Dec 062013
 

advent

 

Thanks for participating everyone. The drawing is now closed. Winner announced tomorrow.

MYEvery year, perfumer Andy Tauer does an Advent calendar, with daily giveaways on different blogs. For perfume lovers, it’s a highly anticipated event – a chance to win soap, perfume, and other things Tauer – and each year is more exciting because Andy is pretty prolific, and there’s always something new to try.

ingrid still for ingrid dvd

Most of my friends have heard me talking about Andy, or know about our Evelyn Avenue collaboration, now three years running (my film series Woman’s Picture, his accompanying perfumes through Tableau de Parfums), but most of them aren’t acquainted firsthand with his work.

A few weeks ago, we released Ingrid, the third Tableau fragrance, which is now available through the Evelyn Avenue store and at various retailers, among them Luckyscent.com. Ingrid, like Miriam and Loretta before it, is pretty stunning, a meditation on the past from a decidedly contemporary perspective. Like Miriam and Loretta, Ingrid is a perfect fit for the character and story of the same name which inspired it. Ingrid the character has a lot going on under an impossibly poised surface, and for me the perfume captures the mood of the film (also available in our store) and of Calpernia Addams’ performance. It’s been a high point of my experience as a filmmaker collaborating with Andy, investigating together the ways scent and persona combine and influence each other, speaking across mediums through our work.

tauer_flacon_Ingrid_front_8bit-2(1)

Now that the next film in the Woman’s Picture series is finished and going out to festivals, Andy and I are talking about where to go next perfume wise in relation to that story and its characters (played by Grace Zabriskie, Amy LaVere, Lindsey Roberts, Angela Dee, and Savannah Bearden). If Dark Passage, the limited quantity scent we did for the film’s kickstarter campaign, is any indication, the collaboration will only get better as we move forward. You can see the trailer for Only Child on the Evelyn Avenue home page.

You have to smell Andy’s work to believe it, so I’m excited to participate in the Advent calendar this year; even more excited that he now has an Explorer Set, which includes three 15 ml atomizers, a great way to get to know the scents. To be eligible in the draw for a Tauer Explorer Set, please leave a comment on this post telling us what films you saw this year that really spoke to you. We’ll draw the winner through random.org the morning of Saturday, December 7.

(Pictured above: Calpernia Addams as Ingrid and Sally Stover as her mother in a still from the film “Ingrid”)

 

 

 Posted by on December 6, 2013
May 152013
 

I really love this picture from the shoot of Only Child, the next feature film in the Woman’s Picture series. The film is in post production right now, so I’m living it and breathing it and everything I do somehow informs it or goes back to it. I can’t watch a movie, read a book, or have a conversation that doesn’t somehow tell me something new about it.

I love the picture because it shows a naked view of the set, a view I never allowed myself to take in – not when I first found the room and decided to use it, not when I was decorating it, not even when we were filming in it. Had I allowed myself to see those wonky ceiling tiles and the totality of the room I would never have moved forward with it. I couldn’t have convinced myself it would work. If I have any kind of gift that serves me in filmmaking it’s this ability to see not what’s there but what might be or could be or will be as if it already is. The camera sees limited information, and you have to train yourself to see the way it will, to cancel things out that contradict the fantasy, zeroing in on things that will boost it.

You’d never know, watching the finished cut of Only Child, that the motel room this set is supposed to be looks anything like it does in the picture above. You’d never suspect the reality. It doesn’t look at all claustrophobic in the pictures taken on set. On film, it feels like a cave, a setting for overactive denial. In the picture it has definite boundaries, obvious end points. On film its space is conceptual and indefinite, suggesting more beyond everything you see.

I’m fascinated with the pathological mindset, what often gets called the borderline personality or I guess psychopathology, maybe because most of my characters are precluded from seeing reality the way everyone else around them does. Most of my characters are some degree of delusional. They narrow down the field of vision. They block stuff out. It’s often pretty harmless, until someone threatens that fantasy, smoking them out into the hostile realm of the real.

Grace Zabriskie’s character in Only Child was something different for me. Delores has spent most of her life institutionalized, and she’s had a few traumatic breaks with reality along the way. She’s not content living in her own reality the way most of my characters are. She wants others to acknowledge it as their own. She wants to bring them in with her. She’s a mother looking for her daughter, Loretta, who has tried to escape from being shut in with her in that mindset over the years, where fantasies lock together like nesting dolls.

