thinking up gifts. You want cool gifts, not just the standard t-shirt and DVD. And while we didn’t have the money clip that Robert DeNiro gave him on the set of Taxi Driver (a Paul Schrader gift for The Canyons Kickstarter campaign) we did let the donator of $750 bucks name the mouse character in Chat. Yeah, it wouldn’t have been great if they named him Mickey, but for 750 clams, we truly didn’t give a s&^%!

Here are the perks:

$5
BAD KITTY

Little Orphan Annie and her sexy cam model friends will welcome you to the world of chat by posting your name on Facebook/twitter, and on the donor sections of our upcoming website.

$10
ANGELS WITH DIRTY FACES

Get a private link for an exclusive look at a scene from the movie Chat. Disclaimer: Annie will not be baking blueberry muffins or strawberry shortcake.

$20
HEELS, PEARLS, AND BLACK BOOTS

Get everything listed above, plus a free download of an HD digital copy of the finished film.

$25
LATEX AND LACE

Everything listed above, plus access to exclusive behind the scenes footage as we make the film.

$50
RUBY RED LIPSTICK

All of the above in addition to a DVD of the finished film, an awesomely designed t-shirt and a signed 11×17 film poster.

$75
VICTORIA’S SECRET

A gift for the writers out there…

All of the above, get blu ray instead of a DVD plus everything listed above and a signed copy of the script, including script coverage from the writer, Paul Peditto.

$100
VOULEZ VOUS?

Born in France, Annie will whisper sweet nothings from the language of love in your ear with a personalized voice message. {THE $100 PACKAGE} also includes a “Thank You” credit in the film’s ending credits and on IMDb

$250 (only 3 slots available)

BLACK SILK PANTIES

A prop will be sent your way. ‘Nuf said.
(or)
Not sure what prop you’ll be sent, but it’ll come in a brown paper wrapper.

Get the {$100 PACKAGE} plus to two tickets to the premiere, a photo with the director, and a very cool prop used in the making of the film after production is wrapped.

$250
THE CAT’S MEOW

A purrfect package for the writers of crazed, kick-ass thrillers…

This is the {$100 PACKAGE} plus to two tickets to the premiere, a signed photo with the director (if you attend the premiere) and a private, one hour script consultation with Paul Peditto.

th3$500
ODE TO A GRECIAN URN
“A thing of beauty is a joy forever”–John Keats

We send you a private custom video from Annie. Side effects of watching this video includes giant fucking boners, carpel tunnel syndrome, seizures, dry swelling tongue, blindness, blisters, hives, unemployment and the munchies.

Get the {$250 PACKAGE} plus a 24×36 high gloss poster of the film signed by key cast and crew, and a private film production consultation with Boris Wexler. It also includes a private custom video from Annie.

$750 (1 slot available)
MICKEY MOUSE, HE’S NOT

That’s right, you get to name a character!—the one and only pet mouse of our lead character Falcon!

This is the {$500 PACKAGE} plus a 30s private custom video from Annie, a 24×36 high gloss poster of the film signed by key cast and crew, and the opportunity to name the infamous pet mouse of our main character.

$750
NAUGHTY, NAUGHTY!

Imagine your Dad wandering the halls of our online adult chat set! Give back for him putting you through college!

Get the {$500 PACKAGE} plus four tickets to the movie’s premiere, a featured extra spot in the film for you or someone of your choice (transportation/lodging not included).

$1000
BITCHIN’, AWESOME, AND RAD

You’ll be the after-party sensation…

This is the {$750 PACKAGE} plus 10 tickets to the movie’s premiere and after party and one day of unlimited set access(transportation/lodging not included).

$1500
ANGEL FROM HEAVEN

A shimmering moon or five-color sunset is beautiful, but not more beautiful than Chat Goddess Annie, and you’re having dinner with her!

Get the {$1K PACKAGE} plus a private dinner with a lead cast member, the director or the producer, or all of the above! (Transportation/lodging not included))

$2500
CAMAGEDDON!

Your name echoing across the digital divide.

You’ll get the {$1.5K PACKAGE} plus an Associate Producer credit on screen and IMDb, including an all access set VIP pass and 20 tickets to the movie’s premiere.

$5000
WALL OF FAME LEGEND

Official OH SHIT status. Become an instant legend of D.I.Y filmmaking.

