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 cant possibly seem to anyone that there is
enough time to finish. Like a sprint, from here on everything is done at full all-out
"This is it," Jon says, "I feel like now were really getting
On Monday morning at 9 A.M. all the department heads and the producers and directors
gather at the Producers 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
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.
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
The instruction "Darcys 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. Dont 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 Elizabeths
proud reaction and everyone elses relief, it runs only a few minutes over.
Youll 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
It seems that now were really getting started.