Meeting Mark, Julia and Bill
Okay, so I'm in the Foreign Correspondents production office to meet producer Julia, UPM Bill, and Mark the writer/director whom I will woo so he'll hire me to be his script supervisor. If you're lucky enough to be the script supervisor on a movie, you get to sit next to the director and write lots of notes in your notebook that very few people understand. You also get to wear a stop watch. Daylong proximity to the director is a requirement, working with a nice director is a luxury.
"You're fired!" Mark yells at Bill. Bill smiles. He's been fired 4 times this morning - 2 more in the following 24 seconds. Julia assures me you're not in Mark's movie until you've been fired. She explains it's this little game they play where he fires people, mostly Bill. It's silly really, she says. Mark fires her.
Day 1 Sunday July 20, 1997
Today we begin filming at Todd-A-O (formerly Skywalker Sound, so it's doubly cool).
The movie is in two parts, separate stories shot in separate locations. "Dear Jenny" stars Melanie Lynskey, Wil Wheaton & Lisa LoCicero and will be shot in Los Angeles, while "Love, Trevor" stars Corin Nemec, Yelena Danova & Steve Valentine and will be shot in San Francisco. Lots of cool and interesting actors will stop in for small parts throughout the shoot, from Mr. Blackwell (of "Mr. Blackwell's List of Best Dressed") to James Michael Tyler (Gunther the Rachel-smitten coffee shop guy in Friends). Today's special because it's the only day we'll be filming actors from both stories on the same day.
My job involves a lot of little tedious things - far more than I knew about when I decided to become a script supervisor. Every time the camera rolls, I announce which scene and take number to put on the slate so the sound and film rolls coordinate with the script (the master shot along with all the different close-ups and angles within a single scene have to be labeled separately). In turn, I note all of this in my script for the editor's reference during post-production (so he knows where to find a particular shot during our non-chronological shooting schedule and which take the director prefers). I also keep track of what we've shot and what we still need to shoot, the running time of each take and how much screen time we've shot and still owe, and all continuity (from knowing what word the actor was saying when he set down the glass during the master shot to making sure all props and wardrobe are consistent throughout the scenes). It can be pretty stressful, especially since everything needs to be kept straight throughout the entire shoot.
We begin the morning by shooting a series of successive scenes with Melody (played by Melanie) sitting at her receptionist desk, answering phones in one scene, daydreaming in another. I call scene 19 scene 26 by accident, Wardrobe catches the error, and I have to admit to the crew I messed up on the 2nd set-up on our first morning. Mark leans in. "You're fired."
We then shoot the theater scene with Wil and Melanie, then record voice-over stuff with Corin Nemec and Steve Valentine, followed by lunch.
Costume designer Caroline walks over to discuss the day breakdown (the number of different days as written in the script) with me and Mark, imploring him to combine some days or she'd just have too many clothes for the budget. She loses some fights, then gains one which throws off my whole day count. Since it's Day 13, Mark suggests we omit it and say because it's unlucky. I say not if you're an Addams Family fan and I am.
We eventually get to the car scene, which involves Corin and Steve driving around town with the camera stuck out the window (facing them) and director Mark and sound Dean scrunched down in the back seat. A group of us sat in a van and waited for them to get started (then for them to move on). Mark's pleased because it's the really small film crew he'd rather work with (instead of dealing with juggling different departments and keeping up with which responsibility goes where).
During a break, Corin and Steve get in the van with us to enjoy the air conditioner. Corin's sporting an English accent that's very convincing. When wardrobe Bethan, who's from Wales, asks him where he's from and he answers Arkansas, she says she thought he was from London. He smiles - his accent passed! Then Stan gaffer and I start talking about The Dark Side of Oz, which I watched last night. When Corin hears us talking Pink Floyd, he says he likes Pink Floyd, but didn't know about the Wizard of Oz thing. Steve and Sherry want more details, which I give them (you watch Wizard of Oz with the sound down and listen to Dark Side of the Moon, and it becomes a whole new music video). Corin says he'll have to try that - but it sounds like he should have a couple of mushrooms before, huh? We laugh, and the conversation turns toward Mars Attacks! (Steve played Sarah Jessica Parker's TV director). Eventually talk swings to Corin's father being a production designer (Twister, Speed 2, Patriot Games), and they're called away to work.
We finish at the LAX parking lot, where huge planes fly right over our heads and over palm trees. Very picturesque, but it scares one of the crewmembers.