Sic

Hello everyone! I wanted to try something new today so I posted my screenplay for the Francis Ford Coppola Shorts, which will begin filming in a few weeks, below. A few months ago my good friend River Demson called me asking me if I would want to participate in a larger scale film project this summer and if so…he asked if I could write the script for it. I immediately, unreservedly said yes and then it sunk in. The unnerving fact that this is my first REAL production. Then as if I hadn’t been trigger happy to begin with; I made an even bigger split second decision and decided that not only would I be writing the script, but I would be directing it too. 

This means that I am in charge of organizing the people, equipment, film aesthetics, and general direction of the film in terms of tone, color, and content. (That was an incredibly exhausting sentence). All of which is exciting of course, but, for as exciting as it is, it is equal parts terrifying. I don’t know what I’m doing.  At this point I’m just throwing out words, phrases, and ideas that have the tendency to sound like I know what I’m doing. In other words for the last few months I have been faking-it-till-I-be-making-it on an epic scale and I am still far from the finish line. 

So, please enjoy the script. In an age of spoilers, I feel a though it doesn’t really matter too much if any of you know the story before seeing it on a screen. Also it is more about the journey than the destination, or whatever. All that I know is that…writing for short films is really hard and that I am proud of this version of the story. 

 

 

 

Int. JENNIFER’s Residence/ Day

ANDREW HARRIS knocks on the door of a residence. He stands out for a moment, case file in hand. JENNIFER BABBIT opens the door wide and welcoming.

JENNIFER

“Hey, how’s it going?”

ANDREW perks up.

ANDREW

“It’s going.”

JENNIFER steps back to let ANDREW in with a smile.

JENNIFER

“Come in, welcome. You haven’t been here before have you?”

ANDREW enters the house with a cramped expression. He has been a shut in for nearly two months.

ANDREW

“I have not. I haven’t been many places of late.”

JENNIFER laughs generously in response. She leads him through the house and out to the back yard to the pool. There is a table there with a pack of cigarettes and a drink melting in the heat of the day.

JENNIFER

“I hope that you don’t mind sitting out here. I know it’s hot, but my A/C is busted anyway.”

ANDREW nods in understanding.

ANDREW

“No, it’s fine. That is, as long as I one of those.”

JENNIFER looks to ANDREW with acknowledgment.

JENNIFER

“Of course!”

ANDREW sits down in one of the chairs.

JENNIFER

“I’ll be back.”

Ext. Residence/ Patio (Moments Later)

JENNIFER returns with a drink filled with ice. ANDREW takes it gratefully as she hands it to him. JENNIFER sits in the open seat and crosses her legs. Lounging back the two of them enjoy a brief silence. Summer rolls over the both of them in beads of sweat.

JENNIFER

“Mm.”

ANDREW looks to JENNIFER.

JENNIFER

“How are you?”

ANDREW

“Who’s asking? Altman or Babbit?”

JENNIFER

“Me. I’m asking.”

ANDREW grins, takes a drink, and then looks forward again.

ANDREW

“I’m good. Honestly, I am still getting use to being out. Outside. Clean air, bright light, and heat. It’s a trip. Really. What about you?”

JENNIFER

“Altman definitely wants this thing closed and honestly the more that I look at it…the more I want to it closed too. I can’t imagine what it would be like having to sort it all out for…well…a long time. Outside of that I’m great. I got a new car.”

ANDREW smiles.

ANDREW

“Nice!”

JENNIFER

“Oh, yes, it is.”

JENNIFER and ANDREW sit in silence once more. They watch the pool swirl in the summer breeze.

ANDREW

“Can I tell you a story? I’m going to tell you a story.”

JENNIFER looks to ANDREW and nods.

ANDREW

“Our suspect is a twenty one year old male headlong into the last year of his higher education. He has decent GPA, he is generally liked by everyone who meets him, and has no priors. Nothing, his record is so clean you could eat off of it.”

JENNIFER

“Aiden?”

ANDREW nods.

ANDREW

“Four years earlier this very kid manages to separate himself from his small town family. He escapes from the bottomless angst, the religious persecution, and the abrasive mental degradation that he had been subjected to from birth. He pursues a passion in liberal arts. And anyone with half a mind would tell you that he’s good at what he does.”

JENNIFER

“Yeah, he studied…um…literature. Right?”

ANDREW

“Creative writing. He’s a poet.”

JENNIFER glances at ANDREW.

