Director’s Journal: My Father’s Advice

Friday, Day Off.

As I look back on the previous two weeks of shooting, I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment that I have never felt before.  I have found a rhythm to the work, and a method to which it is being completed.  Communication between most of the crew and cast is in healthy functioning order, and the glitches seem to be isolated to certain personalities.  Everyone is working to the limits of their abilities, and I am grateful for their efforts.  I feel very close to Mohannad and Jeremy, and am impressed with effort and creativity that the rest of the crew us brought to the project.

I think about the hundreds and hundreds of hours that went into writing the script, scouting locations, meeting with cast and crew, emailing, and I wonder if it will all be worthwhile given the final product.  The final product, after all, is what everyone else sees.  They don’t see the sweat and tears put in behind the scenes.  They don’t see me driving home way past the middle of the night through all of the seasons of the last year from various collaborations to make this film happen.

I remember one evening last January when I spent all night and well into the early morning trying to bring the script to a place where we could feel confident in presenting it to our colleagues.   At past four in the morning I left my co-writer’s apartment into one of the coldest nights of the year, and entered my car.  My car seemed to be asleep, like I should have been, and I had to wait 20 minutes, hunched over the frozen wheel before the engine was warm enough to even consider pulling out of the space, and the windshield had defrosted enough to see through a small hole that I had etched through to see the road.

We worked so hard on the film, and I need to make sure that no calamities befall us in the last week of shooting.  Again, I think back to last winter when I had approached my family and some of my relatives with the idea of making a movie.  It was shortly after the collapse of the financial system in the U.S., and my father, in particular was very stressed out about the notion of me putting a chunk of money into the making of a movie.  My father, having come to the United States from Poland shortly after World War II, is very sensitive about risk taking.  He acknowledges that this sensitivity was passed down from his parents, survivors of the Holocaust.  I recall the afternoon in which we sat in the living room of my parents’ house, discussing how much it would cost to make this movie.  My parents have always been supportive of me, and very generous with their praise.  They are also realists when it comes to money.  My dad looked me in the eye, and told me that he understood that it was my decision, but told me the right thing to do was also the hardest thing to do: walk away from this movie.

I spend the rest of today catching up on emails, reflecting on my decision to make this film, and how it is going.  I call my family, and try to unwind.  I feel the bulk is behind me, but after this week, what about post-production?  I take the afternoon to try to enjoy this time, and not focus on the unknown entities.  A childish pride has set in, and I’m floating around, with my chest puffed out like a bull frog.  As a Minnesotan, I’m constantly coaching myself to be modest and humble, collaborative and practical.  But in the privacy of my day off, I’m the biggest frog on the lily pad, and I puff myself up with pride… and I puff… and I puff… and I…

What else would you do with your day off?

avatarBy Dan on
Posted in Journal, Production