Tuesday, August 23, 2011
I thought I signed on for a Sci-Fi movie...
Where to begin?
In 2009 I was introduced to a "contractor" that my folks had used to redo the interior of a condo. This guy was eccentric, kinda looks like Mr. Clean if he was a retired boxer. A mad scientist with a thousand crazy ideas, and one big secret: zero track record for following through. His ideas were too big for his own good, but he had a knack for getting the attentions of people with money. Send them a sketch, get a greenlight, and it's all downhill from there. So, naturally, he was a perfect fit for the film industry. Jerzy Dream was his name.
So I guess that's where I come in. Jerzy somehow gets in front of this director/producer (Karl Colpert) at Cineville, a small production company in Santa Monica. Carl has a script called Land of the Astronauts about a film composer down on his luck who gets a job driving a limo, and a below modest budget. So Jerzy begins to promise Karl the world, for cheap. He can get and paint the limo, he can mold a vodka bottle into a woman's shape (a key prop for the film), he can dress all the sets, he can do everything and anything. And a naïve Karl believes every word of it, doesn't follow up on background checks and now Jerzy Dream is the production designer of his very first feature.
I get a call from Jerzy, would I be interested in helping out on a movie he was working on. He needed an extra pair of hands and he knew I was interested in getting deeper into the business. So I agreed to go to a little meeting on Thursday evening to meet the director and chat.
So, I show up at the "meeting" and all department heads are present. We're going to go through the script, line by line, and break it down. After all, we start principal in 7 DAYS. Wait, what?? So we go through each scene, mainly for art department to talk about all the locations: this grimy warehouse needs to be turned into a limo office. This entire apartment complex needs to be dressed so we can look into EVERY apartment window and see what's happening inside. Every scene was worse than the last, and Jerzy's sitting there nodding his head to every question, can you do this? We're going to need that. Sure no problem. I'm realizing that I'm going to be single handedly responsible for making good on all of Jerzy's promises.
During this read through I have a mild heart attack, collect myself, and begin to frantically text Monica (Sotto), the only production coordinator I know who might be able to get us out of this mess. And she's interested, and available (thank God). The meeting ends, I pull Jerzy aside, and after the urge to strangle the life out of him fades, I ask him whether or not he's began prep for any of the locations, seeing as how we were a week away from shooting. Could he get me schedules, location addresses, prop and set design lists and needs, script breakdowns etc. Nope, hasn't even seen the locations, hasn't started anything. Urge to strangle, rising...
Through some sort of super human miracle, Monica is able to get our heads out of the clouds and organizes the entire production design department within 3 days. I become prop master and take a meagre budget to get set dressings and all props. Monica takes care of EVERYTHING else. Monica and I become the production design and start to hoist the film onto our shoulders. Jerzy is in charge of the Limo and the lady-shaped vodka bottle.
(Stay tuned for part II of the Astronauts Saga...)
around 11:05:00 AM