ANDREW

“Being a newfound intellectual, our man is beside himself when a family friend tells him that his own family had taken him out of his great grandmother’s will. Now he knew when he left for college that he was and always would be held at arms length by them. They didn’t approve, but this…was more than vindictive. His grandmother was one of the oldest living people in the United States and arguably one of the oldest living people in the world. Her history was beyond important to him. He is an intellectual now after all.”

JENNIFER moves restlessly. ANDREW sees this.

ANDREW

“He talks, to his family. He tries to any way. However, his dear great grandmother essentially poisons him. She places traps on her property and weaponized our suspects allergies against him, so that he couldn’t approach the property much less put a foot on it. Did you know that?”

JENNIFER’s expression turns to one that suggests horror.

JENNIFER

“No. That wasn’t in the file when we took it to court.”

ANDREW looks to JENNIFER, smug.

ANDREW

“Oh, I know it wasn’t. There also isn’t a word about how he turned to his parents afterward with the hopes to resolve the issue peacefully. Or how he was literally thrown out of the house when he did.”

JENNIFER

“By his parents?”

ANDREW

“It is unclear really. There are too many conflicting reports to get a straight answer. Everyone has got their own true version of the story. But he sees this as undeniable proof that he is not going to be let back into the will and he certainly does not want to be. So, he goes and purchases the services two career criminals. Eden and Copper Faer. He tells them that he wants this one thing from his grandmother’s house. It is so invaluable that he thinks it unlikely to be noticed when his grandmother died.”

JENNIFER shakes her head.

JENNIFER

“Is that when they were attacked? The Faer’s?”

ANDREW nods.

ANDREW

“Right. Now these two worked a strip mall along one of the busiest roads in Tucson Arizona. A lot of their traffic was based in the university. “Hide it, move it, sell it.” Their record was clean. No violence, no unpaid bills; hell even the TPD knew about them, but they were so harmless that they just looked the other way.”

JENNIFER laughs.

JENNIFER

“That’s called a bribe, Andrew.”

ANDREW looks to JENNIFER.

ANDREW

“No, no bribes. That’s how under the radar they were. So, this guy Hans Kim finds them. We don’t know how. And he brutalizes them. See it turns out that the heist went well, but it could have gone better. With all of the traps laid on the property they ran into a few altercations. It was inevitable really.”

JENNIFER thinks out loud.

JENNIFER

“Kkangpae. It came out pretty early that he had ties with some pretty scary gangs in South Korea.”

ANDREW

“His parents did. A German family adopted Hans before he immigrated to the U.S. as a young kid.”

JENNIFER

“Really?”

ANDREW

“Yep. Not long after entering the country he came into contact with the suspects family and the rest is history.”

JENNIFER takes a drink.

ANDREW

“Anyway. Hans shakes these two down and tells them, ‘return what you have stolen or else.’ The Faer’s, being gentle creatures, abide. They track Aiden down and the next thing any of them remember…they wake up three days later on the lawn of the grandmother’s house. Seven people are dead. Two minors are in the back room unconscious from having been violated beyond reasoning. And that’s it.”

JENNIFER and ANDREW sit in silence.

JENNIFER

“It was a coin wasn’t it? What Aiden stole?”

ANDREW

“Yeah, but it was junk. It’s parts gold, but the majority of the coin’s composite is copper-tin, and copper-zinc brass. Nothing special. Not even a pawnshop would take that thing for a noteworthy price.”

JENNIFER snaps her gaze back to ANDREW, mouth agape.

JENNIFER

“That doesn’t make any sense. If it was so useless then why are they all dead or in prison?”

ANDREW takes a drink.

ANDREW

“Well, it looks like the suspect’s family and Hans Kim’s adopted family are one in the same. So, I looked into it and…it’s true. They are all related.”

JENNIFER scoffs in disbelief.

JENNIFER

“No. No, because if that were true then that information would have been presented in court.”

ANDREW

“Jen, that’s my job. I dredge up crazy shit; I take inventory of all possible loose ends, and making a narrative work. And this narrative is real. You know I can’t just bring a cult to court without sufficient evidence.”

JENNIFER

“A what?”

ANDREW

“A cult. You see, the coin was attached to this plaque. The testimonies of Copper and Eden Faer claim that the plaque, which is now missing, had the word Orichalcum printed in white letters. I decided I would Google it…I mean what could possibly go wrong?”

JENNIFER groans.