This is the {AP PACKAGE} plus the Executive producer head credit on screen and IMDb (instead of AP credit), plus you’ll be able to view and critique preliminary cuts of the film.

$7,500
WALL OF FAME GOD

Your name on top of our Wall of Fame… forever!

This ultimate package is the {$EP PACKAGE} plus a private screening of the film in your city organized for you in a theater with two key members of the production attending.

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  • KICKSTARTER SCRIPT(S)

The script for CHAT was actually two parts. The first was written as a direct address for our lead actress right into the camera– Chat Cam-Style. I thought it made sense considering the material, and put the viewers right in the voyeuristic shoes of our lead character.

KICKSTARTER SCRIPT: (ANNIE starts the timer)
I’m going to set the timer once. 60 seconds… Want to talk? We’ll talk, or I will. You should never have come in here. Party chat with the sex monsters. Want to talk in private? Ah, we can do that. All the naughty stuff happens in private. 40 seconds…
(Taking the camera in hand, she moves it POV-style, leaning back, incredible flexibility)
I’ve got something for you. Some goodies, from me to you. Pictures, a personal video, a sneak peek into my world. But there’s something you can do for me first. 20 seconds. There’s a special, steamy, sexy guest I want you to meet. He’s going to tell you how we can meet. 10 seconds. I want to see you, in Private, inside. Let’s make it happen. Here we go.

The second part was the speech of director Boris Wexler, direct to camera. Sincere, passionate, competent…sell the damn toothpaste, Boris!

Hi, I’m Boris Wexler, the director of CHAT. I’ve been working on this project for a year now with my writing and producing partner Paul Peditto. It’s something we’re excited about. Something we think is kind of unique.

CHAT is the story of a father searching for his daughter who disappears in the world of cyber chat. He has photophobia, an eye disease which distorts what he sees. Problem is, with his aversion to light, he can’t even look directly at a computer screen. To find his daughter, he enlists the aid a cyber chat model named Annie. All the clues point to a murder, but in this world, nothing is as it seems.
Lots of thrillers are being made. Why is this film so different? CHAT puts us directly inside the mind of Falcon, and that’s a pretty messed up place. It drops us into a Lynchian world of crime, extortion, latex cat-suits, and bad liposuction. Freaky characters appear and disappear. Time folds back on itself. And there’s a twist you will never see coming.

I’ve been shooting movies with limited resources for several years now, and I know how to make the most with what I have. No matter what the final budget is, this will be a great film. But there is a minimum we have to reach and we need your help to get there. The only way a micro-budget movie can exist is with the support of friends and family. I believe in this project. We’ve got some of the most talented cast and crew in Chicago, committed and ready to do this. You can help make this happen. We’ll send you a link to a test scene we already shot. It will give you a feel for what I have in mind, and for the quality our team can achieve with very few resources. Please join our team.

  • FOLLOW UPS

You MUST do project updates if the campaign is funded. These folks donated and want to feel a part of the movie-making process, so help them out by giving them timely updates on what’s happening through the pre-production, production, and post-production processes. And for goodness sake, make sure you deliver on the gifts you promised. For instance here, several folks were promised a personal ‘sexy” call from our lead actress, Annie, in character. Again, this was tailored with the cybersex chat theme in mind. Make the copy sexy, but not enough to get you arrested:

TELEPHONE MESSAGE

ANNIE: Hi ——….Welcome to my room. I heard you wanted a little personal time with me, so here we are. I got your donation. Thank you. As we speak, your gift is taking Little Orphan Annie out from behind the small screen onto the big screen. About time, no? I’ve been rampaging behind a computer for too long. Now imagine this… me up there on a movie screen, 20 feet tall! And you made that happen. Can’t thank you enough, —–. Think about me when you watch Chat. And I’ll be thinking about you.

VIDEO MESSAGE

ANNIE: (MAKING HER BED, DANCING AROUND THE ROOM AS SHE DOES SO, MUSIC BG) Hi —-….Hope you don’t mind, I need to clean up around here. Heard you wanted a little personal time with me, so welcome to my room. I got your donation. Very generous of you, and the best kind of generosity…giving for a good cause. Are you laughing? Good cause? No, this isn’t the Red Cross. But your gift really helped make a movie happen. Imagine this now: Little Orphan Annie, finally freed from rampaging inside a computer. Up there on the big screen, 20 feet tall! Nice. And you made that happen. (CLOSER TO THE CAMERA) Can’t thank you enough, —–. Think about me when you watch Chat. And I’ll be thinking of you.