I’ve been reading a lot of Ann Rule books, mainly because they’re full of psychopaths – not just people who believe they can get away with the unthinkable but people who live in a totally different reality, blind to whatever doesn’t support what they perceive. Somehow, I stumbled onto the Casey Anthony case, which is old news now to most but revelatory to me; I guess I’m struck by the similarities between daughter Casey Anthony and mother Cindy Anthony and my fictional mother-daughter pair, Delores and Loretta. According to Jose Baez, her lawyer, Casey Anthony lived in a pretty complex world of her own construction, with a made up cast of characters and events which only indirectly involved the truth. The line between her belief in those people and her awareness of her deception is so fine you’re crossing it before you see it.

The relationship between Casey and her mother, like the one between Delores and Loretta, is a sort of folie a deux no one who isn’t inside their reality can ever hope to break down or begin to understand. At the center of this spell, the death of a child. Setting aside what the media made of the events surrounding the death of Casey’s daughter, it’s obvious that at the very least Casey lived in another dimension. She was in that room and didn’t ever allow herself to see the ceiling tiles. Setting aside whether or not her mother believes she’s innocent or guilty, it’s obvious Cindy Anthony doesn’t see the tiles either.

It probably seems like a leap to make a connection between the creative process and Casey Anthony, but I think a lot about the fact that the inner life of a filmmaker or an artist in general involves a kind of borderline – if far more benign – pathology, sublimating what is to what isn’t yet, superimposing fantasy over reality. Making films doesn’t involve homicide usually. It does involve believing in something that doesn’t exist, sharing it with a group of people and, crucially, seeing it vividly even at times when no one else can.

We shot in that room for something like four or five days. I prepared it for something like a month. I’m not certifiably delusional: I know there’s no such thing as that motel room in the film; I know there’s no such person as this woman named Delores. But every night when I’d go home she lived in my head, very much alive, an unreal person who represented very real things, to such an extent that she took on some sort of unusual real time presence in the process. And for the last year, working on the edit of Only Child, she’s been, like Casey Anthony’s cast of characters, an imaginary friend of mine that no one else can see, the existence of whom can’t exactly be verified. Making a film is full of those powerful delusions, and when I saw this picture of our set for the first time I was amazed just how much I’d blocked out to make my vision feel real, and just how close to crazy I might have seemed.

(Illustrations: top photo by Philip Horowitz, featuring, left to right, Jessica Jones, Grace Zabriskie, and Brian Pera; middle photo by unknown, featuring, left to right, Cindy Anthony and Casey Anthony; bottom photo by unknown, featuring Casey Anthony’s defense lawyer, Jose Biaz and a chart he called “Casey’s Imaginary Friends”.)

 Posted by on May 15, 2013
Mar 082013
 

 

This morning I went over to help pick up what might be the last of a deceased friend’s belongings.

It’s been an ongoing thing, this liquidation, and I know it will end eventually, but in some ways I wish it wouldn’t. I’m always disappointed, because I pick up these things (yarn, CDs, DVDs, notebooks) and realize, getting them home, that what I really want is to retrieve her somehow. The belongings remind me of her, which is nice, but they remind me of her absence too, which isn’t so great. They remind me how complex a person is, and how ill equipped mementos alone are to paint the complete picture of their former owners.

Among these objects have been things I once gave her. Today I found a boxed CD set of the Cocteau Twins, a band I was happy to learn at some point we both liked. Her tastes in music varied wildly, but we shared an interest in this kind of jangle pop, which in her case ran the gamut from The Cocteau Twins to The Smiths. I’d forgotten about giving her the box set, and seeing it brought back conversations we’d had. They’d been pocketed away somewhere. Just yesterday I’d been thinking about the fact that I don’t seem to retain as many memories as the people I know. Where do all those events disappear to? How do other people keep them alive and present? Now I realize that I retain them, but lose access to them – until something like this brings them up to the surface. I drove around listening to her CDs for a while, hoping I’d remember more.

I was surprised to find photos in the boxes, mixed in with VHS tapes, cassettes, and DVDs. I’d gone with a friend this morning and we fell silent after finding the pictures. It’s one thing to conjure her presence through the memories embodied by her various things. It’s another to see her face staring back. I’d seen one of the pictures, a snapshot of her as a kid, months ago on her Facebook page. Seeing it in person, holding it in my hand, was more difficult – or just difficult all over again. It doesn’t help that she’s smiling, that she’s young in the photo. A smiling kid evokes the sense that things go on, getting better; the sense that you can look back from some ongoing point in time, marking the trajectory. It doesn’t help that it’s just a picture, probably.

