Friday, June 30, 2006

Actors' meeting revisited

I enjoyed our meeting on Monday with the actors. Monday happened to be the hottest day of the year so far (at 102 degrees), but it was only a balmy 86 at noon when we met.

We began by discussing the differences between action on stage vs. acting for film, which mostly boils down to subtlety. For example, we didn't think Clint Eastwood would make a good stage actor because he acts with his face, so to speak. He can say more with the arch of an eyebrow than most people can say with a speech. Anyway, what we don't want is stage projection because that will seem ugly and exaggerated on film.

We also asked them how they saw their characters. I liked this discussion because, as a writer, I am always interested in how people react to my work and interpret characterizations, etc. I liked their insights, but I also pushed them to try to understand why their characters were the way they were...what happened to them to make them act the way they do? That sort of thing.

I'm not really a director, but as the writer, I guess I'm in charge of inflicting whatever "vision" I can on this project. I am well aware that I might not be able to if I work with different people in the future, so I plan on taking advantage of this opportunity. In a good way, naturally.

The next steps involve organizing rehearsals for the week before the coffee house shoot, as well as organizing the "Poetry Jam" that will be taking place in the background of the scene.

I am having a ball, by the way. :)

Location, location

We need places to shoot the kitchen and living room scenes of "Coffee," but none of our places look (how to put this?) "student-y" enough for the film.

One of our colleagues, however, rents to students and visiting faculty all the time. He let us see a couple of his places, including this one. I think it might be appropriate for the "sitting in the kitchen" scene that opens the movie.

I especially like the trees in the background.

Another plus is that this place is furnished, and furnished appropriately for our purposes. This means that we won't have to scrounge for furniture on top of everything else.

The main drawback is that this place might not be available when we want to shoot (the last weekend of July). He might have other places open at the time. We're just going to stay loose about it.

I also like my friend Emily's kitchen for the scene, but I didn't take pictures of it. It is larger, and more airy, but it may be difficult to shoot in it because of the way that it is laid out. It will certainly do, especially if there aren't better options available. We'll see. It's still on my A list.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A good idea

I have to say that I get good ideas from all sorts of places. Everyone I tell about the film has an idea that usually helps.

For example, there is one scene where one character, Ashley, begins to clean up an apartment. My friend April suggested that she wash some coffee mugs that "reveal" some of Jeff's and Pam's character. I love that idea, and am now thinking of ways of incorporating some off-color Jeff mugs. I haven't decided what kind of mugs Pam would have, but I think Jeff's could be pretty distinctive.

Anyway, even if we never use this idea, it is illustrative of the group creative process I was talking about earlier.

Nifty. :)

Actors' meeting


Actors, we have a meeting set for June 26 at 12 noon at Rick's place. Please think about the following things for the meeting:

1. What is the difference between acting for the stage and on film?
2. What would your character wear? Remember the time period is approx. 88-93.
3. How would your character "decorate" her/his apartment?
4. Think of other things that will help you work on your character.
5. Think about dates you might be able to get together for rehersals.

Please bring a Bio of yourself that we can post on the official 5 Cups of Coffee website.

See you then!


Thursday, June 15, 2006

Pre-production meetings


I'm going to use this blog as a way to communicate with the cast/crew of the film as well as a journal of events.

CAST AND CREW: I am organizing a preliminary meeting with the actors either on 6/26 or 6/27 at 12 noon, place TBA in Monmouth. If anyone has a preference, either post a comment here or e-mail me.

Other updates: Henry Hughes, our local Oregon Book Award winner, is on board to write/organize the "poetry jam," going on in the background of the coffee shop scene. He's pretty jazzed about the whole thing, too. We are trying to decide if we want to play the scene straight or not, so he's working on a couple angles for it.

That's all for now.

Monday, June 05, 2006


Something I knew intrinsically, but didn’t KNOW is that films are team efforts. As in, there are already four other people working on the film who are putting their creative energies into making this film, and we haven’t even got actors yet!

Naturally, there is Shaun, who will direct and do some of the camera work. Then there is Anne-Marie, who is married to Shaun, but who is also working with her sister on costumes and set design of the film. Then there is David, who is going to do the rest of the camera work.

Soon, we will have three actors and a crew of students and many friends who will be crew and extras. All of them will be contributing to the film as well.

I realize that I am an intrinsic part of the process because my friends are making this film. This will be fun because I like the vision my friends are applying to the script, and we all seem to communicate well.

This is very different from working on the fiction works, which are always creative acts of solitude. Even my theater experience has taught me that playwrights are extraneous once they have provided the words for the actors/producers/directors to bicker over. It is fun to see my characters come to life, so to speak, but sometimes I don’t recognize them as mine.

I don’t think that will happen this time.



One day, I was walking on campus when my friend, Shaun, stopped me on the sidewalk. “Hey,” he said. “You write, right? I want to make a narrative film, but I don’t have a script. Would you write a script for me?”

I am not one to turn away a request! A couple weeks later, I handed him a script I had banged out after reading a book or two on screenplay formatting.

Five months and one short documentary later, Shaun e-mailed me. The gist of the email was, “Let’s make a movie this summer!”

So here we are!

I must say that I was surprised to find myself making a film out of the first screenplay I have ever written. I have written several short and full-length plays, and even had one win a contest (the prize was to have it produced!).

I have never even tried to write a screenplay before. Besides plays, I also write short stories and essays when the passion seizes me. I decided that rather than try to force one of my descriptive stories or minimalist plays into a screenplay, I would write something for film that could not be told on paper or on stage. I set myself the task of creating something purely (or nearly purely) visual. To that end, the main character only has one line, and it contains one word. She’s in every scene in the screenplay, but she doesn’t speak. I do include description in the screenplay, but I didn’t worry about the wording since the whole point is to inform the camera where/what it is shooting.

I like my script. I think it rocks for a first attempt. My attempts since have sucked. Beginner’s luck rocks, too.


Premier Post!


We are making a movie! This blog is going to act as a making-of journal, since I seem to have abandoned all journalling that isn't online. I'll post the genesis of this project in the next entry.