We've been idle on the short film front Wood Sugars-wise so we decided to do the 72 Hour National Film Challenge. The procedure was: Friday night we were assigned a genre, a prop, a character name and a line of dialogue. Then we had the weekend to write, shoot, edit, and send our DVD entry post marked by the end of the day Monday. You'll see the particulars of our assigned components soon enough, hopefully we'll be selected in the top 15 to be hosted on their website, in which case you'll get to vote for the best. If not, we'll release it somewhere. We're proud of it. It's our most action packed piece yet.
I wish I could tell you some crazy filmic horror story that would put us on par with Hearts of Darkness: The Making of Apocalypse Now but it was a smooth production. Actually, I don't wish that. The stress of that would not be good for something I'm going to talk about here in a minute. But ideas were flowing well Friday night in our Wood Sugars pitch/writing meeting. When we sat down to write, words and beats flowed. And Saturday we found a beautifully weird patch of woods along the Chicago river accessible by a running trail to shoot an "outskirts" scene. The Original Mother's Bar was very nice to accommodate us with use of their bar before opening, and their offices. Cast and crew members were on time, quick to learn lines, and deliver. As a result, we all had a blast, and we were able to create something cohesive without any arguments or meltdowns. We all got a little sleep too. Much credit goes to Eliaz Rodriguez, who has really set out to develop himself as a freelance videographer, so his experience organizing other shoots and pumping out concise edits in a short amount of time has grown extraordinarily. And because of his reserve in staying up late to stitch the piece together and make everyone look good, I was able to show up, write a little bit, act a little bit, and do some minimal production stuff. To really dig in and play a part in a scene without the mental balance being tipped toward other production tidbits was quite cathartic.
The most stressful scenario for me was when we shot a train track fight sequence, we had to hop the fence and shoot along the Metra. There were of course some signs saying "No Trespassing." When a passing Metra sounded its mega horn, Donny and I were fearful of us being called into "authorities" and I kept thinking "a fine for trespassing is not what my finances need right now." But we got it done without hassle. And it's a swell sequence.
After work on Monday a co-worker and I went to an event at this space in Chicago called 1871, which is this rad place on the 12th floor of the Merchandise Mart, basically a shared office space where small digital start ups can pay a small monthly membership and have a slick work space, and access to a community of other like-minded entrepreneurial folks. We've been to some lively events there before, but with the final presidential debate and the Bears game, it was a thin crowd. There was this machine there that calculates blood pressure, body mass index, etc. So I tried it, and it told me I have High blood pressure, 153/101. When I looked it up later, I saw that my score is pretty damn close to Stage Two Hypertension. I'm realizing that maybe I need to fucking watch it. My health that is. Who knows, the machine might have been fucked up, I did have about 5 glasses of wine beforehand. But, I wouldn't be surprised if it was dead on. I do stress easy. I'm a worry wort. I let little things get to me, sweat the small stuff.
But what did I do right after? My co-worker and I thought it would be interesting to go to the bar English where the Young Republicans of Chicago get together to watch the debates, to check it out, for shits and giggles. A good idea for a man with high blood pressure? It wasn't as rowdy as I expected, although they were quick to clap for Romney and guffaw at Obama. It had the same fervor of a football game, and ho, behold, on a TV screen right next to one casting the debate, was the Bears/Lions game. A different form of two on two. If the debate footage was turned off and the viewers kept their same reactions, it would be fitting that perhaps they were just watching the football game. I do get the gut sensation that national partisan politics is just one big fucking sporting match-up.
There was a Black man in the corner by the pool table watching it all. He wore a full Cubs uniform, in fact I think he might some guy who does that often, that's his thing, wearing a Cubs uniform around town, I feel like I've met him at a bar before. He clapped after Obama's closing remarks. And I wanted to join him. But I didn't have the courage, not at a place like the gathering of Chicago's Young Republicans. So I winked at him, like thinking I was letting him in a little secret, that I was an Obama supporter too infiltrating this little meetup, but I don't think he saw my wink. I think he just saw me look over at him, like I was a little partisan dick shooting him a glance to stop his enthusiasm for the current administration.
I finished my beer and left, thinking about how I might put into motion the lowering of my blood pressure.
I've begun eating oatmeal every morning, and am starting to do deep breathing exercises throughout the day. And I've stopped drinking coffee after lunch. My 5 or so cups a day might be what's egging the high score on. I've switched to tea. Update: I feel a little calmer. But I also feel more depressed.