Shooting The Trailer: Postproduction Day 1 (The Indie Flake-Out Awards)

These peeps will never get a paid gig in film.

My co-producer and I are at a coughing shop…drinking java and laughing so hard we are coughing.  And spraying all over each other.  We have just finished making a two minute trailer for an indie film.  It all was so outré—so many unprofessional and incredible events conspiring against the completion of this project—that we want to memorialize the experience.  What more appropriate than an awards ceremony for the worst-of-crew?

But, how to narrow down the contenders?  Whom to choose?  Who, among the many unprofessional practitioners of unreliable behavior, shall receive the pot-metal spray-painted with nail polish statuette of a … rectum?  Empty wallet?  Cracked skull with brains leaking out the ears?  Miles of exposed and ruined film?

Shall we award the Director who refused to visit locations with the location scout; who never talked to any of the actors before the shoot day, who refused to come to any meetings, even the night-before-first-day-of-shooting check-in?  He, whose direction to an actor after 40 takes was, “Just do…something different.”?  Who shot five hours on the first scene during a night scheduled for seven setups and 13 scenes?  Who brought a surveyor with a transit to the set one day, lovingly shooting unscripted scenes with this character with no lines, and then stuck the producer with a bill for renting the transit?  Who would not speak to the lead actor, requiring the screenwriter to translate all communications back and forth?  The same director that wouldn’t take coins from the parking PA because they have germs; so instead he parked at a meter, didn’t pay, got a $50 parking ticket; then didn’t give the parking slip to the PM till it was 3 months old, sticking the producer with a $300 fine?

Oh, yes, the same Director who walked away from the post-production, saying he could not cut together a film with so little coverage!  So LITTLE?  So LITTLE?  Who was supposed to plan shots?  The tooth fairy?

Shall we award the Editor who, after the Director bailed out of editing, decided also to bail, only he did it with no word to anyone; he just never showed up again?  Or perhaps Editor #2, who gave us one cut and then would not respond to any requests for modification?  I’m thinking…maybe…Editor #3, who moved out of state before finishing; and kept all the mini-DV tapes.  My co-producer had to drive from San Francisco to West Virginia to retrieve them.

Hmm…I’m thinking possibly the Caterer, who planned multi-course hot gourmet meals cooked on set, but called me the night before the shoot saying she didn’t have a car or truck or any transportation for her 600 cubic feet of gear and food.

Certainly not the PA who decided over the weekend break that filmmaking is not that interesting after all and didn’t return for the second week of shooting.

Why bother mentioning the three storyboard artists (students at an art college who were getting class credit for working on the film) who sent me an initial scribble; then vanished into smoke?

It was tempting to give the award to the Director of Photography, who came to the set one day without a camera (yes, it was a small shoot, and yes, it was her responsibility to bring the camera.)

“Oh, Danyel, how long will it take you to be ready for the first shot?”

“I don’t have a camera.”

“Oh, were you going to say anything?”

“Sure, after breakfast.”

“Where is the damn camera?”

“I loaned it to Dave after the shoot yesterday.  I went to his house to pick it up this morning, but he won’t wake up.  I threw rocks at his window.”

That only cost 4 hours.

But, no, none of these egregious flake-outs wins the statuette.  The award for Biggest Crew Flake-out for the film “Pending” goes to Set Designers.  The whole sub-species of Set Designers is included because we went through eight of them during this six day shoot.

Continued tomorrow…

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