Thursday, September 30, 2004

Flake

I'm feeling rather shitty today. Down in the dumps I guess. Not too fitting for someone who's blog is titled "naturally optimistic." I'm sure I'll get over it. But here's the thing - what is up with flakey friends?

I’m very upset today. I’m so disappointed in my girlfriend…yes, that’s right. I have one locally. Okay 2 but barely. Twice this week she flaked on me. One of those “I’ll call you – yeah let’s get together at 8 to watch Mean Girls” and then nothing – no phone call, no emails, etc. So I call her…no one’s home. I leave a message….I call again 2 hours later…still no one home. I’m stuck in between totally annoyance and being worried. What if something has happened? What if some emergency has come up and I’m sitting here getting pissy about blown off plans. Well, today when J was at work he talked to Friend's Hubby and they “had a fabulous time down at Luce last night.” Apparently she was meeting a friend down there and they all went and hung out….Hi, My Name is CHOPPED LIVER. I could just cry. I’m so sick of being the one that is completely just forgotten about! I’m considering not even bothering any more. I’m apparently such a bad friend – why should I even try. That’s why I have internet and a gagillion movie channels at home, right? So I never have to leave my house AGAIN.

Sorry – I just am really upset about this today – one thing sets me off and then I sit there and self analyze what the h*ll is wrong with me and why I have no (local) friends. Then I get really sad and want to bury my head in the sand, smoke cigarettes and finish that box of wine that I have in the fridge. *sigh*

Friday, September 24, 2004

Delivered

Yay!! As of 10:29 this morning (that's PST, btw) the film has been signed, sealed and delivered to the Sundance Film Festival office in Beverly Hills, CA.

I think I'll go have a beer!

:-)

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Time's Up

The last time I submitted something to the Sundance Film Festival...it was a struggle. Deadlines kick you in your ass. No matter how much we seemed to prepare...the date loomed and when it arrived we weren't exactly ready.

The deadline was on a Friday and still on Wednesday night there was much music mixing, dialogue mixing, smoothing out of effects and getting the cut to look at the very least "okay." We could've submitted a work-in-progress. That's accepted but we shunned the idea. NOT US! We will not submit anything before it's time....and looked down our noses at the thought. J was working all night with the other J on making everything just right...by Thursday morning I was typing up various "press kit" info - bios, cast lists, synopses, whatever they wanted but naturally troubles persisted through the day. The computer kept crashing, J2 ran out of smokes (and was getting married in less than 2 weeks - nope - no stress here!), the computer crashed again, the sounds weren't working, the sounds didn't exsist and WHAT is that buzzing sound. It went on like this for hours....into the night and finally the final morning.

I was at work at my day job...nervously typing, filing, answering the phone and other office crap. I was trying my damndest not to pick up the phone and inquire how "things" were going. 11am...6 hours til deadline.

I received the call maybe a half an hour later..."the power went out" "what do you mean? did you blow a fuse?" "No, the power went out on the entire BLOCK." "What?? an entire block of Hollywood lost power just because?" "That's not the worst part of it....the tape is stuck in the VCR."

Yes, during the last stressful hours the VCR, which had lost power with a great deal of other folks in the neighborhood and ate the tape. Naturally we started running around like chickens with no heads. I left work. I don't even think I feigned illness...I just had to go.

By time I got home - power was restored and things were "sort of" working again...but the minutes were ticking away.

Deadline 5pm

Our location Hollywood approx 8 miles from drop off location.

PROBLEM - RUSH HOUR ON A FRIDAY....

The tape was complete at 4:30...not nearly enough time to get the submission in. We were praying for Batman to arrive and take us there or at least someone with a helicopter....but no one.

J2's suggestion...."C- hop on my bike."

The next 25 minutes were spent whizzing through traffic, careening down Santa Monica Blvd, splitting the lanes and driving in between cars. Being the first to start from every stoplight. Nothing like Santa Monica Blvd, on a Friday, in Los Angeles - WHEN IT'S UNDER CONSTRUCTION. Ah memories. We only were hit by one SUV (yes, SUV hit motorcycle....but we did a quick casualty count, were deemed okay and took off again - much to the dismay of the SUV driver).

