Saturday morning I’m up bright and early for a long day ahead of me. We’ve got three shorts today. First up – Doug and Heather. I wrote it and I’m acting in it and yet, all I can think about is the Noir shoot tonight. I’m so nervous about it going well that I’m not even nervous to act. Weird. Well, actually, I am, it’s just surprising how much more my mind is on the shoot tonight.
I arrive at Zach and Lys’ place just before 8am. I didn’t have too many responsibilities as producer today. But, I did need one microphone thing, and Mike had a bag of stuff from Auction Hunters, so instead of rifling through the bag of toys I bring all of it with me. Here, Zach. Take this. I don’t know what you need, just make sure everything is back in the bag when we’re done. No, no, no, Lindsay. We’re professional here. I’m going to take everything out of this bag now and write it down on paper. After the shoots, we’ll go through the check list and make sure everything is back in the bag so that we can’t be held accountable for anything missing.
Right. That’s what I meant.
I head back to one of their bedrooms to change. I have no idea what to wear for this. I brought a bunch of different things. I went through my wardrobe last night and realized how dumb it is. I have no clothes worth wearing. Whatever. Jeans and a shirt will do. Throw on a little makeup and some jewelry, and Dane says it’s fine. I have other shirts if you want me to wear something different. I have now laid out all my hideous clothes. Of course they’re not hideous, but they feel so dumb to look at right now. Fortunately, Dane is happy with what I’m wearing, so I’m ready to go.
Michael Tennant aka Doug, has arrived. Dane leaves us alone to read lines while he and our DP, Matt, look for a location in the neighborhood. Mike is an awesome guy. And talented. He was one of the actors referred to us by Gena. I don’t remember much of his audition, except that he was very natural, and he was the only person who wanted to know about the “real” Doug. “Is the real Doug a cool guy?” Definitely. Very cool.
We talk for a little, drinking our coffee and waking up. He also works in a bar. Naturally. While reading through the lines I start to feel like some of it sounds dumb. Would you rather say this? Does that make sense? Do you think we should change it to this? “Yea. It’s OK. I know the writer.”
This script has changed so many times since the original. When Dane and I finally collaborated to make the final product, I was at a point of, I don’t even know what to do anymore, and, this just sucks now. Because I’ve looked at it for too long. It’s basically Doug and Heather on a car ride in a stupid argument. A silly argument. After more and more rewrites, we realized that in order to like both characters, we had to take all the anger out of it. I’m almost saying this as a preface now because when the real Doug and Heather watch the final product, they won’t think it’s exactly like them. Because it’s not. But still, definitely my inspiration! And yes, when the title of my brilliant story flashes across the screen, it will be called Doug and Heather. Because I never came up with a title.
After going through it a bunch, it’s time to shoot. We get in my car. There is a short part in the beginning where we’re actually driving. Well, Doug is driving. Thank God. I can’t imagine trying to drive and act at the same time. I know. That sounds ridiculous, but I hate driving in the first place. Dane and Matt are in the back seat. Obviously, they’re shooting us from back there. Mike drives and we continue going through our lines. Dane needs us to talk for sound, anyway. I start from the top with the first line, which is, “It’s like you’re purposely trying to annoy me.” At least three times that I say this, Dane thinks I’m talking to him. He gets a real kick out of it. Because it does seem like something I might say to him.
There’s too much road noise. We do a few takes, but they tell us that the sound of the car driving is too loud. We adjust. Shoot the entire thing in park. Sure, we have to take out the part where we drive through a yellow light and Heather touches the ceiling, does the sign of the cross, and closes her eyes tightly making a wish, but it’s not the end of the world. It doesn’t ruin the short to not have it in there.
This is a quick and simple short. But nothing is quick and simple. We do many takes. We wait around a lot. Helicopters are relentless. Cars drive by. Lawn mowers decide to start running. Birds are fucking chirping. The things you don’t think about when you’re shooting something likes this. It all matters. It really is a waiting game. But then when it’s time to move, you better be ready.
It’s definitely a fun shoot. I admit I’m slightly intimidated by Mike. He’s good. He tells me about an acting business class to take. I look into as soon as I get home.
I have yet to see footage, but thinking about it makes me cringe. And I guess even if I do OK with it, it’s still so hard to watch myself.
*Guided by Voices