Saturday, April 16, 2005

Waving a Pink Flag Over the Field of Battle

"I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, his greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is the moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious." - Vince Lombardi

I would hate to think I've reached my finest hour at the tender age of 25, dear friends and readers, but these words from legendary football coach Vince Lombardi currently ring true to me nonetheless. Ever since we wrapped up the filming of "Pink" on Sunday, April 3rd, you see, I have indeed been lying exhausted on the proverbial field of battle. And yes, if I may be so bold, I do feel as if I've worked my heart out in a good cause and that I am, in fact, victorious. The mere fact that we got everything filmed is an accomplishment in and of itself.

Some Final Words from Our Narrator

The last week of filming (six days of back-to-back shooting) began with three solid days of Monicalogues - the nickname we've given to our narrator's monologues. And I've really got to hand it to our leading lady, Christie Jackson. Despite all the pressure she was under with personal family issues and my refusal to cut her scenes into two parts (she had to get her monologues right all the way through or start over from the very beginning) she elbowed her way right up through the last day of shooting and knocked out every line with a sometimes frightening intensity. On March 30th, we filmed her conversation with Mary Marie (perfectly portrayed by the beautiful and talented Jennifer "J.W." Webre), which turned out to be a lot of fun. Truly, the sight of two evil-looking girls sipping on pink champagne and discussing the predictability of men is one of the most surreal things I've ever been privy to...and that says a lot, coming from someone who happens to be a big fan of Jan Svankmajer and the Brothers Quay (8 points to those who know what I'm talking about right now.)

We wrapped up the Monicalogues on March 31st and then I went and celebrated with my customary, celebratory shot of Jagermeister, making a vow to myself that I will NEVER create another narrator as wordy as the one I created for "Pink". (That's a promise, Christie. Thank you so much for everything. I hope everything is okay, and I'm praying for you.)

I Hear There's a Scene About Fascists...

Inspired by the successful completion of the Monica scenes, we got up early on April 1st (a day which has always had a very special place in my heart, being the fool that I am) and headed on over to City Grocery for the filming of what I consider to be the most well-written scene of the entire movie: the Brooke/Preston/Jean-Claude scene. In this scene, a guy named Preston is having lunch with his girlfriend Brooke and a "friend" of hers named Jean-Claude. It's only a minute or so before Preston meets Jean-Claude that he finds out he is no mere friend, but Brooke's ex of a year and a half. Hilarity ensues.

The real beauty of this scene - from my perspective anyway - is the fact that it wasn't in the original script. In fact, it wasn't written until after we held our auditions at the Ole Miss Student Union and met Christophe Ambrosino, a native of France currently living with his wife here in the States. I remember meeting him and saying to myself, "Okay, J, we HAVE to have the French guy in the movie...his accent is just too fucking cool." So, I did away with a scene where a girl named Yvonne talked incessantly about her ex-boyfriend Devon and developed the Brooke and Preston scene, which was originally much shorter. So, technically, you could say the current scene was tailor-made just for Christophe. Imagine that. Me - the American of Americans - writing a scene to suit someone from France of all places...hehe. But then, why not? Christophe made Jean-Claude the artsy, arrogant, womanizing ex-boyfriend he was meant to be, and anyone who does your characters right deserves some respect, regardless of how your respective countries supposedly get along with one another. (By that I mean that it's sort of ridiculous to like or dislike someone based solely on where they happen to be from. Not all Americans hate the French, and I'd like to think the same is true on the other side as well. People over politics, baby. It's all about the love.) Thank you, Christophe.

Rounding out this scene were the very funny Jean Fontenot (Preston) and my fun new Crescent City gal-pal Ashley Lanaux (all these French people!) as Brooke. There's something about the chemistry between the two of them - and their mutual chemistry with Christophe - that really made this particular scene work. Jean, being the character who more or less gets shafted by the other two, has a lot of unspoken dialogue (i.e., body language) that's absolutely hilarious. A lot of sarcastic nodding and smiling, which says so much while saying nothing at all. And Ashley! She was just...(here come the inside jokes for the people in the scene)...natural. Everything about her is so natural. I showed the rough edits to all of my friends - ALL of them - and they all said, "This girl is so natural. She should be in Europe." hehe Actually, aside from the scene itself (and getting hassled by the manager guy about how long we were taking), the thing I remember most about shooting at City Grocery was meeting Ashley at, like, 7:00 in the morning and hearing her say, "I just woke up and I'm already wearing my bling-bling shirt." Very appropriate for a bling-bling scene, I'd say. Thanks to everyone for knowing your lines and for a great lunch at Old Venice afterwards.

Catfight!!

