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
  • Monday, October 31, 2005

    Trouble In Paradise

    Wow. Here's something I've never dealt with before. One of the people involved with LOL isn't really happy with the way it's shaping up, and doesn't want their name attached to the film anymore. This is definitely weird and unexpected. I've heard about things like this happening to other films and filmmakers, but I didn't really think I would ever have to deal with it. I'm really hoping this doesn't become a big deal, but I must admit it certainly gives me pause. Did I make a piece of shit? Do the people I work with hate me? Will I now and forever be paranoid that people are going to quit on me before my films are finished? Total bummer.

    UPDATE: This seems to be sorted out and much better all around. That's good. Things are all on the up and up.

    Sunday, October 30, 2005

    The Light Of Day

    Last night I cracked the lid of LOL and let some light in. I showed it to 5 people, the first to see it. I also watched it all the way through for the first time myself. It was great to get a sense of the flow. The movie previously existed as little snippets for me. Now it's a movie. Albeit, a movie that needs some fine tuning, but a movie none the less.

    I can't say much about the reaction. We all talked for a while afterward, about the good and the bad, and I know what needs to be worked on. That's about it. Some things are working, and some aren't. I guess that's pretty much what's to be expected. Nobody hated it, so that's good. But I don't think anyone loved it either. I think everyone fell into the "liked it" camp. So now I need to go above and beyond and add the extra little details that move people to love. Some of that falls into Kevin's lap, and he is currently working on a lot of the audio elements that are going to smooth this thing out. The rest falls into my lap. I must scrutinize every frame to decide if it belongs.

    So here I go. I have another two days before the film takes a long flight to the Netherlands. Fingers crossed.

    Thursday, October 27, 2005

    Long Distance Once Again

    There's still a lot to do, and now Kevin must do it from Berlin. Meanwhile I've spent the past 3 weeks in my bedroom editing, and shooting remaining scenes every once in a while. I've been really bad about keeping this thing updated, but that's mostly because editing is a solitary affair, and there's not much to report.

    I'm going to have a preview screening of the film on Saturday night, for some cast/crew/friends. It's a rough cut, but enough of it will be there to give a good sense of the film, and it will help me make some decisions about the pace and what to lose/keep. I'm looking forward to the screening, because there will be a few people who haven't seen a single frame of the film, weren't involved with the production, and will really be able to give good feedback.

    I'll try and post again after the screening, but until then, I'm just going to be sitting in my room, doing more editing.

    Wednesday, October 19, 2005


    Deadlines are good. At least for me. It usually means that I rush some things and get a little lazy, but the alternative is working on something for the rest of my life and never feeling like it's finished.

    My dream scenario is to show LOL at the Rotterdam Film Festival and then at SXSW. The only way this can happen is if I have a cut of LOL finished in the next two weeks and quickly rush it to the Netherlands for the Festival to consider. So now that I have a deadline, I'm focused on getting this thing done.

    I'm going to send a DVD of the rough cut to Kevin in NY so he can watch it and give me notes, then I'm going to put some finishing touches on it and get it off to the Festivals. I'll still continue to polish things in the meantime, but I just want to get the film to a place where it's watchable, and they can decided whether they want to show it or not. It's almost there. There are just a few things missing that I need to polish up.

    So yeah, good, a deadline, now I can get down to business.

    Saturday, October 15, 2005

    Bon Voyage

    Kevin Bewersdorf left Chicago this morning, on his way back to Berlin. We shot his final stuff Thursday night, though I'm going to see him in NY next week, and we're going to watch a cut of the film along with Chris Wells and we'll see what's missing and if there's anything that has to be reshot. That'll be the last chance to shoot anything.

    I've been busy shooting and editing everything that's missing. It's hard to be production while the Chicago International Film Festival is going on, but I'm doing my best.

    Monday, October 03, 2005

    The Last Push

    By the end of this week, LOL will be in the can...hopefully. The Chicago International FIlm Festival starts on Friday, and KOTM will be playing, so I'll be super distracted. The goal is to get the remaining scenes shot by Wednesday night, so I can at least take one of the pots off the stove, or something. Just tying up even one of the loose ends in my life would be a huge relief.

    I finished shooting with Tipper on Friday. I'm really sad that I won't get to film any more scenes with her. It was always a lot of fun. I only have one more day of shooting with Kevin, and then it's a wrap for him as well. It's definitely drawing to a close, and while it will open up a lot of needed free time in my life, it will also close the book on a really great summer.

    I'm trying to be smart and I'm starting to plan for Festivals. After my KOTM experience, I'm very aware of how delicate the Festival circuit is, and I want to play my cards right with LOL. I need to hit the right Festivals and get everything submitted early. There were a lot of programmers who rejected KOTM, but were anxious to see my next film. I have to decide which of them will get that opportunity. I need to figure out whether I want to play the distribution game, or put the film up for sale myself. There are a lot of options, and I'm a lot better prepared to handle them.

    For now, my only goal is to do the best job possible with the remaining scenes. I will be acting in most of them, which always adds a level of stess, but I've put them off long enough. It's time to forge ahead into the unknown and capture what I can.