12.18.97

Making Cherry

A Real Life Ongoing Soap Opera and Instruction Manual About the Making of a Movie Called "Cherry"


 

Locations:
Production Office: Daily

Tech Scout: Hoboken, Upper West Side, Bridal Shop, Central Park.

Studio: Rehearsals.

Principals:
Office: Skeleton

Rehearsal: Jon, Leila, Kirk

cherryNAVmenu.gif (1546 bytes)

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Monday is Horrible

Tuesday is Worse

Every day Jon rehearses some combination of actors. Joe works with Art and Wardrobe, and shotlists with Phil and Elizabeth. Kim scrambles to get actors in to audition for two principal parts, one of which was never cast, the other of which recently fell out. Everyone is working hard, trying to get all the pieces together before the holiday hiatus. Next week, for all intents and purposes, production is shutting down.

In the midst of this Jon, Joe, Phil and Elizabeth have to find time to go through the shooting schedule. Although the schedule for Cherry is longer than that of many low budget films, it is also more complicated, with heavy schedules of children (who may not work more than a set number of hours per day, and have to be home by a certain time) and a dog, all of whom are working during the winter, when snow or rain can thoroughly disrupt continuity.

Joe talks to Jon and Elizabeth

One of Elizabeth’s jobs is to find a way to schedule each of the days so that 1) everything gets done, and 2) the production avoids undo overtime and penalty costs (for not giving the crew 10 hours between wrap and call, or the cast 12 hours from finish to start, or for not getting the children home on time). This gets particularly tricky when the production changes locations, moving from day shoots to night shoots.

Also, the dog can earn overtime.

On top of the logistical and legal problems, there is also the matter of creative decisions. When the group decides, tentatively, to combine scenes 80 and 78 on Day 12 (January 27th), and to schedule scene 78 first, for continuity purposes, Jon suddenly chimes in:

"No go. Scene 80 is the emotional lynch pin of the whole movie," he says, of the scene in which Dr. Kirk makes his declaration for Leila. "We can’t ask Shalom and Jake to reach that emotional pitch twice, if we don’t get it finished on one day. It’s more important to get 80 done in one day."

And then, almost as an after thought, he adds: "And get their performances when they’re energetic. At the start of a day."

Joe proposes stealing another scene from Day 13 and moving it to after scene 80, in case the emotional lynch pin doesn’t take all day. They all agree that having a "spillover" scene in case 80 is done early is a good idea, but the problem is that either the scenes require changes in either camera and lighting, or hair and wardrobe.

Then Elizabeth comes back to the idea of shooting 78 first. "If we don’t get 78 done early in the day we’ll lose the kids."

Rats.

But Jon is definite that the performances, in this instance, must take precedence.

Jon and Elizabeth

So they go back to day 11, which all agree is a horrible day, with three short scenes (9, 10 and 12) and then two (58 and 59) that comprise a full day of work. And since the dog is in scenes 10 and 12 there is incentive to do those first, to avoid doggie OT.

Phil suggests cutting to the dog humping Gary’s leg, rather than panning down, which makes it a much simpler shot to get, but Joe immediately rejects that idea. It would do in a pinch, but the cut always makes the viewer aware that a shortcut was taken. Like Andre Bazin’s famous explication of the scene in which a man stands off against a lion in the jungle. Unless the two characters share the space of the frame, Bazin said, there is little emotional payoff to the confrontation, on the audience’s part.

After much more discussion Jon finally says, "Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are horrible days."

Joe: "And the next Monday is a horrible day, too."

Elizabeth: "Wednesday has two company moves."

Joe: "Ugh."

Phil: "Thursday is brutal."

And so on and so on until the end, when finally, everyone agrees that day 33 will include everything that hasn’t been shot up to that point. And the meeting adjourns. Joe has to meet wardrobe and Jon will go home, and Elizabeth has to get cracking, to enter all the new changes into the scheduling program. It will tell her whether they have driven the budget up or knocked it down, and whether they’ve put themselves at risk with the child welfare division at the Screen Actors Guild, or the dog lovers at the Humane Society.

And then copies have to be made and distributed. Everyone is going on the tech scout, which begins at 7 AM the following morning. This is fun!

  Peter Kreutzer

 

Friday

 

(c) 1997 Peter M. Kreutzer