editing... round 1

Well, folks, the first official producers' cut of the pilot presentation has been completed... and network notes have been delivered!!!!

After many, many hours in the editing room last week, including a marathon 12-ish hour day with 5 of us (Billy, Lee, Barry, the asst. editor Nate, and myself) alone in a room together (it's a damn good thing we all like each other and get along), we finished our cut on Friday--along with a proposed series arc and proposed season 1 storylines--with literally 2 minutes to spare before everything had to be sent off to FedEx for shipping. Whew!

Thankfully it was a holiday weekend this past weekend, so we had an extra day to recover before coming back into work this morning. The execs, on the other hand, took the weekend to watch our cut and make notes and they were ready for a meeting with us by mid-day today!

The meeting went VERY well. They really liked our first pass, which is fantastic! The other great thing is that all of their notes are, as Billy would say, "eminently do-able." In other words, the changes we need to make aren't things that we're tearing our hair out over... rather, they make a lot of sense and can be taken care of relatively easily (though they will take time, of course). And, in a sign that we're all on the same page, some of their notes were also thoughts that we, individually, had after re-watching the first cut on our own over the weekend.

So now we're back in the editing room again... all 5 of us consulting notes, swigging coffee, and eating way too many munchies courtesy of Barry's snack shelf. This part of the process (the editing, I mean...not just the munching of munchies) is a lot of fun, I have to say! I really like editing and I can't wait for our next cut to be done!!! We expect to have a new version to turn back into the network by the end of this week. And then, more notes; then a new cut followed by more notes; and then the final cut. We're getting close!!! Stay tuned...


in the news...

A couple of friends emailed me yesterday to congratulate me and to tell me that they'd seen me (and The Rules) mentioned in the news!! Apparently, LOGO put out a press release announcing that four shows, including ours, had been given the greenlight for development.

To clarify, a greenlight for development is different than a greenlight for production. The former means they'll pay you to develop the project and create a presentation piece, which is what they'll use to decide whether or not they want to pick up your show (that's what we're doing with the pilot presentation). The latter means they want you to make your show for them and they intend to air it on their network (that's what we hope to have happen at the end of the day).

It's so exciting to see our project mentioned in places like the Hollywood Reporter and the Advocate... very cool. If you want to see the blurbs, check them out here:

Hollywood Reporter: http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr/television/brief_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001996301

The Advocate: http://www.advocate.com/news_detail_ektid25435.asp

By the way, the info on the Advocate is slightly incorrect (Girl Play was a film Lee directed that I wasn't involved in) but everything else is good! :-)

oh, the glamor...

It's been a few days since I wrote a post and you're probably thinking to yourself: "Oh, the glamorous life of those who create TV shows... she's probably out breakfasting with TomKat, lunching with Spielberg, jotting notes on napkins while having tea at the Ivy, and then rushing off in her brand new Porsche to have dinner with and pitch a feature script idea to Brangelina."

And if that's what you're thinking, you're damn close. Except for the TomKat, Spielberg, Ivy, Porsche, and Brangelina parts... ;-)

Actually, as I'm sure I've mentioned, I've been spending my days holed up in my office with Billy watching VHS tapes of every single moment of every single thing we shot over five days and taking notes. By the time we finished yesterday afternoon, I literally had about 15-20 pages of my legal pad scrawled with timecodes, comments, stars, exclamation points, and the occasional coffee stain. Tedious is really the only word I can use to describe the process of watching dailies... but it was all definitely worth it. Because when we went into the editing room today for the first time to give notes on Lee's cut of the pilot, we were totally prepared. The work we'd done enabled us to go moment by moment with them and suggest alternate takes of certain moments (if necessary). And it definitely helped us watch her cut with better-trained eyes, which will only make the finished product even better.

