FLIRTING WITH DISASTER

a family member once asked me, "what is truly your life goal mike?" in an attempt to start a philosophical conversation.  in all seriousness i replied, "to avoid being hit by a car each and every day of my life".  my life goal and my day to day goals are the same, avoid the catastrophic and hope for the best.

any type of film making requires a certain level of delusional optimism to create it.  it really takes very little to create chaos on a film set.  when i read a script i try not to focus on the logistic problems because who would want to hire the guy who walks into a room with a list of problems. DP's already have a reputation for being dream crushers in the eyes of directors and it's best to figure out how to word a sentence without the word "no" in it if you want anything that resembles a career.

my most recent project was a super fun tv pilot which involved a single mother and toddler and their comedic and tragic struggles getting through a day.  we survived the 8 day shoot with wonderful material but not all came out as planned.  i was taking a trip down memory lane and reviewing some of the original scouting and blocking photos.  in hindsight, i could not believe how naive we were in regards to what we thought a 2 year old "actor" would actually do.  

 frankie, our brilliant director / lead actress blocks out a scene in which she delivers a monologue while in the bathtub with her child.  This is to be our bittersweet ending.

frankie, our brilliant director / lead actress blocks out a scene in which she delivers a monologue while in the bathtub with her child.  This is to be our bittersweet ending.

 notice how the toddler doll stays in one place and holds a contemplative pose.

notice how the toddler doll stays in one place and holds a contemplative pose.

 in the following scene the child was to be taken out of the bath by the parents and rolled up like a cute toddler burrito.  i watch this scene rehearsed without problems... of course with the doll.

in the following scene the child was to be taken out of the bath by the parents and rolled up like a cute toddler burrito.  i watch this scene rehearsed without problems... of course with the doll.

well friends, believe it or not, both scenes didn't really go as planned.  as someone who has raised a toddler i can tell you that a child's "freak out" can leave two very level headed adults in shambles.  on a film set when a toddler freaks out it leaves 60 people or so in shambles.  in regards to the scene in which mom and dad took the child out of the bath and created that cute baby buritto, we learned something... something we will never forget.  a two year old might not mind getting into a bath with total strangers, a weirdo holding a camera (me) and a guy with a fuzzy microphone on a stick; the kid can handle that.  what the kid cannot handle is the confusion of getting in and out of the bathtub over and over again...  we then brought in the kids double and tried the simpler scene, the one in which frankie delivers her monologue of regret while bathing her child. by this time the kids actually feared the physical space of the bathroom.    we finally got one of the twins with a near nude frankie into the bath and maybe we got one take before total annihilation.

 this is pretty much what most of the footage looks like.  would be gold if it was horror film about a haunted bathtub.   

this is pretty much what most of the footage looks like.  would be gold if it was horror film about a haunted bathtub.

 

 what's a mother child story without breast feeding?

what's a mother child story without breast feeding?

why didn't i bring up the potential issues and logistics of the multiple breastfeeding scenes? because who wants to work with a debbie downer.  as i mentioned, i just go into each day hoping for the best and try to avoid being hit by a car, so of course it didn't occur to me to focus on the stuff that could go terribly wrong.  although the imagery of a mother breast feeding a child brings a sense of comfort to most, we quickly discovered that the simulation on breast-feeding (holding a stranger's bare nipple within inches of a toddler's face) made both child and child's real parents terrified and confused.  

 believe it or not, "pasties" like the ones in the picture did very little to solve the confusion of child or parents.

believe it or not, "pasties" like the ones in the picture did very little to solve the confusion of child or parents.

of course there will be a scene of the sweet night time ritual of putting a child to bed.  

 blocking out a bedtime scene with our stand in's.  so simple, just a simple shot of two people getting a toddler ready for bed.  what could go wrong?

blocking out a bedtime scene with our stand in's.  so simple, just a simple shot of two people getting a toddler ready for bed.  what could go wrong?

below is what happens when a stranger tells a 2 year old that its time to go to bed while the child is on a set with many strangers watching, bright lights in a stiflingly hot and slightly smelly room. apparently a 2 year old cannot tell the difference between being told its bed time by an actor and actual bed time.

 luckely, in the end the scene became much more interesting with they way things went.

luckely, in the end the scene became much more interesting with they way things went.

in the end, some shits goes as planned and other stuff gets derailed, but almost always for the better.