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Confessions of a Working Director - 12/15/2009

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SURVIVING CINEMA
Confessions Of A Working Director
By Eric Stanze

December 15, 2009

After a successful two days of shooting Ratline pickups December 5th and 6th, things began to spiral downward.  One by one, and with varying degrees of severity, people here at Wicked Pixel Cinema started getting very sick.  It started with Trevor Williams, who left the shoot on Dec. 6th looking quite ill.  Jessie Seitz and Jim Wayer were sick the next day.  Then it hit me like a freight train.  For days, my head felt like it was splitting open, and the simplest tasks left me so exhausted I could barely stand up.  Feeding the dog was such a draining endeavor it required a nap right after.

The others seemed to bounce out of it pretty fast, but I simply couldn't shake it.  This happens from time to time.  I fight off illness pretty well.  I'm almost never sick.  But when it does finally catch up to me, it grabs me in a death grip and won't let go.

The final day of pickups shooting was scheduled for December 12th.  I wanted to get better before that date, but I just kept feeling worse and my fever would not break.  At the last minute, on December 11th, I did something I never do and I cancelled the shoot, taking Jim and Gus's advice to do so.  Jim and Gus got on their phones and started calling all the cast and crew to let them know the situation.  The date was cancelled for good reason - but that didn't stop me from being really pissed off about it.

Two of the crew members from the Stake Land shoot have decided to join us on our Ratline pickup days.  Electrician Ben Burke and grip Robb McCleary both asked if they could participate on the Ratline post-production shoots.  (They both also worked with us on Venganza Azteca)  I am extremely impressed by both of these gents, so I eagerly accepted their offer.  Ben joined us on Dec. 6th.  Both were to be on set Dec. 12th.  This is just another reason why canceling the day annoyed me: two great new crew guys join the team - and their introduction to Wicked Pixel Cinema is an immediate cancellation.  I know they understand, but the situation still angers me.

Instead of shooting on the 12th, I finally went to a medical clinic.  Mostly I went because Emily Haack, concerned about my fever lasting for five days, scared me into it.  Her demanding text messages ("U need to get to a doctor! Im worried abt u!") got me to part with the $78 at the clinic and see what the hell was wrong with me.  Diagnosis: Swine Flu.  Apparently I was at the tail end of it, and all I needed to do was keep gulping fever reducer and guzzling lots of liquids.  Half of my brain was happy that it was not something more serious.  The other half of my brain was saying "You just spent $78 to be told ya just gotta ride it out... and drink a lot of liquids... which you're already doing... jerk!"

We had scheduled for December 13th, the next day, a full 10 hours of audio recording at Wicked Pixel Cinema.  Gus Stevenson is creating the music score for Ratline, and he had most, but not all of what he needed for it.  We figured one day of recording voice, guitar, bass, violin, percussion, and various textures would complete Gus's list of needed musical elements.  I decided to drag myself to work and participate in this.

The musicians came and went all day, receiving direction from Gus, and laying down tracks that will soon be weaved into the Ratline music score.  Jim Wayer did most of the recording engineering.  I assisted him and manned the workstation to record the audio.  I felt pretty terrible all day, but not nearly as bad as I'd felt the six days before.

It was a productive day, and I was happy about it.  But I'm still pissed about having to cancel our final day of pickups shooting.  We're going to reschedule the shoot sometime in January.

As I type this, I can feel that I'm on the mend.  Good thing, because being sick makes you unproductive, and I truly hate being that.

Thanks for reading.

- Eric Stanze

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