I got back from LA in February, where we were editing ONLY CHILD, the next film in the series I started a few years ago, WOMAN’S PICTURE. The series is a way to work through a lot of my memories about people who are gone now but persist in my outlook. I know Papatya will find her way into the narrative somehow. Ultimately, making movies seems to be about the only way I’m able to deal with loss or grief in any way that feels close to moving forward. I’m happy at the progress we made in LA. As movies go, this one’s getting close to being “locked”. I look at it and feel I accomplished something, that I’m getting better at what I do. At the same time, I feel remorse. Isn’t “progress” kind of a lie? It feels like betrayal in ways I can’t put into words. Papatya left so many things unfinished. Part of me feels that the most honest tribute to her is to refuse resolution. It’s the kind of thought that only makes sense when trying to wrap your head around the bigger paradox of her vanishing act.

Higher point today: My friend Melissa Bridgman, who’s gone through Papatya’s absence with me, gave me one of the ceramic cranes she started working on several months ago. It’s very delicate. You feel like it will break if you blow too hard on it. Not that I have cause to blow on it. I forgot to ask her how many of the intended commemorative thousand she’s made and given away.

 Posted by on March 8, 2013
Jan 032013
 

It’s been a weird year. The ratio of highs to lows were pretty even, but the dips low have been kind of off the charts. A friend died in October. Another friend relapsed in a spectacular way last May. All the accomplishments of 2012 (shooting the feature ONLY CHILD, the month long kickstarter campaign which preceded it, releasing the second Tableau de Parfums fragrance) would feel major any other year. Judged against the senseless loss of a friend, they haven’t felt like much. I’ve struggled the last several months to get some kind of perspective on things – on what I do, why I do it, why I should bother. I’ve struggled more than “done”.

Today I’m leaving for a month long trip to LA with the intention of shutting everything but ONLY CHILD out of my head. I was charmed during the edits of my first and second films; I don’t remember any problems focusing or burrowing into the material. The edit on Only Child so far hasn’t been without focus, but my thoughts are in a different place, and I’ve been doing a lot of re-evaluating. Right after the shoot wrapped, I started applying the standard pressures to myself – when to be finished with the edit, when to do a website, when to do a trailer, when to talk about it, how much to talk about it. None of that has anything to do with the film, and it’s not the way I’ve worked before. I think it’s just what things have become. A lot of us are hurrying to get things done. I keep thinking of the old adage about Hollywood – You’re only as good as your last film. I feel like that’s not so localized any more, and much more accelerated. Really, you’re only as good as your last tweet. It astonishes me that anyone can do anything meaningful or the slightest bit sincere under those circumstances.

I also feel like we control the circumstances. That pressure is a lie of the mind. Eight months ago I got off Facebook. I figured it would last about a week or two. I just needed some down time. I haven’t been back since deactivating my account. It’s not a moral thing. I’d talked so much to so many people during the kickstarter campaign and the shoot for Only Child, every day, that I didn’t want to hear so many voices for a while. I got tired of my interests being so all over the place and at the same time so strictly guided. I missed meandering around from one interest to another. I didn’t want them laid out on an endless scroll. I didn’t want to feel there were a thousand other films vying for attention. I know there are, and that some of them are worth seeing. But during the edit process I need to luxuriate in the fantasy that mine is the only one in the world. I want to focus on what it’s saying to me. It’s not that I don’t want to hear about yours. It’s just that I want to hear mine more clearly.

At my friend’s memorial there was the standard “moment of silence”. For the first time I realized how flimsy a moment like that is. What good is it if it only lasts a few seconds? How do you extend it more meaningfully, so that maybe it informs your daily practice? I feel like that’s what I’ve been doing: observing a moment of silence. I think maybe I’m trying to make the moment most of my life. And I want to make sure I feel those moments in Only Child, or whatever I do.

