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© Joe Swanberg 2004-2005
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Friday, April 30, 2004

I was able to finish up a 32 minute cut late last night and print it to video for the screening today. I watched it, to make sure the tape was OK, and I already know that a lot of it needs to be changed. The pacing in the beginning is all off, and I have a few ideas to fix it. I will listen to suggestions tonight and I'm excited to get back home and tear into it.

We left Chicago at 6:30 this morning and now I'm in Carbondale finishing up an editing job I've been working on for over a year now. This is the last few hours of work that I will do on this project. Kristin, Kate, and Kevin are somewhere in Carbondale raising hell and we are going to meet at 5PM to get everything set up for the screening at 6. I'm exhausted, but totally excited to be here. I just hope people show up.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

I have spent most of my waking hours this week capturing and editing. I've finally started to add some music to the cut for the Carbondale screening, and it's interesting to see how much things change as soon as there's music there.

Last night we conducted the first full interview for the film. Kristin did the interview while I went and bought crickets for my frogs. I wanted to leave her alone with the subject. We decided a long time ago that I would interview the girls and she would interview the boys. I figured that this might give the interviews an interesting perspective, because I thought that boys would be able to open up more to girls and talk on a different level, and I don't know what I thought about girls talking to me, but I figured we might as well try it and see what happens.

We are shooting the scene on the stoop between Ellen and Chris today. It's a quick scene, but it has to do a lot to convey that Chris isn't a totally unlikable character. This is the first chance for the audience to really get to know him. I believe that there are no good guys and bad guys...just guys...and girls, and some people are more confused and insecure than others. I see Chris as a guy who is extremely insecure and always in competition with the people around him. It makes him seem like an asshole, but he can be a really good guy when he doesn't feel threatened in a situation.

Tonight I have to get all the editing done and print the first 30 minutes or so to tape. We are leaving at 7AM tomorrow morning, so I can't be up all night. It's just a test screening, and not everything's going to be perfect, but I really want to give the audience a good idea of what we are trying to do. Damn, I need an oil change for my car. Maybe I can do that in Carbondale.

Monday, April 26, 2004

Yesterday was huge. We worked pretty much non-stop from 2PM - 9:30PM. It doesn't seem like that many hours, but we were shooting two very intense sex scenes, so when you think about Kate and Kevin having to be naked and intimate for that long, you can start to see how exhausting it was. But we got the sex scenes done, and now they don't have to worry about them anymore. I was very adament about getting those scenes out of way, because they were looming over everyone's heads. Yesterday was Kevin's first time acting, and we threw him right into the deep end. He did great though, and I'm sure I will be able to cut a very nice scene.

Speaking of cutting, I will be doing that tonight. I will probably spend most of tonight capturing the footage, but if it's not too late, I will try my hand at cutting the scenes. If not, that can be done tomorrow.

First things first, I have to put together a flyer for our screening on Friday. The four of us are going down to Carbondale, where Kate, Kristin, and I went to school, to show the beginning of the film. We really want feedback from a young audience, becuase that's who the film is aimed at. Kate did some great sketches for the flyer, so I just need to put it together. My friend Chris Sato is going to post them up around the department this week.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I didn't work today, so I spent the morning making a schedule and figuring out when we can shoot over the next two weeks, and I spent the afternoon looking through yesterday's footage and capturing the good stuff. I'm hoping to edit in the morning tomorrow because I'm leaving for Champaign-Urbana in the afternoon for "Roger Ebert's Overlooked Film Festival."

There are two panels that I am very excited about attending on Thursday. The first is called, "How To Make a Movie For Peanuts," and the second will be hosted by Jack Valenti (who I believe is the devil) and it's called, "Impact of Digital Technology." I'm very curious to see if Valenti just whines the whole time about how digital technology is ruining movies. I'm looking forward to getting to meet the man in person and size him up. Maybe he's not as bad as he seems. Or maybe he's worse...

I will be back and forth between here and Champaign-Urbana for the next few days, trying to see as many films as I can and still get some work done for this film. It's gonna be fun. Lots of driving, lots of thinking.

I was planning on going to Ebert's Festival with my good friend Greg Vasich, but he was killed in a car accident on April 9, only 40 minutes after he dropped me off at my apartment. We had been at Northwestern University seeing John Bailey talk about cinematography. "Kissing on the Mouth" will be dedicated to Greg. He did get to see some footage from the film, so I am happy about that, but I'm sad he won't get to see the finished film.

