Joe Swanberg keeps this journal in an effort to document the LOL making process and figure out where all his time and money went.


  • May 2005
  • June 2005
  • July 2005
  • August 2005
  • September 2005
  • October 2005
  • November 2005
  • December 2005
  • January 2006
  • February 2006
  • March 2006
  • April 2006
  • May 2006
  • June 2006
  • Tuesday, December 06, 2005

    Working Full-Time

    Last I heard from Kevin, he had been up 30 stright hours working on the new music elements for the film. That was hours ago. He might still be going. It's impossible to know. He had watched the film a few times, honed in on the areas he felt needed music, and set to work creating it. Knowing Kevin, it will be great.

    That leaves Chris and I here in America, starting to set a promotional game plan for the film. This will mostly be determined by where LOL has its World Premiere, but there are things we are starting to do right away.

    When I finished the new cut of the film last night, I somehow felt a drive to clean my room. This usually happens when I reach some sort of turning point. I usually cut my hair and I clean my room. This must be a primal instinct, because it happens without fail. As if I was possessed, I started going through the piles of shit that had been cluttering my workspace for the past few months, getting them in order, throwing things away. It was as if for the past 5 months I didn't want to upset any sort of balance I had while filmming and editing. Things piled up around me. I didn't throw much away. I just stacked it. My mind was elsewhere. I couldn't focus on the big pile of mail that was collecting on my desk. I couldn't pay any mind to the large stack on screeners gathering on my dresser. I couldn't deal with the pile of receipts growing in my coat pocket. It would have to wait.

    And then suddenly, yesterday, once the mental hurdle of editing LOL was cleared, I looked around and realized that my bedroom had turned into a total shit hole. I immediately set to work reclaiming my space. I couldn't believe the stuff that had been sitting around. Stuff that should have immediately gone into the garbage had been living with me for a month. Junk mail, credit card applications, old magazines I never had the time to read, new magazines I wasn't interested in reading, empty DVD spindles, broken CD cases, postcards and other promotional items from Festival, etc., etc., etc.

    Now I feel able to breathe again. I feel good. I'm at the summit of the mountain and now I just have to climb down the other side. That doesn't mean the climb down will be easy. There are still obstacles and dangerous areas. But it's a different challenge. I need different tools and a different attitude.

    The biggest change is that more people get to help during this new part of the journey. Editing is a solitary thing. I do it alone. I do it in my room. I live with the movie in my head. I make mental notes all day long about things that should change, and then I get home and change them. I watch and rewatch the footage in my mind. I think about ways scenes could be rearranged. I think about how I might be able to transition better from one thing to the next. I think about how I shouldn't go to sleep, how I should keep working, or else I will forget the idea I had. Sometimes I will capture footage, and I will be terrified to edit it. I will spend 3 days thinking about the footage, and all the possible ways to cut the scene, and I will not even want to open Final Cut Pro, because I know that once I do, I will not go to sleep until the scene is finished, and I don't know how long that will take.

    A lot of the editing process for me is simply psyching myself up enough to just sit down and do it. It's scary. It's horrible to realize the limitations of your footage. It sucks to look at a scene that was supposed to convey a million ideas, and realize that it doesn't convey any. Conversely, it's one of the greatest joys in life to cut something that I think is just a stupid throw away scene, filler, and to realize that it's full of emotion and life. But no matter what the outcome, getting up the nerve to make the discovery is tough. I dread it, and I live with that dread for as many months as it takes me to finish the film.

    But I don't feel that dread anymore. I feel like I finished editing the movie. I feel like the most I will have to do is fine tune it and clean up some rough patches. I am not afraid of it anymore. I know what it is. I understand it, and I understand how to make it better. I understand what works about it and what doesn't. Only when I show it to an audience at a Film Festival will I once again feel like I don't understand it. An audience will take it away from me and make it theirs. An audience will turn it into a stranger again. But for now, it is my friend.

    I'm happy to let it be my friend for a little while. When it comes time to market the film, I will have to pretend like I don't know it. I will have to assume the position of a stranger again. This is why I'm glad that I can have help during this stage. Chris has been out of the loop for a few months, while I was holed up editing, and now he gets to be involved again. My friends who haven't seen me in 3 months get to be involved. My parents and my family get to be involved. Random strangers who read about it on a blog get to be involved. It's great. I'm happy. I'm going to sleep tonight feeling satisfied.

    I should make a final note that for the moment, I am really excited about the fact that LOL has no real "cringe" areas for me. I'm sure I will notice plenty of cringe-worthy things as I spend more time with the finished cut, but it's nice a fresh right now, and I'm able to watch it and almost enjoy it. It's probably at the point right now where I'm most able to derive any pleasure from it. Soon I will be sick of watching it and I will hate it, but it's nice to have a little bit of time where I'm excited about it and eager to show it to people.


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