1.6.98

Making Cherry

"Talent + Perseverance = Luck." --Steven Soderbergh


 

Locations:
Production Office: Administration

Panavision: Camera, Hair/Makeup tests

Muffin Shop: Set dressing.

Bowling Alley: rehearsals

Principals:
Everybody somewhere at sometime
You've Got Questions? Cherry Has Answers

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T-minus Seven Days, and Counting

Just meet and greet, then get busy

As of Monday morning there are just 7 more days to the start of shooting. Seven more days to dress the sets, rehearse the actors, fit the clothes, cut the hair, design the shots, hang the lights, set the scaffolds, get the permits, and complete uncountable other details. In spite of a protracted preproduction schedule, the race has now begun and it can’t possibly seem to anyone that there is enough time to finish. Like a sprint, from here on everything is done at full all-out speed.

"This is it," Jon says, "I feel like now we’re really getting started."

On Monday morning at 9 A.M. all the department heads and the producers and directors gather at the Producer’s Club, a facility used as a rehearsal studio on Cherry and for other purposes on other productions. On the second floor there is an elegant old wood bar in a long skinny room decorated in red velvet, and a big empty room filled with chairs.

We meet on the third floor, in another empty room with mirrors on one wall, and heavy curtains in front of the windows, which do a good job of dampening the street noise. There are about 20 people in the room, eating bagels and bananas and drinking juice and coffee.

Eddy calls the meeting to a start, by reminding everyone that this is a small budget picture without a huge publicity apparatus, and with a variety of actors who generate a certain amount of interest in the media. He mentions the importance of discretion, and cautions against anyone on the production contributing gossip.

"We need not, should not, be the source of any gossip," he says.

He then introduces me and says, "except for Pete, who is the official gossip." So be it.

We go around the room and everyone introduces her- or himself to the group. Most have met before but the ritual is warming, and helps familiarize some of the new additions--the new hair and makeup keys and the script supervisor--with those who have been on the job for the past month or two or three.

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Jon says a few words of inspiration. He points out that in the past Cypress has produced dramas, which tend to lead to a certain seriousness on the set, and that one of the reasons they chose to do a comedy for their directorial and independent feature debut was because, "we wanted to have fun, we want this to be fun."

Then Elizabeth takes over and leads the group through the Shooting Schedule, 38 pages copied on blue paper that indicates it corresponds to the "blue page" revisions Jon made to the script over the hiatus. For each of the 33 days of shooting that will be completed over the next two months Elizabeth has detailed the scenes to be shot, the actors and extras, and any special props, costumes, makeup and special equipment that might be necessary to shoot them.

This production meeting is the time for all the keys to sit down and go over the schedule and anticipate any problems that might come up, and to deal with any need that might have been overlooked up to this point.

The meeting starts slowly. Jon and Joe, for the most part, occasionally interrupt to elaborate on some of the Notes that appear at the end of the descriptions of certain scenes.

The instruction "Darcy’s ear is pierced," Jon says to Evelyne and Kyra, the new makeup and hair keys, is just a general idea. "The joke is that each time we see Darcy there is something new. A piercing. A dye-job. Don’t take the script literally if you have a funnier way to do it."

And as it goes along the conversation becomes more lively. It is suggested the Art Department come up with a fake dog to double the dog playing Paxil in long shots. There is a discussion of how much steam should come off the bowls of oatmeal. There is much talk about the difficulties constructing a schedule around the kids in the film, and even more discussion about wetdowns, which are now considered to be unlikely, but with the outdoor temperature pushing 60 degrees as it is today could prove feasible. And there is talk about much, much more.

The meeting is scheduled to end at noon and miraculously, judging by Elizabeth’s proud reaction and everyone else’s relief, it runs only a few minutes over. You’ll find a lot of the details of the meeting in the Department Pages, to which there are links on the top right side of this page. These are references to and discussions of some of the issues that may come up in the ensuing weeks, as this ensemble of technicians and artists struggle to make a comedic narrative cohere into a funny feature film.

It seems that now we’re really getting started.

 Peter Kreutzer  

 

Wednesday

 

(c) 1997 Peter M. Kreutzer