Saturday, March 03, 2007
Update of the GODZ
Just got back from NYC, where we wrapped SHOWDOWN OF THE GODZ, Coverage Ink's very first film (a 20-minute comedy CI coproduced with director/producer Julien Calderbank and producer John Reefer, written by Jim Cirile & Aaron Schnore.) And what an amazing trip it was.
Even as I arrived in NYC the day before we were to begin our 1-week shoot, the problems began. First, our leading man David Caseman, whom we flew in from France to assay the role of Jesse, world's biggest Godzilla fan, arrived on set with a miserable cold, and even worse, his glasses had no nonreflective coating, meaning that movie lights were bouncing off them like solar flares. The glasses had to go--bummer, because A, David couldn't see, and B, they were actually integral to the character. Well, they WERE integral to the character! And so it goes in low-budget filmmaking--they're not integral anymore!
Fortunately, David was able to 'use' his misery which only helped his portrayal of Jesse--the put-upon loser whose world is disintegrating around him.
But more unsettling was that we still did not have our cast completely locked down even as we began shooting. Negotiations were still underway right up to the eleventh hour to get the awesome actor/musician Steve Burns ("Blue's Clues") for a role in the film. Though he loved the script, unfortunately we simply couldn't make it work with Steve's busy schedule (FYI, he is now the voice of Subway. Eat fresh, baby!) As Steve fell out, we began running behind. Very long shooting days made for a cranky crew. We were desperately low on money and several times I had to jump in and write checks to keep things together and pay for dinner and locations. Morale was plummetting.
And then something amazing happened.
We had been in negotiations with George Takei for weeks for the pivotal role of Ono, the wisecracking sushi shop owner who challenges Jesse to the Godzilla trivia showdown that ultimately changes their lives. You know how they say you should never write a role for a specific actor? Well, screw that. I wrote Ono for George Takei, and for me there was no other actor who could play that role. Sure, we had another fellow--an excellent actor to be sure--cast in the event we could not make it work with Mr. Takei. But getting Mr. Takei for this role became my goddamn mission.
And it was not easy. Takei is a busy man (now on NBC's "Heroes.") Plus the logistics of bringing Mr. Takei to NYC to the shoot were formidable and not inexpensive. And so even as Steve Burns' manager gave me the bad news, I found out that Mr. Takei, too, had a commitment on the day we needed him. But Takei loved the role and was very interested, so his people wanted to know--could we simply push the entire shoot back a day to accommodate him?
Gasp. Huddle time. I met with producer John Reefer to discuss exactly how much it would cost us to do just that--and if in fact it would even be feasible. Extending the shoot by one more day meant incurring sizable additional crew, equipment rental and insurance fees. Did I mention we were low on money?
Reefer came back with a figure of $3,500. Gulp. As of Monday, day three out of six, things looked bleak. We were not going to be able to accommodate Mr. Takei.
But then I remembered something--hey, this is a ^$#@!*&^! low-budget movie. We're supposed to be getting people to do this for love! I instructed Reefer to beg, plead, cajole and offer sloppy oral sex to everyone necessary. If we could get the cost of the extra day down to $1,000... we were a go.
Next morning, Reefer called me bubbling with excitement. He had gotten the extra day down to $800. Takei was on! I shelled out the dough out of my own pocket, closed the deal with Takei's people, and that night on set I had the pleasure of announcing to the cast and crew that George effin' Takei had accepted the role of Ono! Talk about a morale boost! A cheer went up like you would not believe, and from that point on, our overworked and underpaid crew gave 117%.
Thursday morning, Mr. Takei flew to New York City to be in our movie. Unfortunately, I had to leave the day he arrived... (grumble.) But by all accounts he was amazing--gracious, funny, charming, signing autographed Captain Sulu 8x10s for everyone and wowing our director, who humbly called directing Takei "the most amazing experience of my life." Simply put, Takei killed in the role; and we wrapped the movie a day late and a few dollars short.
But damn, the footage looks amazing.
Now we have to put it all together. I hear this will take more money. Uh oh...
Posted by Admin at 11:28 AM