ANDREW

“You sound like how I’ve felt for the past two months looking through this case. I know how it sounds, Jen. I also know that this coin isn’t valuable by worldly standards.”

JENNIFER

“Worldly standards?”

ANDREW

“Orichalcum is a mythical metal. Historically there are no true examples of it being cultivated in the world, as we know it. However, in the work of the ancient Greeks, Orichalcum was mined in Atlantis before it vanished from the face of the earth.”

JENNIFER

“So what? They collect strange items for the hell of it? That’s not cult behavior.”

ANDREW shrugs with resignation.

ANDREW

“No, you’re right. Except…his family has ties by the generation to a small organization called the Brother’s Orichalcum. And these people are weird as fuck. I dove deep for this one. I mean they go the-whole-nine-yards. Like any cult they have branches, or fingers more like and they check pretty much every box. They believe in magic (spell casting, wards, uh fucking um demons), they have holy gatherings (On both the summer and winter solstice, and the equinox), and sometimes they even organize holy sacrifice.”

JENNIFER mouths the last word quietly.

JENNIFER

“Sacrifice.”

JENNIFER sighs again, this time overwhelmed. They it there for a moment, the sunlight dimming, in silence.

JENNIFER

“Jesus Christ.”

They are quiet for a long moment.

ANDREW

“She had cancer. His great grandmother. The day the heist took place she was away getting her treatment. Aiden did a bad thing, but he wasn’t careless about it. He cared a lot. No one ever looked at him like that. You know?”

Silence.

JENNIFER

“You want me to take this?”

ANDREW

“Yes.”

JENNIFER

“All right.”

JENNIFER pulls out a tape recorder.

JENNIFER

“This is on record. State your name, the date, and only the things you learned about the case that serve as addendum to the original. Ready?”

ANDREW nods and JENNIFER starts recording.

ANDREW

“My name is Andrew Harris. The date today is June 11th 2015 and I am here with my regulator Jennifer Babbit presenting new information concerning the case Borough v. the state of Arizona.”

End. (Cut to Credits)

Q’s

[This story was my attempt to take my interest in writing and have fun with it. It is the longest short story I have ever written. It is also the most fun I have ever had writing. Maybe it is because I have written a shit ton in the last two years, or maybe it is simply because I was just trying to have fun, but the words simply flowed here. Now, I am not saying that this is AMAZING or anything like that. In fact, it would be wonderful if you thought it was mediocre. What I am saying is that there are people here, and even though the story is not a story that is particularly interesting or exciting. It is alive!! Or it is at the very least as alive as I know how to make something.] -Jaime

Q’s

From the interstate comes a rusted Rav 4 bucking amongst the shallow potholes that line the entrance to the Q’s Market parking lot. It grunts to a stop within the white slants of a designated parking spot.

The sun hung high in the way that could only mean that summer was coming early. Waves of heat bounced from the blacktop and stretched the entirety of Q’s Market into impossible shapes. Inside was nothing much. Assorted food items organized themselves in five rows spaced evenly on the linoleum floors that shined with the unnatural intensity of fluorescent light bulbs, which ran the length of the market perpendicular to the shelves themselves. The cashier sat behind the counter backlit by the blue light of a cellphone as two of the market’s only customers sifted the endless options of processed foods that were presented to them.

From the driver’s side drops a man, weak in the knees from a very late night of drinking. His mouth is sour and everything is sharp. He takes tentative steps forward as if to test the strength of the blacktop like it were made up of dubious wooden planks instead of the wholesome aggregate of sand, stone, and cement. Confident that he won’t fall through the surface of the world into nothingness the man swings the door shut. The sudden movement drives a dull pain through his head from the back to the front.

Alan picked through the handful of flavors of M&M’s unsure whether to get the ones with peanuts at the center. Or the ones that boasted the ‘limited time’ flavors that ranged and fillings that ranged from mint to pretzel. Dani seemed to be decidedly uninterested in anything chocolate and painstakingly surveyed her options of Nerds, Mike and Ike’s, and other candies that always seemed to be made up of the same stuff that glue was made up of. Perhaps that was part of the appeal. It was a tough thing, selecting candy and Alan knew it.

