Roger (the post sound mixer) will probably kill me if he knew what I was doing. After mixing down three version of NUNE for me, I go and fine cut one of the official version after the mixdown. I think to a sound mixer that’s kind of forbidden, but I’m a perfectionist and I see things I can’t live with. Film is sort of permanent you know: I have to be 100% in love with every cut, every detail and I can’t stand thinking about a “flaw” each time the scene comes around. I have to love and live with every bit of it.
Most of the re-editing I do for the master pertains to “cadence,” the rhythm of the editing and of the scene. Much of this is dependent on sound, motion, image, lighting and motive (usually emotion) and whose scene it is.
While I was reviewing the master, I also noticed minor sounds that drove me batty. Sounds that I asked him to fix in some versions but reappeared in the master version.
“Did you know that the sliding of a chair could sound like a fart? I know it’s a chair but it sounds like a fart to me; and I don’t want my characters sound like they’re farting!”
Now, no one else would care. But it drives me crazy. So I tracked down the cleaner track from another version and mixed and matched the sound.
As I combed through the movie, it interesting to “tour” the production of the film: every element of it, from pre-production to now. I enjoyed the journey of seeing all the decisions people made along the way and how it created the end product. It’s fascinating to recall how certain scenes came to be.
For instance, whenever I see the pill bottle in the movie, I remember buying that pill bottle. I remember buying two in case we lost one in the props department. I remember buying two of items that can be replicated: two pairs of the skeleton glove and two sets of the solar galaxy mobile. Then there were one-of-a-kind things that you’re totally screwed on if you lose it.
The most precious item was Nune’s skeleton glove. I guarded that thing with my life. I’d have a heart attack whenever that thing was taken off. Brianna (Nune) and Sondi (the props master) was very good with taking care of it.
On the day at the tennis court, I had Brianna roll a bunch of fake joints for me (for the scene we would shoot later with the cheerleader and her boyfriend smoking pot). I had thrown a power bar into the kit that had the smokes and everything and it slipped my mind that that box was sitting around crafts service.
When it came time to shoot the scene with Nune taking out a half-eaten power bar from her pocket, I flipped out when I realized that the kit was sitting wide open with all the snacks on the crafty table. For a few minutes I couldn’t find it and was about to KILL somebody if they ate the power bar.
The thing I couldn’t figure out is why I didn’t just buy a box of them? Why did I just buy one? That was totally stupid and would end up being much more costly if I had to send someone out to buy a power bar; costly not because of the price of the snack—but because of the valuable shooting time/down time.
I have a secret attraction to the purse in the Nurse’s office. It’s one of those props that has sentimentality for me because I remember the day Melissa, aka “Gypsy” (the costume designer) and I went shopping together.
We bought ALL of Nune’s clothing at a thrift shop in the valley. Gypsy and I did a few weeks of research on the “look” we wanted Nune to have. Gypsy was great because she knew the look better than I did. I knew I wanted a “white trash” look but I didn’t know what that looked like these days. Not only that, I wanted something really original.
I told Gypsy a story about how I was once at the DMV in the suburbs of Denver and I saw a couple pretend that they were Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears (when they used to date). I mentioned that they were kinda white trash celebrities to me and it’s even trashier when pregnant suburban teens try to look like them. She listened to me and we both kind of felt that it could be a blend of suburbia-trash mixed with real poverty and a girl that wants to look cool and authentic but has no money.
I knew what alternative girls look like from the 80s to today but we both decided it would be too cliché to go “gothic.” We wanted something completely original—like it came entirely out of the character.
I decided that since Nune is poor, she has to wear the same pair of pants everyday at school. This helped us out a great deal with regards to wardrobe changes but it was still tricky because even though her outfit is pretty simple—we still had to keep track of when she wears her glove, which days she wears a certain top or when she changes her jacket. The good part was she always wore the same pants and sneakers. The only thing I regret not doing was duct-taping her shoes—which I think would’ve been a nice touch—but it felt too extreme (like trying too hard). But now that I think about it, with film you kind of have to go over the top because things don’t always translate visually on film. It’s usually the fine details that translate when you don’t want it to (like bad makeup or fake FX). But the big things like duct tape on her sneakers—you’d never notice unless you did a close on her shoes (which we did); and that’s probably the only reason I regret not going over the top with it.
I remembered Gypsy I and looking at the used handbags at the thrift shop and we both laughed our asses off when we found the one for the Nurse’s office. We thought it was hysterical that it was a Gucci bag.
One day, I was crossing the street in my neighborhood and I saw this totally messed-up looking crackhead chick with natty hair and mismatched clothing wearing a tshirt that said “Model Citizen.” I was filled with mirth and thought this was the greatest thing in the world. Life was a much better storyteller than I was because I never would have thought of such a contradiction. So I went to the mall and had the shirt custom made for Nune. So that’s why she’s wearing a “Model Citizen” shirt—because she’s not one.
Overall, going back to the Britney Spears thing, it was important to Gypsy that Nune looked like a “whore;” like a girl that’s trying to make it through puberty but can’t afford to highlight her hair or buy designer clothes. All she could do is put the idea of it together in a clumsy way. That’s why we thought it was great that we found two outfits with Marilyn Monroe’s image on them. One is the white tank that we see in almost every scene—and the other—we never got on camera. The other Marilyn shirt is actually very cool: half her face looks like a skull or demon. When you look at these clothes, you’re like “Ick, I would never wear this” and that’s where costuming get tricky: because you have to not let your tastes get involved. You have to only think about the character.
It’s hard to imagine that that would be difficult but it is. You have no idea how many times an actor would refuse to wear something because they let their own taste get involved. Fortunately, Brianna never did that, however, I think the only one thing she thought was way too trashy was a fuchsia tie-dyed or acid wash denim corset that showed a great deal of cleavage—more cleavage than the Marilyn top. That thing was just totally atrocious, and that’s OK, but it didn’t have the personality of all those other weird items.
And then there’s the yellow hoodie with a big bright orange hand or fingers on it. Someone once said it looks like a big pizza. I have NO idea why we went with this. The reason I liked it was because it was just ugly and bright. I’m glad we went with this because Nune is a very dark girl wearing the brightest thing next to the sun. That’s the funny part. She’s trying to hide from society.
I think today was the first time that I actually got to enjoy the movie: to look at and appreciate every single detail that everyone put into it. I could see all the collaborative efforts and the creative, technical and hard choices that were made; I could see the journey of the making of the short film. I remembered the rehearsals, the time we first met and how we changed over such a short period of time. I saw people grow and I saw my own growth.
I couldn’t perceive it then because I was too caught up but there were moments where I had nothing to rely on but a miracle. I heard many filmmakers say that whenever you make a movie: you totally open yourself up to miracles, but it’s true. No one is more special than anyone else.
The Film Gods look after every filmmaker, they really do. If you need to make a movie, once you put your best foot forward—strange things happen.
Near misses, skating on thin ice, being grazed at the back of your head by the hands of death, and the narrow gates closing in on you, that is what filmmaking is like.
To sit down and actually enjoy the film you made is like sitting down and having a drink with the party you cooked for. I relish every single detail that goes into this movie—I can see everybody’s part in it and all the seams and stitches put into every element. So no farting sounds in the scene if I can help it.