At approximately 4:55 we pulled up - J2 squeezed the bike into a tiny space in between parked cars (right in front of the office doors - gotta love that about small bikes), we ripped off our helmets and smoothed out flyway yet sweaty hair and headed inside. I was exhilarated, nervous, excited, hot & sweaty. Upon the two of us, frazzled and buzzing with motorcycle adrenaline, opening the door - we discovered that apparently everyone has as stressful of a day as we did when submitting to Sundance. It was like looking in a mirror...

The ride back to Hollywood was much more enjoyable. We took a scenic "short cut" through Santa Monica and traveled the snaking Sunset Blvd through Brentwood and past UCLA. We didn't make it into Sundance that year but I will always have fond (?) memories of the attempt to do so...

I hope this year is even better. The film was submitted at about 11am this morning via FedEx. Wish us luck!!

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

T-Minus...

The end is near. One night left to work on the film. One night and it's done*. Eighteen months comes down to this.

I *cough cough* stayed "home" from work yesterday to "recup" from illness. 14 hours later I came home - my brain melted from staring at the computer all day long. From watching progress bars SLOWLY fill up with the desired blue hue to tell me that my render was finished; searching desperately for scenes that were SUPPOSED to be mastered...and guess what? WEREN'T. 14 hours of eating "Barrel O' Fun" Kettle Korn and not having nearly enough diet coke.

Tonight is the night. Will fix transitions, will change out old audio for newly sparkly fresh mixed audio - will make VHS....will be in bed before midnight hopefully...

I don't hold out much hope for MAKING Sundance, but at least I'll make the deadline....


*done really doesn't mean "done." After this we will take a couple weeks off...then regroup to put together a final edit and complete the remaining scenes, music, credit sequence, etc.


Thursday, September 16, 2004

I just got finished reading this article in today's LA Times and man did it make me homesick for Los Angeles.

I lived in L.A. for about 5 1/2 years. From November of 1996 to July of 2002. Throughout that time I never fell in love with the city...in fact I mostly disliked living there. It's funny how time colors things in a different light. As I read about the different shops, strip malls, signs, crumbling cinemas and more in the article, it made me realize how precious every moment is wherever you are. Sure I hated the traffic, the insane number of cars on the road, the masses of people, the non-openness of strangers (hey I'm from the midwest - I'm used to FRIENDLY), the expensive apartments, the expensive groceries, gas, movie ticket prices, tax on clothes, food, etc...there are a lot of things I miss.

Having cocktails at Goldfingers - one of Hollywood's fine dives.

Not wearing a jacket...ever. Well, mostly ever...but no winter coats that's for sure.

My friends. God I miss them.

Halloween in LA

Getting ever so slightly caught up in the Hollywood hype.

Planting flowers in the actual SPRING as opposed to up here... in June.

Every cool music group came to LA.

Being exposed to lots and lots of different types of people - cultures, lifestyles, you name it.

Being an hour from the mountains and (depending on traffic) 30 minutes from the ocean.

God, my heart is absolutely aching - why do I miss it? I hated it!! Is it because I feel like I gave up on something? Lost my 20's there? Am missing out on what's happening now? I have no idea but at times like this I just don't even understand myself. It does make me yearn for a digital camera so I can start documenting the everydayness of Duluth so that when I move on I will be certain that I looked & cherished the details.

*sigh*

9 Days

Well, a little progress was made last night. It’s always a slow start, even when I get there early. Very frustrating. We worked on finishing a couple of the 8mm scenes, listened (& critiqued) some of the new music R has created for a couple sequences. I also made a list of everything that has to be done by next Thursday. Ugh. My brain was a complete marshmallow by about 10:20. That wasn’t even 4 hours of work? What is wrong with me?

On another front – our new mattress has come in – yipeee! The boy had to go out of town for work today – and I’m at work so unfortunately we will have to wait til Monday for delivery but that’s no big deal. We’re gone this weekend anyway so the official count of nights on the crappy bed is 2. Hallelujah! And just to be nice – the crappy bed gave us both a wonderful night of sleep, a snuggly kitty (Beavis) and a silent kitty (Iko) and no new cat pee in the basement! Yes!