After wrapping up the Brooke/Preston/Jean-Claude sequence (and the above-mentioned lunch at Old Venice), we moseyed on over to some arcade at the Student Union (forget what it's called) to work on the Heather, Brian, and Miranda scene. This scene - a favorite among girls who've been snubbed - features a guy named Brian (played by Big Head Gregg, making his third appearance in "Pink"...hehe) and his girlfriend Heather (played by the fun-and-friendly Miss Erin Williams), spending time together at an arcade. Heather, true to "Pink" form, is having one of those special "girl days" and is in a very bad mood, which only gets worse when Brian is approached by his very attractive friend, Miranda (played by Nordic super-woman Anna Hill.)

Miranda's entrance is one of the more elaborate introductions to a character we filmed for "Pink", complete with a montage and theme music and everything. It's funny. I sat around with several pervy friends, going through the rough cuts, and the minute Anna appeared onscreen we all thought and said the same thing: "Hey, she kinda looks like Jenna Jameson." :)

The character of Brian is unique in the "Pink" script, as he's one of the only guys who really gets to be a GUY. The scene opens with him blasting away at an arcade game, yelling to everyone who'll listen about his incredibly high score. * Note to Gregg - I love the way you say "Get it! Get it!" every time you squeeze the trigger* ...Let's hope no one takes that out of context. hehe

And as for Erin's character, Heather, she's another one that says as much without words as she does with them. In fact, one of the best laughs my friends and I got from the scene came from pausing the opening frame and marvelling at how pissed-off she looks while Gregg is having a "boy" moment playing his video game. Just like a real girlfriend! hehe It amazed me how well this scene came together, especially considering that it had to be moved from its original location at the Oxford running track due to weather. It was awesome. I told Gregg and Dr.Shollenberger that we were definitely 2-for-2 that day.

Diamonds are a Boy's Worst Enemy

And then there was Saturday, April 2nd - the day Edie came to Oxford to film a scene four-years-in-the-making. As I've mentioned in several other entries, we have tried and failed to get "Pink" off the ground four different times, starting way back in 2001 when I started cornering random girls around campus and asking them that oft-repeated question: "Would you like to be in a movie?" That was the very first thing I ever said to Mary Ashley Drabman, and yet it became the basis for everything that came after it in terms of our friendship. Even my nickname for her - Edie - was pulled from the Factory Era of Andy Warhol's illustrious Pop Art career. Yes, for four years I've been an unfunded Warhol, promising my Edie that I would eventually put her in a movie...Finally, I've made good on that promise. And Edie, consequently, is the only cast member that remains from the original 2001 cast. (Ooh, "Pink" trivia!)

This particular scene - co-starring Michael McClendon of Hernando and Ashley Vlach of Oxford - was the first scene that required us to go out in public around Oxford. One thing we've been trying to avoid, after all, is making a movie filled with long shots of the Square and references to local things that don't make sense outside of Oxford. (What can I say? I'd rather be generic than pigeon-holed.) But, being a scene about a character named Cryssie, we had to put the characters somewhere where they could shop and spend money. So, the Square it was.

We did a lot of window-shopping scenes that were quick and painless, and then one scene inside Jewels by Annette that was quite possibly the most gloriously superficial thing I've ever filmed. To hear Edie's voice (which always teeters between Valley Girl and Southern Belle anyway...hehe) insincerely telling Michael that he "doesn't have to do that, sweetheart" was just the icing on the cake, as was the look on Michael's face when the salesperson (played by Ashley) told him the cost of the necklace Cryssie wanted. Beautiful stuff.

We did another scene inside some lingerie store that I don't remember the name of, and I thought that was a lot of fun. We got to pull off a major movie cliche' - the "trying on clothes" montage. Some indie directors might try to steer away from that sort of thing, but I figure if you're making a movie about girls, you may as well give them a little time to shop, right? hehe

Thanks so much to everyone in this scene, especially Edie and Mike, whom both had to travel from their respective homes (Jackson and Hernando) to make an early morning shoot. I think we had a lot of fun and I can't tell you how blessed I feel to know people that are willing to make that sort of sacrifice to help out. It will come back to you tenfold...at least, I hope it will. :)

I'll Tell You How Good It Is...

So then Edie and her fiance' Barrett walked off into the Oxford sunrise, leaving me to meet up with my buddy Leo, fresh off the interstate from New Orleans. I tell you, it's no small feat to coerce someone up to Oxford to be in a movie when they have to drive all the way from New Orleans to do it, but because Leo is a guy, I knew exactly how to appeal to him. "Dude," I told him, "if you make the drive to Oxford, I'll get you a blowjob." Fifteen minutes later, he was on the road, heading north.

Now, already I can hear the question being asked: "J, did you REALLY get Leo a blowjob?" followed quickly by a chorus of male voices saying, "Can you get ME one?", followed quickly by a handful of smart-asses saying, "Were YOU the one who blew him?" No, No, and No, my friends. Leo just happened to be the lucky one who landed the part of Nice Guy - a character who receives a simulated blowjob from the above-mentioned Mary Marie. But the point is proven: even a SIMULATED blowjob is enough to make a guy drive five hours on a Saturday morning.
Like I said to my friend Cindy, "Yup...they're just that good." :)

The Nice Guy/Mary Marie scenes were an interesting study in how acting works, if you ask me. Here you had two people who'd never seen one another before the day their scene was done, making out with one another and pretending to commit sex acts together. Pretty incredible, especially when you consider that a little arrangement of gerber daises (and that's GER-BRUH daisies for all you illiterates) is what starts it all off. Already I've said too much, but again I want to thank Leo for making the trip to Oxford...I told you I'd make it worth your time, hombre', and The J is a man of his word.

