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I HAVE NOT CRIED  

Posted by:

Mark Medoff

,  July 25, 2009.

I haven't cried since the 90s sometime.  Linda, Chris PG playing the end of the movie got me, though.  Told them that no one had ever done more with anything I'd written.  Linda reminds me of Phyllis Frelich, for whom I've written five plays, beginning with CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD.  Like Phyllis, I don't think Linda can hit a false note.

Another scene in the end mix had an abundance of verbiage (in a movie with an abundance of verbiage).  She felt there was too much there.  Told her I always park everything that might have anything to do with THE BIG MOMENT that inevitably comes four-fifths of the way through a traditionally structured narrative.  She asked if she could do for me what she thought she needed.  I had already told her that she owned Amelia and I trusted her to know the character better than I.  I asked  First A.D. Laura to have someone collect my laptop from the house. Sitting under a giant pecan tree, we made quick work of trimming down and rearranging Amelia's monologue as she works her way up to disposing of Jack's ashes.

Reuben did some beautiful lighting for the scene where Amelia and Darryl wake up after not having sex (we shoot the not having sex scene tonight).  Haunting.  The poor kid has a major backache from all the hand-held shooting we're doing.  Shooting Helen (Lena Georgas) in the closet size bathroom tests Reuben's ingenuity and sheer physical strength.  Lena played her scenes in the bathroom (handcuffed as Darryl was earlier) on the floor between commode and wall.  She is a tiny person, but she had little space in which to work her magic.  But she did.  She and Chris PG played the very last beat of their part of the movie as scripted, then Chris laughed in a second or third take at her final line.  I suggested maybe they both laugh at his question and her answer (which is:  "Bring me my banky and pillow).  May have a subtle new last moment for them that suggests all is not lost between them.

Have long felt that directing opera singers is like controlling a garage of Maseratis.  Idle them, rev them, put the pedal to the floor.  Same with these three and the now departed Chris McD. Rehearse a scene, let their engines idle while lights get lit, get off the highway, let them burn rubber.

Linda likes a modicum of talk; she is also an excellent and instant analyst of her takes.  If I like a take but she does not, we go again.  Chris and Lena raise questions between takes, wondering about what we just did, searching in the universe of the moment for more or different or truer.  Against the tedium of waiting for beautiful camera and lighting set-ups, these in-the-moment moments are stimulating, sometimes magical.

Granddaughter Gracie felt comfortable enough to do cartwheels across the set.  Grandson Mason, late in the day, brought out some toy soldiers and built a fort out of pecan tree scraps.

Saw some edited footage by new editors, the brothers Harry and Max Frishberg (if I were inventing them as characters, their dad would own a deli in Queens and they'd be looking to get out, even if they had to change their delicatessen correct names to Adam and Todd).  Good stuff, good job -- looking forward to working with the brothers.

 

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PLAYING CATCH-UP  

Posted by:

Mark Medoff

,  July 24, 2009.

Shoes started to melt at the Scenic Overlook on Tuesday. Thought: good choice of set, moron.

Can't say enough about Linda and Chris PG -- not a whisper of complaint, at least not in earshot.  Movie about sweat; they ask for seconds.  Sheep did a great job, went where they were told in their carrier.  Wednesdfay it was Dr. John and Laura Conniff's cattle; also remarkably cooperative.  Timing the sheep was easy -- they weren't going anywhere; timing the cattle was tough -- they had cues within a complicated dialogue and fight scene between Amelia and Darryl. 

Dr. John and Justin, his foreman, were patient with our process, returning the cattle to their starting place again and again (all my children went to Dr. John for their children's denistry; now grown-up they still go to Dr. John and sit in the little chairs).  Given the complexities of the timing, had John change his shirt and hat once so he could be another cowboy and help suggest we had more cattle than we did.  Will be amusing to hear new editors Harry and Max Frishberg try to make heads or tails of what will seem continuity screw-up.

Keep thinking I could have written movie to take place in air conditioned mall.  Amelia kills Jack at Sbarro's over meatball sandwich disagreement.  Kidnaps Darryl shopping for socks at Dillards.  She absconds with him to Sears appliance section; they argue over fridges.  Hightail it to J. C. Penney, as she mistakenly thinks mall security is on to her.  Coffee and fruit parfaits at Barnes & Noble.  Skip it -- doesn't sound that interesting.  Doesn't sound interesting at all, actually.

Lena Georgas (Lay'na Jor'gus), who plays Helen, has brought an incredible complimentary energy to Linda and Chris PG.  Shooting in the pecan orchard next to my house today.  Long dialogue scene where the three come together finally after three phone calls for fireworks.  What can I say?  I really liked it -- a rapt spectator as much as writer/director.   Did the scene many times; all three brought 
it and brought it.

Lost the light in neighbor Rick Hall's trees.  Walk home, trying to be sure to thank every individual.

