February 22nd, 2012

On the “How to Keep Your Day Job” set

As promised, here is the post that describes my fabulous weekend on the set of “How to Keep Your Day Job,” a soon-to-be short film based on my story by the same title.

Short version: It was awesome.

Long version: The first part of the awesomeness is obvious:  it was my story and it was very very gratifying to see it take on a new shape in a new context, and to see so many brilliant people working so hard to make that happen. The second part is that I am obsessed with jobs and work, and to spend two days watching people do very specialized, very cool jobs I’d never seen before was really fun. I am sure I was a bit obnoxious–I couldn’t resist buttonholing people and asking, “What do you? How did you learn to do that? Is it fun?”–but people were very nice and I learned a tonne. I met a grip, an electrician, a makeup artist, a wardrobe manager, tonnes more. From a careers perspective, so interesting.

The neat thing about filmmaking, as opposed to writing, is that it happens in public, with lots of other people running around and actually participating in the creation. Whereas writing pretty much exclusively is done solo, often behind a closed door–you don’t ever really see someone’s process, despite the preponderane of how-I-write articles in the world. It was crazy awesome to see how many people were participating in making this movie!! Here are some of them:

Hanging out with the "background" actors in the "hold" room. Look at me, learning terminology. From right, that's Dion, Daryll, and Jilliana. (I think I spelled everyone's name wrong; apologies)


That's the director, Sean, in the centre. He was incredibly nice and low-key all weekend, especially for someone who had to make a movie in 36 hours.


I loved that all the movie equipment looked so...movie-y!



Setting up the shot. There in the centre is the star, Georgina. If you've read the story, I'm curious if this is how you pictured the protagonist? (I think she's perfect!)

I suddenly realize I can just watch the action on a monitor rather than craning around a corner!

That's Lea, the producer, and the person who kept me from being left behind when we moved from set to set.

Random movie-making shot.

Setting up the stairwell shot!

Riiiighttt before the fall.

So, there you have it. There are actually more pictures but I somehow saved them to the internal memory of my camera and now can’t get them off. Why? Why? Anyway, if we’re ever hanging out and I have my camera with me, ask and I’ll show you some pictures of how they shot the falling sequence, which was pretty mind-blowing. It was, of course, a carefully choreographed fake fall, but even just looking at some of the unedited footage, I winced.

Not on set, but elsewhere, when I tell people about this project I’ve been asked over and over if I got stressed or upset over the differences between the story and the film. And no, not actually. I had my crack at it–I wrote the best story I possibly could. The fact that I put the ball down and someone else wanted to pick it up and keep creating is just thrilling to me.

I suppose I would feel differently if I thought they weren’t going to do a good job, but from everything I’ve seen I think this little film will be tremendous. In a lot of ways I think it’s pretty faithful to the original, but there are so many ways in which a film is just *different* than text. I loved seeing how a simple sentence in the story evolved into a clever visual joke that could never have existed in prose–you need to have a completely different sort of imagination, and medium, for that to work.

I tried really hard to see things in the film that I don’t usually notice consciously (despite that Art of Film course): depth of focus, framing, lighting choices. It’s amazing that none of those things were in the story, yet the choices Sean and Lea and their team made seemed to compliment the story as if it had been an organic whole all along.

Of course there were some things that looked or were presented differently than I’d imagined, and I was surprised by a few things, but I think that’s good, healthy even. I need to realize that it isn’t my ball anymore, and let everyone else have their time to play how they wish. I hope there are having as good a time on the court as I had watching the game.



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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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