So the plan was simple enough: dedicate the day to completing the first act of my script. I’d already hit the twelve page mark and really only envisioned another two or three pages to go before landing on that Dum-Dum-Daaaaah moment that takes us to commercial. Two or three pages. And I had an entire day to write them! How hard could that be? Well…
No sooner do I get into the office this morning than I’m headed downstairs for a tech tour of the various sets. On Stage 6, Director Andy Mikita breaks down the shots, offering up a play-by-play of the entries and exits, considerations and confrontations, and, of course, the big reveal. I find myself standing beside our kick-ass Stunt Coordinator James “Bam Bam” Bamford.
After chatting about THE-Next-Big-Action-Star Jason Momoa, he demonstrates a couple of lightning fast wrist locks that threaten to snap my arm like kindling. The man is dangerous – in a respectable and thoroughly lovable sort of way. Next time you see him at a con, do ask him to run through his inventory of grabs, holds, and locks. Make sure to make a special request for a little something I like to call The Pop ‘n Squeal. Tell ‘im Joe sent you.
Then, it’s the long hike across the lot to Stage 4.
There, we climb the stairs up to the second level and check out that inhumanly narrow space. It’s gonna be tight – but very cool!
A walk around the corner into the next room leads to a discussion on lighting and camera placement. Producer John G. Lenic waves me down with one hand, the other holding the cell phone up to his ear: “Yeah, Joe’s with me. We’re on our way.” And we’re trekking back across the lot where the rest of the gang awaits us in Stage 5.
Up another flight of stairs to another second level set: this one the BIG one.
We discuss paint treatments and windows, effects practical and visual, stopping every so often and falling dead silent whenever the alarm sounds to let us know they are rolling downstairs. Eventually, everyone is on the same page. And good thing too. We start shooting in here tomorrow.
We take Remi on an impromptu tour of the other sets –
By the time I get back to my office, I just have time to unpack my laptop and down breakfast before I’m in the conference room for the production meeting. Although the script is a robust 54 pages long, two separate timings have it coming in “to time”. Compare this to Paul’s script, Intervention, that, at 48 pages in length, ended up coming in six minutes long. Carl was quick to point out that page count is deceiving. Paul, like Rob Cooper, tends to write very tight, packing the page. I, on the other hand, prefer a far more flexible style that sees me giving each prospective shot its own action direction.
For instance, while Paul’s script may look something like this:
INT. DESTINY – CONTROL INTERFACE ROOM – DAY
Eli is working at a console when he hears something. He turns. REVEAL Young standing at the entrance. He throws Eli a sour look. Eli redirects his attention back to his console. ONSCREEN we see an image of the ship’s schematic. Eli points at – the holo screen that flashes up. He’s watching Lost.
While mine may look something like this:
INT. DESTINY – CONTROL INTERFACE ROOM – DAY
Eli is working at a console when he hears something. He turns.
REVEAL Young standing at the entrance. He throws Eli a sour look.
Eli redirects his attention back to his console.
ONSCREEN we see an image of the ship’s schematic.
Eli points at –
The holo screen that flashes up. He’s watching Lost.
This only becomes an issue when it comes time to board the episode. On the surface, it would seem that my script may take longer to shoot but, in reality, 8 pages of Joe script actually equal about 7 pages of Paul script.
Anyway, we kick off the production meeting with a special birthday announcement and an off-key rendition of Happy Birthday to Kerri after which A.D. Bill Mizel breaks down the shooting schedule. Then, we go through the script one last time. Julie reminds the department heads that their final budgets were due and that is that.
I follow Ashleigh’s lead and have a veggie burger for lunch. The bun is disquietingly chew. We watch the dailies and, finally, I’m back in my office. I actually start work on the script, revising the already revised dialogue from the previous scenes and am about to break new ground when Andy poked his head into my office and suggests I join them in the writers’ room for VFX Supervisor Mark Savela’s show-and-tell.
More discussion. A change in approach that will cause me to rethink a scene in my soon-to-be-shot script. Even more discussion. A change in the change in approach. All is well.
I return to my office and have just settled in to do some writing – when Ashleigh walks in and informs me that everyone has gathered to watch the producer’s cut of Intervention. Fer crying out loud!!! Ashleigh scurries off, fearful of incurring my wrath. And I –
Join everyone in the writers’ room for the screening. Great episode! I stand up, prepared to head back to my office and finally tackle that first act.
At which point Lawren walks in and hands me Rob’s first draft of Malice.
I head back to my office and read it. Great script! It’s going to be one hell of a location shoot!
I respond to some emails, phone mom, and…
Call it a day.
Tomorrow! Tomorrow, I’ll finally finish that first act.
Well, that’s the plan anyway.