I hate to be dorky and quote myself, but here’s pre-production in a nutshell:
The last few days I’ve felt like Wile E. Coyote when he runs off that cliff: he can keep going just so long as he doesn’t think about it, or hesitate, or look down. The truth is, faith and momentum can carry you pretty far (I don’t mind the more pragmatic translation of those ideas: stubbornness and tenacity).
But there’s an ingredient here a thousand times more valuable and crucial than the triumph of my pigheaded will, and that’s my staggeringly amazing production team. Laurel Degutis, my producer; Cassie Cohn, my production coordinator; and John Petrina, my assistant director. Add to them the department heads â€”Â Scott Braucht, my production designer, Jon Beanlands, my director of photographer, and Sam Naiman, my gaffer â€” and I’d say right now it feels like the film is more theirs than mine.
Well â€” give it just four more days and it will start to feel like the film belongs more to my brilliant cast as well. My brilliant cast who, by the way, I’m happy to now announce: Micki Selvitella will play Tressa, Page Grace Ryder will play Chia, and MontetrÃ© will play Luke. I’ve seen these three read together. I’ve seen all three breathe life into the characters and scenes — and in more interesting ways than I originally envisioned, which is pretty thrilling — and that was just at auditions. Wait until there’s that energy when the camera rolls!
There’s an old saying (or if you prefer, a dirty secret) that directing is 90% casting. I’ve written the script, so other than a couple of tweaks here and there to adapt as we go, that’s all behind me, and I can take off the writer’s hat. And now, I’ve chosen or in many cases stumbled into having this stellar team of department heads, each of whom I’ve communicated thoroughly my intentions and my vision. Now that the main cast and the main crew are locked into place*, I almost feel like I could hang up the director’s hat, too.
We’re working on a tight schedule. We have a lot of micro- to medium-sized crises to contend with still. The simple fact is we may not get a couple of our fancier shots, due to some logistics and timing. And the less said of the budget the better; let’s just leave it at that. It’s not going to be a breeze, but it’s going to be great. The crucial pieces are in place. Now it’s just a matter of filling in some nuts and bolts, building up a stronger support structure, and pulling the trigger.
Sometimes the hard work is the easiest part. And between you and me, I can’t wait until pre-production is over.
* (Full disclosure: a handful of crew positions remain unfilled, including the sound department. But, quiet you! â€” just let me have my glass-half-full moment.)