I have amazing friends. This is a fact. Granted, they have fairly poor taste and hang out with the likes of me, but you should forgive them – everyone has to have a flaw. I’m just thankful I’m that flaw.
The Sunday before last I met with my friends Meredith and Jerin. They’re movie people. They’ve had films in film festivals. They’ve both worked in television. They’re professionals. I, on the other hand, work for the state and have three sketch classes to boast about. Still, I somehow managed to con them into agreeing to come over to read a sketch I wanted filmed. I just wanted to pick their brains to understand how to create a shot list – something I was told I needed before I could film. I realized this was a bad idea once they walked through the door and transformed immediately from “oh, these are the awesome people I hang out with” to “holy cow, film-making rock stars are standing in my hallway!” I audibly gasped.
They settled in and I handed them my script wondering what possessed me to be so cocky. I mean sure, they’re great people, but here I was boldly asking them to bestow their professional wisdom on the likes of me for something ridiculous that I probably should have Googled. Clearly, a better move would have been to just offer up BBQ. What was I thinking? I could probably defrost something and throw it on the grill. I mean, that’s why God made armpits, right?
They took the scripts and stated that if they didn’t like something, they weren’t going to spare my feelings. They wanted me to learn and grow from my mistakes and their criticisms would not be a reflection on me personally. They added, “this way you know we’re being honest with you when we say we do like something.” Fair enough. As they scrutinized my script, I swear it jumped from being a mere three pages to something that was surely 30 to 100 pages long. Did an hour just roll by? Two? Each question that bubbled up became confirmation that I shouldn’t be showing them my sketch – that perhaps I should distract them with snacks and then, while they weren’t looking, slip the sketches into the recycle bin. I would look innocently around, seeming a bit confused if asked and say “what sketch? No, you came over for dinner. Remember? Hehe, a sketch. You guys are such kidders! Love that sense of humor! Never lose that. You know I don’t write sketches.”
Long story short – they liked the sketch and a few hours into our conversation while they were in the midst of tutoring me on filming basics, Jerin said, “I would like to shoot this.” My jaw nearly hit the floor. “Is that being too pushy? I understand if…” I think at that point I started blathering about how this was more than I could hope for and how I had wanted to ask them for a while, but couldn’t muster the courage. How I had always admired them. I’m sure I started sounding a bit insane and they probably worried about getting a restraining order, but thankfully they still stuck around. They added, “We’d also like April on this”. Having April involved is always a good idea for just about anything you could think of that you might need another person. I put this on my to-do list, “wrangle April.” April also works in television and is just another one of the amazing people I’m extremely lucky to know.
The following day, I panicked as I realized we were going to have to shoot the next Sunday (last Sunday to be exact). We were only going to get a week to prepare when I hoped we’d at least have the luxury of two. I called them up, they said something along the lines of “we can do this” and they hopped on board. So, in one short week I managed to have a location scouted, actors rehearsed, props procured/built, extras signed-up and best of all a Director of Photography, an Assistant Director of Photography (that was April – yes, I got her!), a Script Supervisor (who apparently don’t get enough respect, but are extremely important if you want a successful film – in fact, if you meet one, hug them), a PA, and a sound person/editor – all for my goofy little film.
I learned a great deal thanks to Meredith and Jerin’s patience. They checked-in throughout our 6 ½ day to make sure I was doing ok, that I thoroughly understood what was happening and to confirm I was getting what I wanted. They were careful to make the shoot about me and my vision. I honestly will never be able to thank them enough. They’re amazing and they’re also very generous with their knowledge and time.
Huge thanks to my core crew: Meredith, Jerin, Richard and April. I couldn’t have pulled it off without you. I hope you all know I mean this quite sincerely when I say, you are my heroes and I am in considerable awe of your talent (I always have been). I am very fortunate to know each of you.
I’ll share more set stories later, but my favorite moment as we filmed the last scene and the cast and crew looked on:
Meredith: That’s it. Beth, do you want to call it?
Me: Ok, umm… that’s it!
Meredith: (quietly) You say, “that’s a wrap”.
Me: OH!!! That’s a wrap!!!!
And… that’s a wrap!