I think the most important part of directing this film was done in casting. Unfortunately, when I am in a scene, I have the toughest time stepping out of the scene and telling my actors how they are doing. So I have to trust that their talents and their interpretation of the character is right on. And I truly feel I’ve gotten lucky in that regard. For most of the parts, I cast friends of mine or people that I knew and this has created a fun set. It also has created a camaraderie that is especially important because these characters are brothers and sisters. But my main criticism of my directing is my inability to get range from myself and other actors. The actors, and somewhat myself, are capturing the characters and the story the way I had envisioned it. Which is a good thing. However, variety, besides being the spice of life, is the key to editing a movie. Because the script you wrote is different than the movie you shoot which is inevitably different from the movie you edit. Having variety allows you choices. For example, we shot a scene where the lead character reads a letter from his father. It’s a pivotal moment in the script and is one of the few times the tone of the movie becomes serious. I was looking to play the scene emotionally. Honest emotion. And I did a decent job of it. But I played it emotionally in every take. I never tried indifference, remorse, or even anger. I consistently played sad and looking at the dailies, I wish I had tried for more range because right now, I think the scene is over the top and I need to tone it down by editing most of the emotion out. On paper, it seemed so transparent. And it’s not like I didn’t know what the writer wanted from this scene. But a good actor would have given me choices, even if they too interpreted the scene as sad.
Another challenge to this movie is shooting on 24P HD. For those of you that are not familiar with 24P, it is high definition video. It’s state of the art and probably the wave of the future. It does not capture images as richly as shooting 35mm film, but it’s much cheaper and still looks good. However, contrary to most opinions, my experience is that it is not faster than shooting on film. I’ve actually found that it is slower. The lighting setups are close to the same, the cables are burdensome, and certain colors, mainly white, freak out the image. Going from shade to sunlight can be deadly also. Again, considering the costs, 24P is a great way to go. But I still prefer film. The contrast ratio of film is still many times wider than that of even the highest definition video which, simply put, means it looks better because it has that grainier, richer feel. I did not research 16 mm film, but I have been told that there is new stock out there that makes 16 mm look beautiful and it too is much cheaper than shooting 35.
The last thing that has made this film difficult to shoot is locations. Because of the subject matter of the film, a gay man coming out, both the Catholic Church and the Chicago stock exchanges didn’t allow us to shoot in any of their locations. The Catholic Church is understandable, though completely hypocritical. But the best no was from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board of Trade. Both establishments said no to us because they wanted to protect the image of their institutions. This movie, you might have heard of it, “Doubting Riley,” definitely has some crude, even objectionable moments, but for the Merc or the Board to say no to us because they want to protect their image? Come on. They’re homophobic. Plain and simple. Because adding tolerance to the list of adjectives that usually describe traders (selfish, greedy, chauvinistic,) could only help.
I’m off my soapbox until next week…
CHECK BACK NEXT WEEK…
Shooting intensifies as Pete gets completely out of control. (You know, we all hope.) Watch out! Visit FilmThreat.com each Wednesday for the next exciting entry (or depressing entry, depending on how you look at it) in PETE JONES’ “DOUBTING RILEY” DIARY!
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