Whoops, There Goes My Budget

I am a purse snatcher in a low budget feature.

How low…I don’t remember if I ever knew the budget because I was an actor in this one, not a producer although since it’s a small town I tried to ask around just out of curiosity to see what the budget was so I would add to my information store by knowing how much money could be raised just possibly by an indie filmmaker if that indie filmmaker happened to be any good at raising money but then again the filmmaker had had an earlier film accepted into Sundance so thus he had more credibility than I would thus making it easier for him to raise money for a second film than it might prove to be for me for my first self-funded feature and even after the film was released I called the producer to ask about the budget but she would not share the information with me.

So let’s just say I am very comfortable saying this that it was under a million dollar budget I am even thinking under a half million maybe just a couple hundred thousand because as a data point I know what the costume designer’s budget was and what the actors were paid so I extrapolated from that: somewhat faulty thinking but nevertheless I say three hundred thousand.

So, I am this purse snatcher and we are shooting a tiny little insert scene where I am getting ready to rush the businesswoman and grab her purse and they didn’t even use the insert scene in the end; he shot so much more footage, so, so much more; but, of course I didn’t know how much he was shooting ‘cause I was only on set that one day and I don’t think I had ever read the entire script ha ha you can see how desperate I am for work but that’s a different story for a different day back to business:

Here I was standing on a bridge contemplating the businesswoman and her handbag and it’s a scene where I have no lines you know just an insert scene where I am contemplating so I am to stand in while they set the cameras since this is a low-budget and they have no stand-ins and besides my character is not big enough nor is my status as an actor big enough to warrant a stand-in should they even be available to bigger actors but of course they’re not at all so I’m standing on the bridge overlooking a city street, the street to which I will eventually escape after I’ve done the purse-snatch, and the director whom I definitely appreciated so very much for taking so much time with my day-player character the previous week to rehearse with me—almost a half a day rehearsal with me and my victim talking about my motivation—so I really loved it I thought he was so sensitive and concerned with every detail and I loved how he looked into my eyes and tried to understand where I fit into the character and how I would play this little role and how he shut the world out for a half day to work with me it was very intimate and empowering and I remembered thinking to myself how nice I would love to work with this director again nay I would jump at a chance to work with this director again in a more substantial role but anyway back to the present:

I am standing on the bridge and the director has four PAs holding back a tree which happens to be framing one side of the shot while I am standing patiently or impatiently or avariciously or jealously and then the director says he needs two more PAs because the tree is strong and it’s hard to pull it entirely out of the way and I vaguely hear the location manager say we better be careful not to ruin this tree we have to shoot another day in this location and after all this is a small town and the director says get me two more PAs I cannot have the tree in this scene and the PAs are tugging the tree and the director is looking in the monitor and everyone is wondering how long when or why when the scriptie says:

“Maybe we can pretend this movie takes place on a planet where there are trees.”

So the scriptie is fired.

The producer the same one who wouldn’t tell me the budget and now I realize why she wouldn’t did not say anything to the director about y’know getting behind sticking to the schedule making tradeoffs or maybe she did and I didn’t hear it I only know that it didn’t stop that insert from being shot nor the trees from being moved till they were perfect.

And we continue on this artistic path spending an entire day shooting an insert scene that didn’t make it into the cut or it made it into so few fractional seconds that I didn’t see it and you know—you do know—that I was watching so very carefully for every frame of my own performance.

I do believe that film went over budget. But, then, again, how would I know?

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