Saturday, July 14, 2007

Rambling My Way Back to Reality

We wrapped on Thursday night -- one day late. I worked 12-15 hour days all week. The experience was exhilarating, exasperating, energizing, frustrating, satisfying and terrifying. If you've ever been in production, you know what I mean. I have too much to blog about.

It's Saturday now, and I'm just returning to my regular schedule (with two months of post-production thrown on top). I'm a pretty typical personality type for a writer. You can leave me alone with my books and notebooks and I won't need much else. I O.D. on human contact pretty quickly. I need a fair amount of daily ritual and a great deal of autonomy to be happy. The drive to get that back was deep and visceral.

Returning to your daily life gives you a great perspective on yourself. I'm thinking a lot about what I hold dear. I've structured how I live my life (and made significant sacrifices) in order to have a few hours free per day to write, read, and think. I'm 40, and it is all worth it. I'm also seeing that as I approach my writing again, I keep jumping up to do dishes or check email. I've let my attention get untrained. I'll need to deal with that in the coming weeks.

I also have thoughts about my own projects. I'm shying away from a script that's been causing me problems for ages. I'm gravitating to a comedy. I'm feeling lazy and behind with all of it.

I have to keep telling myself that actually moving something I wrote out of my head and into the real world is not lazy and does not put me behind. It's the opposite, I guess. But it's not writing, and so there's a nagging feeling that it just doesn't count.

But of course it does, and the experience of the last week will make me a better writer. I said that we'd run a day over our planned shoot schedule. This was largely due to the DP (cameraman) and the gaffer constantly adjusting and reqdjusting lights and camera settings. They'd try out new ideas. We'd be ready to shoot, and they, like unherdable cats, would be off checking whether we could kill that shadow by hanging two 300's off a polecat. Then endless swapping of gels and diffusions. And then deciding to go back to the original set up and adding a bounce card. And so on. It took hours to light each scene, even when we'd decided beforehand what to do. Somehow the plans were never good enough.

I was perplexed at first, and then frustrated and then angry. And then it dawned on me. I had a moment where I saw the light -- quite literally. I could 'see' how the gaffer saw the light. It was a substance for him -- something tangible somehow, and elusive, full of wonder and a strange, unpredictable energy. Light is to him what words are to me. And the gaffer was doing what I'd done with the script -- rewriting it over and over again. Looking at every possible angle. Trying things, quite open to the possibility that they probably won't work, but realizing that the only way to get to the answer is to try it out. I'd changed every scene in that script numerous times. He was doing the same thing.

He was telling the story. He was telling my story. And he was doing it with light. My impatience became patience. My exhaustion became exhilaration. And missing a few days of writing wasn't so bad after all.

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