ANNIE: (SITTING, FACING A STATIC CAMERA) Hi ——….Welcome to my room. I heard you wanted a little personal time with me, so here we are. I got your donation. Thank you. As we speak, your gift is taking Little Orphan Annie out from behind this small screen onto the big screen. About time, no? I’m tired of rampaging behind this computer screen. Can you imagine, me up on a screen 30 foot tall?! And you made that happen. (CLOSER TO THE CAMERA OR PICKS IT UP POV) Can’t thank you enough, —–. Think about me when you watch Chat.

And I’ll be thinking of you.

Got it, folks?

Now go out and sell that toothpaste!

122-1303-08-o+toothpaste+

 

The $50,000 Micro-Budget: Light & The Sufferer: Part 2
Sep 16th, 2014 by paul peditto

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  •  Day 14:

After several days of writing and tweaking for Dano and Esper, we shot the new walk and talks last night. The boys smoking a joint and passing a 40-ouncer as they catch up. All went well, if frantic as ever. We did four big lighting set ups around 14th street and Avenue C. The park we shot in was filled with drunks and smelled like piss. It’s now become one of my running jokes that I only take us into the finest locations. We used the crack filter which warps the image, making everything look utterly surreal and trippy. Paul D’Amato looking scary as hell as the father. Angelica Torn as always blowing me away with how effortlessly she tosses off amazing work. Dano looking incredible, passed out on the bed, his face so trippy through the filter that Lana couldn’t keep a straight face, everyone was laughing at how hilarious and amazing it looked. The best part of the day was watching the sun rise and knowing that it hadn’t beaten us today. 4 more days to go…

  • DAY 15:

The gods of weather have been kind to us. Last night on the Brooklyn Bridge couldn’t have been a better sunset – grey, white and black clouds swirling around a midnight blue sky, framing Michael Esper’s swollen face in close-up. Paul Dano’s hair whipping around his angelic face, a street lamp and a piece of a stone arch framing him – incredibly dark and beautiful. We literally made all the shots by the end of dusk with TWO minutes to spare. Me with no bullhorn screaming into the wind at the dozen extras we brought with to create background. Magic hour being 45 minutes, we managed two wide shots and two close-ups with background within that tiny window of time—no small feat!

We packed it in, went back to the loft on 14th Street to shoot the scene at the youth residence. I walked in feeling elated when someone mentioned one small detail that four of us (director, AD, DP and script supervisor) collectively forgot. We never shot a frame empty of Don. In my frenzy to get the wides and close-ups before we lost the sun, we never got an empty frame. I freak-out briefly but Lana reassures me that all we need is an overcast day and we can get an exact empty frame to match. Talk about lucky breaks! First major oversight. Thank god it’s fixable.

LATS-8

  • DAY 16:

It’s not that there’s a lack of controversy or intrigue. There most definitely is, as there is on all shoots. I could tell you tales of the props master who was fired three days ago because he confessed to the art director he was having dark fantasies about her, the fantasy involving something about her and a knife. This I was informed of by the production designer, who said he obviously had a screw loose and would not be returning. Then there’s the gaffer who had be fired by the camera department two days ago because he was endlessly questioning and arguing with the DP, who decided to let him go with four days left to the shoot. This, of course, created some drama as many in the production department liked this gaffer very much and I did not agree with the decision. I, of course, did not make the call to let him go, nor did the DP. The line producer had to do it, quite reluctantly. Then there’s the various interpersonal dramas of different departments saying shit about one another, or rubbing each other the wrong way. It happens all the time. Someone walks off in a huff, threatens to quit, gets offended, and ends up in tears. Many come to me with their grievances. I have learned after 20 years of production to try to not take sides unless I must. This often pisses people off, who want you to side with them, but I have to keep the peace for the good of the production. And so it goes.

I could also tell you about my general mental state, which is completely on edge almost without stop from the moment I get on set till we wrap 12 hours later. Non-stop, shell-shocked but exhilarated at the end of every day, without fail.  

