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Call: 10 AM

Making Cherry
a romantic comedy starring Shalom Harlow
"Can I get a 20 on my hair?"
Jon Glascoe, to Matt Schwartz, using CB speak, after his haircut
You've Got Questions? Cherry Has Answers
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Locations:
Muffin Shop

Sunset: 5:01 PM

Weather: Sunny. Hi of 40.

Principals:
Leila, Evy, Red, Jack, Dottie, Darcy, Gary, Menu Man, Customer

2 SAG Extras



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Schedule Schmedule

It is said: Change is good

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 we’ve watched Phil and Joseph, and then Jon and Elizabeth, too, shotlist nearly all the scenes in the movie. And we’ve heard of exacting rehearsals and hard work spent blocking scenes on location before shooting began.

All, 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. We’ve got a dozen characters here, and they all have stories. That isn’t 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 day schedule.

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 wouldn’t be paid and there wouldn’t 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 that’s the usual experience on a low-budget film that adds many days.

That isn’t necessarily the case here, though of course everyone must consider that it could be. The signs, however, aren’t 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 post-production.

"We just got less comfortable in post," Joe said this afternoon, explaining how they were paying for the extra days.

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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 shoot’s efficiency. This isn’t 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 they’ve settled on a pace slower than they’d 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 aren’t allowed to perform.

On top of that, they’re not allowed to work after 11 PM, either, which limits the production's ability to schedule night shoots even if they’ve 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 Elizabeth’s 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: "I’ve worked on too many films where you end up shooting only masters so you make your days. Here, there are changes and delays, but they’re getting what they want, and they’re getting great coverage. That makes me happy.

"Of course," she continued, "I’m not responsible for the budget or the schedule."

     Peter Kreutzer

Tuesday     

     Thursday

(c) 1998 Peter M. Kreutzer