It has been a familiar refrain here, in these pages,
to say that to make its budget the production of Cherry would need to make its
days. In short that on a film production days mean money. And to that end weve
watched Phil and Joseph,
and then Jon and Elizabeth,
too, shotlist nearly all the scenes in the movie. And weve heard of exacting
rehearsals and hard work spent blocking scenes on location before shooting began.
we were eager to tell you, to insure that the maximum effort could be expended, during
shooting, on getting the pictures and performances Joe and Jon and Terry and everyone else involved dreamed about. Without
expending extra time that would strain the budget and force decisions that did not benefit
the pictures and performances.
In short, in preproduction, every effort was made to make sure this low budget
independent picture would be shot using the methods, or as close as possible to the
methods, of a more traditional big budget picture. Even though everyone involved is making
a sacrifice and working for less than they otherwise might because Cherry is a
low-budget independent film.
As Jon said to me last summer: "This is a high budget concept masquerading as a
low-budget film. Weve got a dozen characters here, and they all have stories. That
isnt your usual low-budget idea."
All this preamble is to get to the point (the amble?), that in the last two days the
crack team of Elizabeth and Eddy, Liz, Joe and Jon, with the input and expertise of a multitude
of others, have reworked the schedule, totally, any number of times, and made really
significant changes twice. And so what was a 33 day shooting schedule has now become a 41
And remarkably, the mood in general is one of optimism, although there are exceptions.
To wit, that in general the crew is used to working on low-budget independent films of a
certain scale, maybe of a smaller scale than Cherry. And such movies, in general,
have had very little room to maneuver, budget-wise. So, if something happened to go wrong
the problems would ripple through the production, and soon people wouldnt be paid
and there wouldnt be time to do proper coverage of each scene, and the movies would
stop seeming like good ideas and would suddenly begin acting like nightmares.
So now, when the crew hears that 8 days have been added to the schedule, that not only
means extra work (yeah!) but it also promotes the idea that things are going very very
wrong. (boo!) Because thats the usual experience on a low-budget film that adds many
That isnt necessarily the case here, though of course everyone must consider that
it could be. The signs, however, arent of panic or a production out of control.
Instead, this seems to be a unit finding its cohesive self, discovering the best way to
get the best work out of actors and crew and directors and budget.
The last of which is being rearranged to favor production, in neglect of
"We just got less comfortable in post," Joe said this afternoon, explaining
how they were paying for the extra days.
Jon and Joseph outside the Muffin Shop
So how did this happen? How is it the best intentioned plans could go so far awry?
There are multiple reasons, of course. Most significantly, the understanding the
production thought it had for the location in Hoboken did not hold. As a result they are
not allowed to shoot outside the muffin shop for as many hours per day as they'd
anticipated. Which means less can be done on those days.
On top of that, it became clear almost immediately at the start of shooting that the
original production schedule overestimated the shoots efficiency. This isnt a
simple production, as has been noted often enough before. There are camera moves and
acting stunts in every scene that are not simple. And in finding a pace at which the
company, actors and camera and directors and crew, is comfortable and effective, Jon says
theyve settled on a pace slower than theyd anticipated.
One of the problems with the slower pace, it turns out, is that the production has
bumped into legal issues regarding the children in the film, particularly Red and Jack.
They need to be schooled 15 hours a week (there are tutors and a classroom set up on
location), and they are only allowed to work a total of 8 hours a day. If the day should
go long, and the children are needed in the 11th hour, as it were, they
arent allowed to perform.
On top of that, theyre not allowed to work after 11 PM, either, which limits the
production's ability to schedule night shoots even if theyve estimated the correct
number of hours for the children.
Finally, a number of anticipated and unanticipated conflicts have come up for the
actors, who, Jon pointed out, "have done us a great service by agreeing to act in our
film. The least we can do is to try not to hurt them in their other work."
It might have been possible to hold them, Jon explained to me, "but it seemed far
more beneficial for everyone if we could work out a way to be accommodating."
So now there is a new schedule, and Elizabeths fingers are bleeding from entering
and reentering new contingencies into the schedule, trying to get all the pieces to fit.
There is a reason the program is called Movie Magic.
No doubt, as Phil said to me very early on,
"things will change, they always do."
But it was Janna who summed up the situation most
succinctly: "Ive worked on too many films where you end up shooting only
masters so you make your days. Here, there are changes and delays, but theyre
getting what they want, and theyre getting great coverage. That makes me happy.
"Of course," she continued, "Im not responsible for the budget or