Well, I Guess You're Wondering Why I Brought You Here Today...

I was on-edge for a lot of the "Pink" filming, my dears, but never as much as when I realized that the scenes we filmed in New Orleans weren't going to work. This set back our schedule, made Gregg and Kelly talk about cutting the break-up scenes from the film, and in a worst case scenario, made it seem as we might have to consider using another actress to play the part of Lucy, the Break-Up Expert. You can't understand how much that hurt, the thought of replacing someone I have a cool back-story with (Jessa Bingham) with some actress that was just going to be filling a part. Jessa, you may remember me saying, is the shot girl Keith and I befriended on Bourbon Street one night almost a year ago. It was so cool to make a friend in that fickle environment, and I just don't think I could live with myself if had to tell her, "Sorry, you can't be in the movie anymore." I mean, really, until now "Pink" has been the essence of our friendship. Without that, we would have had NOTHING. I would have just been some other drunken guy buying Jager shots from her at the Famous Door. Soooooo.....I got really desperate with her, telling her how sorry I was that we had to re-shoot and begging and pleading with her to PLEASE come to Oxford for the weekend so we could get them shot right. "I know it's a lot to ask, but please please please!!!" Lo and behold, the Jessa came through, and she even brought Lola, the pug from the "Pink" pics I posted a few weeks back. Tell me that's not dedication. Tell me I'm not indebted to her for a good long while. (And yes, Jessa, I know I owe you gas money...will you let the shit go already?!)

We re-shot the break-up scenes at Lake...? Something or Other at the Oxford running track on Sunday, April 3rd. Funny story. There was a time change at 2 a.m. that morning, so all of us punctual types were there, bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed at 9:30, while everyone else was still home hitting the snooze button, thinking it was only 8:30. It was cool, though. It gave us the chance to run to Burger King for early morning hash-browns and croissanwiches. And as Jessa so aptly put it: "There's nothing like waking up with the fucking King." (By the way, people at drive-thru windows are much nicer if you have a pug with you...just one of many things I've learned while making this movie.)

The Guy Getting Dumped (GGD) was one of Gregg's friends named Chris, and everyone who's seen the scenes agrees that he did a great job. I have to laugh, though, thinking, if only they'd been there for that hour beforehand, watching me coaching lines over and over and over. I felt really guilty about that, actually, because during the course of my line-coaching I told Chris that he (quote) "sounded mildly retarded" if he said the lines the way he wanted to do them. It takes a team player to come back from something like that, and so I thank you, Chris. You really did a great job and I thank you for coming at such short notice. And of course thank you to Jessa and Lola (and yes, even Megan) for making the trip. You're now on my list of, like, three or four blondes that I'll make an exception to my Brunettes Only Policy for.

And Now It's Time for Fun with Domestic Violence

And then there was the final scene - the second half of the Jenna scene, which we filmed with Winslow Rumph back in March (or was it February?) This scene was almost entirely written on the spot, seeing as how the original actors didn't get back with Gregg about scheduling and the new guys needed lines that would make sense with their particular personalities. Thus, Jenna now spends time with her friends Mitch, T-Bone, Buster, and D.Wight - four rednecky types - as opposed to T-Bone and Tyrell - the two big black dudes she talks to in the original script. And I have to say, this worked much much better than I ever could have imagined.

Between the four actors, a million catch phrases were born, including, but certainly not limited to, "I'm gonna kick his ass and take his french fries" and "Let me go get my extension cord." In this particular scene, they all had to run down Jenna's ex-boyfriend in the mall parking lot. And well, the only way to get this on film is to have them...well, run down Jenna's ex-boyfriend in the mall parking lot. So, when I yelled "Action!", four big guys - all brandishing weapons and wearing stockings to mask their faces - tore out across the mall parking lot to beat down a much smaller guy. It was awesome. Two or three cars stopped and people got out to watch, thinking that what they were seeing was real. hehe That's the closest I'll probably ever get to reality television, God willing.

Then I yelled, "Cut!" and that was a wrap. Then Kelly cried and everyone hugged and I felt a huge weight lifted from my shoulders. True, there's still a good bit of editing to be done, but I know we've got the right building blocks to make one hell of a Lego castle. And that brings me up to speed, sitting here in New Orleans, where I've been resting for almost two weeks - "lying exhausted on the field of battle - victorious."

Thank you to everyone for reading and to everyone involved in the making of "Pink". What a long, strange, wonderful trip it's been. Cheers.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Congrats J. I can't wait to see the movie! --- Sara B.

6:53 PM  

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