And on the third & final front…I’m depressed today…again about money. I just don’t know how I can be in such a state. I’m a good person. I pay my bills, I don’t really spend on myself (well, the occasional case of beer, book, CD, new mattress pad for said mattress) but my god, it’s neverending. I have by paying off the first film since 1999….I have new debt from current film…when will it end?!? My job pays pretty well –especially for Duluth but I feel like there’s a gigantic boulder sitting on my chest every time I think about not quite being able to squeak by. And it seems to be getting worse. How can that be?! The boy has moved in and is helping me with the mortgage & utilities….I’m eating his food (much to his disdain I’m sure)…every time I figure out…”Oh October is going to be the month when I finally catch up” – it isn’t! It’s incredibly frustrating and depressing and when I think about the trips I want to go on, the things I’d like to do with the house – I cringe. I can’t bear to put things on the credit card any more. I don’t have time to get a 2nd job…but I’m not sure what else to do. We’re having a garage sale the first weekend in October (come by! Great deals on lots of fabulous items) but I hardly think that is going to pull me out of any hole. *sigh* I’m seriously considering working at the Encoding Center again this Christmas is they ask me. It is the most soul-sucking job I’ve ever done, but it pays well. I don’t need a social life, do I?

But alas...it somehow always works out. I know that if I keep working hard and doing what I need to do - I'll be a step closer to financial freedom every day. It's frustrating but a good lesson in practicing patience and discipline (with myself...). The hardest part is not being able to buy my friends & family crazy presents. For that I feel very guilty. *sigh* (besides, once I sell the film for bucco bucks I won't have to worry about my silly little bills, will I? heh heh - hey I can dream...)

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Light at the End of the Tunnel

In the beginning there is only an idea. A thought. A burbling up of unconscious naggings in the brain. “you should write that, shoot this, make it…” In the beginning the slate is clean, the pockets full (or at least not as empty as at the end), your brain is refreshed, the creative juices are flowing and you are ready to go.



Like everything else in life…things change.



We are now in month 18 of the fledgling film project entitled Newton’s Disease. Yep. 18 months. 18 months of planning, auditioning, stressing, begging for money, spending, planning some more, shooting, editing, stressing, auditioning more, more begging, crying, laughing, meeting incredible people, wanting to strangle (some) of said incredible people, editing, editing, editing and sitting down at the end of each day exhausted.



Exhausted by the fact that that no matter how much you care about this project, it won’t make other people see it through your eyes. No matter how much you love it, caress it, cajole it, entice it – it will be a stubborn bitch and make you work your ass off for it. No one will ever care about it as much as you do. Ever. They might like it. Become intrigued, want to see more, hear horror stories and share daydreams about where it might take you…but they won’t stress about it like you will. They won’t live it.



So that’s where I’m at. I’ve been working on an independent feature film for 18 months. Our investors are scarce and most of the financing has come out of my & the director’s pockets. We’re broke. I’m just now (well, by next October) paying off one of my loans for the first film I produced back in 1999. It’s a weight I’ve carried for 5 years and I can’t let it go yet and it sucks. But I love this film. I have come to love the characters and love how the characters have changed from being a collection of words and ideas on paper into fully developed 3-D things in front of my very eyes. The creative process has been amazing. The things that you are adamant about in your head during pre-production simply break apart and fall away when you’re faced with realities of the situation. That can be good and it can be bad… I can still picture the characters as I had drawn them in my head. They seem like long-lost relatives of the actors inhabiting the characters on screen. It is something totally intangible yet amazing and incredible to see.



I trust my director completely. He also wrote & is producing as well. He makes good decisions (most of the time) and really fights for what he wants. He’s as stubborn as an ass and can really get under my skin but I’ve learned to fight only the important battles and let everything else go. Otherwise it’s WAY too much tension for the confrontational-hating-editor/actor. We slogging through. We have only a few days left. The light is there…just on the other side of next Thursday….I can see it. I can actually see it!!