Rough hands push the large plate glass double doors open rolling cool air over his face. It feels good. He looks to the cashier in effort to pass an obligatory smile, but the kid could care less. The man frowns, but manages to keep his personal opinions to himself. He travels the spotless linoleum floors tracking the endless rotation of fluorescent light to the Beer Cave at the back of the store. It is then that he realizes that his thoughts about the cashier were not restrained by moral fortitude, but by the sickly sweet bile rising up the back of his throat. If he spoke, he would most definitely vomit.

“Can I get two?” Dani asked, her words stressed with the want of a child. Alan looked to her with a face that was trying to be stern.

“Oh, I don’t know.” He said, “I heard once that…sugar makes kids…bounce off the walls.” Dani’s face slumped in disbelief, yet a smile crept to the corner of her mouth.

“Dad…”

“What?” Alan chided, “I wouldn’t want you to get hurt, hun.”

“I won’t. Please?” She pointed to a green box, “I don’t know what these are, but I want to try them.”

“Then get them.”

“But I…” Dani paused abruptly in effort to gather her thoughts. “What if I don’t like them?”

Alan shrugged. His movements were large and comical. The man’s shoulders drew up to his ears and his lips are pursed pressing dimples into his cheeks. Dani sighed, shifting her gaze from her father to the shelf unsure of what to do. Alan laughed, charmed by blatant confusion she bear.

“Yeah, hun. Just don’t tell your mom aright? If you do she’ll put me in time out and she always forgets who she puts in the corner.”

“Yes!” Dani exclaimed pumping her fist in a tight and powerful motion. She grabbed the green box from the shelf before sprinting down the isle towards the installment of industrial grade freezers on the back wall. Alan smiled in her wake, he liked to see her happy. This way too, he could skimp out on the overpriced movie theater candy. It always cost an arm and a leg.

“Really don’t tell her, Dani!”

“I won’t daddy.” Dani swung around the corner at full speed like a racehorse on crack wildly pumping her arms in the way that young children do.

From behind him there is the pitter-patter of feet, so loud and piercing. The man feels the bitterness of reproach begin to rise thick from his stomach. Choose one. Get out, he thinks. Choose one. Harsh white fluorescents beam down. Get out. Today his taste is different, today it is sour.

Dani took the isle at a trot. She stopped at the mid point of the shelf and continued to look through the candy. Together they were perfect reflections of one another moving in absolute synchronization. Dani chose her favorite candy of all, Hot Tamales. Dani grabbed the box and ran back around to the other side of the shelf, this time going up and around the front of the store. All the while the Hot Tamales and the mysterious new candy shook violently in their boxes imitating rain.

He thoughtfully surveys the legions of Pabst Blue Ribbon, Miller Lite, Coors Lite, and Heineken. Then he smells it. Through the fog of intoxication comes the recognition, slow like the pressure one gets in their ears with a descent from a higher elevation. It is the smell of youth sweet and fair. The smell that only a girl can have.

A lump is in his throat, his vision verges on double, and the bile in his throat takes on the substance of glue. It can’t be her. He knows this. He also knows that he is drunk, but not that he is one.

So, he pulls open the freezer (it’s blue jut like the box says, tastes like dirt) and chooses the Pabst Blue Ribbon. It doesn’t matter what he choose, he thinks. What matters is that he leaves this place and that he leaves it soon.

“Stop running you goon. You’ll fall or something. These floors look slippery.” Alan smiled at Dani showing his straight white teeth. “Did you find it? The one you were looking for?”

“Yep!”

“Good, we’re gonna be late.” Dani pointed her index finger, and erected her thumb to form what she had recently learned was a gun. Her eye clamped shut and she giggled as she made a clicking sound with her mouth.

“Let’s blow this joint.”

From his pocket comes exact change for his purchase. The cashier thanks him in the shallow, careless way that all cashiers are taught to do. The man stands rooted to the floor long after the conclusion of his purchase, haggard. He understands this but only marginally as the boil of anxiety has cinched his chest so tight that from him only comes the metallic sheen of sweat and the strength from his knees.

The pair made there way to the register.

“Do you want to pay this time?” Alan asked with disguised hesitation, because he knew that she would, but wished that she wouldn’t. Only big kids paid for their things.

“Yep. Yep.” Dani said. She looked at he father to see if he really meant it. Paying for things is one of her favorite things to do. He meant it.

“Alright,” Alan reaches into his right side butt pocket and pulled out his wallet. “Cash or credit?”

“Cash!”

“Okay, let’s see.” The two stopped for a moment as Alan guestimated the total amount needed to pay for the candy. Confident that he was close he handed Dani five one-dollar bill and a five-dollar bill. Dani took the money excitedly and practically burst in to dance.

