Friday, July 14, 2017

H&H Part 14: Filming finally begins

After all the preparation and the rewrites and everything else, the first day of filming begins. Rino and I are stuck in the office doing rewrites of the next episodes and the hallways where crew hung around are now almost empty. While it's nice to see them gone I sort of miss the noise, kind of like a parent who's kids have left the home.

Writing, after all, is the loneliest job on a film set, you don't really work with anyone else. Right  now Rino and I are working together on Kaplan's script after the network insisted we do the rewrite rather than Kaplan.

Since we both would rather write alone, we have to compromise by having one of us at the computer and one pacing the floor. We speak out lines of dialog or action and whomever is at the computer types it out. Then we read it, re-read it and decide if it stays or needs further revision.

Now and then we take a break, I go for a walk in the hallway to talk to Karen the accountant and Rino goes out onto the little deck outside our office sliding window where he can grab a smoke.Finally we finish enough work to take a longer break and we decide to drive to the set just outside outside the town.

The crew is filming at the Ranger Station, which, 2 months ago was planned as a large office in a cabin style. What we see on the set is a small cabin barely big enough for the desk and counter the art director built. I wonder how they will put the several actors inside as well as at least 10 or more crew members and their lights and camera. It's another screw-up from the producers.

The crew is given a "starting day" cake, courtesy of Kaplan and Mahon, both of whom they dislike. I've never been on a show where there was this much dislike of the people at the top. In spite of that everyone gobbles up the cake.

Being on set for a writer is mostly pretty boring, there's really nothing for you to do. And nobody really wants you there anyway as they're all working. So we hang out at craft services, which is a table with coffee, tea, sodas, juice, cookies, chips and more fattening junk food. There's always a pleasant craft services person there who also has little to do with the working crew.

When we finally get bored enough, we go back to the office and get notes from the Litman at the network. He likes my outline for the script I will eventually write and have a few minor suggestions, all pretty easy. Then they tell us something else.

They don't like Jonathan's wife's outline which both Rino and I agree on. Nepotism is widespread in this business and in this case, Jonathan's wife, still back in the east, came with the deal of writing one script. While I've heard she was a good writer her story is fairly basic, in other words, she didn't spend a lot of time on coming up with something new or fresh. It's more of a paint-by-numbers script.

Her script features a character who's a survivalist type, the network wants a pacifist and the production company wants a Rambo-style warrior. Neither side gives up. Rino and I come up with a character who uses a gun but eventually is talked out of violence. The network likes it.

Jonathan, however, is furious. Angrier than I've ever seen him. He stands up for his wife's story and will not back off. Kaplan says he and Rino and I and the network outrule him, a rather confrontational way to handle it, but I just stay out of it. In fact, Jonathan was going to send it to the network without even consulting us at all. But this time we win.

As the day winds up for us, I usually leave before 5pm, the crew continues to work but I head for downtown and some shopping. On the way out I stop by the art department where Cooper the art director is working.

He introduces me to Carrie, his assistant and one of the two sisters on the crew. She's in her late 20's, very pleasant and hard-working, wearing hiking boots which are the standard in a mountain town and t-shirts. Her sense of humor is similar to mine so we get along from the start. She also works with Lauren, the serious sister.

Carrie has scanned her face and she and Cooper print it and enhance it with software and then she proudly gives me a copy. She's a refreshing moment since the bitter tirade that we faced with Jonathan and his wife's script.

Outside, there still is snow, but melting and in late afternoon when it's barely light, the temperature is just enough to freeze the water into small ponds on the streets.

(Wed: Kaplan vs the Assistant Director)

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