So now we’re at the end. The mountain has been scaled. We’ve only lost a few non-important appendages in the process and no one has died or been left on the trail so that is a good thing. It’s been close at times. We’ve had our share of heartaches and impossible situations to overcome. But we’ve made some great friendships, grown artistically and learned more than film school could ever teach us (again).



Why am I writing this? Well, I feel that there will be a series of adieus yet to come. This has consumed much of my free time for the past 18 months. It’s bittersweet. Mostly sweet right now because I am burnt out. I am sick of going every night after work to sit inside and edit – staring at a computer screen for way too many hours every day. But there’s something sad about finishing a project too. Lord knows I’m not there yet, but when it comes I know a giant emotional letdown is headed my way. In the past 18 months, camping trips have gone to the wayside, family gatherings have been missed, scrapbooking days with my sister have been constantly postponed. I have given this project a lot of me over the past year and I’m about to drive the final push and see what happens. And yes, it will be nice to get that part of me back again.



We will submit to Sundance next week. It is a LONGSHOT and we both know this. But it is something that we have to do. The film will be rough. There will be temp tracks of music and some of the scenes will still need to be massaged into place. The audio will need to be mixed and the ending will need to be cut (we’ll be inserting a shot of said director explaining the last few minutes – a 6 camera feast for the eyes that we’re just not going to get to….). We probably won’t make the festival. There are only 16 spots open for American narrative feature length film competition. Sixteen. Out of thousands. I’m going to say we won’t be getting into competition. There are other showcases – the Americana showcase, the midnight screenings….obviously we’d gladly show the film at 3am in a barn if people would come and watch it…but the important thing right now is the goal is within reach. The goal of shooting a feature film and submitting it to Sundance in my 31st year of life (well, technically 32nd year I guess…) is about to be reached.



And then I ask…..



What will I do then?


10 Days

I should’ve started a blog when I started producing this movie. Oh there would’ve been numerous horror stories about the blood, sweat and tears (all mine) that go into making an independent film. Mostly I’ve repressed the bad in an effort to protect my self from insanity. However, now I fear all that is left is craziness. Craziness of rushing towards a deadline when we know that we are not going to be able to complete a finished project. Craziness that comes from sitting in front of a computer for 8 hours during my day job and then another 4-5 hours while trying to finish the film (no wonder I have infiltrates in my eyes!!) Craziness that comes from being so close to completion that I can taste it…almost.

*sigh*

That being said this next week is going to be a bitch. I do not have time to wash dishes, clean my sinks, sweep the kitchen floor, do laundry, mow the yard, read, hang out with the Boy, watch tv, surf the ‘net (well, at work I do but I’m blocked from so many g.d. sites!!), make lovely dinners, hang out with friends, get ready for the garage sale or finish editing my cousin’s wedding. Ugh. I am on overload. And I really miss the Boy…(thankfully he lives with me now so at least I see him here and there….).

I just want it to end.

If I can muster the energy I’ll start posting various production horror stories…perhaps the “Carrster’s car gets totaled during day 4 of production” from the first film I made… or “Specially made ‘red-eye’ contacts disappear from Carrster’s house – new contacts ordered but are stuck in customs in Nashville!” or “Where the hell did the film go?” followed by personal anecdotes…”why do the cats have to spray in the house.” And “oh my god, the kitchen floor is so dirty I want to puke.”

I need a vacation. DESPERATELY.

And – the countdown to Sundance Deadline – 10 days.

*gulp*

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Thoughts on the Weekend

String cheese is hard to eat while driving.

So is easy cheese.

Miscommunication runs rampant even when everyone has a cell phone.

I prefer pork chops to steak.

I don’t care for public hot tubs.

Hotels that don’t recycle are lame.

Women + moustaches = not good & slightly frightening.

Nothing tastes better than an ice cold beer on a hot sunny day. (well, maybe ice cream…)

My cousins drink a lot of beer.

Teeing off with a marshmallow is not as easy as it sounds.

I love my 5 wood.

I can make good shots when there’s no pressure.

BJ gives excellent golfing advice.

Cheesy potatoes are goooooooooood.

My Dad is a superhero.

I love the fact that my whole big crazy family gets together several times a year.

