Production Diary

Day 88: Thriller in Central Park by

Paprika Steen on Set in Central Park. Photo by Jean Christophe Husson.

Paprika Steen on Set in Central Park. Photo by Jean Christophe Husson.

A funny day. Paprika Steen was with us for her two scenes and she is a brilliant rush of humor, intelligence, and great acting. Working with her and Thure in the middle of Central Park was silly fun and also very difficult. Not because of them, but because shooting in a public park—not unlike shooting sex—is full of surprising challenges. From the director’s perspective it was almost like a thriller because there are all these potential “hits” that might get you (a.k.a., stop the scene) at any moment. Some of the things you have to look out for: the flute player, the Mexican combo, the Church of the World gathering at the band shell, the intermittent downfalls, the group of French tourists who stop to watch. Not to mention that we were working with a dolly and the scene kept being too long to fit into the number of tracks. So editing down on location (thank you, Thure and Paprika). We shoot for several hours, break for lunch—turns out Paprika worked selling t-shirts at what is now Le Pain Quotidien, back in 1983—and then in the last half hour I realize I’ve perhaps staged the whole thing wrong. Instead of two short scenes timed to dollies, I realize I can do the whole scene in one if I use a long lens and the paths of Central Park, from a distance to the camera. We are running out of time before the storm. And the drummer at the band shell will only delay his sound check for another fifteen minutes. The last take is the best. It pours.

Heading out to shoot the last scene in the movie. I will walk the 19 blocks up to the set, which is, by some coincidence (some not) in front of the same building where my ex used to work. I remember taking this walk in harder, tougher times, sometimes in the middle of the night, alone. My sister asked me if filming scenes that were reminiscent of very painful times in my past was very difficult, and I have to admit, they aren’t. This movie comes out of some sort of catharsis that happened in the wake of what was the hardest time in my life. I feel on the other side of a lot of what hurt. It starts by not holding on to anything that’s shameful. Even my mother reads these production diaries and she’s fine. Hi, Mom.

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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