THE SHOOT. Here it is finally. After all these months organizing things it all comes down to this. Two weekends. And we were super lucky because we had perfect weather. The first weekend we shot the Interiors at Hicks' house in Howell, NJ. I think I extended myself a bit too far for this shoot. I have a problem where sometimes I feel like unless I do a task it won't get done right. Or, ya know, if I'm doing it I know it's being taken care of. So with this in mind on Friday I had to rent the production van then drive up to Staten Island to get the crew and equipment. Then into New York City to pick up some more equipment at Shadow Studios and then down to Wall, NJ to drop them off at the hotel. Next I had to pick up Sabrina in Long Branch, NJ at the train station and drive her back down to the hotel. Now all this took me from about noon until maybe 8PM. There's a lot of distance in between these locations for those of you unfamiliar with the NJ Shore. So it would be Okay if I was going to bed at 8 - 9PM for call time Saturday at 8AM. But Kevin Kolack (H.R.) was attending a play that night so I couldn't pick him up from the train station until around midnight. So the night before we start shooting I didn't go to sleep until after 1 AM. But I think I was so hyped, ready to go, that the little sleep I got didn't even affect me. But again, had I given someone else some of these responsibilities it would've made things easier for me. So the shoot went surprisingly smooth. Every shoot has a handful of problems. You try and be prepared as mush as possible, but things always come up. We really only had two problems. First, we lost our beach front location in Manasquan. So one night after we wrapped I drove up to Asbury Park and wandered around before the sun set and figured out where we could shoot there instead. No big thing. The 2nd problem was a bit more frustrating. Rich told me how much film to buy. And I did. But our first weekend we suddenly appeared to be running low on stock. There was no way we'd make it through Day #2 with what we had. So I had to contact a place in New York and they opened up and charged me more for the stock as well as an emergency fee to open. I've been on shoots where this has happened a few times so I didn't let it bum me out. Luckily, Joe (The Dude) was going into the city that night so the bright side was I didn't have to make the trip in myself to buy the film. Other than that it all went good. Everyone seemed to get along fine and we usually ended ahead of schedule. I took a small part as "The Engaged Guy." Basically the part required someone to sit with a girl and get water dumped on him ("the fake piss" I've mentioned) and then have the vegetable soup that was doubling as the puke to be spilled on him. I figured it'd be hard to find someone willing to do this, so I took it. I also figured if the cast and crew was hating me, this would be a good time for them to relieve some tension by chucking globs of soup on my head. But when all was said and done I was pleased with how things went. I could go off on one or two things but there's no reason.
Well, I finally got the film back from the lab. I was anxious to see how things came out. I guess when all is said and done, I was about 80% pleased. There was no way everything was gonna be perfect. It just never is. But there were a few shots where I could see Kevin's arm as he operated H.R. and some reflections, that I know we asked about on the set and were told they were not in the shot. But that's life. There was, however, one shot of Joe and H.R. in the tree after they've "pissed" on my head that was totally unusable. So I called up Rich and on a 100 degree day we went back to the park and re-shot it. I stood in for Kevin as H.R. and we got the shot. Since we were there we got another funny little bit that I'd wanted to do originally but we just didn't have time for - where Joe applies zinc oxide to H.R.'s nose on the beach. We actually shot this on top of a gravel/dirt path but it totally looked like it was at the beach. No one would ever know the truth...that is if we used the footage. It was cut like other moments for timing.
Into the recording studio we went with the band to record "Sunny Day." This was my first time in a professional recording studio to record music I'd help to write. As excited as I may have been, after about 5 hours hearing the same cheesy, Brady Bunch-type song over and over and over again, you learn to hate it. I don't know how musicians do it. Then again, editing a film is not much different (but I'll get into that later). So at the end of the day, the song sounded pretty good. It needed some fixing up, but even after hearing it a million times I was happy with what we did that day.
Let the editing begin. My friend Phil Botti agreed to edit the film. I was hoping he would. For starters it would save me lots of money since we could use his facilities at Atlantic Records. Also I trusted Phil enough to know he'd do a good job. Plus, the thought of finding an editor I felt comfortable with seemed like another headache I didn't want. It was weird editing at first. I'm not used to just sitting back in a chair while someone else is at the controls. It takes some time to adjust. I'm not sure I totally did. Phil put together a nice assembly cut. But watching it I started having those second guesses. Was it funny? Keep in mind, we're going on a year I've been working on this film. For a 10-15 minute film, that's a long time. It's hard hearing the same 10 minutes of jokes for a year. There was no question I was gonna question myself. Had I just wasted all of my money? Did it work? I had no clue. It took some life out of me. I tried to watch Phil's reaction to things since it was sorta new to him. Even hearing him laugh didn't convince me totally that I was on the right track.
After working on the assembly cut, I decided I needed a longer version of "Sunny Day." That part of the film I always knew was the best part. I called John the guitarist to talk about it with him. He was cool with it, but they wanted to bring in a new drummer. Nobody was really happy with Rob's playing on the original, not even the engineer. So I agreed. There wasn't anything I could do. Rob wasn't the "end all-be all" with me. A new drummer made no difference to me. So we went back into the studio and re-recorded the song. It went a bit faster the 2nd time. The new drummer, Andrew Hauber, worked out better for everyone. We mixed the song a week later and that was that. "Sunny Day" was complete. I had always hoped we'd make the deadline for the first festival I was eyeing. The New York Comedy Festival. What better festival for my film? It was tough because we were only editing about once a month. Even though this frustrated me, there was nothing I could do. When you're getting services for free you have to work around those schedules. I kept on Phil about making the deadline. He assured me we'd make it, but I have to admit I didn't believe him. We started editing a bit via e-mail - I'd send Phil notes on what I wanted and then he just edited at work when he had the time. This actually worked out better than I thought. We got a decent rough cut of the film done in time and I sent it off to the festival. Not expecting much since the film wasn't done.