Monday, April 19, 2004

OK, it's time to play catch up...

Friday, April 16

I took some of the footage that I shot with Kristin and cut it into the sequence where Kate spends the day at home by herself.

Saturday, April 17

I took captured and cut there scene where Laura gives Patrick a haircut. I cut the in a really different way than we had planned it. I basically compressed two scenes into one, but I think it works a lot better. I also cut the masturbation scene in the shower. I'm happy with the way it turned out. I showed all of our edited footage to Josh Buursma, his girlfriend Gerri, and his friend Glenn. Their response was positive and it was nice motivation to keep forging ahead. They all liked the acting, which made me feel a lot better about everything, because that's what I was most afraid of. They were very silent while they watched the footage. I hope this means that they were captivated, and not bored. I don't know what kind of reaction I expected, but in the end they seemed to like it, so maybe future audiences will also be very quiet during the film.

I talked to Bill Rowley (head of the Cinema & Photography department at Southern Illinois University) for a long time today. He told me about a book called, "The Shape of Time" and asked me to think about whether this film is the end of one type of filmmaking, or the beginning of another. I hope it's the beginning of another, but I can't deny that even though I am trying to do new things, I have a hard time shaking the influence of everything I've ever seen. Bill said that both the end of the old and the beginning of the new are important. He's excited about arranging a test screening of the footage on Friday, April 30. I'm curious to see how a college audience reacts to the first 30 minutes. I wish school weren't ending so soon, so I could show them the finished film, but hopefully I can get people interested with the beginning of the film, then I can show the whole film when school starts up again in the fall.

Sunday, April 18

I showed the new scene to Kristin and she had mixed feeling about the haircut scene. It was different than she expected, which took her out of it. After she watched it a second time and we talked about it, she felt better about the scene. I told her that I wanted that scene to be a bit of a game for the audience. They get to figure out the order that things happened, and it plays with time. Laura and Patrick are playing a bit of a game with each other, and it's fun and nervous for them, and I want it to be similar for the audience.


I shot some footage in the apartment with Kate, then she drove my car out the suburbs and I shot lots of driving footage. This footage will be used when she burns some of Patrick's project on a CD so that she can listen to it on the way out to the suburbs. I heard that The Brown Bunny has a lot of driving footage. I hope the stuff I shot doesn't look too similar. We got some nice sunset light, and I kept the camera balanced for daylight as the sun went down, so all the streetlights gave off a crazy deep red light. I'm really happy with the way it looks.

We had some fun filling a condom with coconut shampoo and vaseline lotion for the shot where Ellen flushes Chris' used condom down the toilet. It looked pretty realistic, but the camera never caught it in much detail.

If I don't have to work tomorrow, I'm going to edit everything we shot.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

There's a lot to explain and catch up on. In the past 10 days I have had a very close friend die, I've gone back to the town where I went to college, and I've done some editing on the film. Full details coming soon...

Friday, April 09, 2004

I captured some footage yesterday, but my heart wasn't in it, so I didn't bother trying to edit. The footage looks fine, but I'm convinced that there is a better way to do the scene between Laura and Patrick when they first hang out. We shot it very conventionally, but I think there's a better way. I'm going to edit the scene, but I am going to keep thinking about other ways to work it. I know there's something that will really work.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Here are some photos from the shoot on Monday night...

Joe making the first few cuts.

Kristin finishes the job while Kevin documents.

The girls.

Monday, April 05, 2004

The shoot went really well tonight. We got everything done much quicker than I thought we would. We started at 7, took a break for dinner, and had everything finished by midnight. I showed everyone the things I have been editing, and they all thought the scenes looked nice. I think they are starting the see the film come together the same way I am. They are starting to get a real look at some of the ideas that I have been talking about for so long, and they are able to see what I mean...I hope.

My hair got cut tonight, and I think it looks pretty good. I'm very curious to see how the footage of the haircut looks. I have a good idea of what the scene between Laura and Patrick on the couch will look like, but I have no idea what the haircutting stuff will look like.

Since my hair is cut, we are officially screwed if we have to shoot something with Patrick pre-haircut. I'm almost positive we got everything we needed, but there's still something nagging in the back of my mind that makes me think I left something crucial out. The script will just have to bend to fit everything else now that the deed is done and the hair is cut. I wanted to make this film in a very free form, unconventional way, and this haircut thing just goes along with the territory.

I will post some pictures from the shoot soon.

