Category Archives: movies

Day Six

The alarm was brutal this morning, and I moved through the first half of the day on autopilot.
Well, that’s not entirely true. When I was on the set, my mind would wake up long enough for me to be present in the scene, from action to cut. Until after lunch, though, all the other times were spent in an exhausted haze.
I was so tired because I spent the evening yesterday with Anne and the boys, picking out punkins for Halloween.
I love Halloween more than any other holiday. I love the scary decorations, the spooky movies, and the costumes…oh, the costumes!
Anne is really skilled with the FX makeup, so we always end up as really horrible zombies, complete with gushing blood and spooky wounds…it’s hard to tell who loves it more: me or the kids.
I usually start decorating the house the last week of September, and by the 31st, the house is in full-on spook mode.
This year, though, between the Avon 3 Day and the movie, Anne and I haven’t had time to hang a single skeleton, or tape up a single mummy. Anne took the kids to pick out their makeup and costumes last week while I was on the set, so last night was my first chance to do anything “Halloweeny” with the kids. Even though I was exhausted from work, and I knew that I should have been learning lines and going to bed early, I wasn’t about to miss out on time with the family…and I felt really great about that choice. As recently as a year ago, I wouldn’t have stayed up to learn lines after they’d all gone to bed, and though I am positively wiped out, I don’t regret the decision at all.
Tomorrow I have 7 1/8 pages, and since we’re shooting out of order, I have to work hard to ensure that I track my character correctly across the story…I love that stuff because it’s a challenge, but it’s also one of those efforts that I won’t know the results of for months, until I see the movie. That’s a part of acting in places other than the stage which I’d forgotten about: we work really hard all day long, for days at a time, and we don’t really have anything to “show” for it, other than the occasional reassurance from the director, and the visceral feeling that we did something right.
Then it’s months of waiting, hoping that the composer, the editor, and the director bring to the screen what we thought we were making while we were on the set.
I only have to wait until the end of January to see this picture, and I don’t think I will be disappointed.
I had some challenging scenes today; some real emotional stuff, where my character has to contemplate some life-and-death choices…heavy stuff, and I was able to use my real physical exhaustion to inspire my character’s emotional exhaustion.
I also had some scenes with Isaac Hayes…and every time he spoke, I had to really focus, so I wouldn’t start singing, “suck on my chocolate salty balls” in my head.
Heh, see how it’s in your mind right now? That was me, all day long.

Day Five, and some Pimpin’

Today was a very routine day working on a film, and the only really interesting thing that happened wasn’t even related to the movie!
There’s a great show on NPR called “Marketplace,” and one of the producers emailed me a few weeks ago, asking if I’d be interested in participating in a program about how child actors deal with the money and fame that comes with success.
I told her that I’d love to do it, and she asked me, quite charmingly, if I had heard of a program called “This American Life,” which she also produces.
Heh. No, really. She asked me that.
So I geeked out, and we scheduled the interview for the tuesday following the conclusion of the Avon 3 Day. Trouble was, I booked the job on the movie while I was gone, and I wasn’t going to be able to get into a studio. I thought that I was going to lose the opportunity, and we spent the last week or so emailing back and forth, trying to pull together some sort of plan…and we hit upon one over the weekend: she’d send an engineer out to the set with a DAT, and I’d call her. She’d sit in her own studio and record herself, I’d be recorded in my dressing room, and they’d put the two together later.
Isn’t technology cool?
So today I did my interview, and it was really great…it went on and on, for close to three hours, broken up by my calls to the set to do my scenes. The engineer, a really nice and patient guy called “Skott” was at the set for nearly 6 hours, and never complained once.
So what’s the cool thing, you ask? In the interview, I ended up telling her this story about my childhood…that she said has a very good chance of making it onto This American Life.
Holy.
Shit.
Talk about dreams coming true!!
Tomorrow I am in everything, so I’m off to learn pages of lines…but before I go, I want to pimp out my friend Sean.
Sean and his wife Caryn are opening a really amazing gallery in downtown Los Angeles this weekend, and I want to let everyone know about it. If you’re in LA, or know people who are into the art scene here in town, please come over and check it out this weekend. You can “read more” to get the address and times.
I hope to see some WWDN readers there!

