Making a film isn't a Disney fairy tale. Some may come close, but most end with the evil stepmother crowning her ugly daughter queen, forcing prince charming into unwanted matrimony, and unleashing matriarchal terror across the land.
All jokes aside, a film is hard work, and things go wrong. In truth, more films fail than succeed. That's why a realist will tell you that a film is the worst investment you could ever make, statistically speaking of course. Even if you and your team exercise arduous diligence and execute everything according to plan, outside forces can even disrupt the most prepared production. No matter what you do, something or someone will go batshit crazy. It's inevitable.
Day 1 of Shadow's Edge tells a valuable (and somewhat comical) story of that inevitability.
So without further ado, here is what went wrong on Shadow's Edge starring Dick and Karen.
It was May 24, 2019, around 3 pm. I had worked through the previous night finishing storyboards, reviewing the script, and packing my car to the brim with costumes, props, and film equipment. It looked like something out of a Vacation movie with Chevy Chase.
What could go wrong?
Posted like a Marine Corps sergeant outside my car, I confidently checked off every box on my inventory list and hopped into my little movie mobile like the Dukes of Hazzard (not really). Shifting the gear into overdrive, I zipped down the road and onto the highway. It was showtime.
Making my way downtown and merging onto the I-8 west, I stressed about all the shots I needed to get over the next 8 hours, deconstructing every storyboard panel in my mind. I felt like a mixed concoction of A Beautiful Mind, Napolean Dynamite, and Spongebob SquarePants' attention span.
After my stressful distraction morphed back into reality, I noticed my exit quickly approaching so I maneuvered into the right lane and exited the highway. Navigating through an interconnected system of back roads, I got excited about what surprises the night held in store.
Although making a film may not be a fairy tale, it can feel magical!
After a few moments of daydreaming, I finally arrived at the entrance of Presidio Park, the filming location. I drove up a steep road that followed twists and turns to the top of a giant hill, where Presidio's luscious park rested beside a residential area. I remember the golden sunlight blazing through the trees from the west as it usually did. It was a beautiful California afternoon. The park had one narrow road that formed a horseshoe around a center field. Now typically, this road was relatively empty so you could park, but I noticed more cars than usual. I even saw cars parked in my routine staging area. Without raging into the unproductive negativity of worst-case scenarios, I parked farther up the road and started unpacking gear from my car.
As I unloaded everything, my cinematographer, who arrived on location first, approached me with bewildering news. He noticed a gathering of neo-hippies setting up a millennial Woodstock in our filming location.
You can imagine the shock, horror, and thrill slashed across my face at that moment. Feelings rushed through my body like raging hormones on a hot date that turned to bad news from your primary care provider.
Still, my mind rejected reality. I had to see to believe. I walked around my car when the nightmare unfolded before my eyes. I saw all of Party City's stock inventory lying on the ground next to some concert stage for a hippie singalong. My mind flirted with self-denial, but it failed miserably.
To be fair, that hippie party may have been a swell time in a different place at a different time in a different universe. But not that day.
My cinematographer said he spoke with one of the male hosts (let's call him Dick) to ask if they would move their impromptu hippie festival to another area of the park.
Since the rest of the park was empty with specific areas intended for that type of event, I thought it'd be a fair compromise. But life isn't fair, and people typically don't like to compromise.
Dick admitted his girlfriend (let's call her Karen) was in charge of the event, so he needed her permission to move. How do you think Karen responded? If you thought it was with a resounding no, then you'd be right. I still remember her turning toward us with that fiery look of uncompromising resolution.
The film set had officially graduated from the rebirth of feel-good nostalgia to Karen's tyrannical bovine fecal material. So much for the her-being-a-hippie theory.
Why God why I thought.
Even though Karen made her stance crystal clear, Dick tried to make us feel better. He pandered to us in soft-spoken apologies that only added more fuel to the fire. We explained to Dick how much time we spent planning for the film, and how their inconsideration affected us, but it mattered not. Dick repeated Karen's commands with calm submissiveness, showcasing visceral femininity. It reminded me of the manager from Office Space surprising a subordinate with the news that he is working a shift on Saturday.
No matter Dick's shortcomings, he really held no power in the situation. Honestly, negotiations ended before they began.
As the golden sapphire sky faded to black, I listened to the sea of fake hippies clamoring in the distance, their party raging on, lullabied by the timbre of a John Mayer wannabe. As they celebrated amid our suffering, Dick assured us that the party wouldn't last more than a couple of hours, and the location would be ours in little time.
Over three hours later.
The "hippies" finally started packing up. Dick's timing was supremely miscalculated. As the group staggered out of the park, fumbling all of Party City on their shoulders, good ole Dick made his way toward us one last time. As a gesture of goodwill, he outstretched his hands and offered us a sweet and savory consolation prize courtesy of an unhealthy eating habit - donuts.
Looking back on this story, I see an important lesson veiled in the comedy. There will always be Dicks and Karens in the world to test your grit. Hell, if we're being honest, we've all been a Dick or Karen at some point. I know I have. But, every Dick and Karen situation offers an opportunity for introspection and personal growth. In this scenario, it was easy to become impatient and upset at an unexpected turn of events that were not in my favor. However, resorting to negativity and impatience will not change reality and is a surefire way to ruin. Although proper planning played an important role in managing the shortened time frame following the hippie extravaganza, the bigger lesson was that of patience and poise.
To wrap this up, I'll leave you with a few quotes across a spectrum of history that shows how timeless this lesson truly is.
“Patience is bitter, but its fruit is sweet.” – Aristotle
The famously used, "Cooler heads prevail." - Anonymous
And lastly a biblical proverb, "He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit." - Proverbs 17:27
Disclaimer: The names in this story are fictitious representations based on true events and are in no way representative of every person named Dick and/or Karen. Duh.