Production Diary

Day 79: What The Film Needs by

Zach Booth in front of a Neil Goldberg on set

Zach Booth in front of a Neil Goldberg on set

A wasted day off. It’s hard to rest when you are used to working. It’s hard to rest in general I find. I am one of the many who has fallen, who has stopped knowing how to read a book, who can only read a paper if I’m having a meal by myself. I still hope this changes again, reverts to the years just after college when I could read for hours, days in fact. Though I was also more depressive then. Now I’m healthier, happier, but still not very good at staying still. And with Facebook and now Twitter, and the emails, and the calls….and the dreaded cam sites. It all overwhelms me and makes my day off the opposite of peaceful. Writing helps. Though now this ”production journal” is now on the Internet—the site was launched and looks very good (though how do we get people to go to it?)—and people make comments (not many, given), and I wonder if I’ll regret some things I say. I don’t say everything.

I don’t talk much about the dynamics on set, which in this last week became more complex, though not necessarily more interesting. A subculture, a working community, has taken shape, as it does on a film. And three weeks in to production, it starts to have its own psychology. There are small factions, little fiefdoms, cliques, sub-communities. Like high school or an office, but in a film it can happen very fast and then it disbands in a day. The film wraps and the circus leaves town. Everyone on the set, I’m sure, now has people they like, people they don’t like, people they lust for, people who don’t like them. It’s a community, like any other. And having been closely together (12 hours a day at least) for almost a month, now there are issues, now there are factions. I think in many ways this is true more on a small film than a large one, though I’m sure it can happen on a large one too (see under: Apocalypse Now). But in a film of our size, the hierarchy is less clear, the roles less clearly defined. Which for the most part is a good thing, but sometimes makes relationships a little messier also.

As a director, it’s necessary at this just-past-the-middle-stage to remain above the personal in some ways, to keep the longer goal of the film close in mind. It’s not always easy, though, because you are part of the subculture also. You are inside it. So it’s good to keep that separation in mind with two weeks left. To remember that everyone needs one thing from me, which is to keep thinking of what the film needs in the long run first. While not being an asshole.

We ended our week with four locations in one day. Too many, but it was fine. We’ve become pretty fast. Though the moves kill us and it seemed to me maybe a truck got lost. I had a long talk at De Roberti’s with the owner’s sister, Annie, who has worked there all her life. Now she has grandchildren herself and we talked about our grandmothers. She told me hers went back to Italy in her 80s, always traveling by boat, and then she was going to come back to New York to see her five great grandchildren, but she got a stroke and never made it. Our costume designer Liz Vastola’s great-grandfather had worked at De Roberti’s and she points out a photograph on the wall that seemed to be taken in the 1940s. And I hadn’t been there since summers during college when I was working in the neighborhood (assisting Eric Bogosian and spending some time at PS122) and would go there for a late night coffee with friends. I like that our locations have some of this history in them.

Took a shower. Feel better. I think I just need to keep going.

Ira Sachs

writer, director, blogger

Ira Sachs is a writer and director based in New York City. His films include Married Life (2007), The Delta (1997) and the 2005 Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning Forty Shades of Blue. His most recent film, Last Address, a short work honoring a group of NYC artists who died of AIDS, has been added to the permanent collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art and MoMA and played at the 2011 Venice BIennale. Sachs teaches in the Graduate Film department at NYU and is a fellow at both the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. He is also the founder and co-curator of Queer/Art/Film, a monthly series held at the IFC Center in New York, as well as the newly established Queer/Art/Mentorship, a program that pairs and supports mentorship between queer working artists in NYC.

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