PRODUCTION DIARY: July 5th, 2011 - DAY 1

The saga continues...
Originally we were going to begin filming on Tuesday, June 21st, 2011. I had a trip to Arizona scheduled for the last week in July and wanted to be finished with principal photography by then. My intention was to film for four weeks and use the final week for spill over safety and preparation for the trip. However, in my quest for a crew I came across the opportunity to work with someone who would be devoted and serious, but unavailable until July 1st. I had also been given the suggestion to cut down the filming schedule to under a month, if at all possibile. I simply couldn't afford to buy out one month of the cast and crew's lives. It came down to what would work best for everybody and their respective schedules. By pushing the start date back two weeks I was able to arrange everything into a snug three week schedule that was incredibly feasible. Unfortunately that also reduced the margin of error greatly. Another reason I decided to delay the start date was because we still didn't have a major location secured for the proposed first week of filming. Thankfully my assistant, Elaine, came to the rescue with all of her tenacity, charm, and wisdom, landing us The Historic Paramount Theater in Middletown, NY at literally the last minute.

Carlo & Pete - July 4th, 2011
Cornwall-On-Hudson, NY
We (the cast and crew) were gearing up to begin just after the fourth of July weekend. Had we not gotten the theater production would have moved ahead with the third week of filming moving up to the first. We had another location secured for the second week and that was locked. Thursday, June 30th I went to pick up some gear from a colleague and received word that we had secured the theater, all we needed was insurance. It became a mad scramble to find a place that would grant it over the holiday weekend. This was vital, not only for the location, but also for the equipment rentals we had placed.

The morning of Tuesday, July 5th came and Elaine and I went to the theater. Again, I had delayed the production an additional day in order to make sure the location was going to work and to get some final things in order. Elaine and I arrived at the theater at 9AM on the dot and were greeted by the owner and manager, Nelson Page. From the get go he was incredibly friendly and approachable. He walked us through the building and brought us up to the projection booth, which is where we would be spending a majority of our time filming. I snapped some pictures while Nelson continued to explain the details and share some history of the building. It was a hike up to the booth, but once there it was worth it. There were also a few rooms that we could use for storage and dressing in between scenes. 

The room itself has a lot of character. The kinds of things production designers spend months attempting to replicate for authenticity. This is always a perk of shooting on location. The trade off is working around the environment, which includes busy streets, airplanes, and even trains off in the distance, ruining the audio. Still, the room had very high ceilings and some great corners, ideal for manipulating and staging light. The most important part was the projector. The centerpiece of the room. The whole reason we needed the location and couldn't fake it. A single, three tier, platter projector - that was all we really needed. Nestled in the corner were three film canisters that were labeled, "Titanic." I asked Nelson if that was an actual print of the 1997 film and he informed me that it was his personal print of the film and went on to tell me about his collection of 35mm prints. At that point we returned to his office to discuss the details.

After everything was set and arranged - we would be at the theater everyday for the rest of that week from 9AM until they closed, with one night (Thursday) going late so we could get outdoor shots & scenes at night - Nelson shared an anecdote from his childhood about meeting Gene Kelly. The whole meeting took less than an hour and the rest of the day was spent tying up loose ends. From the theater we grabbed some breakfast and checked on the status of the insurance. The request was being processed and so I wrote an email explaining the urgency of our situation and Elaine and I went to run some errands.

Our first stop was the whole sale store to pick up drinks and snacks for the cast and crew. A fed crew is a happy crew and while we couldn't afford to have a catered lunch everyday there was always water, breakfast bars, cookies, and apples on site. Elaine had the idea of encouraging everyone to bring their own lunch as our schedule wouldn't always allow to break for a 1-2 hour dinner. From the shop we went to Staples printing center to have some prop posters printed to display at the theater. In order to avoid dealing with licensing rights for copyrighted images I opted to use posters for films I and the associate producer, Ray Zablocki, had worked on in the past. One of them, Strange Aeons (2004), actually features Steven (Cliff) and myself and is where we met and got to know each other. It was going to take a few hours for the staff to get to our order and then about 90 minutes to print the posters, so Elaine and I left to tend to other affairs.

Back at her house I received an email with our insurance paperwork all in order. I forwarded the documents to Ray and Mark, the cinematographer. Mark needed the proof of insurance in order to rent the lenses and equipment he required for the shoot. At this point it was still early in the afternoon and Ray and I both informed Mark that it would be a good idea to go to the city and pick up the gear that evening instead of in the morning. With everything in order, addressed, and taken care of, I returned to the printer for my posters. Unfortunately they had a problem with one of the files and I had to bring a replacement with me and wait to make sure it printed correctly. Ninety minutes later I was out the door with two stunning, and cheap, props. They had made a mistake on the paper stock and upgraded my preference while honoring the original quote.

That night I went over the schedule for the following day, emailed everybody who would be involved in the shoot, double checked my check list, and closed my eyes. The nightmare was about to begin.

If you're just joining us, catch the story from the beginning...
- Episode I: The Script
- Episode II: The Cast
- Episode III: The Locations

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