• April 2008
  • May 2008
  • PRODUCTION JOURNAL by Joe Swanberg and David Lowery

    Tuesday, May 13, 2008

    Last Day

    We shot some really beautiful material the last few days; scenes comprised of poetry and dancing and Freudian slips.

    I took this picture of an earlier shot to help compose a subsequent one:

    Meanwhile, Tipper drank a bowl of hot chocolate. This is now the picture that shows up on my phone when she calls.

    You may have heard that Speed Racer only made 18 million dollars over the weekend. Well, dear readers, 48 of those dollars came from us. The movie was...colorful! Anyway, here's Tipper, Joe, Kris and I posing with the Incredible Hulk in the lobby of the movie theater.

    The next night we went to see David Byrne and Ed Lachman present True Stories at BAM, which I'd never seen before. Like Speed Racer, this film featured John Goodman. Unlike Speed Racer, this was an unqualified great time.

    And now here we are, on the last day of this leg of production. Joe and I just returned from a quick, early-morning shoot at the comic book shop. Then we went shopping for pie supplies...

    Monday, May 12, 2008


    We have been shooting this film completely out of order. Each day we are hopping around within the story and gathering different bits. It's not very practical, but it's a method of working that I prefer because it allows strange coincidences to happen. A very cool idea presented itself today that I never would have thought of if we didn't happen to be shooting two random pieces of the puzzle at the same time.

    Friday, May 9, 2008

    A Wedding

    Yesterday was beautiful; gossamer cloud cover and warm weather cut just slightly by the onset of a a cold front. We went out to the park and filmed a lovely marriage ceremony.

    While Joe was offloading the footage, he showed us one of his favorite short films: Frank Film, directed by Frank Mouris. It's absolutely mindblowing, all the moreso when one considers that it was made in 1973, before any of the computer technology that would these days make such an endeavor a bit more efficient came into play.

    Wednesday, May 7, 2008

    Day Something Or Other

    This post chronicles neither this past Tuesday nor Wednesday but rather a strange hybrid of the two (Twudnesday?) that is hard to put a finger on.

    What's easy to put a finger on (in the idiomatic sense) is that Jess is a dedicated actress, her commitment and attention to detail extending all the way to stressing her own wardrobe with a kitchen knife.

    The main thing we did today is go sailing. Justin's friend Randy lives on a sailboat, and he was kind enough to take us out on into the bay to film a moment of romantic absolution between Jess and Justin. Joe was worried that he might barf, but once we were out on the water, I've never seen him smile so much behind the camera (although in this picture he looks like he's laughing at his own joke).

    Here's Jess and Justin looking all lovey-dovey. Now I'm going to barf! J/K, folks.

    It was idyllic. We sailed to and fro and the clouds hung half-heavy in the sky, scattering the light and a few stray raindrops as the wind blew, all calling to mind Keats' On The Sea or, even moreso, Tennyson's Crossing The Bar:

    But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
    Too full for sound and foam,
    When that which drew from out the boundless deep
    Turns again home.

    Twilight and evening bell,
    And after that the dark!
    And may there be no sadness of farewell,
    When I embark.

    But enough about poetry! Twilight did fall, and indeed it was accompanied by bells, ringing from the buoys floating in the bay (into which Jess nearly steered our vessel). As the sun sank into magic hour, we returned to our moorings. We weren't quite ready to cast off our sea legs, though, and so we sat on the boat well into the evening, talking and imbibing. Randy opened a bottle of exquisite Serbian Quince Brandy, which Joe took quite a shine too...

    We also ordered pizza, upon the arrival of which Jess declared this "The Best Day Ever."

    But the day wasn't over yet! We'd all ignored the fact that we had another scene to shoot that evening, but as the hours ticked by, its inevitability began to press upon us: we were due to shoot in a bar at 1:30 am. So we set sail on the subway, heading back to Williamsburg; we were crossing the bridge when the train shuddered to a halt. For forty-five minutes, we sat there, waiting for who knows what. By the time we finally started moving, we were starting to feel just a little bit sleepy...

    ...a state that was exacerbated by half-past midnight, when we set out on the long journey to the bar. Catching a G-train at that time of night is never easy; suffice to say, it took well over an hour to get to our location. The shoot was quick and terse, and then we repeated the trip back. We reached home at four...

    ...and then were up again shortly thereafter to make it to the following morning's shoot at Alter, a clothing boutique in Greenpoint. Residents looking out their windows might have noted the horde of zombies straggling down the street, lugging camera bags and lighting cases; but our constitution gradually returned as we shot the scene, and by the time we were done we were all ready to do some shopping! It was like a rom-com montage. I bought some jeans and a super-svelte jacket (which Jess said I was too manly for, but I'm pretending I don't know what that means because seriously, this jacket is cool), and also some new aviators, because the one's I bought in this post broke in Maryland.

    Then we went home, and one by one we all fell asleep.

    Sunday, May 4, 2008

    Intimacy, Adventure & a Trip to Maryland

    Its always good to take a break from things before the pleasantly regular becomes merely quotidian; so it is with this production blog, whose dearth of updates certainly doesn't bespeak of laziness on our end. Quite the opposite!

    We've begun tiptoeing towards intimacy on this film. Getting a bit further into the private moments between the characters.

    It's strange watching these dramas play out from my vantage point, behind the camera (or rather right next to it). My sympathies for the characters keep bouncing around; no one's right, everyone's wrong. They're doing crazy things and things that don't make sense, and all of the other things that people do to each other. Sometimes you just want to give each of them a hug.

    We've countered all of this with a healthy dose of action and adventure. Horseback riding one day, surfing the next. This is the Joe Swanberg equivalent of an Indiana Jones picture.

    Speaking of Joe, it's been so long since this picture was taken that I don't remember what's happening in it anymore. Whatever it was was obviously memorable.

    We broke for the weekend early. On Thursday, Joe, Barlow and I caught a train down to Baltimore, where we all had films playing at the Maryland Film Festival (Nights and Weekends, Low And Behold and A Catalog Of Anticipations, respectively). It was a fairly relaxing weekend, although I think we were all relatively homesick for Brooklyn the whole time...

    Tomorrow it's back to the shoot. We recently came to the realization that we have more time to shoot this movie than we shot, which is a very great thing indeed. But more on that later.