Category: From The Director

Things they never tell you about independent filmmaking…

I have days when I ask myself, “Why am I doing this?” I don’t eat. I don’t exercise. I can’t sleep normally. I’m depressed. I’m anxious. I yell. I pace. I don’t see my friends. I stand people up. I forget my keys. I forget my wallet. I forget to put on clothes before I take the garbage out.

If there were opium dens in the Lower East Side, you’d never see me again.

Independent filmmaking is a completely all-consuming and defeating venture. Time not spent creating is spent desperate to find ways to help fund the creation. I can’t divorce my thoughts from my dwindling coffers completely while I try to conduct (rather than direct) ADR… the New Year’s resolution to not multitask really didn’t hold.

I have forgotten what weekends are. I have forgotten what a vacation means. I bring my iphone into the tub with me and my right hand never gets pruned.

I repeat to myself… one month. One month and I’m done with this beast. I had rather naively posted to facebook a projection of 16 non-consecutive days. This was very much wishful thinking. I see a light at the end of the tunnel, but I haven’t laid eyes on my boyfriend in five days.

I do not like filmmaking, but I do like having made a film. That’s my mantra.

Yet somehow I’ve already written four scenes of the next one…

Quelle Masochism.

Wearing too many hats…

And it’s hard to find ones that fit because my head is too damned big.

At the moment I wish I had taken some sort of class in web design because it pains me to update something I do not understand — when I don’t have the time to learn how to understand it.

I’m just too busy doing post.

Remedy has not been an easy movie to make. It’s been at the mercy of many things, and the threat of technological obsolescence has been one of them. This weekend, while doing ADR, my father’s studio and my computer both showed signs of undeniable wear, slowing the process to a crawl. I began this movie in 2008, and I have not updated my computer or my editing software (like any editor with intelligence would use FCPX anyway) for fear of some sort of file structure meltdown. So there were crashes and noises and incompatibilities and miscommunications — it was sort of the machine equivalent of a bad polyamorous relationship — which led to us having to invest in some new equipment to keep us afloat.

Could I cut corners now? Yes. But then I would be putting out a substandard product, and that I simply refuse to do. I’ve come this far. So far that the amount of blog posts on this site is pitiful due to working so hard on actually finishing the film. But I’m not stopping until I’m putting out something I’m proud of… no matter how many wrong sides of the bed I wake up on.

Pinch your nipple and look the other way.

This scene was inspired by a ride on a subway that I will never forget with a principle cast member and assistant director, Melissa Roth, and a friend of hers who in my mind deserves a writing credit for giving me the line which is the subject of this post.

We had gone gay clubbing… I think Tigger was performing. On the way there, I was explaining about a little problem I have with certain parties who have what I now call Chemical X — some sort of pheromone magic bullet which knocks me stupid in a second. I also have described it as “nuts on the street,” alluding to the midtown Manhattan phenomenon where you catch a whiff of extremely delicious roasted goodness. But as with the nuts, often the goods are not as rewarding as the aroma is alluring.

So this fellow who was on the subway with us says, and I quote, it’s triggering that chemical that is the same shit that makes a mom not want to “rip the baby off of her tit and throw it into a wall.” So we deduced from this point that the best way to deal with unwanted chemical attraction is to “pinch your nipple and look the other way.”

I’ve encountered three such people. I’m still with one of them. Clearly this method doesn’t work. Great scene though…



50 Shades of Gray.

Front page of the NY Post.

I outed myself (as a former pro) to my mom.  Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.

BDSM is seriously on the brain in America… or at least in New York City.

So I am in a full fledged sprint right now.  Getting the final cut together, editing like a fiend, getting feedback, figuring out how to remove that darned water bottle from the shot… It felt like it was never going to end, but the end is indeed in sight.  Expect a seriously overdue series of posts detailing the production and post-production experience.


Unauthorized Dialogue

A few of the scenes in this movie were crafted almost entirely through improvisation. (I kind of think of it as the bargain basement Mike Leigh method.) One of these scenes was the so-called “Switch Corporal Client” who comes in expecting a session with his regular mistress only to be put in his least favorite and least well-equipped room with a mistress he’s never seen before.

So when pulling dialogue out of the air, I was presented with a line I didn’t know what to do with. R approaches the client with two options — her hand or the saddest little flogger in the world. He then asks her, “Will you lick your palm?”

Take after take he said this and every time, I’m like, DUDE, no one says that. But he kept putting it in.

Flashforward to my recent rough assembly marathon, and I have a basic rule to keep everything in for the first pass, no matter how much I hate it, no matter how much I want to cut it out. So I get to this line. And I’m like, I’m going to prove once and for all that no one has ever asked anyone to lick their palm before a spanking. Google to the rescue. And sure enough, after looking through about fifty pornographic spanking sites, I have not found one solitary instance of someone asking for this.

So will the line stay in?

Remember at the end of the Monty Python Dead Parrot Sketch when the owner says:

I got a slug.
Does it talk?

Well, if I can get the delivery to sound like that, it stays in. If not, I’m shaving it off.

Marathon Man

There are times when jokes fall flat and one has to go through great lengths to try to save them before either deciding to cut them or risk creating a “Comic Floor Drop.” For those of you unfamiliar with this phrase, the “Comic Floor Drop” is a phenomenon that occurs when a joke falls so flat that the floor feels like it descends about 5-10 feet. When these situations happen in real life, the depth of the drop increases in direct proportion to the amount of time the teller attempts to save it, much to the chagrin and empathetic embarrassment of the audience.

But in real life, these moments occur by accident. I have the power now, as I edit, to avoid these moments. And if I fail to do so, it is as if I am creating a Comic Floor Drop In Perpetuity.

So there is a joke in the so-called Marathon Man client scene, directly alluding to a line so often repeated in the film Marathon Man that it probably at one point became a working title. I’m deciding right now if the joke makes it into the final cut — if so, that means I think the joke worked. If it doesn’t, well, it will end up in the “Deleted for a Damned Good Reason” section of the DVD.

They Don’t Get Along

Sometimes the excuse to use one liners that I heard growing up was absolutely irresistible. When writing the scene where Remedy gets her name, I was playing with some dialogue ideas where R would be getting frustrated with the training, with the stereotypical and repetitive drivel that she heard coming out of the dommes’ mouths. How could the owner explain to R that originality and innovation isn’t necessarily the goal?

I flash to a memory from my tweens, when my parents had gotten a subscription to Roundabout Theater Company (which they still renew every year) and I was getting taken and occasionally dragged to play after play. During the performances, Mom would make some sort of clever comment every twenty minutes or so, I would try to get over my weird inability to really connect with stage theater, and dad would fall asleep. EVERY time. The curtain call would end and Mom would ask us what we thought. I have no idea what I said. But I remember Mom asking dad if he saw any of it, to which he would reply, “I know exactly what happened. They don’t get along.”

So that became the running joke. I’d be watching “Romeo and Juliet” — dad would be silent the whole time and then, after sitting silently for an hour and a half, he’d say, totally deadpan, They don’t get along. Doogie Howser. They don’t get along. Law & Order. They don’t get along. The Godfather. They don’t get along… and it’s a family movie.

In college I’m watching Godard and Sturges. The memory of Dad’s voice is so present that I almost turn to look: They don’t get along.

In grad school I’m watching “Beauty No. 2.” They don’t get along.

So here is my tribute to that utter truism of all drama.