A Hole In The Hull

Date posted on April 23, 2010

4 Days To Go Before DAY ONE

Last night, my producer texted me saying that our Production Manager had finally decided to drop out of the project completely.

Earlier in the day, the PM, getting support from our AD, talked to our producer, lobbying to push our grind date to one week after the original date (which is only four days from now), and scheduling some of the days after May 10. This was at around 2 in the morning, after our three-hour production meeting. The PM and AD thought that five days to prepare were not enough, and they also wanted to buy me time to prepare more. My producer called me at around 3.30AM to ask me what I thought about it.

I told her that my biggest concern in aiming for the last week of April to the first week of May was because I wanted to shoot before the elections on May 10. I was concerned that the volatile political climate might develop into the crisis that many are anticipating because of the uncertainty and insecurity of the first automated national elections. I didn’t want the production to be caught in the midst of that possible turmoil, so I thought finishing the shoot before that would at least protect and relax the status of the film. The post-production, which would be confined in the four walls of the editing suite, is more likely to be immune from all that.
My other concern, upon hearing this new proposal, was the availability of all the cast and crew who signed up to help the film. It’s been a tremendous struggle getting actors and syncing everyone’s availability. I reckoned getting everyone to agree on new dates – after the elections! – would run into the same problems we did before. Still, I told my producer that if everyone can get all the schedules synchronized again, then I’d be okay with it. That burden wouldn’t fall on my shoulders after all. It’s the PM and Location Manager and Talent Coordinator who will deal with that.

Before putting down the phone, I told my producer that I’m okay with the new plan if they can guarantee it will be sorted out. I assured them that five days were enough for me to prepare. I said that if I felt like it wasn’t, I’d be the first to tell the whole staff that it is indeed too soon. Still, much as I would still rather avoid shooting after the elections, I wouldn’t rally an army to charge into battle after they have expressed valid anxieties. So I tried to look at the bright side and thought that at least I’d be able to get more time to prepare – as the director, that is. For one, I’ve yet to finish my shot list… (Blogging around isn’t really helping, is it?).

If any thing, the only thing that bothered me is why it wasn’t brought up during the production meeting while I was there. We went through all the trouble of outlining tasks, setting deadlines and finalizing schedules only to be faced with this radical suggestion that threatened to disregard all that work only a few hours before.
When I woke up the following morning, I read a text from my producer saying that our TC was also against the idea of postponing the shoot. Like what I said, she didn’t think it would be that easy getting people to say yes to new dates. In retrospect, I also thought that such last minute changes would also seem very unprofessional and ran the risk of some of my staff and actors bailing out on the project completely. I said I was fine with the original schedule anyway, so it’s just business as usual.

Later that evening, that’s when my producer texted me to tell me that our PM has finally dropped out of the project completely. My producer assured me that the PM has found a replacement and that they were in fact meeting that very moment to turn over the work load properly and comprehensively. This was the same PM who’s been MIA the previous weeks and had promised to make it up here onwards.

I felt de-boned. I expressed my disappointment to my producer, saying that I can understand that the PM was busy and this was probably the best thing to do, but she could’ve been honest about it and we could’ve already accommodated this major watershed during the production meeting. We could’ve invited the replacement PM into our third meeting so she could have been thoroughly introduced to and updated on the status of the project.
All this, with only four days left before Day One. It’s like paddling a boat with a hole in the hull, with the shore in sight. If I paddled faster and frantically, maybe I’ll make it to land safe and dry.