12.31.97

Making Cherry

"I love problems. I love the problems inherent in show business. I love the risks, the excitement in the work, and all the people who are problems. The only thing I miss is the time to study. In about ten years, I want to get out of the industry. When I retire I want to write books about show business and teach and lecture. I love to teach the youngsters who are just coming up in show business." --Dore Schary

Locations:
Holiday Hiatus
Principals:
It's New Years Eve.
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Uncle Ernest and Mammy's House

Sounding out the old year

Ernest is Leila’s uncle; the script calls him "tall, aristocratic." Mammy is Ernest’s "gentler, younger, queenier male companion." The two men are comic foils for Leila, but there is also a great intimacy--they more or less raised her (and her sister) after her parents died--and there are a number of scenes that are played in their handsome apartment.

I say handsome because the location, a large third floor apartment on Amsterdam Avenue, is very handsome. That’s the way the family that lives there has decorated it. The movie, of course, will take a different tack. In the movie, after all, this is Uncle Ernest and Mammy’s apartment, not the really beautiful apartment of some really nice family with really good taste.

Which isn’t to say that Uncle Ernest and Mammy don’t have good taste, but rather to point out that in the movie the apartment will reflect their good taste rather than that of the family that owns the apartment.

So on the tech scout the art department surveys the changes that need to be made. Furniture that needs to be moved out to make way for the furniture that will be moved in, is examined and discussed, and a place needs to be found to store it all. That the ideal spot is also the ideal spot for hair and makeup to set up a kind of green room means that another spot to store the furniture will have to be found.

Hair and makeup represents the comfort of the actors, a much more important consideration for the production than the aching backs of the grips hauling stuff around.

David, the gaffer, surveys the electrical situation, and finds a way to tie-in to the building’s main wires, which eliminates the need for a generator.

Aaron and Phil discuss ways to get lights outside the window (a 60 foot condor, a big scissor-lift, is on tap for the shoot), and explore ways to hang lights inside without messing up the apartment’s lovely wallpaper. Is the 60 foot Condor big enough? Eddy hopes so. The 80 foot model represents an extra two thousand dollars in cost. Phil thinks the 60 foot Condor is enough, making Eddy happy, for now. It’s very close.

But it is Matthew, the boom guy, who has the most to say:

Matthew: Are all the shots facing the windows?

Joseph: Yes.

Matthew: And there are scenes in all three rooms?

Joseph: Yes.

Matthew: Well, we have a problem.

The problem is that in the dining room, the location for an important scene, the old wood-frame windows look lovely, but have an appreciable space between their frames. And through that small gap an amazing amount of sound comes spiraling up from Amsterdam Avenue and the nearby side streets. Garbage and delivery trucks, semis and pick-ups, motorcycles and mistimed clunkers, it is amazing how noisy a New York City street is, even three stories up, when you just stop and listen closely.

And these sounds are unpredictable, can not be controlled by timing takes to the cycle of the traffic lights, and make it impossible to record synch-sound at this location.

But only, it turns out, in the dining room. Both the living room next room over and the study actually have older windows, and also have Plexiglas storm windows that do a great job of muffling the street noise.

The first solutions suggested—change the location, shoot the scene facing away from the windows—are rejected.

Next, the possibility of covering the outside of the windows with professional baffling windows, a frame that holds three pieces of glass of different widths and hung at different angles, is rejected as too expensive. Baffling windows don’t come cheap.

Sherri suggests hanging drapes in front of the windows, and plans are made to make some.

Someone else suggests making Plexiglas storm windows, like those that are working so well in the living room and study. Yes, that would be much cheaper than the baffling glass.

And finally, Joseph says, "We can set up some of the scene, at least, so that it faces away from the window."

Will that be enough? Matthew is asked. Maybe, he says.

Happy New Year!

Peter Kreutzer

Last Wednesday

 

Monday

 

(c) 1997 Peter M. Kreutzer