Burning Down The House

Watch out you might get what you’re after
This is where you have a finished script and find people are not only willing to support it–with their time, equipment and even a little grant money–but they’re enthusiastic too.

Cool babies…
Casting. Definitely casting. A parade of hopefuls troupes past your (borrowed) camcorder flaunting their peculiar quirks.

…strange but not a stranger
You look for the ones who have talent and resemble your inner thoughts about the character, emotionally and physically. And more, you look for Presence.

I’m an ordinary guy…
That’s the illusion I’ve created for the outside world.

…Burning down the house
And that’s what happens when you overload someone’s mains with your lights.

Hold tight wait till the party’s over
Hold tight We’re in for nasty weather

You tell an enormous pack of lies ranging from “We’re students” to “It won’t take us long” and “It won’t disrupt your life” to get access to locations. Or you don’t tell anyone anything and just turn up. You risk being forcibly moved on by the police. Filming is hell. You hold tight and do it.

There has got to be a way
There’s always a way. The producer’s job is to find it.

Burning down the house
Re-write the house scene.

Here’s your ticket pack your bag: time for jumpin’ overboard
The transportation is here

Most of the crew don’t have cars. They screw you for expenses. You manage to borrow two vans, a limosine and a new Toyota…

Close enough but not too far, Maybe you know where you are
…then your first AD reverses one of the vans into the Toyota. Yes, you’re in insurance hell.

Fightin’ fire with fire
The manager of the local Toyota dealership is less than happy. He doesn’t want you taking the car out again. You still need those shots of it on the open road. You sic your big loud DoP on to him. After an hour of verbal battering, the car salesman relents.

All wet hey you might need a raincoat
Wardrobe! Never mind, we’ll do the interiors first.

Shakedown…
You drive away in the Toyota promising to bring it back in 30 minutes. It’s a promise you have no intention of keeping. You trade lies with the Toyota man for a string of invective over the mobile phone you’ve borrowed while his potential customers head elsewhere without test driving anything. Toyota’s reps throw your crew off their premises…

…dreams walking in broad daylight
…Nevertheless, you get your shots!

Three hun-dred six-ty five de-grees
Damn! That’s a sexy lens. Too bad they didn’t include one in the kit we blagged. You optimistically try to create the illusion of a telephoto lens by telling everyone to bunch up closer together.

Burning down the house
We don’t need no steenkin’ house!

It was once upon a place sometimes I listen to myself
You seriously wonder if the sound editor knows what they’re doing. You want a Dolby surround mix and the person you’re working with tells you you don’t need one or they can’t do one. You hear yourself say that there are too many opening titles. So you cut them out. Now it just says ‘Once upon a time…’

Gonna come in first place
Well, it has to be perfect or you won’t get awards which means no more funding and no career development.

People on their way to work baby what did you except
You can’t get access to a studio to mix your sound. You can’t get the negative cut because you took out all those titles and they need some kind of computer print out. Your editor is on a six month assignment in LA while you’re stuck in London.

Gonna burst into flame
Memo to self: don’t feed the crew with home-made chilli.

My house S’out of the ordinary
Time for a remortgage to cover the non-stop costs.

That’s right Don’t want to hurt nobody
Proof read the credits and phone everyone to double check you’ve spelled their names correctly.

Some things sure can sweep me off my feet
You take your sound to another rerecording mixer to get it Dolby encoded. He suggests the sound tracks could be layed down in a more useful way and improved with better effects. He says the pictures warrant a little more care. You want to hug him.

Burning down the house
Or opt for the less incendiary option of pulling apart the old sound mix and re-doing it to get quality surround sound. Which is what you wanted in the first place.

No visible means of support…
Your edit decision list still doesn’t quite match the video but you convince the neg cutter to start cutting because it must get to the labs for next week.

… and you have not seen nuthin’ yet
You bump into one of the actors at someone else’s screening. He’s given up wondering where your print is after more than two years.

Everything’s stuck together
Everything is in place to get a partially graded answer print next week. You can telecine that to make a video copy which you can give to the sound mixer so nothing will be out of sync despite all your hare-brained re-cutting and re-jigging.

I don’t know what you expect staring to the TV set
It’s a 35mm motion picture for theatrical release!

Fighting fire with fire
It’s time to recruit some interesting characters to your screening and turn it into a lively enjoyable and productive event. You talk to other directors and producers. Everyone is in the same boat. You spark inspiration off each other and you massage your next script into shape ready for another installment of…

Burning down the house
Where you reduce your thoughts about people, situations and events into the ashes of a story and you keep sifting through it all until something wonderful can rise up pheonix-like on celluloid. Which is, of course, what David Byrne was writing about. Wasn’t he?

(with apologies to the Byrne man)

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