Exhausted. I spend the last three days of pre-production painting walls, moving furniture and building props. NOTE TO SELF: Recruit volunteer set builders, production assistants. I meet with the cast and crew at 10 a.m. at my house. We are shooting at my friend Anthony’s home today. I don’t recall the reason, but we can’t show up until 1 p.m. We spend time finishing costumes and checking gear. Colby (Edward Gust actor) goes in and out of character. It is thrilling to watch. The actors and crew arrive on the set. The set is great! It looks like a room stuck in time, just what we were going for. The back pain and late nights have paid off. I just wish I had a day between set construction and shooting to rest and be at my best. The exhaustion and pain go away as we start filming. Colby has been preparing for this for two months and it shows. He has been living with Edward Gust, knows him intimately and is unleashing that energy in front of the camera. We shoot until 11:30 p.m. or so. By that time, everyone on the set is very tired. Aside from a dinner break we have been working non-stop. The last shots involve a pair of pruning shears and fake blood (you will have to watch the film) and we are all laughing and joking with each other. We need this lightheartedness after the intensity of the earlier scenes. We wrap. The cast/crew go home. I stay and clean up. I don’t get home until 1:30 a.m. My mind is racing. I don’t go to sleep until 3 a.m. or so.
I arrive to Anthony’s house at 9 a.m. He is letting me turn his storage shed into a set. The character of Edward Gust has a therapy session and I need to create a setting that reflects his current state of mind: an emotional desert. I have this vision of creating a completely white washed space with a row of potted cacti along the length of the room. I spend an hour emptying out the contents of the shed. Anthony and Rainy (Actor, Production Assistant) join me in the painting fun. The set looks fantastic. Very stylized. I take a break but I think I may be dehydrated. I drink a Gatorade and a ton of water. I take off to pick up, Jana, the actress that will be playing Edward’s therapist. I am very tense during this shoot. The air force has decided to fly aircraft over our set. Loud jet engines interrupt us every 3 minutes or so. We will have to re-record audio. The scene is not going exactly as I had planned. I remind myself that accidents are what make a film. The images we capture at the end of the shoot are alarming and jarring. We are back on track.
We take over my sister’s home. I arrive on set at 9 a.m. with just 4 hours of sleep. This shoot does not involve building of sets or special effects. Relief! The walls are painted in warm earth tones and are a perfect setting for today’s scenes. I do remove all the wall art. I want the place to be a reflection of Eddy’s emptiness. Oh yes, I call Edward Gust Eddy now. The pace today is calmer than the two previous days. Colby’s inhabitation of Eddy continues to amaze me. We shoot Danny Ransom’s scene. He masters the dialogue. He is a natural actor. Thank you Film Gods!!!!! We review footage from the previous day’s shoot. I am pleased to say the least. The images are impactful and beautiful. All the attention to detail, blocking, character development have paid off!!!! My sister needs her home back by 9 p.m. so she can write a paper for her class. We clean up and head out.
Today we were supposed to film with Colby and the “sick man” actor. The actors I have been talking to for the “sick man” role decide not to be in the film. Everything happens for a reason, right? We take the day off. We need it anyway.
I arrive at the hotel room. Thank goodness for friends who are hotel managers. We dress the set and begin to film. Today’s scenes are difficult to film as they are emotionally intense. Charlotte Lilt films her first scene on the project. She has been studying the character for two weeks now. She did not sleep last night in preparation for the scene. Charlotte is incredibly sweet and engaging. Today she sits on the perimeter of the room. She isolates and that sweet gaze is gone. A dark sadness has taken over her face. She is Laura. There is a huge sense of relief when we shoot the last scenes of the day (and week 1 of production). We head outside after we pack. We hug each other. It is bittersweet as we say goodbye knowing we won’t be together again until May to continue to film. Tina (Production Manager, Associate Producer) and I stay behind and discuss next steps. The Indiegogo campaign is on our minds. We have not even reached the $2000 mark and we are hoping to raise $8000. The seed money I had gotten from a friend and my last two paychecks paid for this week’s shoot. Set construction and food costs were higher than I had anticipated. We strategize. I have hope in knowing that most crowd-raising campaigns report raising most of their capital in the last week. We also discuss finding more help. We will recruit production assistants for the next set of shoots.