06 August 2010

Project Twenty1: Preparing for Battle

Tonight I shaved my head. That, in and of itself, is nothing special; but when I do it before a film shoot, it takes on a more mystical air. I am no longer a balding man trying to hide the obvious; instead, I am a warrior preparing for battle, like Kambei at the beginning of Seven Samurai, becoming more streamlined and ready for the filmmaking struggle to come.

Yes, this weekend we will be shooting our brand spankin' new script for Project Twenty1. This year's theme: "Between the Lines." After receiving it, my collaborators and I withdrew into our heads, imagining various stories, images, characters that might, in some way, if you squint and turn your head, fit that theme. We talked, pitched ideas, talked some more, debated, agreed, disagreed, went back to the drawing board. On Monday I wrote two ten-page scripts, one a drama and one a comedy. Both were rejected for being too talky and intricate. On Tuesday I was struck with inspiration while on the train. Something like an original idea broke out in my head and rushed to escape. That night, I translated it into a nine-page script. The transmission was garbled, however, and on Wednesday I listened to comments and insight, then broke out my trusty red pen and went to town. I rewrote it that night into a version that just might be ready for shooting. Close enough, at least.

And so we're moving forward. On Saturday, Hard Boiled Productions and our cast and crew will convene to begin shooting the motherfucker. We'll go all morning and afternoon, then break until Sunday, when a much smaller group will be meeting for further shoots. And then we'll be done with filming and move into post-production. If all goes well, that is. (I just knocked on wood - I don't consider myself superstitious, but goddammit, I just have to do it sometimes.)

Today, tomorrow, we prepare. On my lunch break I went to CVS to search for props: surgical masks, latex gloves, insulin syringes that I hope will pass for their bigger, more hardy cousins. (They were surprisingly cheap at $3.00 for a ten pack.) E-mails were blasted back and forth discussing characters, moments, wardrobes, music. A select few - seven, in fact - agreed to take on this challenge and meet it with the best they have to offer.

It's stressful, nerve racking, difficult, exciting. I love it. But a part of my brain frets about everyday life. Deep down is a voice that keeps saying, "You only have five more hours of 'Deadwood' to watch! Then you'll be done with the entire series! Can't you take a break?" No. At least, not yet. Maybe tomorrow I'll find time, or the night after that. But "Deadwood," as excellent as the cocksucking hoopleheaded fuck is, will have to wait.

The only bit of ease I really had today was grabbing a drink with one of our actors. We went to the rooftop bar at the La Quinta Inn on 32nd Street, which sits in the direct shadow of the Empire State Building. It was populated by tourists and the young New York middle class, those who have one to three roommates, enjoy cable, hold down Midtown white collar cubicles, and are too plain and/or broke to get into the pricier places around the city. It was a grand ol' time. But in the back of my mind, competing with my "Deadwood" voice, was another one: "You really should get home. You still need to go over your props and make further plans. And, of course, shave your head, you ugly motherfucker."

That's the voice I try to heed more than the others. There are many competing for my attention, but that one tends to cut through the noise. I guess I could call it my Al Swearengen: "Pain or damage don’t end the world, or despair or fucking beatings. The world ends when you’re dead. Until then, you got more punishment in store. Stand it like a man — and give some back."

To be continued...for better or worse...


  1. It might just be me, but I love the idea that shaving your head to become "streamlined" helps the movie-making process. I'd like to humbly suggest that this idea inspires the title of your how-to book.

  2. "Streamlined: A How-To for the Impatient"
    "Streamlined: Making Movies Like a Badass"
    "Streamlined: Roll That Camera Or Get Out of the Fuckin' Way"
    "Streamlined: Just Say Your Goddamn Lines!"

    Well, I've already decided on the title for my memoir: "I Was Drunk and Don't Remember"