I cut the scene with Laura and Ellen in the bedroom last night, then I stayed up until 6AM reading Robert Rodriguez's book, "Rebel Without a Crew." I don't know if the book was a good thing to read right now, or a bad thing. I don't think anyone can deny that luck played a huge part in getting him where he is, but he also did exactly what we are doing, and he just made a film on his own. I feel a lot like him in many respects, like the fact that I don't like having a crew, and I prefer to do everything myself, but at the same time, the films I want to make are so different than the ones he wants to make. It wasn't a very realistic guide for the kind of career I can expect. I think Spike Lee's "She's Gotta Have It" book is a lot closer to the realities that I might face with this film when it's finished. I'm hoping for success personally, but more than that, I'm hoping for a film that can entertain an audience and stand the test of time.

We are shooting the crucial haircut scene tonight. It's gonna be a tough shoot.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

Kris came over today and we shot pretty much every pre-haircut shot we needed. Now we just have to shoot the haircut scene. I was supposed to interview someone on camera, but the girl I had in mind never called me back, so we shot my parts, and we can plug someone else in later. I'm sure nobody will notice in the edited version, since there aren't really two shots in the film.

We shot some scenes around the apartment, we shot some scene outside in the neighborhood, and we shot some scenes at a major intersection near here. There was nice sunlight, but it was cold as hell.

I'm having the hardest time with continuity. I'm not doing a very good job of keeping track of things in my head. I haven't let anything major slip by, but I'm sure if you look closesly at the final film, there will be tons of little errors in clothing and things like that. I guess I don't really care about that stuff, and that's why I'm not doing a good job of remembering. I'm not one of the people that watches closely for continuity, but I know they are out there. They will have a feild day with our film.

Kris can shoot the haircut scene tomorrow, so if Kevin is also available, we are going to go ahead and do it. Thursday is another option, but that's cutting it really close, since I have to leave on Friday morning. If we shoot Monday, and run out of time, we have Thursday as a backup, but if we wait until Thursday, it could be a very late night for everyone, and we could get lazy and sloppy.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

I captured all the footage from last Tuesday's shoot, and editing the scene between Patrick and Ellen on the couch. I am happy with the way the scene turned out, and I think that once the TV sound effects are added into the backgroud, it will hold together very nicely.

Tomorrow we are planning on shooting a few more pre-haircut scenes, because we have to have them all finished by Thursday night, and we might only get one day during the week. We have use tomorrow wisely, and get the bulk of the work done. Once we are finished shooting, I'm planning on editing the Laura and Ellen scene that we shot, and before I leave for Easter, I hope to have everything we shoot tomorrow edited.

Editing the scenes as we go really keeps me excited about the film. It's like I'm putting a puzzle together, and with each new scene, I get to see a little bit more of the big picture. It's exciting to keep plugging new pieces in there and seeing how they work. So far, so good, but I don't want to jinx myself. The haircut scene, which we have planned for Monday, is super crucial. If that goes well, I will feel great about everything. Since my hair will actually be getting cut, there's not much room for error.

I need to start recording songs during the downtime, because I don't know how much time I will have to do that later on. I thought initially that we would do all the shooting in April, and I would have all of March to do all the post production jobs, but it's not gonna work that way. I have to do all the post as we go, because we will be shooting all through May. Shooting in May doesn't bother me at all. It's just part of the process. I'm sure as we near the end of May and have a ton left to shoot, I will get worried, but until then, I'm good to go. Right now I'm focused on getting all the main dialogue scenes shot, and the experimental stuff can wait till the end, because some of that can be left out. The deadline for film festivals can be met with some of the experimental scenes missing, and we can add them in later.

Friday, April 02, 2004

I looked through the other scene we shot on Tuesday, and took notes on that footage. It was a scene between Laura and Ellen, I think I will be able to cut together some nice "girl talk." Don't worry, it's not the typical late "girl talk." This is two girls actually talking, and it's pretty funny.

I'm hoping to spend tomorrow capturing and editing the two scenes, and making sure there is nothing that needs to be reshot or changed. I really need to stay mentally organized and make sure characters aren't saying something in one scene that contradicts something that comes before or after.

I've been thinking a lot lately about ways to make this film unique. There are a lot of little ideas that I want to play with. I think I am going to cut it together in a very conventional way, and then pretend like it's not even my film and really mess it up and go crazy making a second, very experimental cut, then take the things that work best and combine the two.

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