Continue reading Day Five, and some Pimpin’

Day Four

I can’t believe that I am still awake and coherent.
It’s almost 1am as I write this, and I’ve only been home for a little over an hour.
Yeah, we were supposed to wrap around 7, but we shot until 11.
Holy mother of the Jackson Five. It was a long farking day.
Usually, if it’s getting later and later, they’ll just push the material to another day, but I guess we lose this particular set today, so they had to finish all the pages, and we didn’t get to leave until they did.
So today was a long day, but it was fun, and I did some nice work, I think.
In addition to the work, I also met the one and only Chef himself, Isaac Hayes.
I wrote about it earlier this morning:
CHEF!
When my alarm went off at 5AM today, it seemed like I hadn’t slept at all. I felt I had just turned off the light, and there was no way I was going to get up.
So I did that thing that we do when we’re exhausted…I did some quick math in my head, and figured out that if I ate breakfast from the caterer at work this morning, rather than cooking it myself before leaving, I could grab an extra 30 minutes of sleep.
So I reset it and fell back to sleep…and of course when it went off again, I felt like I hadn’t gotten any additional sleep at all. Matter of fact, I didn’t even feel awake until I was half-way to work.
I got to work at 7, went through makeup and hair, put on my wardrobe, and walked over to the caterer to get a breakfast burrito.
When I walked around the corner of the trailer, I saw him standing near the juices, talking with another actor…Isaac Hayes.
Dude! It’s Chef, standing right in front of the food!
I suppress an excited girlish squeal, and extend my hand, “Hi. I’m Wil,” I say.
“Oh, I know who you are! You’re the boy genius who made all those adults look stupid!” He says.
What? Am I still asleep? Did I just meet Isaac Hayes, and he told me knew who I was?
He continues, “I loved you on Star Trek, man. It’s really nice to meet you.”
I can’t believe that I’m keeping it together. I don’t even try to mask my enthusiasm, and tell him, “Jeeze, thank you. The admiration is mutual! I’m really excited to be working with you.”
We talk for a few more moments, but I can’t tell you what we said, because it was sinking in that I was standing here, in front of the catering truck, talking with Isaac Hayes, and he is excited to meet me!
After a moment, I tell him, “At my wedding, when my wife and I walked into the reception and were introduced to the assembled guests, we walked in to the theme from Shaft…”
He beams and says, “That’s cool! Thank you.”
He sort of half-bows, and he seems genuinely touched.
“…yeah,” I continue, “when I told her that you were working on this movie, she said I should tell you…so…there you go.”
I’m starting to feel like a full-on fanboy, so I decide now is a good time to STFU. Luckily, my breakfast is ready, so I excuse myself and head back to my dressing room to eat.
Of course, I’m so excited, it’s now cold, sitting on the desk next to me, because I had to write about this before I could eat.
I am such a dork.

Day Three

I learned something today: having no lines can be just as exhausting as talking until your throat is sore in every scene.
It’s surprisingly hard to just sit there for hours, trying to focus on the other actors, react to what they are doing, and not get bored.
Oh man, is it easy to get bored…because of the lights, it’s close to 85 degrees on the set, and the air is very still. We spend a lot of time on each scene, so we get to hear the same lines over and over again, and it’s easy for the mind to wander and the eyelids to fall down.
Now I understand why Levar fell asleep on the bridge behind his VISOR so many times in the early years of TNG.
I didn’t expect to feel wiped out when I got home, you know? I expected it to be a really easy day…but I am beat right now. To be honest, it feels really good.
The lack of dialogue did give me some free time during the day…I watched some Simpsons on DVD on the iBook, and played a few games on MacMAME.
My day started at 5AM, and we shot nearly nine pages, which is really, really, really a lot in films. When I was on Trek, we’d average about 6.5 pages per day, and when I was working on Mr. Stitch, I once managed something like 15 pages in one day.
So now that you know more about page count than you ever wanted, I can give up some details:

