May 19, 1996

Just got back from a busy weekend in Pennsylvania (where almost two-thirds of my shoot will take place) with Bill, Alex, and Robin. We hunted locations, took photos of existing locations for the cinematographer, met with potential crew members, and gathered information on resources in the area. We got a lot done, but there's a lot left to be done.

The advantages of shooting in and around my home town are enormous. I can use family-owned locations, without time restrictions. I have the services of my parents (producers are but a pale imitation of God's originals) and relatives, who will be especially useful in providing food and taking care of emergencies. And the novelty of a film shoot in Northeastern Pennsylvania makes it easier to get help from total strangers. But there are disadvantages to going on location as well, like the extra money spent on lodgings and food, and the need to commute to New York for dailies and equipment. The current problem is that we have to plan a two-week shoot from 150 miles away. Even with help from family and friends, we'll want to spend time in Pennsylvania finding local resources, time that can't be spared easily.

One hoped-for location in Pennsylvania was redesigned since I last saw it, and was no longer appropriate; another turned out to be inaccessible except via a long forced march carrying heavy equipment. We scrambled and came up with substitute locations. There's a bigger location snafu: I wrote into the script a visit to the Laurel Run coal mine fire, which seems no longer to be visible on most days. We're still investigating the mine fire, but we may have to change that scene. I hate to give it up, partly because it's a bit of an homage to Rossellini, a director I like.

Tonight I printed out the first version of the script that has neat page breaks and a cover page. This is a symbolic gesture that bestows upon the script an aura of permanence. In actuality, we'll probably be hacking away at it until the cameras roll, but it's nice to have something official-looking.

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