Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Commune script to screen #2

Puck parks in front of the Obelisk.
Shuts off the engine.


Know what? Don’t even know your last name.

Yes, Officer.

He pulls out his red leather dragon wallet. Hands her his driver’s license.

Cernunnos? Really? My last name’s Celtic, too. But, it’s a real surname. It didn’t come to any of my ancestors in an acid flashback.

Told ya. My mom.

He whistles and twirls a finger around his temple.

(studying the address)
You live on my street? The boy next door.

She hands his license back.

Just a brisk four-mile hike.

So lucky to have a car. I’m a prisoner.

Jenny leans back. Puck slips an arm around her. She leans into him as he strokes her hair.

Thank you. This is how summer should be. I loved the picnic. I loved the river.

He wraps a tendril of her hair around his finger.

So how old are you, anyway? You a siren luring me to jail?

You can kiss me.

Yeah? What else can I do?

They stare, chemistry zapping.

My birthday’s not for two more weeks...

He strokes her face (with the hand with the bracelet). She lifts a hand up to his chest, her wrist now adorned with the other bracelet.

He leans forward--

Jenny’s eyes widen in fear as she looks behind Puck.

Tries to warn Puck but ends up HEAD-BUTTING HIM instead as


appears in the driver side window.

RAPS on it.

(Jumps, holding his forehead)
I’m sorry sir, you scared the bejesus out of me. We didn’t officially meet. My name is--

(Muffled through the glass window; Coldly to Jenny)
Let’s go. Now.

He waits as she

Jenny mouths “sorry” to Puck, who does the “he’s crazy” sign.

She trails The Doctor to the Prius. Gets in.

He grips the steering wheel, fuming.

I don’t care what your mother allowed. There will be no whoring anymore. And no fast food.

“Whoring.” I wasn’t--

Ohhh, Gwyn-y-fhar. This is exactly why I should have full custody.

Jenny reacts to the word full.

You reek of french fries.

Dr. Polieos revs the engine.

Cuts off Puck, pulling out onto the road like an adversary.

Drives past him, angrily flipping him the “peace” sign.

Jenny looks back at Puck.

Ah, the almost first kiss. This scene is a favorite. Great pace to it. Several plot points are actually laid here, but telling you what they are would blow the surprise.

There were no issues with this scene. Fairly seamless to shoot. Reading the screenplay again, I'd say DP Marc Shap and the actors did an amazing translation job and my vision of the scene is there.

The biggest change you'll note is the staging of the last part of the scene was moved from interior Doc's car to exterior. This change avoided a difficult and time-consuming relight, and also had the good fortune of playing more kinetically. More movement and rush to the delivery of the lines; great match for the raise in stakes and the phsyicality flows seamlessly into the next scene which ups everything even more.

Lago was always a good luck charm; we only trimmed one of his performances, just a few seconds worth. Everything else we shot of him went into the film, with him matching sighs and arm movements and everything perfectly on every take. Pretty amazing. I still remember the first time Todd showed me...we were in his editing bay, and it was Lago's first scene where he's painting Jenny's toenails black on his couch. Todd showed me a closeup on Jenny/Chauntal, and sure enough, in the exact same place where he did it on the two shot and his closeup, Lago was moving his arm off the couch to her leg. C'est fantastique! That's Todd's big advice to actors: you want every scene of yours used in a lowbudget movie, make the editing easy on the editor and be brilliant matching your movements everytime. You can change up the emotion, but don't change the lines or the movements once you've committed. Unless you've got a Meisner director with a big enough budget for more than four takes a scene.

We didn't shoot under the obelisk because it was pretty close to a busy loud street. Just being the distance we are from it makes a big sound quality difference. We get a good shot of it in a different scene, and really I just wanted to establish they were on the edge of The Commune property, which reads well in relation to the rest of the film (Even if you can't tell here, geography gets pretty firmly established.)

One detail I was proud of that gets dropped here is that Puck's wallet is a handmade Celtic dragon design, another allusion to Mists of Avalon and his pagan background. As a huge lover of that book, in real life I'm always on the lookout for little signs like that on my men...dragon tattoos, stag belt buckles, etc.

Puck's character is definitely an amalgam of Morgaine's lovers trinity Accalon, Arthur and Kevin. If you examine his plotline, you'll totally see the influence of the book on it. I think it's unmistakable. But I also think that the female trinity in The Commune is unmistable, and no one has gotten that yet but the actresses. I should probably write The Commune as a novel as well so that the detailed writing I put into it isn't wholly disregarded.

In this scene I originally stressed bracelets here, which was a little point that I'm glad we ended up dropping because it would have been a continuity nightmare. It was just a nice teenage dating detail, that becoming/dressing like your boyfriend thing was going to shorthand their growing intimacy. But hey, when you have actors who can act the pants off a scene, don't have to spell it out!

The song on in the background is the Puck and Jenny love theme I co-wrote with Jenn Oberle for the movie. You can hear it much clearer on the DVD. This version is the second time we've heard it, the first time it's been sung by Puck and Jenny instead of Jenn Oberle. It will be heard two more times in the film.

The head butt is something that happened to me. I went on a date with someone when I was 18...we'd been circling around each other since sophomore year in high school, went on a date, I was thinking everything was too complicated and not worth it, he leaned in for a kiss...and I effing head butted him. REALLY didn't mean to. He was humiliated. I never saw him again. Really nice, popular, musician, good looking brilliant guy. I gather it was the biggest rejection he'd ever received; and a primal one at that. Don't feel too bad, he's happily married with kids and I'm the weird head-butt girl ;) who has to live with having done that to another human being (so much for being a humanist). I always vowed that I would use that somewhere, so just in case I never make another movie I changed the circumstances and placed it here.

The peacenik throwing a peace sign as he road-rages is something my dad did all the time. It gets huge laughs.

The big dramatic moment of "Full Custody" didn't work the first few times it was edited. Then Todd the editor and I worked on sound design, and voila! That's my page 45 Reversal, so it had to be noticeable.

The whole idea of full custody and living on dad's commune actually comes from after my car accident, when the doctors and the judges were trying to figure out how to handle my head injury. Ideas were bantied about from going to live in facilities where I could macrame and make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches all day to my dad's idea that he should get me declared incompetent, have custody of me and I should live on his commune. I was 24 and absolutley horrified by the suggestion. Luckily, a different rehab plan worked out.

The car Doc P (Stuart G. Bennett) is driving is actually Nate Cohen's, our line producer. I desperately wanted a Prius, and we had a line on one to borrow but it didn't work out. Once I let go of the symbolism and character it would have added to The Doctor, it was of course more convenient to use a car we had constant access to. Although I bet we owe Nate new breaks for hard usuage in the scene right after this one!

UPDATE: What the #$%^!!!??? See, this is why you have to meticulously watch/listen to each edit version. The sound design channel for the "full custody" line got accidentally dropped (SUCH an easy thing to happen. No one's fault). Must email editor Todd. Ack, ack, ack. I tell ya, it's never done. The work on a movie goes on and on...just ask me, Todd, Heidi, or my sis who is selling more units for us. Ack!

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