Wednesday, September 24, 2008

On directing your own children

I just have one thing to say, "DON'T DO IT!" Especially if you're the Mom (as opposed to the Dad.) A week and a half ago, I directed the first half of a wonderful short film called "That's What She Told Me." It was my first time directing a piece I hadn't written and the first time that I worked with women in all of the key positions. It was a fabulous experience, except for the morning I was shooting my daughter. Her role was to play the lead as a young girl, who is left on a park bench by her father while children play around her.

I talked to her about it a month ahead of time. On vacation we used Sun-In in her hair to get it light enough to take the red rinse. (She has light brown hair that needed to be red.) I was so excited that there was a role for my son as well. He got to play on the monkey bars. It all fell apart when my son found out that his best friend was coming and they would get to play together in the movie. My daughter broke down. "Why can't I play with someone in the movie.?" she said through her tears. So I explained. She was the star! It was an important role! The whole scene would be about her! Finally, I must have said something like "We can shoot some scenes where you get to play, too."

The day of the shoot started out promising. She played her part and did the same walking with Daddy scene about six times. The other kids played, mostly. We shot some more walking with Daddy scenes. Finally, she refused to do any more. I stopped shooting, took her inside and discovered she had a fever. I gave her Tylenol and talked to her in bed. (I'd been MIA for two days by that point.) We played Uno. Finally, I told her that I needed her to do one more thing and that was sit on a bench for two minutes. That was it. Otherwise, I wouldn't have a scene. She agreed, sort of. Luckily, the scene called for her to be unhappy. I have to cut out the parts where she's shooting me dagger looks.

The rest of the day went swimmingly. We were literally shooting underwater. We finished early. I got to put my kids to bed. All was right with the world.

Until today, where I finally put together a rough-cut of the park scene. I showed it to the kids. About halfway through, my daughter started crying. "You said I would get to PLAY in the MOVIE! Why didn't you let me play?" I started backpedaling. Stumbling, I probably made some other misguided half promises. And I swore to myself, "Never again." At least, not until next time.

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