(Photo of a moment in time on the Only Child set, by Philip Horowitz. The set was made to look like it had been there for years. I spent months gathering the props and furniture. Last month, I dismantled the last bits of the room – lamps, bed frame, chair. The moment exists only in the footage now)

 Posted by on January 3, 2013
Dec 072012
 

Andy Tauer and Evelyn Avenue present a drawing for Tauer’s Advent Calendar, your chance to win a handmade soap…

It’s that time of year again. Every day this month, as part of his annual Advent Calendar event, perfumer Andy Tauer offers surprise giveaways through a series of participating blogs. For the draw here on Evelyn Avenue, Tauer has prepared a special tuberose soap. Evelyn Avenue will draw the winner tomorrow night and close the comments by announcing the lucky reader.

It’s also “that time” of year for resolutions: renewals, revisions, reflections – whatever you call them when making your own list of things you didn’t do last year but told yourself you would, or things you see you need to start.

Andy and Evelyn Avenue have been working hard the last year on our two collaborative projects, the Tableau de Parfums fragrance line and its cinematic counterpart, the Woman’s Picture film series. We started in October of 2011 with the release of our first scent, Miriam, and its counterpart film of the same name. Ann Magnuson helped us picture what it means to look at the past with her portrayal of a longtime shopping channel hostess whose life is in crisis, not least because the failing health of her mother brings back memories of her childhood and the fragrance that emblematized their relationship. Last October, we released Loretta, the second Tableau fragrance, and its counterpart film Loretta. During our last draw, conducted to mark that occasion, we screened the first three segments of the Woman’s Picture series on our home page. These include Miriam, Loretta, and Ingrid (which will be released next October). For the Advent draw, we’re again screening the films for a limited time.

It’s been a challenge and a pleasure to explore this material and to share it in various ways. For 2013, Tauer and Evelyn have some new things in mind – combined screenings and perfume events in several US cities, where we’ll be in attendance and offer special take-aways to attendees. One of the most rewarding aspects of our collaboration has been meeting people at launch events, so we want to extend that opportunity to engage and connect. We’ll also continue working on the next film in the series, Only Child, which we filmed last April and expect to premiere later this year. Only Child resumes the story started in Loretta, with Grace Zabriskie playing that character’s compellingly odd mother.

The photo for this post was taken by Melissa Bridgman, a longtime friend to Evelyn Avenue. Melissa lives and works in Memphis, Tennessee making pretty wonderful ceramics out of her home studio. Her work is delicate and rustic, and the origami crane in the photo perfectly captures the spirit of what she does. In Japanese culture, the crane symbolizes good fortune and prosperity. It’s said that whoever makes a thousand origami cranes in a year can make the wish of her choice. That’s a tall order – and a lot of weight for folded pieces of paper to carry – but if anyone can do it, it’s Melissa. She’s decided to hang the cranes along a wooded bike path here in town, where cyclists will find them dangling from tree branches. Like us, she’s looking to connect.

In October, Memphis lost one of its prized treasures, a woman by the name of Papatya Curtis (see our November 6 eulogy on the blog). Bridgman, a close friend of Papatya’s, has seized the New Year, and her kiln, to commemorate our friend in a special, fragile but lasting way. When she first started making these cranes, Melissa wrote:

Three weeks ago today one of my closest friends died. It was sudden, tragic, unforseen, preventable. There has been so much blame and sorrow and support and anguish and for the first time I’m really understanding that you can’t just get up and move on. I’ve always known that death and loss is something you get used to, over time, but not over. After [Papatya] died, I began making these origami-esque cranes out of porcelain. I gave two to her mother and sister, one to her mother in law. I kept one. I folded dozens out of paper the first week after her death, and will fold more. We’ve all heard the story of the thousand cranes and how they represent hopes for peace. My cranes give me a bit of hope- hope to make more, hope to make them better, hope to make them a memorial somehow…

It seems like an apt way to look at moving forward, and it inspires us to think big in similarly small but meaningful ways.

What are your New Year resolutions? Leave us a comment to enter the Tauer advent drawing, telling us the one thing you keep thinking you’d most like to do or accomplish in 2013. For our part, we’ll throw in a DVD of the first three segments of Woman’s Picture.

This draw is now closed. The winner of the draw was Alica. Congratulations!