Eating too much and feeling bloated for hours sucks ass.

I don’t like gambling. I’m way too cheap.

Spilling your entire glass of Diet Coke on the floor sucks! At least there were free refills.

Driving home alone is a lot easier & less painful when I know someone’s there waiting for me.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Days Like Today

It's days like today that I want to eat up. I want to savor every moment and bask in the fleeting sunshine. I went for a walk this afternoon during my lunchour instead of my normal trip home. It was heavenly and I found myself questioning why I don't do this daily instead of rushing off to do dishes, pay bills, clean the litter box....why don't I stroll across the bridge, pretend I'm a tourist for an hour, gaze out at the lake, sit in the sunshine and breathe in the fresh clean northland air instead? Well, mostly because the weather is only decent one out of 100 days...but today was delicious.

I watched the sunlight tickle the ripples on the harbor, the seagulls circle overhead, the tourists asking for directions and deciding which boat cruise or tour to go on and it's Friday on top of it. What a lovely lunch hour.

On a side note - I'm off to the "R--- Family Golf Classic" this weekend- should be fun...it usually is. A scramble of all of the good, bad and ugly golfers in my family followed by an awards banquet and much beer consumption...I wish I knew how to load pics on my site! ah well...I'm off!!

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Eye have a Problem

Here is a good reason to listen to your mother, your boyfriend, your friends, your co-workers and everyone else who tells you to stop wearing old contacts and go to the eye doctor. It's called corneal neovascularization And it sucks. My eyes ache...well one in particular. I have some minor scarring and tiny blood vessels growing over my cornea (where they're not supposed to be) to try to deliver oxygen to my eyes. I guess wearing contacts for 16 hours or so a day is not recommended...at least not the kind that I had. So, I go back on Tuesday and hopefully I will have healed...at least a little bit! Right now I am going to STOP looking at a computer screen.

Friday, September 03, 2004

Summer

Well, summer has finally arrived in the Northland. Too bad it's 3 months too late. *sigh*

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Appreciation

As I was sitting at my desk this morning – thinking ho-hum thoughts about my job, life, path etc it suddenly dawned on me to knock it off. I’m not one to get depressed or down too often (hence the blog name) but I do occasionally drift off into the land of melancholy for a few hours here and there…uncertain if the choices I’ve made in life have been correct, never being able to leave the "what am I waiting for" feelings behind and generally getting frustrated with my daily existence.

Of course I feel those things. I think everyone does to some extent. And for those who don’t, I’m green with envy.

Yes, I’m not happy with working a "day job." Unfortunately I am good at doing menial office tasks…typing, filing, answering phones, reports in excel, etc. I have a brain in my head and I like to get things done…and I’ve been doing this work now for about 7 years so I have some experience…which leads to quite good paying jobs and along with that the daily rut.

But, I have food on my table every day. I have a roof over my head. A roof that I actually own. I have a man that I love to pieces and who loves me back. I have heat in the winter, I have a yard with grass in the summer. I have an incredible family who is close knit, who loves me and supports me. I have amazing friends. I think about some people in our city, state, country, world who have to work multiple jobs just to make ends meet; just to put a little bread or rice on the table and I redden with shame. I think about people who have no access to clean water, no clothes to cover naked bodies, no medicines to heal those that are sick and I am filled with guilt. The biggest crises in my life right now have to deal with getting my film done in time for Sundance (what a lofty goal as compared to making a difference in the world…sheesh) or the fact that my bike got stolen a few days ago.

Sure, I’m not using my creative talents in a way that I would like, I suffer from middle-America malaise when I get up each morning and wonder what it’s all about. I get crabby at stupid drivers; annoyed at people writing checks in a long, slow-moving line at the grocery store (which happens to be nearby, well lit, always fully stocked and open 24 hours – and I complain?!?), doing daily chores can be, well, a chore…but over all…I have it pretty damn good. I need to spend more time being thankful for what I have and trying to improve my corner of the world – by being a better neighbor, friend, citizen, partner – and go from there. I may not be rich. I may struggle through certain times of the month financially.

I may dream for bigger and better things…but it’s time to start appreciating what I already have.