  • This project is a Movie Of The Week for the PAX network, and it will air at the end of January in 2003. When my friend Keith found out that it was on PAX, he teased me that I was in one of those stupid “Left Behind” piles of crap…but I assured him, and I can assure you, that it’s actually a pretty cool story. =]
  • Included in the cast is an actor you may have heard of…”Chef” himself, Isaac Hayes! He plays a mysterious guy who give me this mysterious, ancient, powerful book. The story is about how I deal with it.
  • Also in the cast is my friend Richard Grieco. We’ve done three movies together before this one, and it’s the first time he’s not kicking my ass. I really like Richard. He’s one of the sweetest guys who ever lived, he’s very generous and funny…and it bugs me that he has this image as a real cheeze*wiz.
  • The actor who is playing my best friend in the movie is Maureen Flannigan. Mo and I have been friends since forever, and I absolutely adore her. I think that our personal history will cascade into our performances, and make the film that much deeper and richer. The cool thing is, the producers didn’t know that we knew each other when they cast us.

Tomorrow I talk and talk and talk, so it will be the polar opposite of today. Should be interesting to contrast the two.
I’m having a really good time. It feels good to be on a set where people know what they’re doing, and there aren’t any incompetent a-holes with huge egos farking things up. I didn’t realize how much I’d missed that.
Time to learn lines.

Boise? WTF is that?

Copuple of updates on the movie:
I’m having a really good time. This director is just awesome, the crew is friendly, professional, and all the actors I’ve worked with so far have been great.
There is this one strange thing, though…the movie isn’t being called by it’s title on the call sheet, or our signs to location, or the slate, or anything…theyr’e calling it “Boise,” like it’s a codename or something.
I wear lots of suits, so I walk around talking into my cuff, telling people “I’m on Project Boise,” and looking mysterious.
Hey, without WiFi at work, I have to find ways to entertain myself, right?
Yesterday was Day One and it was a typical First Day On A Movie(tm). Most of the actors had gotten their material late Monday night, so they were having a tough time with the lines. Luckily for me, I had the studio email it to me as a .pdf, and I printed it out.
I shit you not, that laser printer paid for itself on Monday!
So I knew my lines, had worked out enough of the character to feel really comfortable living in his skin and stuff. Since we’ve all really hit the ground running, I’m being forced to trust my instincts and make quick and deliberate character choices, which is actually good for me, I think. If left to my own devices, I have a tendency to overthink things, and complicate the hell out of stuff. Since I don’t have the ability to do that on this picture, it is a good test of my acting skills.
Speaking of my acting skills, I was paid a very nice compliment by the director late in the day yesterday. We were between scenes, and we were talking. I mentioned to him that I hadn’t done any real acting jobs in over a year, since I’d been working primarily as a writer.
He looked at me, his face showing real surprise, and he said, “Wow! I would never have known. You’re performance has been so wonderful, I thought you’d just come off of another movie, right into this one. You’d never know that you’ve taken a year off.”
Shortly after that, the producer came over to me and told me how happy they all were that I’d been cast, and that he’d been watching me work. He told me that I was doing great things with the role, exactly what they’d wanted.
It felt good to be told that I was doing a great job, without it being followed by, “but we’re going with another, bigger actor.”
My character in this picture has suffered a terrible and tragic loss, so he is never too far from tears, covering his pain in various ways. He’s ironic, he’s angry, he’s sarcastic, he is occasionally vulnerable…boy, it is grueling work.
At the end of the day yesterday, I was physically and emotionally exhausted.
Today was much easier. I was only in 2 scenes, and I was mostly reacting in them…but I was so tired from yesterday, I was having an insanely difficult time focusing and staying present. I’d forgotten just how tough it is to not get distracted and let my mind wander…it seems that in every spare moment I am thinking about the book, or how I’m going to write about the day when I get home.
The next two days are pretty much like today. I don’t talk too much, but I’m there for each scene…Patrick Stewart called it “Face Acting.”
I was able to break away from the set long enough today to call Screen Savers when they aired my segment. I haven’t seen it, but Anne tells me I didn’t look like a total dork…even though I was wearing what she calls “Your Croccodile hunter Shirt.”
Yeah, there’s nothing quite like gettin’ dissed by your wife, you know?
So that’s it. I’m bleary-eyed and having a hard time staying awake.
More tomorrow.

