1.20.98

Call: 8:30 AM

Making Cherry
a romantic comedy starring Shalom Harlow
"You're not my boss. I'm the boss of me!"
--Dirk Diggler
You've Got Questions? Cherry Has Answers
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Locations:
Muffin Shop

Sunrise: 7:20 AM
Sunset: 4:46 PM

Weather: Snow late in the afternoon. Hi: 28 degrees (but it feels colder)

Principals:
Leila, Marilyn, Evy, Gary, Menu Man, Customer

30 Non-SAG Extras

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Doggin' It

Marilyn X 5

Marilyn is temperamental.

At least that’s the word, though from what I can ascertain she’s just being professional. By temperamental I mean that the word around the set is she is not to be petted by anyone other than her handler. Oh, and Peggy, the associate producer with an abiding love for canines, and an uncanny understanding of them.

Did I mention that Marilyn is playing Paxil, Leila's dog?

Which means that PAs and set decorators and camera assistants and anyone else who might instinctively reach out for a cute dog making its way across the set are instructed to keep their hands to themselves. Marilyn must have her concentration. Marilyn must feel pampered. Marilyn must feel like a star.

Actually, that's how the PAs and set decorators and camera assistants who have been rebuffed feel. What Marilyn really needs is to find her zone, the balance between performance and reward that makes her an effective working dog. If she gets petted too much, dog that she is, she'll feel like she doesn't require any more reward. And work goes out the window.

Here's a picture of Marilyn chasing her tail, something she does when she doesn't have something better to do. I can identify with that.

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Marilyn mugs for the camera

Tuesday is devoted to a series of exterior shots outside Leila’s muffin shop. The first one involves a line-up of prospective sperm donors, about 30 non-SAG extras, who are responding to Leila’s personal advert seeking "able-bodied men." Not all the donors appear to be able-bodied, especially not the women and some fellows who appeared to have been rounded up on the docks. "It was wild," said Patrick of the line up, "what a group!"

Apart from one over-energetic fellow, who seemed to be utilizing the method and got a little too into his role (Stephanie said, "I had to tell him I wasn’t straight to get him to back off."), the morning proceeded smoothly.

One of the contingencies built into the day’s schedule was a series of alternative takes, with dog and without dog. The problem wasn’t the sequence of shots to be done here in Hoboken. These involved Leila descending the staircase, walking out the door and up the street. Sure there were a few different set ups and a tracking shot down the sidewalk, but everyone wanted Marilyn to be a big part of it. And there wasn't anyone who doubted that she could do the work.

The problem was the next scene. In the scenes to be shot on this day, Leila is on the way to her uncle’s house, for a complex scene that will be shot in coming weeks, in which, as the script says: "Uncle Ernest notices the dog cowering behind Leila." No one knows if Marilyn is going to be able to cower. The easy way to get a dog to cower is to yell at it, but once you yell at a dog you can’t ever be sure it will respond to your commands again.

If Paxil can't cower on cue the scene at Uncle Ernest and Mammy's apartment will be an expensive nightmare. Production time will have to be spent getting Marilyn to perform Paxil's stunt. That is, if they’ve set up Paxil going to Uncle Ernest and Mammy’s apartment.

If, on the other hand, Leila has left Paxil at home, then they don't have to worry about him cowering at Ernest and Mammy's, and everything is just a little easier, and safer.

But, as I mentioned earlier, everyone who is anyone believes the scenes play better with Paxil. So, starting the day, the decision is to cover butts and shoot with and without the dog.

She's such a cute dog.

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It's a dog's life

In the first shot Leila tromps down the stairs, finds a mess of menus in the foyer behind the door, and then steps out into the street. Without Marilyn (as Paxil), she moves easily and the scene goes off without a hitch. There are retakes, of course, for traffic and some blocking, but in general the scene plays smoothly.

"Okay," Elizabeth calls, "It’s time for the dog."

Everyone resets. Marilyn is walked onto the set by Barbara and Loren, her owner/trainers. They march upstairs and convene with Shalom.

"Should we shoot the rehearsal?" Elizabeth asks.

"Sure," Jon says, "shoot the rehearsal."

Action is called and Marilyn, on a leash, comes down the stairs unsurely. Is she leading Leila, or is she being led?

From the bodies crammed around the video monitor and the smiles on their faces, it’s hard to tell that Marilyn hasn’t performed perfectly. But her choice has been to be led, not to lead, and so the scene is reset, with Shalom now wired for sound so that she can give her dog commands.

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Jon scrutinizes the monitor...

Again, they reset and this time Marilyn pulls Shalom down the stairs. The crowd gathered at the monitor laughs out loud.

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...and likes what he sees

"That’s perfect," Joseph and Jon say, practically in unison.

Marilyn will go to Ernest and Mammy’s. 

Oh, and apropos the quote of the day: This morning I'm walking to the PATH station, on my way to Hoboken, and as I approach 6th Avenue I hear someone seriously berating someone else.

I hear them before I see them. The yelling is aggressive, and though I can't make out the words, the yelling is scary. Using my best NYC sense I approach cautiously, trying to get a bead on the aggressiveness and a read on whether it poses me a threat.

I fix on two guys standing jaw to jaw near the northwest corner of 22nd street. They're in far enough, down the block, that they aren't much bothering pedestrians on Sixth Avenue. But unless I change course I'm going to walk right by them. I'm not going to change course.

I concentrate, ready to react if anything untoward goes down. But as I draw nearer I see they are two friends, perhaps having had a bit too much to drink, though it isn't yet 10 A.M. And the one guy, his face is red as a cut and it is his voice I've been hearing ringing down the block, is the one I can now understand. And what he says is:

"I don't have no boss, motherfucker. I'm the boss of myself!"

And after I've turned the corner and am headed off to watch a little more of Cherry be made, I cant help but think that the movies are really an amazing thing. Though at that moment I couldn't really explain why.

    Peter Kreutzer

 

Wednesday

 

(c) 1998 Peter M. Kreutzer