Yesterday, I received some replies from camera men, regarding shooting the skydiving short (aka I Can See My House From Here). Alas, none wanted to or could take part – the majority were very polite declines, pointing me in useful directions, but there was one who seemed very affronted by the concept of the piece, feeling it denigrated the sport that he loved so much. That took me aback, and I felt quite dispirited by his reply.
It took me a long time to process what he’d said, and to try and shake the feeling, but on the way to the Hampstead (to see Lay Down Your Cross – worth it, for the fiver) I realised he was completely justified. In particular, the last few seconds of the short (the ground hitting) are problematic because, while it’s a spectacle, the image is more violent than I gave it credit for: to such an extent it would probably overwhelm the film and blow the rest of it out of your memory. As Martin said when I talked this through with him: “Who are you, Michael Bay?” Somehow, I got too obsessed with making the shot work that I lost the character of the piece and it was making me seem immature. In my emails, I was appealing to the cameraman part of people I approached, not the part that loves skydiving – and in the end I want Lizzy to be almost having a nice time, despite the morbid end, and revel in the beauty of the moment, of the fall like a skydiver might. I don’t want this at all to be an exploitative piece, bordering on the snuff. I want it to look gorgeous, and feel tender.
And you know what? That the ending wasn’t just off putting, it was actually unnecessary from a story perspective. Lizzie doesn’t need to watch the ground as she hits it. If anything, she’d want to watch her husband, so that she’s not quite so alone in that moment and provides a more balanced arc to her earlier hurling of abuse towards him. As a logistical bonus, I also wouldn’t have to destroy the camera and that makes the film a lot more affordable. I’ve now changed the script, slightly ripping a little from Free Fall, but hey they’re different mediums. With that done, I also need to make sure my pitch focuses in on the humanity and the beauty, and downplays the darkness.
Where from here? Firstly, I’ve asked Meg to produce it – simply because my bull-in-a-china-shop approach – while coming from a place of enthusiasm – demonstrated I wasn’t quite up to doing it on this flick. Secondly, I’m doing some read throughs with Alex tonight to see how long the damned thing will take in terms of action, and try and get it down to a tight 90-100 seconds.
I’ve had trouble sleeping the last two nights, and I kind of feel a bad spell coming. It would be, at very best, inconviently timed to birthday jollities. I reckon it’s because I’m pushing myself very hard at the moment, and the exhaustion lets things slip by. I’ll keep a handle on it – I’m confident because, the odd moment aside, I’ve not felt as good or right as I have the last few months. On that note, I’ve decided the one thing I’ll definitely kick post birthday this year is any remaining mum hang ups. Having looked at my scripts, I reckon I’ve mostly written it out of me (I think my “dead woman” phase is definitely over!), but there are parts that linger. It will never stop being odd, seeing the features of someone you don’t know in your face every morning, but I’ve got to make more of an effort to stop thinking about it. This’ll be the first time that I’ll be abroad for April 13th, so have to make sure to ring Shiv and Dad then but, that aside – I’m done.