So, no, I haven't lunching with famous folks at famous places... but I have been lunching with my partners in a non-descript editing room (thanks to the Fabulous Mister Joe, who brings takeout to the editing room for us). And I have to say that the more work we do on this, the more excited I get! Lee's cut looked good when Billy and I first saw it, and it's looking better now, and it's only going to get better as we get notes back... It's collaboration at its finest, folks. And really, who needs "glamor" when you have this??? (and no, that's not a rhetorical question... I'll take this any day of the week)

Bye for now! :-)


response to a comment post

Apparently my family, friends, and the vanilla coffee creamer providers at Viacom/MTV/VH1/LOGO are not the only ones who read this blog, because someone posted a comment the other day asking what it feels like to wait as the folks at the network determine the fate of our project.

Well, first of all, thanks for asking! Second of all, thanks for reading!
(or should I say thanks for reading and then thanks for asking??)

Either way, the point is that I'm happy to respond.

The thing is, we still have a lot to do right now and so it doesn't yet feel like we're in waiting mode... Lee is spending her days with her temporary husband (as she calls our editor) working to put together her director's cut of the pilot presentation. Meanwhile, Billy and I are going through every single moment that was captured on film during our 5 day shoot. With hours a day, every day, still devoted to this project, there's a way in which the outcome still feels like it's partially in our hands. After all, we're determining the shots we choose, the angles, the takes, the way one scene flows into another, etc., and so the quality of the finished product is something we can control. Of course, the LOGO execs aren't kicking back in barcaloungers and sipping mai tais as they wait for us to finish... they're still actively involved. In fact, we have three full rounds of reviews with them before the final final will be ready to go to New York.

But then, of course, we will wait. And what will that waiting feel like? Wow, it's hard to say... At the moment, I'm still working so much that any kind of nervous anticipation doesn't have time to sink in. In fact, the more I see of the dailies, the more confident I am in the quality of the project we've created...

However, I'm also acutely aware that my opinion isn't the one that counts at the end of the day. Fortunately, though, the people who are making the final decision aren't the type of people to take it out on others if they miss their morning caffeine fix. ;-) They genuinely care about their network, their programming, and this project... And that's good news for us, because we know that this project will be judged on its merits -- not on a whim.

I'm sure I'll feel a bit anxious once it's out there in the world and out of my hands. But I also feel this odd sort of calm around it all that I don't quite know how to explain (and that I don't expect to change). It's kind of a "whatever will be, will be" feeling... Perhaps it comes from the fact that I've worked on this on and off for so long. I mean, 8 years ago, when I first developed the concepts and characters that would become the short film that would become this pilot presentation, I had no idea where any of that would lead. I could never have imagined this. And now that we're here, I can't imagine how it won't continue... Here's hoping the network agrees!


what now?

So what have I been up to since the end of shooting, you may ask? The answer: dailies, dailies, and more dailies!

I've been spending a lot of time looking at dailies and picking out which takes are my personal favorites... In the meantime, our editor (the amazing Barry) has been hard at work on his cut of the pilot presentation. Lee is going to be working with him starting tomorrow and by early next week we should have her cut. Then Billy and I will give our notes. And when it's all said and done, we should have our final version to turn into the network execs by next Friday. Hooray!!!

And what am I doing when I'm not watching dailies, you may also ask? The answer: stories, stories, and more stories!

Seeing what the actresses brought to their roles has inspired me to re-think where some of the characters were going to go (and what they were going to do) over the course of the first season, and so I've been brainstorming new story ideas. It's been a blast. I've realized how much the casting process really plays into the story process. When you write a character just out of your head, you may write her one way... but then seeing the qualities that the actress possesses (and which of those qualities she brings to her role) can shift the way you create that character from episode to episode. It's fun...

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm heading back to that fun... :-)



The title says it all! Production is done!!!!

