They Think We’re Making ‘Coven’

We went to a family reunion in South Dakota back in July and my sister-in-law and her husband asked how the movie was going. I said it was going well but that we’d had a lot of setbacks and we’re slogging through it. That’s when I noticed she was giving me That Look.

Glassy eyed.

Slight nod of the head.

A shadow of a smile.

Every facial tic and body posture that human beings have developed over two million years of genetic evolution to communicate,
"You sad fuckin’ loser,” without actually saying it.

When I mentioned it to Erika she said, yeah, she’d gotten the same Look when asked about the movie from a co-worker the week before. I wondered aloud, “What’s up with that? ” And she leaned in and whispered, “They think we’re making '

Talk about a Holy Shit moment.

She was right.

“Clocking The T” has been chugging along, in one stage or another, for about three years now. In their minds movies get finished in a year. Maybe less. They know. They’ve seen it on every movie puff piece imaginable every time a movie gets released. On television, the internet, radio, newspapers, magazines. It’s been ingrained into everyone What It Takes To Make A Movie.

But that’s a big budget Hollywood movie.

“Clocking The T” is not that.

And it isn’t just relatives who aren’t even in The Business, or frenemies back home, but the cast and crew as well, many of whom have written the picture off at this point. Two days before our final picks ups with the actors we showed them the movie. In retrospect, it was a mistake. They saw nothing but a work in progress when they expected
a movie. It’s been a year and a half already, right? In many ways they gave up there and then. The three days of picks ups that followed were stilted and difficult. I just wanted it over. And so I bit my tongue and dutifully collected The Pieces I Needed.

It was easier when low budget movies were shot and edited on film. It was far more labor intensive and took more time. But you would never go to a screening of a cut and expect to see it with a sound mix or final effects. Hell, outside of key sound effects you probably wouldn't have music. You wouldn't actually
see the movie until the answer print was married to the optical track months later. But this made every cast and crew member aware that there was a process taking place. It took time. Nowadays you can't show anybody anything without someone complaining about the sound mix. And when you tell them there is no sound mix they'll acknowledge that and then give you the same Goddamn note on the next cut. There is no 'process' anymore. You have to have the illusion of 'finished' each time out of the gate.

Not helping matters are the dozens of phones and computers blasting green screens in almost every scene. Or the hit and miss one light color correction pass on the dailies. We didn't cut with temp music tracks, so the seemingly endless merry-go-fuckaround of music composers leaving us with empty tracks is really sticking a fork in our tires. After the double whammy of a very few of the cast & crew giving the cold shoulder to the cut we vowed not to screen for anyone until we had at least a first pass of a score laid in. If they want to be disappointed in the car we’ve built, fine. We accept that. But no more driving it without the seats upholstered and the muffler on first.

That night back in South Dakota we’d gone back to our cabin and lay in bed listening to the thunder outside. Huge lightning crashes to go with our ‘holy shit’ moment earlier. Erika said we should stop bagging on The Process to people, or even explain why it’s taking so long. It just makes us look like we don’t know what we’re doing. She’s right. I need to stop looking for approval—or sympathy, to be precise—for this seemingly damned production. It’s been a painful boulder up the hill ordeal, but that’s our burden to bear. Our price of admission. We’ve made a killer film, we just need to finish it.

© Michael Thibault 2016, All Rights Reserved. May Not Be Printed, Published, Posted, Transferred, Or Duplicated Without Permission.