 Posted by on December 7, 2012
Oct 142012
 

On Friday, October 19, Andy Tauer and Evelyn Avenue will launch Loretta, the second fragrance in the Tableau de Parfums line, at Scent Bar in Los Angeles. To celebrate the occasion, we’re conducting a draw here at Evelyn Avenue, along with some reflections on the work we’ve done over the last year:

Most cynics are really crushed romantics: They’ve been hurt, they’re sensitive, and their cynicism is a shell that’s protecting this tiny, dear part in them that’s still alive  -Jeff Bridges

It’s easy to understand how anyone who loves perfume might be truly cynical at this point. There are more perfumes released each year than ever, and whereas in the past one could safely mark a line of division between niche/indie and mainstream perfumery and the sales tactics they employed, increasingly even niche and indie lines have started to market their fragrances with big, bold and piercingly loud bells and whistles. This would be fine, if the majority of these fragrances were as inventive as their marketing and buzz. More often, they aren’t. Worse, maybe, is the overall lack of regard for the preservation of classics people have grown to love. The commitment to the consumer of fragrance is pretty tenuous at this point, though the advertising says otherwise. Consumers know this, and respond with distrust. This makes things very difficult for those who want to create perfumes that don’t shortchange their wearers.

A year or so ago, Andy Tauer and I started a perfume line called Tableau de Parfums. We were excited about creating links between our creative fields; perfumery in Andy’s case, filmmaking in mine. We wanted to see what happens when the brief for a perfume isn’t a lofty, overblown paragraph of purple prose but something more complex, the world of a film. We wanted to see how a perfume might influence a film, as well. How would that work? What might happen if a filmmaker and a perfumer engaged in an ongoing conversation about their work and interests? We weren’t interested very much in creating perfumes which represented the characters in these movies, but something more complex; we wanted to use the films and characters as springboards thematically and philosophically. We’ve seen the perfumes in the same way.

The name of the film series these Tableau fragrances relate to is WOMAN’S PICTURE, and the stories in the series explore many things we’re interested in: through the stories and perfumes we remember some of the women in our lives and families, explore how perfume influences and infects memory, and in some way try to determine what a perfume is saying when it speaks to us. What does sadness and regret mean in a fragrance and a film? How is it expressed? What brings happiness, bittersweet or joyful? When you watch a film, or you smell a perfume, how is it speaking to you, and how is it that what one person hears or sees or smells is so different than the next?

In developing the fragrance for MIRIAM, the first short in the series, Andy and I asked ourselves what the story was about. MIRIAM dealt with loss and the simultaneously ephemeral and durable nature of memory and our connections with other people. The corresponding fragrance, also called Miriam, was less about the title character played by Ann Magnuson than it was an exploration of how the past influences the present. The resulting fragrance, launched last year, looked at the past from the present, revisiting older perfumes from a distinctly modern point of view.  I suppose we were interested in how those two perspectives, past and present, might intertwine or interfere with each other, and what’s changed in the time between them.

Tableau has no marketing team, no PR division, no bells and whistles department on staff. We’re an army of two. In packaging the films and perfumes together, Andy and I spend a lot of time experimenting and communicating what we might do, and what we maybe shouldn’t. For both of us, it was essential from the beginning, in an industry which often shortchanges its customer by presenting mediocrity as innovation, to make the presentation of these fragrances with as much integrity and ingenuity as possible. We wanted them to be gifts in every possible way for those who engaged with them. We take both sides of the collaboration seriously, and it’s been essential to us that they speak to each other. We package each perfume with its corresponding short film, both of which we regard, in this case, as forms of portraiture. We’re interested in what other people think these fragrances are saying, how they might be speaking to them.

It’s ironic but probably inevitable that one of the primary challenges in our collaboration has been the now nearly-chronic cynicism of the perfume lover. It’s particularly challenging because, as perfume lovers ourselves, we understand, and empathize with, that cynicism first hand. It’s inevitable, for instance, that some people will regard the films as promotional tools for the perfumes, sort of glorified advertisements. We never intended for the films to be advertisements, nor did we intend that the people who buy these fragrances should see these characters – and nothing else – in them. What we hoped, I think, was that in putting as much quality and imagination and care into the perfumes and films as we possibly could we would demonstrate the purity of our exercise. We never kidded ourselves about this: We knew it was a tall order in the present cultural climate. We also felt strongly that it was worth giving it a shot.

Having experienced this prevailing cynicism ourselves, we wanted to slow things down. So much is thrown out into the marketplace. All the bells and whistles shoot out first. Then it all dies down very quickly. Perfume hasn’t worked that way for either of us; nor for most of the people we know who love it as much as we do. Perfumes stay with you, and accrue meaning methodically over the course of time. We wanted to learn as we moved forward, to try as best we could to listen in between each fragrance – not just to what others were telling us but what we were trying to tell ourselves.

