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The Grass is Always Greener

We've all heard it before, gentle reader.  "The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence".  It can't possibly be true.  It's a cliche.  But, even as I write this I am reminded of Dennis Miller's line in the workplace thriller "Disclosure" as he rebuffs a colleagues dismissal of his argument with, "Come on Hunter, how do you think a cliche becomes a cliche"?  To which, I must answer with, touche Dennis Miller.  Touche indeed.

Is it possible that these phrases get tossed around with so little thought because they are so very true?  Is Dennis Miller right?  Well gentle reader, I must confess while in the process of making "Wireless", I did find that the grass was greener on the other side of the fence, no matter which side I happened to be standing upon.

In the previous weeks you and I have talked, (or to be more accurate, I have typed and you have read) at some length, about how much I struggled to write my first feature length screenplay.  I spent many a hour sitting in front of the computer, or pacing through my upstairs hallway, trying to come up with words to fill, what seemed like, an infinite vacuum of white screen, with little to show for it.  While pacing the floor, typing a few words and then deleting them, or just banging my head against the keyboard, there was one thought that kept creeping back into my mind.  "This is the hard part.  Coming up with ideas is hard.  I'm building a world from scratch, creating it from nothing, placing reality where there was just white space.  Nothing could be harder than this".  My mind said it, and I believed it.  It seemed to be a perfectly reasonable notion.  Surely shooting the movie would be easier than writing it.  After all, when shooting the movie all I must do, is simply put whatever items are in the script in front of a camera and hit the "record" button.  Sure, there are the questions of what angles look the most dramatic, what lighting will best set the tone, but those tasks are nothing compared to the monumental task of CREATING a whole world from scratch.  Once the screenplay is written, all I really have to do is follow the instructions I've already written down.  Following instructions is always easier than coming up with the instructions in the first place, right? Cliche or no, from where I stood, working on and struggling with, that screenplay, the grass on the other side of that proverbial fence was by far more lush, inviting, and yes, green.  I could not wait to get to that side of the fence.

Then I began shooting "Wireless".  I began to hear some metaphorical crunching under my feet. I looked down to see that the lush inviting landscape of shooting the movie, was much more brown and dry than I would have imagined possible.  In disbelief I looked back over that ever present mental fence, to see that just on the other side of it lie the beautiful inviting vistas that I thought I would find on this side.  I began to think to myself, "Shooting a movie is much harder than writing a movie.  When writing a movie, there are no constraints like there are in the physical world.  All I have to do is think of something and write it down. It doesn't get any easier than that!  Here in the real world I have to actually find access to the things written down and then put them in front of a camera.  'Police Car' takes less than a second to type.  FINDING a police car to use in the movie, so much harder"!  Yes, from where I stood, shooting the movie, I would look back over the fence at the world of writing the movie, and the grass seemed much, much greener.

So all this is to say, gentle reader, the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence.  As I went about trying to shoot the movie, and get all the things that I needed to get, I found that nouns such as "police car, locker room, and night time" (it is so much harder to shoot during the night time) were much easier to write than they were to make materialize.  In the case of the police car, despite the best efforts of all involved, we could not find one for filming.  We can assume that Officer Weisemen had a car somewhere, but the audience will never see it.  That also meant there were a few written scenes that had to be dropped from the final film, because we could not get the props or locations that we needed.  Police uniforms themselves were also a challenge to duplicate.  It seemed like it would be easy.  I never thought twice when writing the script that it would be a problem.  We all know what police officers look like, but despite knowing several people in local law enforcement, getting realistic uniforms took considerably more effort than I would have ever thought possible.  Even a trip to the costume store yielded no rewards (unless I wanted my officers to come across as exotic dancers or as rejects from the Village People).  However, there were also examples of scenes that took days to write, that were filmed in an hour or two.

So, as the shooting of the movie continued and the deadline for the "Big Break" contest got ever closer, I  found myself thinking about a new metaphorical pasture.  The lush green landscapes of post production. After all, once you get to that part, all the hard work has been done.  All the ideas have been created.  All the props have been secured.  All the scenes have been shot.  All the performances have been captured on film.  Yes, all of my dreams will come true, and I can really start to take my leisure, once I make it over this next fence, to the paradise that is post production.

Let me tell you, gentle reader, it's not a cliche, it's the truth.  The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.


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