Great to be a hundred yards from my house, which is our home base for RVs, four different sets (shooting from four directions), our office (at this moment at 7:43 on Thursday, July 23, in my library are two printers, a FAX, tons of unnameable STUFF, and DP Reuben, Producer Ginger, Assistant to Producer Lara Immerman Myrene, Lara's husband Scott (visiting and warned that he cannot take his wife back to Portland even if she wants to go), Ginger's husband Bill Immerman, our legal counsel, also visiting but a performer with his daughter Lara today in the political fundraiser scene (Gave them both a line; they were all over them).  Missing: Marissa Macias, Second A.D., who is doubtless somewhere doing something in service of the cause.  In our play room, make-up and hair, as well as costumes have taken up residence and Pepper, Amy, and Mary wrap up their days.

Mornings, daughter Debra takes son Kagen to swimming at 6:30, then makes breakfast for the early arrivals -- hair and make-up, costumes, the first actors, a PA driver.  Others.

Definitely a family enterprise.  Stephanie, who usually starts to hate me after I'm engaged in one of my self-serving enterprises for a week or so is having a great time, with everything centered at the house, daughters in an out with grandchildren.  (Good to have kids on a set, seeing people working together; noticed long ago that theater and film people are unfailingly nice to children; great examples).  At one point in the orchard today, I turned from the actors and the set to see twenty people sitting in various kinds of camp chairs, like an audience at an outdoor concert.  Debra was there with daughter Grace, who was wonderful in book store scene with her Aunt Jessica.  Sweet.

Ah, here's Marissa.  She was telling Electric their call time tomorrow is fifteen minutes earlier than previously announced.  All is well.

Dinner as I blog; spaghetti from day before yesterday.  8:06.  Bed at 9:00, though First A.D. Laura just told me I don't have to be on set till 8 A.M.  I'll have coffee and check this blog to see how many mistakes I made.  Maybe repave parking lot.

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FILMING CONTINUES JULY 21 & 22  

Posted by:

Skeets Friedkin

,  Las Cruces, NM, July 23, 2009.

TUESDAY JULY 21
Today I got a ride with Laura ,Ginger's daughter, to the site which was at New Mexico State University.  This morning was fairly comfortable and some shade covered the area.  In the middle of this courtyard is a beautiful bronze statue of an Indian, pioneer, and soldier in the times of the pioneers.  A beautiful sculpture in every direction. 
 
This was Lena's first scene of the film and I enjoyed watching her work. her striking Greek features, black hair, brilliant eyes, and slender figure along with her strong voice and animated actions made her a daunting figure to watch.

Some of Mark's friends were included as extras as was I at the last minute. I am able to watch the monitor looking over Mark's shoulder and they even give me my own earphones to hear the dialogue.   Mark is an intense director but also with a wonderful sense of humor as I experienced first hand later the next day.
 
When this shoot was finished, all was packed up and moved to the next location which happened to be at Mark's home and in his bedroom which was converted into a hospice scene.  This actually will be the first scene in the movie so I am told.  Amelia (Linda) is the nurse and the takes were all so sensitive and heart rending, having the subject so close to my own heart since my mom died in hospice -- though in a hospital.  Tears were flowing from many of the crew along with my own.  Linda does an amazing job showing inner love and gentleness toward the patient and as she sings her song, I recall my singing while we all surrounded my Mom's bed and the prayers we said.  This adventure is enabling me to renew so many of my life's memories and create so many memorable ones for the future.
 
This scene took till the end of the filming day and I must say we were all exhausted and fulfilled because it was so real.
 
I was invited to stay for homemade dinner and shared the table with the Medoff family, who make me feel so welcome.
 
Thunderstorms that night rocked my room at Meson but the breeze was caressing.
 
WEDNESDAY JULY 22   
 
Woke late this morning because did not sleep too well.  Perhaps it was all the memories of the day.  Leisurely got ready for the day and called for a ride to the site, which is a country road by cattle ranches, horses, meadows, wonderful brilliant colors and gentle breezes. Watching the actions and many takes and retakes to get the scenes just right took time but patience prevailed with actors , director, cowboys, cows, and crew.  At the end of the day the final filming was of the magnificent sky and cloud formations that had developed just for us...What a sight to see piercing blue sky and clouds that built like the tower of Pisa high in the sky....Exceptional.
 
Rode with Mark to have dinner.  Just us but when we got to the restaurant, which is in the B&B, I went upstairs to freshen up quickly.  Linda's door was open so I shouted in for her and she answered.  Told her we were eating downstairs and invited her to join us if she wanted.  She graciously accepted and we had a quiet but informative and sharing evening.
 
What could be better? I don't know!    Turning in with book, computer and hot bath...Tomorrow is another day and early on set for a political fundraiser. Something I am very familiar with doing.

Stay tuned, if interested.
 
Skeets 

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