The last day/night of shooting went extremely well... as always, we had a lot to get and not a lot of time to get it, but we were fortunate to have an incredible director, DP, cast, and crew who all worked together to make it happen. Although we had to cut a couple of things from the shot list (and Billy and I did a last minute script tweak to help Lee combine some shots so she could get them), we got everything we needed. And, as is usually the case, the time crunch ended up in some different shots that may end up being better choices than what we would have gotten otherwise.

Speaking of the footage we've gotten, let me just say that the unanimous consensus is that it's gorgeous!! As an executive producer, I get the dailies (VHS tapes with everything that was shot from the day before...usually there are 4-5 tapes per day). But as an actor, I've chosen not to look at any of them yet. I've heard through the grapevine, though, that the performances are great and the shots are stunning. I can't wait to see it!

So what do we do now that shooting is done, you might ask? Well, now begins the post-production phase... Barry, our editor, has already started cutting footage together. And as of Monday, Lee will be permanently attached to his side as they work to do a first rough cut. Meanwhile, Billy and I will be in the office first thing Monday morning looking at all the dailies and making notes to ourselves of the various takes we liked. In a couple of weeks, Billy and I will look at Lee's cut of the pilot presentation; we'll give our notes to her and Barry, and they'll go off and make adjustments. Once we all have a version we're happy with, we'll present it to Dave and Pam, the LOGO executives here in Los Angeles, and their boss Eileen in New York. They'll give us notes, we'll make more tweaks, then we'll send it off to Eileen so that she can present it to her boss, Brian. He's the one who will ultimately make the call as to whether or not we'll go to series...

And I really hope we do. Because this past week has been an amazing experience. Everyone on set genuinely seemed to have a great time working: people laughed at the funny stuff -- in some cases, actually cried at the touching stuff -- and despite having a tight schedule, everyone got along... which is no small feat. But, as Billy often says, fish stink from the head down... meaning, that if the people in charge are raving diva-licious lunatics, then everyone else will have license to have attitude issues as well; but if the people in charge are mellow, collaborative, and know how to lead effectively, then everyone else will take their cue from that instead. Billy, Lee, and I are all in the latter camp, and we're blessed to be working with network executives (Eileen, Dave, and Pam) who are also in the latter camp. Thus, a happy environment that can definitely be repeated when (she says, putting that out there into the universe) we go to series.

On a sidenote, I just have to add a quick commentary about our network execs. I've heard horror stories of what it can be like when the "creatives" and the "suits" are working together... and I'm so thankful that hasn't been our experience. We're fortunate to work with people who are not only smart, but who also have a good sense of when (and how) to give input... and when to simply observe and let us do our thing. Also, they all seem to love this project and trust us to run it, and all of that shows. I'm really looking forward to working with them when (she says again) we get picked up.

I'm really looking forward to that because as of this morning, while writing this post, I'm having some withdrawals... Shooting a project is a bit like going to summer camp, in a way. The people you work with become a sort of family because you're around them 12-14 hours a day every day. I'm going to miss being with my fellow actors every day... joking with the camera operators, the ADs, the lighting guys, the production associates... chatting with our hair and makeup gurus every morning... laughing as the craft services cook gives me a hard time about not being able to eat spicy salsa... all of those moments that are so lovely in between doing the work we're there to do.

But I have a feeling we'll all be back together again soon. I can't imagine anyone at LOGO/MTV looking at this project and not wanting to see it on the air... personally, I think it's a pretty great thing. And if the comments I heard around the set are any indication, a lot of other people think so too... Here's hoping the powers-that-be agree with all of us...


And now, to end this post, some photos from our last day/night of shooting:

The first is our yacht in the daytime with the windows blacked out so that when we're shooting inside, it will look like nighttime; the second is of the yacht at night; the third was taken on the roof of the yacht at night during our last scene.

This is me with Barbara (our 1st AD, who keeps the set running on time), Lee, Billy, and Michael (our DP, who sets up all the shots for/with Lee).

Me at dinner with Cathy, who plays Becca.

