July 12, 1996

We started shooting interiors at the cottage today, a task that will take up most of the rest of production. Progress was slow, and in the afternoon Dave and Frank took me to task for having made a shot list that required unnecessary relighting of the set. Up until now, each interior location contained only one scene, and it was possible to film scenes as a whole and still make life easy for the lighting people. But 10 or 15 scenes will be shot inside the cottage, and a conflict arises thereby: do I group shots together that have similar lighting, and risk disorienting the actors by fragmenting the scenes, or do I keep the scenes together and force time-consuming lighting changes? We are starting to fall a little behind schedule, and so I think I'll have to accommodate the lighting plan rather than the actors, except in the case of emotionally delicate scenes.

One of today's scenes, in which Dylan extols the virtues of Tastykakes and birch beer, took forever to shoot, because it required that Dylan remove a series of products from a shopping bag in a precise order and at certain times in the conversation. The shopping bag was crowded and filled with damageable items, and we had to spend what seemed like hours planning and rehearsing the physical business before the actors could even think about the subtleties of the performance. A more experienced director would have spotted this scene in advance as a problem and planned an off-camera rehearsal with the pesky bag of groceries.

The reward at the end of the day was the scene at the Laurel Run mine fires, which we shot in a much more adventurous fashion than is usual for me: smoke coming out of the ground in foreground as Edith's car pulls up, then an Antonioniesque hand-held tracking shot as Edith looks at the smoking mountain. It was very cool, and not psychological at all: I gave Edith very plastic directions, like "Walk through here" and "Look over there." She didn't mind being a figure in a landscape for a change.

There are at least two affairs going on among the crew. The participants are being discreet, but everyone knows everything anyway. It's just like any other movie set.

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