June 28, 1996

The first day of shooting wasn't so bad after all. We managed to do the seven camera setups that I had planned, finishing up relatively early. My friend Sue's apartment is very full, but we're maneuvering people and equipment from room to room as needed. Bill left at midday and traded our overcrowded van for a cube truck, eliminating our equipment transportation problem.

The big difference between this and my other shoots is that I'm working with professionals like Dave Park and Frank Stubblefield, who have their own momentum that keeps the film on schedule. We had the usual first-day screw-ups, including a missing sound cable that delayed the first shot until after noon. But the technical team got up to speed quickly, despite poor lighting equipment and inexperienced support. My anxiety diminished considerably when I realized that I didn't have to be the driving force that kept the crew going.

The first scene of the day played a bit awkwardly, and I wound up accepting a take that I wasn't happy with, to avoid starting the film with an exhausting twenty-take debacle. But the second scene we shot (the last scene in the script, one of my favorites) came out beautifully in the end, and my confidence was restored. I don't think I worked very well with the actors today--I hope to do better in the future. One thing I hadn't realized was that our living room rehearsals weren't at all the same thing as playing the scene on the set: the actors spent most of the day trying to time their words and actions to fit the needs of the scenes. We definitely need to rehearse more on set before rolling the camera, and I'm starting to feel confident that the actors will improve rather than decline with rehearsal.

Dave Park and I have an odd working relationship, friendly but artistically adversarial. He strongly favors wide-angle shots and forced perspectives, and he has trouble swallowing my penchant for medium focal lengths and medium shots. I'm mostly having my way, but he usually manages to force me a little closer with a little more wide-angle distortion. Maybe it's a good thing--we'll see when the dailies come back (which won't be until Monday). I hope he doesn't get too unhappy with my minimalism over the course of the shoot.

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