Last Monday, two days after my 12 hour writing marathon, I put on my Producer’s boxer briefs (some people like hats, I prefer the snug, craddling comfort of a pair of FOTLs) and headed off to a Monkey Ltd Grassman production meeting with our director, Tyler. I had one mission: get a shooting date nailed down. Preferably, the shooting date I wanted.
To provide a little background, we officially committed to this film in January after agreeing that the first draft of the script was something we would like to work on. The target we set for shooting back then was late May. After a the second draft ventured too far off course and pre-production got off to a slow start, we reluctantly pushed the target to June. Well, wouldn’t you know, the third draft took a bit of time and discussion as well. In addition, Tyler’s deciding to go with the GH1 to shoot on (which I whole heartedly agree with) put a serious variable into the mix since its release may or may not meet the late June timeframe.
So, that Friday, I suggested the unthinkable: pushing the target date to late September and making it a solid, drop-dead date.
Tyler was not pleased. However, he agreed to think on it and that we should meet to discuss and make a decision.
So, we met over for dinner at one of our favorite Mexican establishments, Xochimilcho’s, or XOXOs as Tyler refers to it. We were seated and proceeded to talk about the script. After some lively differences, the waiter came by and asked us for our drink orders. Although I had planned to abstain, by this time is was clear I would need a little extra to get me through this. I ordered a 32 oz beer. Tyler was apparently feeling the same and headed for Margaritaville. He is a relative light-weight, so I hoped this would work in my favor. If decisions came down to a drinking contest, I would win (and not wind up on the editing room floor in all our productions).
Well into our drinks and script discussion, our food arrived. Halfway through the meal, I decided it was time and I changed the subject to the shooting date. My argument came down to a few points:
- The June dates are arbitrary (as was May) and, therefore, not set in stone. There is not a specific event or deadline that we are trying to make.
- The temperature is getting hotter faster than we expected. Jory running around in the suit in 80° – 90° weather was not a situation either of us wanted.
- The camera is now a vital part of the look Tyler wants and waiting until September would allow time for him to learn and test with it. Along with that comes more prep time in other areas (actors, fx, etc).
Tyler let me say my piece, and listened. And then he stated his case, which boiled down to two main points:
- He will go insane if we push it out. Professionally, he is not the most content person, to say the least. He is eager to make a change, which he has been putting off waiting for us to do something like this feature. Which leads to…
- We are jackasses and have had many false starts over the years. The previous reschedule did not sit well with him, and he was worried that we would slip into previous patterns of jackasstitude.
I, too, listened. And I understood where he was coming from. But, I assured him, the pros of waiting until September far outway the cons, which are things that we can actively worked to prevent.
Regarding our jackassian ways, I pointed out the fact that we had already made tremendous strides to treat this project more professionally than anything else we have ever done. Once we got going, we have continued to progress in all areas of the pre-production, and continued to lessen any worries I may have had that we could do this. He has also noticed the change and is positive about what we have done to this point, and about what can and will do in the coming weeks and months.
Regarding his sanity, if we continue to work as hard as we have, or harder, and he begins to see it really coming together, he should be able to hang in just a bit longer. And if not, well… a Bigfoot movie whose director was committed to a “special facility” would be tremendous publicity. I think we could make it work for us.
For a long time, we talked and argued. He had moved away from the margaritas and was on the Diet Pepsi at this point, which had me worried. But, as luck would have it, a table tent caught his eye and for the first time the entire meal, there was a sparkle of excitement.
“Churros!” he exclaimed. Thinking the insanity was already kicking in, I prepared to ask for my check and get the hell out of there. Until he pointed the little dessert ad out to me. Oh, churros…
chur-ro : [choor-oh] : noun, plural chur-ros : a long, slender, deep-fried pastry resembling a cruller.
I had no clue. Until I put that definition up there, I was not even aware it was plural, which we had a detailed discussion about. Apparently, these are a tasty treat that Tyler loves to get at Disney World and various Mexican restaurants. He is somehow spiritually bound to them, like urRu to the Dark Crystal. Which makes me a Skeksis, I suppose.
Regardless, the entire tone of the conversation shifted once his churros arrived. I don’t know if it was my intelligently organized argument or a euphoric side-effect of the phalic pastry wonders, but shortly thereafter, he agreed to the September timeframe and all was right with the world. Too easy.
He then resumed giving me more script notes. “Waiter, another beer please?”