Sunday, September 12, 2010

25 Months Ago: Day 23

DAY 23 – August 12, 2008

Today's shoot must have been a spur-of-the-moment thing, because I have no written or emailed record of scheduling it. In fact, I'm not even 100% sure that today (Tuesday) was the day we shot this scene; the date on a receipt for some tin foil is my only concrete evidence that this was the day we filmed it.

Anyway, the scene featured J.D. at a payphone, and the aforementioned tin foil was for covering up the company name on the payphone in a token attempt at respecting trademark law.

In the shooting script Josh, upon losing his job, breaks the news to his stepmom from a payphone – because his cel phone belonged to the company – but she refuses to take him in. The purpose of this scene was to explain that Josh has no family to fall back on, and no contact with the world while on the road. These explanations seemed necessary to me in order to set a 60s/70s-style, finding-yourself road movie convincingly in the ultra-wired present day. The payphone scene was to be followed by the sci-fi convention scene I've mentioned before, in which an already-dejected Josh learns of his favorite author's death, which is the catalyst that finally sends him on his quest.

By this point I had officially given up on my beloved sci-fi convention scene, and decided to combine both scenes into one: Josh calls his stepmom from the payphone, and she mentions that his favorite author has died. This revised scene was never actually written down – J.D. and I worked it out as an improvised replacement, with J.D. adlibbing some lines to deliver to his unseen (and nonexistent, or at least not yet cast) costar.

This shoot was as basic as it gets. No tripod, no boom pole (the on-camera mic recorded the audio). I didn't want to attract attention. I just wanted us to get the shots and get out of there. I got two angles of the scene so that I had freedom to cut. Then we bolted.

Another early expository scene that I'd probably abandoned by this point showed Josh's pathetic home life, in which we meet his college-age roommate. One of my influences for this movie was the Peter Sellers film Being There, in which Sellers' character's old life disappears out from under him and, with nothing to do and nowhere to go, he heads out to explore the world. With my exposition scenes cut to the bone, I found myself making something more fast-paced and plot-driven than the meandering indie comedy-drama I'd planned to make.

But now there's no explanation for why Josh has no cell phone. I don't think anyone cares anyway.

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