Seth

“This assistant, who was way overqualified to be doing this, turned to me and said in his French accent, `I have scouted this alley for Luc Besson, Neil Jordan, John Frankenheimer…and you.’

White. Jane White.

UGO has a really funny interview I did with them to support the release of Jane White is Sick and Twisted. Don’t forget to scroll past the advertisement, or you’ll miss the whole second half. (When I read it I thought, “Hey, didn’t I say a lot more stuff?”)

Nobody knows you’re a dog

So I’ve gotten lots of emails about this apparent Nemesis script that’s on the net, and I have a thing or two to say about it.
I took a look at it, and it’s not the script I was handed, stamped “CONFIDENTIAL” all over it. It’s not the script we shot.
I guess lots of people have jumped to some wild conclusions about this, which is understandable, because we all want the movie to be good.
Finally, here’s something to ask yourself , if you’ve read it: Would you judge a baseball team’s world series chances by their performance in their first Spring Training game?
Like every movie, some people will love this, and some people won’t. I bet every hard core Trekkie will find something to love, and something to hate. That’s the mark of a good movie. The studio could still mess it up, but I’m not too worried.
Relax, everybody. It’s not Episode One. I promise. It’s going to be fine.
Thought for today:


“When the country falls into chaos, patriotism is born.”
–Tao Te Ching

The Good Things

I am in this movie called “The Good Things.”
This should come as no surprise to regular readers, because I talk about it alot, as I am very, very proud of it.
People ask me all the time, “Wil, how does your skin stay so clear?”
I tell them it’s a plesant side-effect of hard-drinkin’
Then I tell them that, if they were so inclined, they could SEE THE GOOD THINGS!
That’s right! From the convenience of your own monitor, you, too, can view The Good Things! View it while eating dinner! View it while butt naked! View it while your roommates think you’re working on that paper they’re paying you to write!
To explain how this wonderful opportunity has come along, I turn the microphone over to my dear friend Mr. Seth Wiley, who directed the film. Seth?
“I found out today that our short film “the good things” is a quarterfinalist in the Chrysler Million Dollar Film Festival. this is a really good deal for the winner (something, something…million dollars,) and an exceptionally good deal for the semi-finalists, who get a trip to Cannes. so I’m asking everyone to visit the link and vote on the film as well as see the twenty-four other short films that are
viewable on the site.
This link will get you to a group of shorts, one of which is “the good things.” there’s some registration and password cha-cha, but it only commits you to buying a minivan…no, two minivans. I apologize for the quality of the digitization, but alas, the technology–she is young, no?
For those of you who don’t want to sit through the entire film again, please feel free to vote for it, as the votes could help the film become a semifinalist. for those of you who’ve never seen the film, please watch it and save me the false promise of sending you a tape.
Thanks a lot for helping out!”

This movie means so very, very much to me. We worked very hard on it, and I am so excited to share my work with the world. Please watch it, please tell your friends to watch it, and then vote for it, dammit!
If javascript is busted on your computer (like it is on my POS 9000), our movie is in the top row, in the middle.
Feel free to discuss the movie in the soapbox.

Ass means donkey

I spent the evening watching Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back, on DVD.
Kevin Smith is so awesome. He’s living the dream for all of us who want to be successful in the entertainment industry, while kicking it in the nuts for how lame it can be. I met him a Comic Con two years ago, and (surprise) geeked out at him, and he was really cool to me. I’d really like to work with him, someday.
I’m going to bet that most of the WWDN readers have already seen this, but if you haven’t seen the DVD, yet, you must get your hands on one, by hook or by crook, so you can watch all the deleted scenes (there’s something like 90 minutes, or so of deleted stuff), and see all the spiffy extras on disc 2. There’s this thing called “The Genius of Will Farrell”, that made me feel totally bush league as an improviser, and there’s many precious minutes of all the girls running around in their undies. Always a bonus.
I blame this DVD, and Day of Defeat for keeping me up until almost 2 AM, and I haven’t even watched the movie with the commentary, yet. I’m going to have a lot of explaining to do with my wife tomorrow, when I can’t keep my eyes open when we take Ferris to class!