Production Diary

Day 126: The Best Places to Scratch Your Film by


It feels like Christmas. After a two-week pause—somewhat unexpected, but these things happen—I’m back in the editing room this morning for the first time in weeks. What I have noticed in the meantime is how much more stressful real life is than working on a movie. I’ve missed the single-minded focus that it gives you, and also the way in which all the rest of life seems to disappear when you allow the tunnel vision, which is a movie. I begin to think that “workaholism” is not a ridiculous term, if you make the comparison to how work, like all the other “isms,” can sometimes be the best relief to the anxieties of everyday. I’ve indulged in worse vices in my life, but in this decade, this one seems to be front and center.

So I’m looking forward to the hit of the cutting room this morning. We better hurry. Due to how recently we completed production, Sundance has given us an extension on their deadline, but we have to have a presentable cut in by the end of October. We have now started the conversation on what’s the best plan for the film and it seems to begin in Utah, if we are fortunate enough to get in. I will admit I always think my films are going to be liked by everyone and that no one would possibly reject them, but I will also admit, that’s never the case. Arrogance is a risky thing. You could call it confidence also. It doesn’t save you from disappointments is what I’ve found, but it doesn’t really make those disappointments harder to swallow when they come. Which they do. I often quote (or misquote) Winston Churchill that “success is going from failure to failure, with no loss of enthusiasm.”

Some good news this week is that we cut in one of the shots that were scratched early in production—a sex scene with Thure and Zach—and then sent it to Goldcrest Post to see if they could fix it. Lucas and I went to see it screened on Friday and spent an hour or so with John Dowdell, the (openly, proudly gay) colorist, who had painstakingly spent two days fixing each of the 900 frames in the 20-second shot digitally with excellent results. It was fixed to the point that no one will notice and the shot is usable. It might be harder with other scenes—luckily we re-shot the one with James Bidgood—but it seems that sex is easier, because skin is easier to blend than the hard lines of clothing. So if you scratch your film, make sure it’s while the actors are naked.

Many questions begin to arise now, in this phase: Who will sell the film for the U.S.? Who will sell the film internationally? Do we want to screen for Cannes? For South by Southwest? For Berlin? Lots to think about, plan, plot, strategize. But for now, I get to go to the editing room.

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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