11.21.04 (Day 3 of Shoot) – The Happiest Day Production

MD has gotten it DOWN on the craft service. She does an amazing job, and it is all good food, always looking great & yummy, and the coffee is strong & delicious. It’s quite a juggling routine that she’s doing at all moments – making sure there are enough cups, timing the coffee’s brewing so we don’t run out (takes an hour or more to make), and then lunch set-up, breakdown, handling left-overs, picking up food donations, etc. etc. etc. For breakfast, we have great bagels & pastries from Bagel Nosh & Starbucks, plus fabulous coffee from Peets and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf.

I have been so delighted at IMPECCABLE TASTE CATERING’s lunches. The food is delicious – good vegetables & salads, as well as chicken, pasta, fajitas, etc. It is all fresh & hot when served, and the crew eats it up like a vacuum cleaner. I am humbled at how generous Diane Timmons is with her company’s sponsorship of this film. I thought it was cool that a couple of the guys on the catering crew were tattooed & buff, and deeply interested in cooking and service. To be completely honest, I have to admit that it first surprised me — the juxtaposition of these beefy guys who epitomized “manly” men somehow, and their pride in making excellent food; and this just showed me how deeply ingrained my social preconceptions are — another good reflection of the reason to make THE HAPPIEST DAY. I will definitely use IT Catering in the future. I can’t say enough how good the food is. (Makes me hungry thinking about it now!)

We shot today in a screenwriter’s house off Mulholland Drive, and the biggest challenge was parking the trucks & generator (I gave the fire marshal my word we’d do it right, & they spot check sometimes). The road was teeny tiny, so turning and parking the trucks was almost like Austin Powers’ 200 point turn. Driving out was a challenge too, as the truck barely cleared the tree branches above the street.

Mostly, the day went very smoothly. 35+ things on my to do list this morning. We were short on extras for tomorrow’s wedding, and we didn’t have one of the parts cast yet. I was trying to get in touch with an actor potentially for the part — hard to do on a Sunday — and I had a good person who could play the part as a backup, but I needed to make a decision. I just wanted to just sit down & do the things on my list one by one, but I kept getting called to do this or asked that, so it was an effort to keep the stress down — however, I’m not sure people would even think I was stressed. That’s the funny thing about producing (similar to ADing) — if you’re doing a good job, no one knows how stressed you are…

The cast and crew seemed to really enjoy themselves today. It was the groomal shower day (i.e. the bridal shower), with the groom opening lingerie & talking about taking time off to raise kids. The house was a perfect setting, and everything looked great. My brother-in-law brought my nephew Roger & niece Lilia (Jenn’s kids) to be in the scene. Raji is an amazingly social and comfortable 3 year-old. He is a natural at acting — save for the time he offhandedly recited “roll sound…speed…marker…action…”during one take. Got to hand it to the kid – he was paying attention & learning the order of things in filmmaking!

At the end of the day, Ursula took the DP and key grip to a scout of a restaurant location to be used on the last day of shooting. Meanwhile, we wrapped up & spent some time figuring out where to park the trucks. Charity drove the MANNA van & scouted for parking; then Jenn & I drive the grip truck & generator to Santa Monica and parked them back-to-back. Charity had unloaded most of the van once we came home; Ursula joined us, and we finished unloading; then Jenn went to stay with her husband & kids in a friend’s house; and I flopped onto the couch & went to sleep, still in my clothes.

entry by: MD Dundon
Today’s shoot was at another amazing house in the hills of Sherman Oaks. Here we shot a kitchen scene with the groom’s family and the groomal shower. The biggest excitement of the day was the plummeting temperatures, a truly unusual experience for the Los Angeles area. The location was a bit smaller and there were more things to pay attention to in terms of set up and where you could be and not be in the camera shot. The owner was wonderful with us again and helped us figure out all the logistics…even letting me heat water when hot chocolate became our saving grace for the day.

On any shoot the PA’s (production assistants) are completely essential to the success of the film. Over the past three days I had come to really appreciate our incredibly hard working and loyal PA’s who helped me drag several hundred pounds of food and drink all over creation and back :D. I had a chance to really admire our PA’s and the crew today as they helped keep everything moving beautifully including a pretty big job of putting down cardboard to protect the wooden floors inside the house and the area around the outside to protect from some slick spots. Production assistants do everything you can imagine on a set from driving trucks, unloading, and helping crew and cast with the myriad of small tasks that literally make the film world go around. I had a chance to interact with almost every one of them over these five days and I’m really grateful for all their help. We couldn’t have done it without you!

This was also my last night of staying at my host, co-producer, Sara Neff’s place. Letting me stay free of charge was incredibly generous, but more than that it made me feel like I had a real home to stay in with all of her roommates and Sara herself being so welcoming and friendly. Sara, and all the other people on the production team whom I met over these five days, amazed me with their commitment and ability to find and create opportunities for people to be a part of this amazing filmmaking experience.