Bottom line—I don’t give a rat’s rump about the internal booshit and my own mental anxiety. All I give a damn about is if we make our days. And yesterday, our airport day, we once again made the day. I was ripping through cigarettes as we slowly made our way through 8 setups, most of which included complicated choreography of approx. 20 featured extras and a green screen shot in a little over 10 hours, plus four hours of travel to Westchester airport and back. Nerve-racking day, but…we made it. And we made it in style. We’re truly in the home stretch. Tonight, we shoot alien sex on the Hudson. Keep them fingers crossed… 

LATS-2

  • DAY 17:

I thought this day was going to be easy. What was I thinking? Obviously it’s the (lack of) drugs going to my head, too many days with 4/5 hours sleep, waking up and not being able to get back to sleep because my head’s on fire with the evening’s shots. We had seven setups on the agenda – four uptown at Park & 81st and three in the West Village. I never remember that when vehicles are involved, everything takes longer. So it went with the task of driving a cab up to the front of the building we used. Sounds simple, right? Wrong. Delivery boys, traffic, walkies not working, lock up not working. It took three hours to bang out what we thought would take an hour and a half. We then rush to side street for the important apartment scene with the boys and Creature. It’s now 3am and we should have been done with all this by 1am. I start seeing colors swirling in my head, neon reading YOU WILL NOT MAKE THE DAY -WHAT DO YOU WANNA LOSE, CHUMP? I tuck all that away as we wrap out and rush to the West Village. We slap a modified body rig camera on Mike Esper through West village side streets, Esper spontaneously cursing at a truck driver who shouts as he passes us on 6th avenue, screaming after him through his tears, amazing shit. We then rush to the basketball courts at Houston and 6th for the final scene. Lana ingeniously shooting it through a bus stop glass partition, the reflections of cars whipping through Paul’s sleeping body on the bench. The sun has risen by now, and going into hour 13, we do the final moment between Paul and the Creature on the bench from a 13 foot ladder, several ruined takes because of traffic noise, we finally nail it around 7:30am. The bright sun rising and blasting down on the bench about two minutes after get the shot. Incredible timing. Even more incredible, once again, WE MADE OUR DAY. Everyone wasted from a 14 hour day, but no one bitched. Thank god, we’re almost done.

  • DAY 18:

We arrived at the piers along the Hudson River waterfront for the final day of shooting. Simple day, I thought. Although we made it (again), it was not simple. Highlights: Lighting up my two favorite structures of the whole film, the dilapidated, burnt piers along 62/63rd streets and the Hudson. Two incredible, crumbling structures which Donald Trump will crush and remove within the next six months to make room for waterfront development, plastic gold-plated yuppie parks with grass-lined walkways. Now it’s just twisted metal beams rising out the Hudson, the water lapping onto the shore. The perfect spot for alien sex (a cinematic first, I believe). We first try to light both piers at once but quickly realize we don’t have the power or lights for both, so we focus on one at a time. They look amazing, and
we finally shoot the location I’ve been anticipating, preserving this piece of what will soon be lost Manhattan, the twisted structures beautiful and gnarled like the twisted bodies of the aliens as they fuck atop the pier.

We make it to Coney Island as sun is rising, racing out onto the beach to catch the gorgeous pinkish blue early morning light. The shot very spontaneous, everyone drinking beer, lighting up j’s, passing them in a circle, their arms getting tangled, all laughing, Esper playing guitar and Dano shaking his head as he strums. We get the shot just as the light gets too bright, and we all fall on the sand after I yell ‘cut,’ laughing our asses off, hugging. We made the day. We made the week. Our third week in a row, all 18 days. I sit inside a truck sipping beer, feeling like I have literally come through battle, shell shocked, but with all my limbs and mind intact. We did it. We fucking did it.

The last image I have is of the wire and wood sufferer model, which came with us everywhere. I got down on the ground later after they tossed the giant thing in the trash (there was no one who wanted it and nowhere for it to live). I bowed down to it, mecca-like, paying last respects to the Mythical beast that lured me into his strange and wonderful world, thanking it for taking us safely through this, the toughest part of this process. It just stared at me, inscrutably, saying, yes, but you’re not out of the woods yet!

LATS-1

“All photos © The Filmmakers, Inc.”

 

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