“Thanks, daddy!” Alan nodded in response, but she was already gone. He almost laughed at the expression of the cashier who looked weary as she approached skipping.

The parking lot opens up to him as he nearly staggers out of Q’s Market. A feeling flushes its way through his body loosening his bowels as he approaches the Rav 4. He climbs in and flips the engine.

“Hey buddy,” said Alan as he placed the items on the checkout counter. The young man behind the counter nodded curtly.

“Will this be all?” The attendant asked, his words catching just a little.

“Yes sir.”

“Okay, your total will be,” The attendant looked to the display reading the amount, then off past the wall of plate glass windows that housed the dingy double door entrance. Alan followed the young man’s gaze to see a gaunt older man staggering towards his car.

“How much is it?” Dani asked. The attendant snapped back to reality and smiled at her.

“Sorry. Your total is seven dollars and eighty-seven cents.”

Dani smiles and looked down to her pile of dirty green dollar bills. Alan watched ready to step in and help, but he also ready to let her try it herself. She studied the bills carefully.

“Um, I have ten.” Dani said. The attendant smiled.

“Hun, you have five ones and a five dollar bill. Forget the change, how many whole dollars do you have to give him?” Alan asked gently. He could see the cogs turning in her head. Dani looked up to the display.

“Seven.”

“Good, so give him seven of those dollars.” Dani counted seven dollars from the stack and handed them over. “Now, how many cents are in a dollar?”

“Sixty.” She replied immediately.

“Close…” Said the attendant, his patience remarkable. Dani was quiet for a minute.

“One hundred.” She answered.

“There you go!” Dani looked back to the display and looked back to the money.

Hangovers are bad, he thinks as streams of sweat crawl down his face. The man also thinks that today he will die if he doesn’t get away from this tiny store of the interstate.

His mind thunders…

Dani smiled a toothy grin that exposed the pink gum where her teeth were only just growing in. Her teeth had come out later than most of this kids her age. She handed the attendant a one-dollar bill.

“ Thank you,” He replied with a grin of his own. “That was very impressive.” The young man reached over the counter after digging through the change compartment of the cash register. “Your change is thirteen cents.”

Dani opened hand, palm flat out. Her eyes tracked the coins like they were the most beautiful treasure. She looked to her father with her lip sucked in. The cashier dumped the little coins into her hand. Her eyes bubbled with joy.

“Thank you, have a nice day.” Alan said with an appreciative smile.

“Yeah, you too.”

Dani and Alan left the store and entered into the early summer.

You WILL be caught…and they will take you this time…THEY. (Gray cement walls and tiled floors shiny with pubic hair and soap) WILL. (Testosterone, close quarters, sharp edges) TAKE. (Swollen eyes, red irritation and blood, flesh) YOU. (Board games with missing pieces, pockets outturned, the cold smell of body odor, second hand books, and gruel, and hands rough around the edges)…

Follow your nose.

The two climbed into the car. Alan turned on the A/C full blast and checked the time. Dani, who is too young to sit in the front, climbed into the back seat and buckled in. Curious about that man he had seen from the checkout counter. Alan tapped his fingers along the driver’s side door, then walked out into the parking lot. Maybe he needed help, Alan thought. However, by the time Alan went to look the rusted SUV was already gone. Only Alan and Dani remained, parallel to what could only be the cashier’s car, which rippled with gaseous heat waves.

“Daddy we’ve got to go,” yelled Dani from inside the car. She had rolled her window down.  Alan opened her door determined to buckle her himself. He pulled the length of the belt from the wall until it refused to extend any further, Thoughtfully, he led the belt back into its mounting so that the belt sat tight, but not too tight, across her chest.

“Ready?” He asked excitedly. Dani nodded. The next thing she knew they were on the interstate headed into town.

Amásáni

Roughly one month ago I was approached to do a student thesis film. I had previously worked with this director and I’ll be the first to admit that I was not particularly excited to accept their offer. In the past, we had butted heads on the most fundamental of creative levels. And in the end, to be honest, it led to a frustrating experience that had me very hesitant to work with student filmmakers again.

[Now: to be fair this feeling was not the result of that experience itself, which would be absurd, but the amalgamation of many similar experiences over my time as a musician.]

