Sunday, August 09, 2009

Game Night - the home stretch

Well this has been the most stressful week ever.

One of my students has threatened me so hopefully I won't be shot any time soon. He's probably full of shit, but it's scary enough to keep me awake at night so I haven't been getting much sleep. I've alerted my boss. I hope she'll do something about it on Monday.

Game Night is finally done. We shot our first frame in September of 2007 and I should have final cut in a couple of weeks. I should be excited, but I'm just exhausted. I'm not sure I ever want to do this again, but maybe after I screen the film I'll feel differently. I still wish I could have shot The Corner, but all the people who donated to the project have gotten thanked in the credits of Game Night. And I thank you now. And I'm sorry, I just don't have the money or the energy to make that project right now. I need to remove it from my sidebar.

There's another project I may do because it can be done for $100 in one afternoon with minimal effort, but I'm just so damn tired. I mean I feel tired all the time now. I get a vacation in three weeks. I think I'll spend my first week off just sleeping.

In the meantime, I owe a lot of thank yous to people. My DP did a terrific job, although his advice not to use slates on set was wrong as hell and I shake my fist at him over that. But his shots were great and he was very supportive. My AD did a great job guiding me and making sure I knew when to say things. Both the DP and AD were very respectful on set even though I had no idea what I was doing.

I thank my cast, most of whom were awesome and have been terribly patient. I thank my sound guy, who traipsed up on the roof in the pouring rain to cover the stovepipe with a dirty blanket. I thank my lighting guy, who saved me a shitton of money by bringing so much equipment and worked so hard to make everybody look as beautiful as they are. And I thank my set coordinator who manned that air conditioner like the pro that she is. All of these people made shooting fun and made me less nervous.

And of course, my editor. Oh, Editor. The drama.

Editor is talented. Enormously talented. He has a good eye and sees what needs to be changed and has very good advice on how to change things for the better. I've always thought that. I haven't always agreed with his methods or his way of putting things, and I often resisted his ideas, but in the end he made my footage look terrific, even if it took him a year and a half. It got a lot easier about March of this year when I just said Fuck It and decided he'd get to it when he got to it. But when he got to it, it looked great.

I said some things on this blog that upset him. Understandable. From my perspective, I waited for months for him to finish the edit, and then when I finally heard from him he told me a bunch of people I'd never met had seen the footage I hadn't and they thought my story sucked and I should reshoot scenes. So I was pissed. From his perspective he worked on my film and got some feedback and then gave me advice and I got angry.

Here's what I learned: I am not a good producer because I don't like having to be an asshole. I also don't like having to juggle everybody's ego. Producers have to lie to people a lot and be really mean. Like, really mean. Lots of people kept telling me to be meaner. But then when I was meaner I hated it. This whole thing has put my shoulders up around my forehead. And I'm not talking necessarily about Editor either. He's actually a really amiable guy.

I did this whole thing because I wanted to feel like I'd accomplished something. Initially I was just going to do a little something with some friends just for fun, but then it became this whole huge deal. I'm glad I did this. I'm glad I now know what this whole process is about, but I have now learned that I need to stick to telling stories on paper.


  1. Hi Emily, I've been checking out your site all week and am pretty thrilled to read about the wrap of "Game Night". I look forward to reading that thick label.

    Kudos, hope you can get some sleep.

  2. Don't worry, Emily they are always just talking shit. I've had it a thousand times when I was supervising the workers on an orchard.

  3. glad to hear that you got your film done.

    yikes about the student threat. Hopefully he's just a moron full of shit. I hate stupid kids.

  4. Creating shit from thin air is hard as hell. You've done it.

    Congratulations. I would like to see it some day.


  5. Thanks everybody.

    There will be a screening eventually. Probably as soon as I buy my house.

  6. I'm really curious about two things...

    1. Why the hell didn't your DP want to use slates?

    2. Why do you think you need to be an asshole to be a producer? The better producers I've worked with have been really nice, they get you to do something because you want to do it. The bad producers just threaten to fire you or try other ways of intimidation.

  7. 1) I have no idea
    2) Eventually somebody will make you need to be an asshole. I have to be an asshole in the classroom sometimes for the same reason and I hate it.

  8. Hi there. I apologize to all editors in the universe. I hate slates. Slates slow things down on set and break up the mood. Slates put the actors "on the spot" and sometimes less experienced actors get amazingly spooked by them. Slates aren't always needed for sound syncing, but in this case what we are concerned about is organization from an editorial viewpoint right? The deal was the AD was an editor and was supposed to edit it, and she was comfortable with the footage enough by being there to not need require it. I forget if she took notes on set, but I assume. Unfortunately things changed, I supposed that's a lesson for "always use slates". But really outside, of straight Television and Feature work, most of the commercial work I do these days don't use slates either. With non-linear editing systems they become less important. In the film days from which they were spawned they were critical for cutting because you didn't have the ease of viewing with sound sync that you have today. On Game Night,we didn't utilize a dual system- the audio went from mixer to camera directly onto P2. We also didn't have a sync-slate on set, so a "dumb slate" wouldn't have done all that much more for organization (or?) and in my most *humble* opinion would have slowed things down in a really hectic shooting schedule with time limitations. It's basically a choice between having more organization in post, or having more shots and takes to work with in the first place by shooting more. In the past I've shot an entire feature slate-less that was theatrically released so I know it can be done...(but I'm pretty sure that editor hated it as well). Again, sorry but we must leak a little blood to make the best stuff! - Game Night DP in hiding.


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