1.23.98

Call: 12:15 PM

Making Cherry
a romantic comedy starring Shalom Harlow
"The cinema is like  a battleground. Love... hate... action... violence... death. In a word: Emotion."
--Samuel Fuller (in Pierrot le Fou)
You've Got Questions? Cherry Has Answers
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Locations:
Muffin Shop/Leila's Front Door

Sunset: 5:03 PM

Weather: Light snow in the AM, turning to sleet and freezing rain in the afternoon. Heavy at times. Hi: 35-40.

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

6 SAG Extras

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Cherry Pits

Making  a Movie: Some lost moments

There are a million moments, each with its own emotion and meaning, that comprise the making of a movie.

The emotions can range anywhere from elation, the moment the budget has been made, or the star has signed (when the picture becomes a Go!), to despair, the first day the weather turns bad or the lab ruins a days shooting.

The feelings can be profound, as when watching an actor find the core component of her or his character, or trivial, seeing a wardrobe person use sticky tape to remove lint from a costume.

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And yet all add up together to be the endeavor, the mission if you will. And if that seems grandiose, think about what it means that the wardrobe person has sticky tape ready. And that the 2nd AD has a book of funny quotations to round out the call sheets. And that craft services has gum and energy bars, bottled water and vitamins. And cheese doodles.

And that it takes three days to check out the camera before the shoot begins, and that each good take ends with the camera crew "checking the gate." And that there is a teacher in a classroom working every day with the children in the cast, supplementing their regular schooling, some of which they're missing in order to be part of the endeavor.

The point is that it takes an incredible mobilization of all disparate sorts, all of whom must do their parts, for a movie to be produced. Much less be any good.

And that inadequate description doesn't even scratch acting lessons, a writer's umpteen developmental drafts, a director's late night dark moments and early afternoon mania, or the arcane work rules of a hodge-podge of craft unions, state and city regulations and a host of  other local ordinances and customs.

Here are some favorite, to this point, overlooked moments, from the first two weeks of shooting:

Matt Servito, the Customer, has a thankless job. His role, for the most part, is to sit at the counter in Leila's Muffin Shop and smoke. And when he isn't smoking he is supposed to eat a muffin.

The only problem is that the muffins on the set today are the same muffins that were on the set on opening day, on January 12th, so that by this point they're getting just a bit old.

Matt doesn't really mind, he's an actor after all. But he isn't actually eating the muffins either. Rather he is reasonably spitting them out. It's just too disgusting.

During a camera change on Wednesday, Jon and Joe played catch with the muffin they found on Matt's plate. He had been grousing, and they thought they'd have a little fun with him.

The game got raucous, and the muffin ended up on the floor more than few times. But that's okay, because it was stale enough that it wasn't going to break up no matter how roughly it was handled.

Matt, however, was attentive. He didn't want that particular muffin ending up back on his plate for the next shot. He was drawing the line at putting a muffin that had been on the floor in his mouth, even if he wasn't going to swallow.

After a bit more teasing and a little more tossing, the co-directors did the only thing they could do under the circumstances. They split the muffin. Meaning they actually ate it.

"It was a little sop to morale," Jon said."Eating the muffin did some good."

Or, as Joe said (quoting Sinead O'Connor): "The difference between like and love
is a spit and a swallow."

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I spent some time the other day at the production office, which in spite of having spit nearly everyone onto location, is still kind of crowded. On this particular day Mary Ann was designing the costume for the newly invented super-hero, The Defender. There was payroll of course, and the voluminous paperwork that goes into making a movie.

Everyone was really busy, but I found a desk in the art department and did some work. At some point I noticed Allyn, the set decorator, looking through the yellow pages and shaking her head.

"Who would you call if you wanted to get your awning cleaned?" she asked me, not really looking for an answer, but not know the answer either.

"Your awning?"

"Yumi Katsura's awning."

Yumi Katsura is the fancy designer who did the wedding dresses that will be featured in the movie. Everybody considers her contribution a coup.

We ended up leafing through the "Awning" section of the book-- naturally, once you think about it, but who would? I wondered at working in the movies, trying to find an awning cleaner, and speculating whether Yumi's awning was canvas or vinyl. I'd always assumed I'd finish my life without asking such questions.

What seemed odder was discovering there was a section in the book for "Awnings--Cleaning and Repairs."

Of course. Why not?

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During the sperm donor auditions Leila and her sister are supposed to be sitting at their table reacting to these sorry specimen's woeful auditions.When the scene is shot, however, the two events take place at different times. In this case they shot the donors in the morning and the sisters afterwards.

Which means that someone has to feed Laurel and Shalom the sperm donors' lines, so that they can react to them. In complex scenes the actual actor usually reads the lines, even though he or she may be off camera, because it is felt that will make for the most authentic reactions and timing.

In a scene like this, however, the director can give cues as well as anyone. Which on this day Jon does.

"Picture this," he says ghoulishly: "Big running sores... Puss filled, disgusting... Running yellow. Running green...Puss... Disgusting..."

Laurel and Shalom both recoil, their faces shmushed up as if in defense of a foul odor.

"Good," he finishes cheerfully, and Laurel and Shalom burst into laughter.

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Even with all the talk about a film shoot being like a military action, we often forget about those that are left behind. A few weeks ago Julie, Joe's wife, invited a few of us to dinner. At that point the Cherry shoots were scheduled to run from 6:30 AM to 6:30 PM each day, and even allowing for an hour or two for dailies and post-mortems, she assumed Joe would be home in time for dinner. Or at least dessert.

But as regular readers of Making Cherry know, the daily schedule has been shifting ever-later. I left the location on Thursday at 6:00, just after "lunch" break and there were many more hours of shooting to come. It promised to be a long night.

And so when we sat down to eat  we knew Joe wouldn't be home until after midnight. As it was, dinner was delicious, their two little girls got to stay up a little a later than usual, and we had a great time.

We also left a mess in the sink. Thanks, Julie.

Have a good weekend.

   Mail the Cherry Web Man       
Peter Kreutzer  

 

Monday

(c) 1998 Peter M. Kreutzer