“So the reason I told you that story,” said producer Scott Edinson, having just entertained me with a lengthy anecdote about one savagely misspent night in his life, “is because I thought you’d like to make a short film about it.” The fact is, I’d been juggling, obsessing over and not finishing a couple of feature-length screenplays for longer than I’d care to admit. Not only did I need a break, the itch to be behind the camera again* had been consuming me for some time. Of course, I couldn't shoot without a script, which meant more writing. And before I could write a single scene, I had to figure out what would possess a guy (other than Scott) to stay up all night trying to find his lost wallet.
With my iTunes library churning away and my new Scripped.com file patiently awaiting its christening, I rocked in my creaky vintage office chair anticipating either inspiration or a pizza delivery (whichever came first). As it often happens with my iTunes library, Talking Heads came a-calling, and as I stared absently at the barren, glowing document before me, David Byrne’s vocals jumped frantically out at me.
“You may tell yourself, this is not my beautiful house... this is not my beautiful wife... My god, what have I done?!”
And from the wreckage of impossible ideals that could only exist in a culture of merciless capitalism and insatiable consumption, Misplaced and it’s floundering hero, Mickey, were born. A guy who’s spent too much of his adult life asleep at the wheel, who’s forgotten who he is and what defines happiness for him, who hates his life because he spends his time romanticizing the lives of everyone else... now there’s a guy who would flip out over losing a wallet.
By the second draft, Scott and I felt comfortable enough with the strength of the screenplay to start recruiting the small army of collaborators we would need to realize our film. We’d hoped the script would lure them, because our very modest budget wasn’t going to do it. The unorthodox schedule – nine days over four weeks – was hardly catnip, either. But to our surprise, phone calls were returned, internet postings were replied to and one draft later, we were in pre-production.
The brilliant part was that no compromises needed to be made. Last Monday, after nearly two years in the making, Misplaced was finally screened for the cast and crew that made it possible. As I watched the film with them, each scene a testament to their talent, dedication, generosity and beautiful imaginations, I was reminded that I am an incredibly fortunate person. All of the artists that gave their time, on set and in post-production, are not only terrifically gifted, they’re also genuinely good people.
Like Mickey, I know from office culture, so I don’t take for granted being in a circumstance where I actually get to choose the people I work with. I also realize that none of the people who worked on the film were obligated to choose me back. But they did, and I can’t thank them enough. It was a rare pleasure, top to bottom, and an unforgettable experience.
Quite possibly the best compliment I got during production, from a friend who visited our Venice Beach location, was that my set was the most civil and well-mannered she had ever set foot on. And she was right. While not immune to circumstantial turbulence – after all, it’s not a production day until something breaks – the making of Misplaced never suffered as a result of overblown egos or anything approaching unprofessional behavior. Everyone showed up, did their job, never complained and was cool to everyone else on set.
Everyone except Martin Lastrapes II. That guy blows.
*Ironically, I would end up spending much less time behind the camera than I'd expected. But that's another post.