We’re excited about the release of Loretta, the next step in our creative learning process – excited to hear what people have to say about the scent and its related story. Where Miriam dealt with history and relationships to the past, Loretta is a meditation on very different themes: sexuality, a tension between experience and innocence, what darkness means when coupled with naivete, and much more – for us, at least. The story is a complicated one, and quite different from Miriam. Together, these stories, all so different from one another, speak to the complexity not just of perfume but of relationships and people themselves. We hope that in ten years, this body of work will constitute a testament to the complicated depths of film and fragrance.

We know that much has to be proven at this point to the discerning lover of fragrance. We don’t expect to do that overnight. We’ve watched others try to do that, and seen what happens the morning after. Trust takes time to build, and we’ve committed ourselves to that process. We know two people won’t turn anything around, won’t halt or reverse the prevailing trends of expediency and built-in obsolescence in the fragrance industry, but just as one good, honest fragrance can make a profound difference – reminding its wearer of all the wonderful things that brought him or her to fragrance in the first place, re-igniting some lost romance – we persist, slowly but surely, hoping to make exceptions of ourselves. With Loretta, we hope to put one more nail in the coffin of cynicism, which we believe, all things considered, has no place in the fragrance imagination.

The Drawing: Three winners will be randomly selected from those who comment on this post. To be eligible, we ask that you answer the following: Which of the three perfume spots for Loretta do you prefer, and why; as well as what makes you cynical about fragrance at this point, and what seems like cause for optimism?

Winners will be announced on Monday, October 22 and will receive a full bottle of fragrance from the extended Tauer line, including Tableau de Parfums, a DVD of the first three Woman’s Picture portraits (including INGRID, which will be released next Fall), and a vintage-inspired poster for Loretta.

During the course of this draw, we are offering a free viewing of MIRIAM, LORETTA, and INGRID, the Woman’s Picture films which inspired the Tableau fragrances (below). To view the trailer, visit our homepage and hit the Woman’s Picture tab on the menu bar.

– Brian Pera

 Posted by on October 14, 2012
Oct 022012
 

On October 19th, Andy Tauer launches Loretta, Tableau de Parfums’ second fragrance, at Luckyscent’s Scent Bar in Los Angeles…

The Tableau de Parfums line is a collaboration with the stories of the Woman’s Picture film series. Each fragrance relates to one of these stories in theme and mood. Last year, Tableau released its inaugural fragrance, Miriam, a vintage style scent which explored the power of nostalgia and the influence of the present on the past. Loretta is a more contemporary fragrance, exploring a thematic terrain of mystery, suspense, and sexual fantasy.

Last month, Tauer attended the Pitti Fragranze Fair in Florence, Italy. 213 brands exhibited at the event, many of them introducing new fragrances. Tauer introduced Loretta, and Basenotes.net interviewed the perfumer there, asking for his thoughts on the character and the fragrance (above).

The Scent Bar event is scheduled for Friday, October 19. Andy Tauer and filmmaker Brian Pera will be in attendance to discuss their collaboration. Check Luckyscent’s website for details as the date approaches. Scent Bar is located at 7405 Beverly Boulevard, LA, CA, 90036. (323)782-8300.

Photo credit: Fragrantica.com

 Posted by on October 2, 2012
Aug 122012
 

From set full of comrades to army of one: better gear up for both, with a rigorous nap schedule…

I was at an event a few weeks ago in Massachusetts full of filmmakers and visual artists and I guess industry types, and we were all encouraged by the facilitators to reach out to each other and be open about what we need. Filmmakers need a lot – money, producers, distribution support, talent – and you’re crazy to ask for something stupid and inconsequential, like rest. But during a presentation I forgot to turn it on and said I needed, essentially, a nap or something.

Filming ONLY CHILD in April was exhausting, and I’m still recuperating, and it’s not really over. The shoot gives you the raw materials, and you have a lot to do ahead of you. Like the edit. Design a web site. Sound work. Score. Filming is the easy part, for me, and it’s back breaking. But I’m pretty tired, and after the congregational experience of the shoot, where I was surrounded by and responsible for people everyday, all of us focused on the same immediate objectives and challenges, I’ve had trouble switching gears comfortably.