These last two pictures were taken after we'd wrapped up shooting for the evening. The first is of me and Marnie; the second is of me and my sister, Nicolle, who drove all the way to Los Angeles at 4:30am just to come and spend the day with me on set... :-) In that one, I'm holding the previous days' dailies in my hand... I can't wait to watch them!


Day 4...

Day 4 is... whew... in the can!

This post will be a short one. It's been quite a long day and yours truly is so tired that when I went to call my sister from my cell phone during the drive home, I couldn't understand why I wasn't hearing anything... and it was because I'd put the earpiece in my ear but I didn't actually stick it into the actual phone. ;-)

Instead, I will share lots of pictures (see below) and say simply that today was a testament to the power of teamwork. We had so much stuff to get and so little time to get it, but somehow we got everything we really needed. Literally, we had about a minute to spare before we started hitting overtime for the entire crew. Yikes! It's a good thing we all like each other and get along. The mood on the set was a bit stressed, but still really good and everyone had a great time... especially when working with the AMAZING Sheryl Lee Ralph, who was our guest star today. She's so talented and funny. We were lucky to get her.

And now, the promised pictures... I'll do them in order of a typical day.

Early Morning Arrival: Drop stuff off in the trailer that I probably won't see again until the end of the day (trailers are labeled by character name... I'm "Jennifer")

Immediately After Arrival: Makeup and hair! (the photo on top is me; the second photo is Marnie, who plays my best friend Sam, with Sian for makeup and Brynn for hair; the bottom photo is Heather, who plays my assistant)

The Rest of the Day: Work! (the first shot is a look at us on location; the three shots below that are of a scene we shot on Day 3 of me and Marnie, aka Sam, at my car unloading gifts as we head onto the boat behind us for a wedding)

Every Now and Then: A break in between scenes! (the first photo is of Angie, who plays Kris, having a little chat with Heather; the second photo is of me with Mister Joe)

End of Day: Go Home and Write in Blog for Friends.

No, I'm not going to include a picture of me writing in my blog. :-)

Tomorrow's our very last day of shooting... stay tuned!!!


Day 3...

Day 3 was great!!!!

Today was our first day at our new location on a yacht in Marina Del Rey... we'll spend Thursday and Friday there as well.

It's amazing how well everything went, considering the fact that we were on the water and given how much we had to get done in such a short time span. Days like today remind you that the crew, which never gets enough in the "thank you" department, deserves a hell of a lot of the credit for keeping things moving and giving the director time to get her shots. We got through three different scenes in three different areas in and around the yacht PLUS a sunlight shot of the yacht pulling away from the dock. And it all turned out looking gorgeous!!! (or so I'm told...since I was in front of the camera all day) Our crew is truly phenomenal... not only are they all good at what they do, they're also quite a nice, friendly, and mellow bunch of men and women. It's such a pleasure to work with all of them. We're lucky to have gotten them for this project.

Days like today also remind you that a director does a lot more than just call "action." As one example, since we were a bit ahead of schedule early in the morning, Lee moved a scene from the end of the day up to mid-day so we could shoot it before lunch. Even though we were really close on the timing (on union sets, you have to pay costly penalties for not getting your crew out to lunch on time), Lee put her foot down and insisted we finish shooting it. Thanks to her decision, we ended up having a lot more time to prep/shoot a different scene on the deck of the yacht, one which is much more important to Jennifer's emotional journey in the episode. Had Lee not made that call, we may have had to skimp on the more important scene in order to be able to film the other scene before the end of the day. Not only that, but when we were filming the important scene, she gave me some notes that were right-on and allowed me to "feel" what I was saying rather than "act" it. Great stuff, I tell ya!

On a semi-related sidenote, I have pictures of a lot of the things we did today... but unfortunately I accidentally left my camera on set so you'll have to wait until tomorrow to see them. In the meantime, please continue to enjoy the picture from Day 1 of me with the fuzzy boom mic...

Check in for the update on Day 4 tomorrow!