Last November, we finally finished principal photography for Millie and the Lords. It was such an intense and stressful and crazy yet rewarding and fulfilling experience!! I cant believe that after so many years of writing, rewriting, fundraising, etc, that we were finally able to pull it off!! The film is now in post production and we will be seeing the first rough cut at the end of this month!! I can hardly wait!
It was wonderful to meet so many new people and learn so many new things about the film production process. From Sag Producer rules to technical things about cameras and lighting, I still feel like my mind is ready to burst with all of the new information that I took in. What others learn over the course of several years during film school, I have been learning in “real time” as we produce this film.
It wasn’t all easy, that’s for sure. There were a lot of difficult personality types to deal with,(I’m sorry, I must have overlooked the part of the Deal Memo that stated that all of your meals needed to be served hot and that we should be providing you with an unlimited supply of food all day. By all means, go out and get your own food on company time and give us the bill) a lot of unexpected challenges (What do you mean you are closed, we are shooting here today! You signed a contract!!), to surprise expenses that weren’t budgeted for (so you broke something on the camera during the shoot and we have to pay for that because the insurance doesn’t and you were going to tell me this WHEN exactly? And was the apology going to come during or after that explanation?).
But at the same time, there were also a ton of unexpected miracles. Unexpected sources of support and encouragement. Like two of the female actors on set for a few days who I saw as my angels, who could make me feel peace and calm just by looking at them. Maybe it was because they were older and had a somewhat maternal instinct, or maybe it was just because they are kind-hearted souls who were sent to us for a reason. But in the moments that I felt like I was such a failure, that this whole project was a mistake and that I was doing everything wrong, there loving presence brought me back to a positive place and gave me the strength to keep going. They made me remember what it was that I was doing, why I was doing it, and that I should feel proud of my accomplishment. I am so very thankful for them.
I loved the creativity and spontaneity of my team. The way we were able to problem solve in a heartbeat and find creative solutions to problems. There was one scene in which my leading actors were supposed to be in a park, on a bench. We had run over schedule with the previous scene and the park had closed, and the actor wasn’t available to do it the next day. Solution? The “urban picnic”. The scene was just redesigned in an instant to take place in the back of a car. It worked beautifully. Or the scene in which my lead actress was supposed to be working at a cash register. The customers would have made it too difficult to shoot the scene effectively- solution? Millie is now working in the stockroom. Brilliant!
There were also the days in El Barrio when we would be shooting and we would get stopped by passersby who were curious about the film. They were so excited when they learned that it was a film about the Young Lords. Many of the residents had lived there during that time, and remembered them very clearly. Knowing that we were telling a story that really spoke to them really made me feel good, it made me feel like we are really giving something back to the community.
There were so many other things: the dedication and patience and talent of my actors, the generosity of so many local businesses who donated their space and food and props for free, the tirelessness and calm of my Line Producer….I could go on all nite.
The post production process has begun and that’s another monster in and of itself. But, so far so good, and I know that just like with Production, we are going to get thru it, step by step.
Stay tuned for more!!