aug17: a better summer.
Beth (assistant producer) suggested I check in with you and update you on GHTG progress.
Well, principal photography is finished. That means we shot it. That means it’s in the can. That means the cast and crew have all gone home, or more likely gone off to other projects. They are like bees to the flower. So what kind of flower have they left behind?
I don’t know, I just don’t know. Can I just say right now that anyone in this game who claims they know what they got is either very experienced or just a liar. I am neither, so I tell you, I don’t know if I have a film or just a bunch of nice memories.
I didn’t expect the experience of actually making the film would be so rich and intense. I guess it’s because I don’t put myself out like that so much. It was a little like one of those well-intentioned TV shows where the bus driver gets to conduct an orchestra for a week – it was bound to be a rich and memorable experience for the bus driver. Likewise, for the singer who conducted the film crew.
The confusing thing is that in many ways my summer became like the one I was trying to make the film about. I aspired to tell a story of
“.. a better summer, or at least a summer when something happened. It happened to a boy and a girl and a girl, in a city roughly the same size and population of Glasgow. Perhaps the canals were a bit grimier, the high-rise buildings taller. The streets emptier when you needed them to be, and the beat clubs busier than the ones around here. But on the whole the city was this one..”
A lot of the feelings I had when I was making the film echoed the feelings of aspiration and nostalgia I got when I was writing the film. And thinking about my city. How can that be anything other than a good thing, you may say? Well it was a good thing, but what I’m saying is that the visceral experience of being around the cast and crew for those 5 crazy weeks was closer to the experience of the film than the film itself!
We did things a certain way. We made the film really fast – we had to. ‘They’ told us that the film was unmakeable in that period. And it was, in a traditional sense. But we changed the way you would normally make a film like that. The director of photography, Giles, in particular, deserves a medal.
Not only did we film the paired-down script that we had arrived at, we were determined to sneak in scenes that had been chopped. And we did pick up those scenes, albeit, in one or two takes, and without coverage. Punk rock filmmaking..
I just hope my punk rock film is “New Rose” by The Damned and not just thinly veiled pub-rock.
I just don’t know what we have. I didn’t watch the rushes as we worked. I couldn’t, I was too wrapped up in my daily rush to ‘make the day’, to film all the scenes we set out to film, to stay a beat ahead of the cast, to be able to direct. I couldn’t bear to watch the stuff back.
And now I’m faced with it all. The editor has already started cutting. I’m peeking at the footage from under the bedclothes. I wince at my direction, I spot the shortcomings immediately, all those moments that I could have done something about at the time, are there staring me in the face. I just don’t know what we have here.. A feature film, or a bunch of scrappy holiday memories.
And that’s just what it’s like sometimes, when you’re trying to make something. I don’t regret anything. If I had stopped to ponder, the momentum would have flagged and we would have had a very different film. I wouldn’t change it. This will be the record of our summer together. A better summer.