You have a kind of family, then they’re gone. You’re tapped into them, then you aren’t. You don’t feel the exhaustion much during the shoot, or you feel it in a different way, the way a hamster feels the wire rods of the wheel as it spins, maybe, because you’re thinking on your toes. You can’t afford not to think on your toes. You can think about the fact that your toes feel funny but it’s not an option to think about getting off them for a while. After it’s over and everyone moves on to different things, you try to figure out what to do with yourself. You worked twelve hour days, thinking nothing of it. Now the day is just interminably long. and all you think about is your dogs barking.

I’ve been resting as much as I can. I’ve been taking naps. I’m not much of a nap taker but it’s all I know to do. There’s so much time in the day, and so much of it is busy in a very diffuse way. Napping shuts it all down. I look forward to the dreams during these naps because they’re rare surprises. Today I dreamed we were filming somewhere and a corrupt cop warned us a bomb was going off on set at zero whatever hour. We were all totally unified trying to solve the problem, sharing the panic. We all knew exactly what to do with our time and how much of it was said to be left.

I woke up and there was laundry to do and a film to edit and a house to clean and a website to figure out and taxes to pay, and it was all my problem.

Photo of the crew and some of the cast from ONLY CHILD, shot by Jamie Harmon.

 Posted by on August 12, 2012
Jun 202012
 

If you donated to the kickstarter campaign for our next film, Only Child, your package is on the way…

Here’s a photo to prove it.

Last week, co-producer Eileen Meyer and I got together to pack up all the goods (perfumes, soaps, scarves, more perfume). I needed a beer. And, after a while, glasses.  I guess one of the tests for how well your campaign did is how much your eyes and head hurt after organizing all the shipments for donors. We started mailing the packages today, just as my eyes had started to adjust. But I couldn’t be happier:

The other test, maybe, would be whether or not your movie got made. Thanks to you, ours did. And after we finish getting all these items out, we can move forward with the editing.

 Posted by on June 20, 2012
Jun 112012
 

How a chair, a broom, a mug, and a vintage car came together for a sequence in ONLY CHILD…

These stills are from the ONLY CHILD shoot, taken by Jamie Harmon on April 16th, 2012.

We were scheduled to shoot interiors at this location, Fuel Cafe over on Madison Ave., Memphis, TN. I’d already worked Bennett Foster into a scene inside but I wanted to do something else with him. The place looked so great on the outside that I wanted to get exterior shots too.

I pulled this chair out the day before to get some distance from things while we were shooting. When I saw it there the next day, I wasn’t looking at it the way it was but the way it might look in a film. The chair, against the wall, had a quality I liked. When I added a broom it looked even better. It felt like some kind of story was going on there.

We’d already used Alice Laskey-Castle’s car, a vintage blue Mercedes. We decided that would be the car driven by Delores, Grace Zabriskie’s character. I saw the chair and the wall and I thought Bennett would look fantastic sitting there, with the car right up against him and a broom leaning nearby. So we got Alice, who did wardrobe on the film, to pull the Mercedes in. And I got a coffee cup I’d seen inside the day before, and set it on the chair to see how that would look.

Delores is in town looking for her estranged daughter, and comes to this diner almost every day. She sits at the same table. Has a tuna melt. Glares at her fellow patrons. She makes friends, cautiously, with her waitress. In the script you always see her at the table, after she’s already entered the place and been sitting there for a while.

I wanted to see her get out of her car and enter the building. What does she look like when she’s not where I’m used to picturing her? Whatever this story was – this broom and the chair and Bennett sitting there – I wanted to see her pass through it. So we set up a scene where Bennett, who works at the diner, was maybe sitting outside, drinking coffee on a break. Maybe he wasn’t supposed to be taking a break. Or it was only a break because there weren’t any diners inside.

We started the scene as if Delores had just parked her car, and we positioned Bennett’s legs where it felt like Delores had practically parked the car on top of him. As Delores gets out of her car, they stare each other down and it makes you wonder what they’re thinking. And Bennet, all seven feet of him, leans clear over in the chair watching Delores scope out the building. And when she enters, he gets up, and puts his coffee down on the chair, and goes inside to wait on her.

Bennett’s outfit matched the wall – white on top, black below. Delores was all in black except for a leopard print scarf around her head. She carried bright orange plastic grocery bags and stopped with them at the hood of her car, staring down Bennett like he might steal her hubcaps if he got the chance.

 Posted by on June 11, 2012