The Indie Flake-Out Awards, Part Two

Some days I like rectal surgery better than indie film


…Continued from yesterday

…none of these aforementioned egregious flake-outs wins the statuette.  The  award for Biggest Crew Flake-Out for The Teaser Shoot for The Indie 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.

1) First, we were promised the famous Eloise, who had just finished a funded feature.  The above-mentioned Director (grrrr) said Eloise was locked in; was all over it, was down with it, was on board, was hep.

“Eloise promised me.”

But our Director had inconveniently forgotten to ask Eloise if she actually WAS down with it.  Turns out Eloise was committed to a project in Prague.

Oh…side rant here…Monsieur le Directeure also promised us Samuel, a great Cinematographer; but Samuel apparently disliked M. Director enough that he also was … ahem … committed in New York.

2) Then, I met with Barbara in a coffee shop.  I looked at her sketches; I knew some of the local indie films she’d worked on.  Barbara told me,

“I know that being on a small film project is a lot of work and stress.  I know you don’t have a whole department.  I’m ready to do all the work myself; I don’t mind getting my hands dirty.  All I ask is to be paid mileage.”

When I got home that night, there was an email waiting for me from Barbara.

“I believe my destiny is to be a director, so I’m going to be making my own film next week.”

3) Slightly less fussy now, I met Greta.  Greta had not done set design, but she brought her portfolio of interior design, fashion design and posters.  She had read the script.  She was particularly attracted to this credit-only project because of the environmental theme.  She looked into my eyes and said,

“I love your story.  I love indie film.  I am all, like, spiritual with the environment bit.”

She showed me sketches of a proposed simple set.

I explained how tough it was to work on micro budget films.  She understood.  It was to be a spiritual adventure for her art.

The next day Greta called me.

“My guru in Vancouver is quite sick and I must go and sit by his bedside.  I am all spiritual with that relationship, like, you know.”

4)  Oh, dear.  Maybe I should try a different coffee shop for these meetings; change my karma.  Jerrie found us on a theater site where we had posted a casting notice.  She took the initiative to call me and ask if we needed a Set Designer.

“Oh, yes, do we ever!”

Jerrie had a resume full of theater set design.

“I am finishing a stage play right now.  I want to do more film.  This 2 minute trailer is perfect because there are so few sets.”

“Oh, by the way, I live in Marin and I can’t drive because I have bad vision.”

(Well, I have some bizarre disease which makes me occasionally stop the car and run to the middle of the freeway, waving my hands and screaming, “Just hit me!”)

So, I offer a PA to pick her up, to go shopping with her, to drive her to the set.

“No, says Jerrie,

“No problem; I take the bus everywhere; been doing it for years.  I’m taking the bus now every night to the theater in the Berkeley.”

(3 busses over 2 bridges)

That evening, waiting for me on the computer is an email from Jerrie.  You guessed it.

“Sorry, can’t do it without a car.  Too much trouble on the bus.  I live in Marin, you know.  Very unreasonable.”

(1 bus over 1 bridge)

5) I am now wondering to myself how ANY films get made in this town.  My co-producer calls around for more recommendations.  Thus, we are referred to Call Me Minoaka.  Long phone conversation with Call Me Minoaka.

“Do you know this is a micro budget film?”  Do you know there are three sets and you only have two weeks to work?  Do you know that your only assistants will be me (the Producer) and Makeup?  Are you okay with animals on set?  “Do you have time to do this?  Do you like the script?  What are your concepts?

Call Me Minoaka shoots me off sketches for each set.  Fast.  Good.  Call Me Minoaka sends me a shopping list with a budget attached.  Better.  Then Call Me Minoaka starts sending me hundreds of emails forwarded from Craigslist, in response to an ad she placed requesting a set designer for a two minute trailer with an environmental theme.

“Huh?  Aren’t you the set designer?”

“I decided to be the coordinator.  I will send you candidates.”

“Great; not only have you flaked on the job, but additionally you have made 20 times as much work for me, because my work ethic requires me to respond to every single email telling these Craigslist folks that we don’t need them.”

6) We are seemingly rescued by Sue, a busy director of industrials.  Sue sends me her man Sergei.  Sergei is, within the hour, hospitalized with bleeding hemorrhoids.   I ought to be, too.  It would feel better.

7) and 8  ) Lastly, divine or satanic intervention, or perhaps the universal god of stand-up comedy, sends us Chris.  Unbelievable how professional he was.  Chris shows up at a rehearsal with his assistant Dan.  They have printed the script and 3-hole punched it into notebooks.  They have brought boxes of swatches of fabric, wallpaper and strange twiggy materials.  They both have Polaroids.  They have brought large sketches for each scene in color.  They have brought a box of crayons.  They arrive early, locate the Costume Designer and the Director of Photography and consult on colors.

They cannot locate the Director, of course, because he did not attend any rehearsals, the dick.

Chris and Dan watch the rehearsal, draw like mad…yes, these guys rock!

After the actors & crew leave, Chris and Dan are still scribbling like mad.  Chris says to me,

“Buy three dozen beige sheets tonight.  Tomorrow I will call you with the rest of the shopping list.  You get someone to buy stuff and bring it to our studio.  We will be busy working with supplies we already have in the studio. “

My blood pressure drops about 30 points.

At 8:00 in the morning I call Chris.  A receptionist answers,

“Who’s calling?  Just a minute.  Chris can’t come to the phone.  Leave a message.”

I call Dan.  A muffled voice answers,

“Who’s calling?  Just a minute.  Dan can’t come to the phone.”

I email Chris.

I email Dan.

At 9:00 AM I call Chris.  I tell the receptionist I have 2 PAs ready to buy the shopping list…she says,

“Chris is busy and can’t come to the phone.  He told me not to take any messages.”

I call Dan.  His answering machine says,

“Dan is out of town for two weeks.”

At 9:15 AM I call Chris.

“This number has been disconnected with no forwarding information.”

At 9:16 AM I text Chris.  I text Dan.  My messages bounce.

At 9:20 AM I call email Dan.  I get a fast-busy, as if the phone is off the hook.

Now, we have only two days till the shoot.  My makeup artist says she will do one of the sets.  I will do the others.


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