Friday, June 29, 2007

To make a long story short-- the actress we had over on Tuesday didn't pan out. To make a short story somewhat longer, the Farmer Jack never happened.

We were told to call the corporate office; we did. We explained that we'd really like to shoot in a Farmer Jack before they were gone-- that we felt they were an important part of Michigan and that we'd like to document its passing before they closed in the first week of July. We got a message back the next day:

"Can't help you. We're closing."

No nicities, just five terse mean little words. Which is, unfortunately, the way Farmer Jack's customer service was after A & P bought them out and drove them into the ground.

We had another rehearsal tonight. There are a few cobwebs to shake out-- it's been a good two weeks-- but we're more-or-less ready to begin shooting on Sunday. Some of the moments in rehearsal tonight were quite extraordinary as well-- shocking and true and revealing of both character and the skill required to bring those characters to life.

We'll let you know how the first shoot goes.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Tomorrow night, we're meeting with an actress about the still-uncast part of Sue. This actress-- a friend of ours-- is not the first person you'd think of for the part we described earlier. But then, when you stop and think about it-- yes, she'd work perfectly!

At least we hope. We'll find out tomorrow.

We're also waiting to hear from the corporate offices of Farmer Jack, a Michigan-based grocery store chain that'll be closing all its doors in about two weeks time. They've been a fixture in Michigan for decades-- we'll be sad to see them ago. We went to the one near us today. The shelves were practically bare. It was very moving in its way-- very sad, almost elegiac. And if we can grab a little of that feeling for this scene-- which is basically George just buying some toilet paper-- it could make it really be about something. It would also tie the film to a time and place that's fiercely Michiganian.

We'll start shooting at our main location this coming Sunday afternoon, after a final Friday night rehearsal.

Keep this page bookmarked and we'll be detailing these events as they happen...

Monday, June 18, 2007

Hildebrandt's on vacation, which means that rehearsals are off for the next week. We're not worried; it's shaping up quite nicely-- better than it ever has before, in fact. It's a heady feeling, and we really look forward to beginning production in July.

We've been spending the downtime trying to get the house ready to shoot. There's still things to be done-- but it's not really a whole lot. It's not like we're shooting a sci-fi epic or anything.

Our filmmaker friend has said that he's interested in the part, though he hasn't read the script yet. He's going to be getting married at the end of June, and if all goes well, and he likes the script, we'll be shooting with him one precious weekend in August. That part, Ryan, shares a lot of screentime with Sue-- Ryan's girlfriend-- a part that we haven't cast yet, and looks to be bothersome.

It's a good part, nice and solid and yet compact. Sue is a very open person, very honest, never afraid of an argument but never trying to cause injury. It's a sexy part insomuchas her openness, honesty, warmth, confidence, and intellect are very sexy qualities. We need to find a very charming young woman, mature and captivating.

We're sure we'll find her-- it's just that at the moment, we've been drawing a blank. We'll update here, of course, as our search continues.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Finished the rewrite of Sequence F today, adding four pages to the total length of the script and greatly improving "the problem section". We also lessened the melodrama of a vital scene while increasing the tension-- melodrama being an easy-out when you're writing something at three-thirty in the morning.

With this in place, we're ready to cast the smaller parts of the film. We already have our two leads-- Jacob Hildebrandt and Adrienne Patterson, who are doing a fantastic job in rehearsals.

We've just sent an e-mail to a filmmaker/actor in an adjacent state to see if they're interested in one the smaller parts. We'll keep you updated on the decision of this mystery person.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

When we finish writing a film, we don't go shopping around for other people's money. Instead, we produce it ourselves, out of our own pockets. Because of this, we don't follow screenplay format exactly; rather, we tweak the format for our own purposes.

The biggest example of this is the division of the screenplay into chapters or "sequences" of between four and fifteen pages, a device popular with the screenplays of the thirties and forties which has since fallen by the wayside. At the end of each sequence, we insert a page break, so that each new sequence starts at the beginning of a new page.

One reason why we do this is to facilitate understanding. To group scenes and shots together so that the actors understand that these parts should flow and work together, and this part is a change of pace.

Another good reason for doing this is to facilitate re-writes. If a sequence isn't working, we can rewrite that sequence and print up copies of that sequence. If we stuck to traditional modern-day screenplay format, a couple of small changes might move everything in the script down a few lines. Which would necessitate a reprinting of a huge chunk of script.

By cordoning off the sequences, it saves us time, paper, and, ultimately, money.

We mention this because we're currently rewriting Sequence F, our pentultimate sequence. The Man Who Loved is not plotted like most films-- exposition, rising action, climaxes and denounement. No false crisis or inciting incidents. It follows, instead, the structure of music-- a progression of ideas and emotions, with changes of pace and counterpoints.

That being said, Sequence F, coming right before the finale, is somewhat lacking in the necessary tension. The emphasises of the sequence-- the strained relationship of the young couple, George and Sarah; Sarah trying to fight her depression; George pulling towards his other friends, Ryan and Sue-- were clouded and unclear. And so, in order to increase the emotional tension and clarify what's going on, we're currently rewriting that sequence.

After all, what is a story but an appeal to the emotions? And what is film but a way to communicate?

Perhaps later on we'll post the older and newer versions so that you can compare and contrast, and get a better idea of the process.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Man Who Loved is a feature film being written and directed by husband-and-wife team Tom & Mary Russell. This site will endeavour to track its progress. We expect to be shooting this July and August, and to wrap post-production a couple of months after that. We're currently rounding people up for the cast, and we're knee-deep in rehearsals with those we've already got.

It's not our first film. Our last one, Milos, wrapped production in 2004. We pretty much finished the editing of the film by the beginning of 2005, though we have returned to it from time-to-time to tweak it here and there, most recently a few weeks ago. That most recent overhaul was a bit more extensive than most, lifting seven minutes out of the film.

But, for the most part, and for all intents and purposes, we haven't made a film in three years. And while we haven't been completely stagnant all this time, there are a number of reasons why we haven't attempted another feature until now. The most important is that we were still looking for the right project, one that appealed to both of us, one that we felt was important enough to eat up the better part of the year.

And in the story of a marriage, we found it.

It's a love story, but it's not about falling in love. It's about being in love. In most love stories, the couple gets together and it's happily-ever-after, all sunshine and roses and soda pop. But anyone who's actually been in an adult, long-term relationship knows that happily-ever-after is seldom the case. It takes a lot of work and effort not to strangle the other person.

And that's more-or-less what this film is about. About real love, and depression, and pain. But don't think it's a downer. It's a film that's going to be unquestionably and breathtakingly beautiful and romantic and sexy. And, we hope, a film that inspires, that makes a positive difference in your life.

As to whether we succeed or not, well, you'll just have to wait and see.