The Theory of Chaos

Monday, June 12, 2006

How to move a state to a different time zone.

I’ve mentioned before the family project whose story idea I concocted and brought to my friend Scott to write. The project has been humming along in the background of my life and is moving towards what looks like a genuine shot at financing and production, thanks in most part to the connections of our director.

My own screenplay is still mired in fundraising limbo, so, as is so often the case in the movie business, I’m toiling away with only the most tenuous connection to the idea of actually bringing anything creative into being, much less getting it in front of an audience.

But this family script looks more and more like it has a genuine chance of being filmed – if not this fall then the following spring, depending on the availability of a couple of actors whose identities I won’t even hint at, so terrified am I of jinxing their interest.

In order to provide potential investors with a little more eye candy, Scott took a road trip a couple of days ago, striking up the coast from his home in Northern California to explore Southern Oregon. The script takes place primarily in Maine, but Oregon provides a number of financial incentives designed to lure in productions, its proximity to Southern California would save travel expenses, and the director has both experience shooting in the state and some investment sources that will only commit if the project is shot there.

All of those reasons put us in the rather quirky position of having to find locations in Oregon that look like Maine, then filming all morning scenes in the evening and vice-versa, lest the sun’s position over the ocean give away the whole game. Location shenanigans like these are not all that uncommon in moviemaking.

Scott traveled with a location expert provided by the Oregon Film Office, and the two explored the area around Coos Bay and Charleston, seeking architecture and trees that could be fudged in a New England-ish direction.

But this is just the scrap of nourishment we writers can feed on – the excitement of imagining a scene set at a high school, then going out into the world with a camera, and suddenly there’s a real high school all ready to play host to your story. And it’s got more color and character than you ever had time to sketch in to your thin screenplay.

Here’s the album of photos from Scott’s trip. Along the top of each he’s posted a relevant line from the script. Obviously none of these are official or final locations, more an exploration to demonstrate that it’s within the means of a low-budget film to fake it. But even that can get me a bit giddy.


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