From the IMDB: Lost in La Mancha is a documentary depicting “Terry Gilliam’s attempt to get The Man Who Killed Don Quixote off the ground. Back injuries, freakish storms, and more zoom in to sabotage the project (which has never been resurrected).”
There are two recent films first time directors are cautioned never to watch. They are the film equivalents of referencing Macbeth in a theater. One is Living in Oblivion, a narrative feature about the making of a flawed low-budget independent film starring Steve Buscemi as the frazzled director. The other is the movie referenced above. A documentary. And it is not as easily dismissed as a fictional comedy — for this is the TRUE story of a director who never realizes his dream project.
I have of course watched both these films in the last month. Consider the “biography” of Remedy and you will understand exactly how masochistic this is.
Fall 2007: I conceive of a short experimental film for my MFA thesis about my experience working as a pro-domme and sub. I wrote a treatment for an “experimental narrative” about my time working in a dungeon, weaving a “contrapuntal relationship between extreme subjectivity, dizzying close-ups, uncomfortable intimacy” and “very normal, expository, almost sterile atmospheres once the sessions are over.” It was also going to include “intentional digital degradation” and “possibly some stop-motion animation.” (Direct quotes from my thesis proposal.)
October 19, 2007: I break my leg playing roller derby and am bedridden for 6 weeks at my parents’ house in New Jersey. I limp back to New York with a feature length script.
2008: I hold casting for the main characters, including Remedy. I cast many Remedies, and many agents then veto the project on the actors’ behalf. I am having significant trouble casting certain clients. I finally have a chunk of cast and a Remedy (Kira Davies) signed to the film by the winter and I start shooting in December.
December 2008: Our first day of shooting is in Herald Square on the coldest night of the year. We have a successful few hours and return to the parking spot to find my car towed with Kira Davies purse in the trunk.
2009: Much of the year is spent shooting, albeit sporadically, when I have enough money to pay my cast and crew *anything*. That fall, a personal tragedy (not mine) thwarts the production schedule, and we are on hold for another three months.
Early spring 2010: A camera falls off the tripod. This camera belongs to the school and it takes two months to repair.
Fall 2010: I purchase a newer version of the camera I borrowed from the school. I shoot furiously. I work furiously to make money to afford more shooting. By the beginning of 2012, I’ve completed shooting and started post production.
Now a lot has happened this fall since the final sprint to completion began. We’ve had technical difficulties, scheduling problems, ADR-thwarting illness, and even a freak power outage for no reason. But the last week has been a special sort of torture, something to which Terry Gilliam would most certainly relate.
As of two weeks ago, the film had most of the ADR recorded (and it’s fantastic) both at Thump Studio in Greenpoint and my father’s studio in New Jersey, which after a bunch of microsurgery and maintenance, is finally creeping toward state of the art again, despite the imminent obsolescence or meltdown of my 2008 Mac Pro that runs it.
Despite limitations and inconveniences, the results have been astoundingly good, and we’ve even gotten a good chunk of the scoring done. To that end, we wanted to send a cut with a mix of these new elements to the SXSW, Rotterdam, Berlinale, Ann Arbor, and Cinefest festivals — we’re always looking to disprove prejudices against the production and post-production qualities of low budget film.
Now, each of these festivals had their received-by deadlines on either Halloween or November 1. I recognized that we were cutting it close, and figured, if I got the mix from my engineer in time to synch it before last Friday, I would be in good shape. But it wasn’t possible. The NYC studio had scheduling conflicts, so I’d have to wait until Sunday… one day before a FRANKENSTORM was to hit New York, possibly shutting down the postal service, but as many of these festivals accept digital uploads, I thought I’d be reasonably okay.
So my engineer arrives in Jersey with the Pro Tools session. It doesn’t open. We trash preferences. The session doesn’t open. We reinstall ProTools. The session doesn’t open. It’s starting to get windy. I have to get back to the city. My boyfriend has rented a Mac Laptop for me to edit this on after I’ve dropped the wav into the timeline, and the session file will not open and there’s a FRANKENSTORM on the way.
So I get in my car and instruct the engineer to attempt to download an update (that will take 8 hours for the farm speed internet connection to muster), and I haul ass to Manhattan and brace myself for the winds. My hope: the ProTools update would allow the session to open and I’d get a wav in my Dropbox in a few hours, with just enough time to marry the sound and video, trim out a bit, and upload the film to somewhere and then…………….
I live in Lower Manhattan. (No water. No heat. No power. Two cats.)
My boyfriend lives in the East Village. (Water. Gas. No power. No heat.)
The machine that can open the ProTools file lives in Greenpoint. (Flooded.)
My father’s studio is in the middle of nowhere, NJ. (Generator only works in the house. Studio is without power indefinitely.)
That transformer that blew and plunged half of Manhattan into darkness was a mere seven blocks away from where I was tensely curled on a sofa with a laptop. If you want to see some serious end of Kiss Me Deadly shit, click here.
So, yes. I was a victim of the blackout. I still am. I’m typing this from an apartment in Brooklyn and I got here by walking over the Williamsburg Bridge. I have a car, but I can’t use it without 2 other passengers until the subways are running again. I am finally getting that mix tonight after I skate up the East River bank to Greenpoint, and will wed it to the video and spend tomorrow cutting and burning so that the festivals, which GENEROUSLY agreed to accept late entries, will still welcome Remedy into the submission pool. He just tested to confirm we’re meeting.
Oh, note that I said I’m skating to Greenpoint… did I mention that when we were walking through Williamsburg this happened…
Anyway, if all goes according to plan, which it never does, this cut will be on its way to the Midwest, Texas, The Left Coast and Europe by Saturday… just in time for lights to come on at home, the fridge to experience a thorough cleaning bordering on baptism, and for me to Escape from La Mancha.
If you’re feeling charitable, please give some bucks to people who really need it — I’ve got friends in Jersey who won’t be going home for weeks. Many people from my neighborhood can’t return to their basement apartments at all. There are people in my building who have been residents since the 1950s who cannot answer the door and need volunteers to climb 19 flights to deliver them food and water.
As for me, yes, it got dark — very dark — but I was lucky.
But if you have a few bucks left over, Remedy could certainly use it. These delays have been costly. Remember that we get the money as it comes in, not after the end of the campaign — Indiegogo is wonderful that way.
The Remedy team is working hard to get the perks for the last round of donations together, so that we can make people happy with tee-shirts and posters. In the last week, I’ve written twenty dirty poems, and I will continue to write more.
So that’s the update. More as conditions improve. Thanks for reading.