Needless to say I took the job, because work is work. If I’ve learned anything over the last three years, it’s that when an opportunity presents itself just say yes. Just. Say. Yes. With that being said, I’m glad I did. Let me tell you why:

  1. If you read my last blog, about Found and Lost, then you know that I found a few friends in the sound department. This film saw my networking pay off, as I was able to work with one of those very same sound technicians again.
  2. In the short three days that I had to compose for this film I was able to hold my first recording session with a student flutist. (Whom I am so grateful for, especially when considering the fact that they were unpaid and willing to dedicate their skills in the middle of a school week).
  3. Then there was a very new experience for me; compromise. For this film it took the form of having to write and cut music (or even just parts of the music) throughout the entirety of the scoring process. An experience that I would have had trouble with, say a year ago, but was able to embrace with a positive attitude this time around. In fact, I found myself more and more willing to limit the amount of music in the film.

This film is called Amásáni; it is about a young girl whom is suspended from school and has to spend the day with her grandmother, learning from her the disciplined traditions of her ancestors. Immediately I knew that I wanted to focus on the traditional aspect of this film, which plays out a lot more like a documentary then a short film. The director and I talked frequently about how we wanted to keep the music reserved for only the most important parts of the story, when the young girl is playing with her grandmother’s things and when the grandmother consoles her granddaughter in the Hogan. Likewise, my ensemble consisted of solo flute, piano, and a string quartet (which only made it into the end credits).

Somehow I managed to scale down my melodic writing from the exuberant academic to the simple kindergartener. It was a difficult change after having written pieces like I have in my Reveries. Yet, it was a very welcome change, because I was forced to use only the notes that really mattered. These notes formed the C major pentatonic scale and I am pretty confident that nearly all of the flute material is some combination of those five notes. In a similar fashion, I refused to let even the piano reach any form of chromaticism and firmly planted it in the key of C major. Other than the occasional log drum or string quartet this is really all there is to say about the score itself. There is something else though that I would like to talk about!

The music for this film was inherently Native American and to be more specific it was based on the traditional music of the Navajo people. When I turned to the Internet for help in understanding this music I was extremely frustrated to find that there was nothing really TO find. At first it was a musical issue for me, after all how am I suppose to imitate the musical styles of the Navajo people authentically if I couldn’t find any music? Then it turned into a more general frustration towards the Internet itself. All ‘Native American’ music was somehow fused into this indiscernible and frankly unidentifiable identity that was labeled as ‘native,’ ‘Indian,’ or ‘spiritual.’ It bothered me.

After hours of following link after link of suggested videos nominated ‘Navajo music’ I did find a piece or two of music that was authentic enough for me. However, these videos were so hard to find and not nearly as high of a quality as I thought that they deserved to be. That doesn’t sit right with me for some reason.

Maybe it’s best that this portion of North American culture is so seemingly off limits to the digital era. Maybe it means that these people have kept these things for themselves. Or maybe it doesn’t mean much; all I am saying is that it would me nice to see this sort of thing ironed out in the future. I, for one, am sure that these cultures have so much more to give and are equally so important to our country as a whole. I hope that you enjoy the music, have a nice day!

Found and Lost

In March, I was given the opportunity to work alongside some of my fellow filmmakers new and old on a student film called Found and Lost. At first I was beyond excited to work on a project that would see the light of day when all was said and done. Then, almost immediately, I was blindsided by an equally energetic sense of confusion and fear. I didn’t know what a script supervisor was, what they did or how they did it. All I knew was that I now had the job and it involved a chart with a lot of empty spaces.

The film is about a woman who comes to terms with her addictions and tries her best to over come them. It was a three-day shIMG_5260.JPGoot, though I was only present for only two of those days. They were hot days, they were long days, but they were great days. I met a ton of new people and learned a lot about how a proper set is run. It was akin to being at Disneyland for just under twenty hours and having the fast pass to everything. We started with the interior scenes, which presented us with the very interesting task of recording and filming in close quarters with about ten people, various props, and a variety of sound and lighting equipment.

