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Stupid Pet Tricks - Directors Hate

  • Oy, gevault!  So, I just finished up school for the year and I've been roped into a few different projects.  One of them is an ongoing series of videos I'm doing for one of my professors.  He does motivational speaking, political commentary and consulting and has been putting his website together and asked me to do some video work.  This is a good thing, because his web developer is wanting to send my name out to a whole bunch of other people he does web work for.  Not work I enjoy in the least, but it pays some bills.  You can check his website, and some of my work out [link="http://www.wthoston.com"]here[/link].

    Problem is, he also has me doing this ridiculously expansive project that incorporates typography with live action.  If you've seen the latest McDonald's commercials, you know what I'm talking about.  This would be cool and a lot of fun, except for the fact that when we shot it he did not tell me that's what he wanted.  Otherwise I would have matted him in front of a green screen.  So now I have to rotoscope two and a half minutes of a very active professor who moves back and forth a lot.  I'll put it up as soon as I'm done.  But that could be forever.

    Second project is a slide show.  Even less desirable than the other.  I hate doing slide shows.  Hate them with a passion.  But, this is for a close family friend for his wife.  She passed away a couple years ago from breast cancer so I'm doing this for him.  I've been putting it off, not because I don't want to do the project, but I HATE doing slide shows.  Just because I do video work doesn't mean I do DVD slide shows for a living.  This is the LAST one I'm doing.  No mas.

    But the third project is a short film that I'm working on.  I was brought on board as assistant director on a short film being shot in my hometown of Wichita, Kansas.  The director has been the manager at a graphics effects company for several years now, and the company has been expanding into documentary work, animation, and basically narrative-style film making.  If you've seen Transformers, Get Smart, Iron Man, then you've seen some of their post-fx work.

    Anyway, so we shot a scene a few weeks ago at the Humane Society, and that was wonderful.  We had a 7:00AM call, didn't get the first shot off until about 9:30, and we had to be out of there by noon.  After I sat down and cut the shot list down IMMENSELY, got it approved by the director and producer, we shot what we needed to shoot.  Sort of.  We did not take the time to establish a visual style or get the inserts that we needed.  I left knowing that the smart move would be to re-schedule the shoot for after the rest of principal photography.  I felt that this would be a good learning experience for our director.  He would come back with an ambitious shot list, but not an impossible one, and we could cut it down.

    I have a call time tonight at 8:00.  It is 4:45 right now.  I didn't get a shot list until Tuesday this week.  It was 229 shots, not including what we had already shot, not including the repeated montage sequences, and not including all of the Shot 16A, 16B, and 16C's.  In short, our director hates his crew and he hates me.

    We had a meeting.  Unlike a lot of directors, mine enjoys having people in on the creative process.  He had a storyboard meeting with me (the AD), the DP, Key Grip, Script Supervisor, and the Writer-Producer.  I can not reiterate the following enough: this is wrong!  It should have been just the DP and the Director.  I called him on the phone that afternoon to explain to him that the general mood I was in going into our production meeting was cut, cut, cut!

    I ended up fighting nearly every single shot, trying to get it combined into other shots or cut completely.  229 shots in the next three days?  Too stupid to even try.  When I got to the office, I went into the office of the company's owner.  He is the executive producer on the film, and also a friend.  And he knows that the director can go a tad overboard in his enthusiasm.  I said, "this is a ten minute film, tops.  It is a ten-page script.  The storyboards go on for 64 pages!"  The executive producer just looked at me and laughed.  Oy, gevault!

    In the meeting, I fought and fought to get shots cut and combined, but I found myself fighting every single shot.  While I got some cut.  As the meeting approached four hours, I slowly began to capitulate.  Everyone was making cases for keeping the shots.  The only case I was making was that there was not enough time in the physical universe we occupy to get all these shots done.  It should have been enough.  I know that when the creative team starts laughing at me and the director starts making fun of me, and when I start getting sarcastic, two things have happened:

    1. The meeting has gone on way too long, 2. I'm losing the battles.

    So, this weekend, I have a crew that is going to hate me because my director hates me.  He wants to make the days he has inside his head.  And I have to make it happen for him.  He hates me.  My director hates me.  Directors hate.

    I will post again tomorrow, maybe, depending on if I am still sane or not.  Tomorrow is going to suck so much.  Until then, though, courage.