So yesterday was my feet on the ground day. Which means I landed in a state I’ve never been to before to live and work for the next 4 months. Now, before I have feet here, I already have eyes here…meaning I have hired my line producer/UPM, POC, APOC, local casting director, etc before I’m here, and I land to an office that is already up and running.
You always hope when you land and walk in that the crew you have hired are as pleasant as they seem to be on the phone, since you’ve hired sight unseen, based on recommendation, resumes, and phone calls. So far, so good….everyone seems to be what I thought they were.
So far, the challenges on this film are not normal ones. In indie film, finance is usually your largest obstacle, and you are constantly shifting pay dates, or contract sigs, or deposit schedules to fit around when the finance is coming in piece by piece by your 17 sources that are coming in to put the movie together. This one, on the other hand, went in fully financed. Even stranger, the financier didn’t want to give the money on a cash flow schedule, he just wanted to turn it over to production. So, we have the cash in the bank to make the picture.
Here’s where it gets weird. Michigan’s rebate can not be applied for until you are financed. So, once we were financed we put the application in. However, you can’t spend any money until it goes through the treasury and gets the official stamp of approval. Which can take up to 3 weeks. Now, we have people on the inside getting it approved much quicker, but we still don’t have the official stamp. Which means we can’t spend money.
However, we are on a strict production timeline. This is a movie which involves a ton of kid actors. And kid hours get far more limited during the school year, so we have to shoot out before school starts (at least all the kid parts) There is no pushing dates. It would make the movie unshootable. So, we have money, and can’t spend it. But need to spend it. So, this has become a mess of extra paper work having everyone start working without actually “starting working” Production office space, living arrangements, everything. We can escrow monies, just not draw down on the escrows.
Making a film always feels kinda like getting onto Platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross. You close your eyes, run as fast as you can, and believe the obstacles will go away when you need them to.