My job during this entire process was to supervise the set’s continuity and check in with the sound unit, the camera operator, and the director. Now: It took me a relatively long time to figure out how to do this job right. I had issues understanding the language used on set, I had trouble keeping track of objects in the many shots and takes we took, I had even more trouble figuring out what information to tell (or not tell) the director when I was checking in. Being a script supervisor taught me an important lesson in how to identify true problems versus things that look like problems but really aren’t.
#Noteverythingisacrisis

The Sound Guys:

These guys were pretty awesome. In fact, they were probably some of my favorite people on set, because they were always nice and always quiet. For this part of my job I basically had to wait for the director to yell, ‘Cut!” then ask the sound techs something like this, “Hey was that good?” It was really that simple. Strangely enough, this was a hard thing for me to do and when I started asking my first questions I made it way more complicated than it needed to be. It all really is just a dialogue…no pun intended. After that question was asked, the sound mixer would either give me thumbs up with a verbal yes or he would say no and assign blame to passing airplanes, cars, a noisy refrigerator or whatever the issue was. (I was thoroughly surprised with the sensitivity of the boom mic we used. It picked up every noise possible from flies to dogs barking from across the street).

And for all of you who don’t know how the sound unit operates let me explain: There are two people, one with a bag containing a multi-channel sound mixer that can be manipulated on the spot. Another person holds a boom mic over the area in which the actor (or actors) operates from a distance. This person is attached to the sound mixer the entire time by cords that input the noise from the boom into that very mixer. It is as interesting to watch as it is funny.

The Camera Operator:IMG_5249.JPG

Now the camera operator, in this case, was a single person. A very smart and talented individual whom moves the camera, creates the desired image on the display, and manages many different types of lenses. For Found and Lost we stuck with both 15mm and 25 mm lenses. This detail was a hard one to pin down as the days went on, because more often then not I was behind a wall of reflectors, camera stands, techs and props. Which means that as the area became a more lived in space and the angles demanded a new lens or an even more intense angle of attack; I was not close enough to be keeping an eye on the camera much less the actors or the many other things I was meant to keep an eye on. Likewise, on the second day of filming I ended up writing down the wrong lens type for the entire day and never knew that I was doing it wrong!

That moment is a perfect example of what I meant when I said that I was unaware of the language that a film crew uses. Often the camera operator would talk about using another lens then just as soon decide not to. So, in my confusion I was under the impression that she was using the 15mm when really she was using the 25mm or vice versa! This sort of situation was a great situation to be in, because it forced me to distinguish a discussion from a decision, which is a hard thing to do with so many things happening at once.

The Director:

With the director my job got a little bit more complicated. Well actually…it got a lot more complicated. Let me tell you why. When you approach the director in the heat of the day, (half way through a shoot, possibly at wits end) they can be a different person than the one you got to know. This is not at all a bad thing; I mean everyone has, what I call, a work personality and a social personality, of which stand separated from one another. It is very important to know this and understand this, because if you don’t then your skin can become very thin and then every little thing can be taken the wrong way. With that in mind, I would definitely say that it took me a while to both know this and understand it. It’s hard to do. HIMG_5253onestly. I found myself being stung multiple times during the roughly twenty hours we spend filming. Could you believe that I might have even taken it personally at times as well?

The truth is that it is not personal, it’s just business. When you are working with someone who has not only the entire crew to worry about, but also the set, equipment, deadlines and whatever else you can think of. You (me) have to take a step back and see the whole picture. I am one part of this rather large machine and because of that I have to know that people are going to be tense, they are going to possibly be dismissive, but most importantly they are going to be invested, heavily. This is their vision. They have more riding on this film than arguably anyone else involved with it.

[I am proud to note also that I never had a moment on set where I felt like I wasn’t being heard and I never felt like I would rather be somewhere else.]

It gets complicated, because you have to express everything that you learned from each scene, from every department and tell the director in the most productive way possible. This dilemma led me through the timeless moral question of how much information is good information. Do I tell them that there was a barking dog recorded over the last scene? How do I tell the director that even though it is my job to keep continuity, I just can’t remember which red cup was used in that specific scene that we shot four hours ago? Do I even bother to mention that I wrote down the wrong lens information for every take of the last three scenes? Should I? How do I tell the entire crew that we have to film another take of a scene, of which we have already shot five times, because there is this one stupid fly that we cannot seem to kill and it keeps flying right past, into, on top of the damned boom mic? Et cetera. Et cetera. Et cetera.

The answer to these questions are simple really, you just say them out loud. I just don’t want to be hated for breaking this news over and over again. I don’t want to be that guy. But also it’s my job and it was a very fun job. I loved this job! Being a Script Supervisor taught me that it is so important to have a dialogue with the people you associate with. It really showed me that I need to be more communicative in my own life and that it is better to have said something than to not have and better yet it gave me better understanding of what to say and what not to say when it matters most.