Brian Thomas,

Brian Thomas,

A weeklong electronic journal.
March 13 1998 3:30 AM

Brian Thomas,

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       I saw my film today for the first time.
       My guests and I said our nervous hellos and took our seats in the screening room. The cinematographer sat in the shadows of the back row; the lead actor was draped across two aisle seats; and I and the production designer were in the front row, dead center. I didn't want to miss anything.
       I asked that no one make any negative comments during the screening unless they were about technical things--focus, or whatever.
       The lights went down, the screen lit up, and there, in silvery black-and-white, was Johnny, the Incredible Vibrating Man, chipping away at the bathtub full of ice. The first scene we shot four days ago. His whole body seemed to quake and twitch because of the fast-motion effect we had added. The scene was dark and shadowy--ominous. Another place. I was in rapture. It worked.
       More scenes rolled by, with very few technical problems. Roxanne looked like a dream, with her clumsy hair and slightly crooked glasses. Chip was half-lost in the shadows of his overbearing wheelchair. Watching them move around their little world, I wanted to climb up into the screen with them.
       A few shots were out of focus, but I think I can work around it. This film is supposed to have a vintage look to it, so it doesn't have to be technically slick all the time. I wouldn't even mind scratching it up a little, but I would never say that in front of the cinematographer.
       When the last shot rolled off the projector, I knew the film would work. There's enough there to make a movie.
       Now it's back to my day job (temping as a desktop publisher) on planet Earth. More temping now means another film this summer.
       I'm applying for an editing grant; I hope I will be able to cut the film gratis. We will live together in darkness for a few months, coming out into the light occasionally to show people how we're doing, taking in their comments, then going back and adjusting ourselves accordingly. Editing is my favorite stage of filmmaking. The real storytelling stage. The simplest decision--moving a scene from the beginning to the end, for example--can change the look and feel of the whole film. I'm editing on film instead of video. It's cheaper, and I prefer being in the dark with this big, roaring Cadillac.
       After the editing comes the part where I enter The Incredible VibratingMan into national festivals, hoping the right people see it and remember it. Telluride. Sundance. New Directors/New Films in New York.
       There has been no end to the good fortune I've had in making this film. I got my first choices for the leading roles--performers I'd seen on-stage in Seattle. Someone living in the building that housed our primary set moved out, giving us our second shooting space. The man who owned the building just happened to have at least a hundred ancient props we could dress the set with. I still have a hard time believing that a crew of 17 people and three principal actors worked three 12-hour days at no charge. And you can see their dedication in the final product.
       I'm a proud papa right now. We'll see how the real world treats this kid when he moves out of the house.

Brian Thomas is an independent filmmaker who lives in Seattle.