Today begins life without Jake. Or
rather, last night began life without Jake. Kind of.
Jake gets spritzed
Jake got another gig on a big studio picture that's
shooting in Toronto (Mike Newell's Pushing Tin), and he and the studio made a
deal with Cherry so he could shoot both films at once. I don't know the
details of the deal, they aren't published. I do know Cherry got paid for
some of its scheduling inconvenience.
Some of that inconvenience was supposed to come Wednesday
night. Jake was due to fly out of New York at 6 AM. Which meant all the scenes in which he
appears in the Doctor's office had to be completed by then. Since Jake plays the Doctor,
that means most of them.
But many of the scenes at the Doctor's office also feature Caleb and Kelly, as well as
Jake, and the kids have to be finished by 9 PM on schooldays. Which meant that Scene 22,
in which Leila and Dr. Beverly Kirk meet, had to
be shot in the late night on Wednesday.
As Jon says at different
times about a few of the different Leila/Kirk scenes in Cherry,
"It's the emotional lynchpin of the movie." Or he'll say something similar, like
"crux," or "foundation," or "center."
Peg & Meg
As for my part, I was hanging out in the street with the
grips and PAs, and then with Peggy and Meg. Video Village was set up in the Doctor's office and what
with all the regulars and the kids' parents and a few other people I didn't know,
there just wasn't anywhere to sit.
Besides, I had a story to write and the Ladies' figure
skating short program from the Olympics was on television. I figured I'd go home, eat,
watch, write and come back when I was finished, around 1:30, to watch the "crux"
of the movie being filmed. Everybody said they were going to shoot until 4 AM, at least.
Because Jake had to be "shot out" of the doctor's
I know that at 2:10 AM, new web pages safely uploaded, as I
crawled into bed, I felt guilty. It wasn't raining, thankfully, but as I drifted ofI had
visions of Julia and Patrick and Janna and Matthew and Stephanie and Wesley and Aaron and
Sherri and Brian and a host or two of others, hovering over my supine form, their fingers
wagging, scolding. Eventually, I fell asleep anyway.
The call sheet arrived by fax, waking me up at 7:05. I
stumbled over to the machine, pressed "start" and watched the pages roll in.
Call time for Thursday, which was printed as "12P," had been slashed out. And in
rough marker it said, "11:15A ALL CALLS PULLED 45 MIN."
No way, I figured, had they shot all night and were then
coming in at 11. What happened, it turns out, is that Joseph
and Jon took a look at the the weary actors and the weary crew and took a look at the
importance of scene 22 and asked themselves (and Elizabeth
and Eddy and Liz), "Is
there another way to do this?"
"What's the sense of getting the pages done if they
don't work?" Joe asked, rhetorically.
As some of the crew was sitting around the next morning
talking about how great it felt to work only a ten-hour day, Joseph and Jon and Elizabeth
discussed the ways they'd be able to fit the remaining work in the remaining time. They
feel they will be able to, and it is a time of optimism on the set. As a production team,
things are beginning to gel, they're working more smoothly than they ever before, and the
pace has quickened, some.
But the cost has been long days, and general weariness. As
might be expected, this weariness can affect the cast even more than the crew. The actors
must look good, and project energy, as their reserves wear down. And this isn't always
possible, game as they might be. As Joseph said, "Nobody was happier than Shalom that
we were going home early."
And I can say that nobody was happier than I was that I
hadn't trekked uptown at 2 o'clock in the morning looking for a film shoot. What I would
have found, maybe, were the last of the grips and electrics, loading the last of the gear
on the trucks. They go home later than everyone. They're the ones who throw the light
switch on their way out.
Peggy & Janna
Peggy is one of the associate producers on Cherry,
and she's one of my old friends. She's married, you see, to one of my oldest friends, Jon,
who happens not uncoincidentally, to be the co-producer and co-director of the movie,
along with Joseph, another of my oldest friends.
I mention all of this because now that the movie is in
production, all of that has no bearing. Or little bearing. All relationships are different
while the movie is shooting, that is the fact. Jon has moved out of his and Peggy's house,
preferring to lay his head on a pillow near the location. Preferring to obsess away from
the quotidian pleasures and cares that come with a home life.
This week Jon's home is a hotel near the American Museum of
Natural History. Ask him where he's living and he'll say: "You call this
living?" And laugh. He loves the challenge, and living up to it.
Peggy laughs, too, although she's more bittersweet.
"You should do a story on the ones left behind," she suggests.
I've heard the stories: Dinner reservations on Valentine's
Day that were sacrificed; Husbands who read this web site to keep up with their wives'
goings-on; Babies who miss their mommies. There are as many of these stories as there are
But, as someone said to me the other day: "This is
what it takes, on every movie. When you're making a movie you're making a movie. And
everyone at home just has to understand."
Peggy, for her part, understands better than most. She is
both on the movie, she and Liz are the crucial links between the production office and the
location, and off the movie, her husband is thoroughly apart and obsessed.
So she does her job, and along with everyone else enjoys
the siege camaraderie of production.
Which, I realize, is the thing I miss every time I leave
the location to go write. I may feel guilty leaving early, as if I'm abandoning those who
are working so hard (even though I am leaving mostly to do my work), but I also recognize
I'm missing out on something that however hard is also a great deal of fun.
Which is why everybody I talk with at some point says
something like, "I love working in the movies."