This is a weekly column behind the scenes of Alex LeMay’s latest project, DARK JOEY. DARK JOEY is a collaboration between LeMay and writer Jim Uhls, who wrote the major motion picture, FIGHT CLUB, as well as his writing partner Ric Krause. Follow along here: #Film-School:lemay-makes-a-series
Well that was nuts. We shot 7 pages in a day. It took 20 hours and I almost broke my toe.
Now, first thing’s first: unless they are friends as they were in my case or you have $1MM to pay in over time, NEVER, NEVER ask crew or talent to shoot for 20 hours. It’s unprofessional and leads to bad shit happening. However, sometimes this is inevitable and necessary. With the right people it can play to your benefit.
What happened in our case was amazing. The protagonist is supposed to think he’s going crazy so our lead, Matt Mercer, really leaned into his genuine exhaustion which gave his performance a very paranoid and oh-so-real vibe.
Having a great script and great talent made this brutal shoot schedule a lot easier than other projects I’ve worked on with these kinds of ambitious production goals.
Also, I never usually like having the writers on set. Their work is done and it’s time for the director/producers and onscreen talent to do their thing. But in this case, having Jim Uhls and his writing partner Ric Krause on hand was a true pleasure and a very valuable resource. They both understand why things need to be the way they are. They know the importance of each moment and helped make my choices as a director that much clearer.
I’m still kind of recovering from the intensity of the day and my complete immersion into a Jim Uhls/Ric Krause script; one of psychosis, paranoia and insanity… and you know what? I’d do it all over again.
Having the opportunity to fight my physical and mental limitations with well known and massively talented writers, a crew that wouldn’t quit, and actors that never stopped giving was a huge reminder of why I love what I do.
In the end, I always try to take away a new lesson that will make me a better director. On this one, I learned that bringing big ideas into the world is sometimes a fight, a brawl, a test of endurance that leaves one sore and exhausted but always leaves you a better person and better creator.
I’d love to hear about the last experience where you were tested and pushed to your limits but came out better for it. Whether in your series creator life or in your everyday one, I think it helps us all to keep fighting for our big ideas.