Week 1 pre-pro…
Monday…By 830 I’m scouting a sunny cove where SCLUB might make their first cup of tea as Act 2 unfolds. It’s a gorgeous spot and a fine morning to be taking location pix but I can’t linger as I must race back to Hollywood to meet the band for the first time. I have spent so much time studying them recently that I feel I know them already but of course they must view the meeting differently – I’m just some director person sent to bellow at them for a month!
Tuesday…A frustrating morning sorting out why it’s taking an hour to download one lousy picture from Spain on the web. The computer doctor rushes across town to rescue me and concludes instantly my DSL is in the toilet. At dance rehearsal the band are flopped on the floor like rag dolls – there is no a/c at the rehearsal room. I promise Priscilla (valiant choreographer) I will wield some directorial muscle and get them a new room. It’s not a matter of me showing off but pure selfishness – dancers are athletes, if they sweat too much they can dehydrate or chill off fast and get sick: I want my team in full health for the next six weeks.
The band and I start our first acting rehearsal and it’s a particularly important moment for me – I need to show them who’s in charge and also engage their trust for the weeks ahead. I decide to tell them what I want to achieve with the film and ask them what they want. To my delight they all express excitement about doing a movie and are refreshingly honest when we discuss who the characters of Hannah, Jon, Tina, Brad and Rachel are and how the characters differ from their own personalities.
Wednesday…We’re scouting in the South Bay by breakfast and the weather is cold and miserable – so different from Monday. My second rehearsal with the band starts well but is soon heading for disaster. I have ambitiously started showing them some exercises to help with dialogue and one by one each attempt inexplicably crashes in flames like a Russian jet at an air-show. I’m hanging on by the skin of my teeth and starting to panic. Then we do a sense memory exercise where we all imagine opening up our front door at home. How does the key feel? How does it fit in the lock? Which way does the key turn? Somehow we are soon discussing an infamously strenuous weekend in SCLUB history which culminated in the gig from hell. The band’s shoulders slump, their eyes become listless and they visibly shiver and huddle together for warmth from the terrible memory.
It’s a victory – this is the way they should feel when they approach their first dialogue scene in the movie! I’m so relieved I finish rehearsal early: quit while you’re ahead etc. But down in the parking lot I climb into my car like a defeated man – I have so much still to learn. I go home and work on my shot list. The DSL is still broken.
Thursday…I’m also making a video for SCLUB next week and spend the morning looking at clubs. Some are well thought out and fascinating – others are tawdry, smelly sheds with a bar and a sound system. In the afternoon, scouting for the movie again, I receive an excited call from my old assistant Jill. The video I directed for Chad Kroeger and Josey Scott singing “Hero” from the Spiderman Soundtrack has just won an MTV award. I’m so deep into the movie I didn’t even know the awards were on. I scroll through the cell calling all the members of the crew to share the news – it was a team effort and we all bask in our brief moment of glory.
Friday…Breakfast with Judy, my one-time acting teacher who combines her endless enthusiasm with honest and tough criticism. We discuss my near escape on Wednesday night and she let’s me know I was too ambitious. She advises me to start working on how SCLUB will play the clones and I finish breakfast excited about tonight’s rehearsal. At lunchtime I go for my medical – the Bond people want to know if I’ll make it through the coming weeks and apparently they’re optimistic. I meet Jo for the first time – she flew in last night and is still jet-lagged.
At rehearsal we all start out by jumping up and down and making stupid noises like zombies, robots and ghosts. Brad refuses to make a noise and Jo won’t stop giggling – I think they were both embarrassed – I share their pain as I’m doing a bad zombie impression too. We do some Clone improvs which start out well and get better and better. Amongst the favourite moments was Jon taking Clone Bradley to the video store – Brad wound up at the Adult Section (SURPRISE!) and Tina showing Clone Jo how to brush her teeth which was very real and touching. I make a note to include some of this work in the movie.
Saturday…It’s been a week of early starts and so I get up at 6 to get in a 22 mile ride along PCH before our script meeting at 930. I ride like the wind and so the endolphins (sic) are jumping when I finally get to meet Kim Fuller, our valiant scriptwriter, for the first time over bagels and coffee in Alan’s house. We spend 4 hours examining the script line by line and some good work gets done. It’s not till I’m racing back to Hollywood that I realize that one of the scenes we ripped out and trashed was the one I spent those hard hours storyboarding on Wednesday night. Rats!
I arrive ten minutes late for the casting session for the video in a foul temper: the room isn’t big enough, the music isn’t loud enough and I act like a prick who needs to take a large chill pill. 130 dancers later I’m energized and stunned by what appears to be a resurgence in 80’s fashion and new dance moves which seems to allow male dancers to provocatively stroke their female partners along the inner thighs. I have to admit I’ve tried it a few times myself in the past but usually got a slap in the face and a bottle of beer poured over me. Progress is a fine thing!
As I drive west into an extraordinary sunset I conclude it’s been a very useful week. But there’s no time for laurel sitting yet. This has just been the opening prologue: the time trials and the important mountain stages are still ahead.