John and I had been locked down for months in my studio shooting our film, rehearsing, building sets, painting scenes, setting up lights. Shooting footage. It was a process that literally became more than some grand idea of a movie.
Actually a movie is a series of small events linked together over a period of time -in our case a period of months. We started off shooting scenes, I wrote and rewrote the script all the while we kept shooting footage, like a boxer training, practicing his footwork, feints. All the extra footage was roadwork for what was to come.
It was much more than I imagined. I had the script, John had to do the scenes, had to design the sound, the lighting, the way each scene looked. How to operate two cameras with only himself. I had to learn to trust that he was going to do all this.
I had my own burden in the middle of all this. Namely I had to get myself out of the way, my ego, my fears, and deliver my lines. We had a criteria for my performances if you want to call them that. If they were believable, we bought into them. We never called it acting, we just wanted something from me that was real. Something that we both believed.
Imagine, John is moving cameras all over, up and down, side to side, adjusting the light, the lights fail, the sound fails, a camera goes on the nod, a fuse, a bulb blows up, we’re in the darkness and somehow he gets it all back together. I’ve been waiting and waiting for the moment, holding onto myself, trying to stay contained, centered, until John calls, “roll it.”
We’ve had over thirty takes for some scenes. Late, cold, tired, we pressed on. Trading quips, jokes, laughing, pushing the envelope. Pushing into the script. I wanted to change the script, just wanted to let the cameras roll, see what came up. John held onto the discipline, forcing us to go step by step inch by inch.
We both designed the sets, the art direction. He would have an idea for three scenes in a row, then I would. Inside the structure of the script, the organization, the schedule, we managed to stay flexible. You’d have to been there to experience it. It’s called film-making.
Arduous, long. Fun.