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Turn the Cameras Off ... And Fire Up the Teaser!

July 5, 2012

Aaand ... That's a wrap.

In the week leading up to our last filming day for The Book of Dallas, my wife asked me if we actually say that on set. I told her that we do when we wrap individuals and such ... when we finished up at the airport the previous Saturday, we'd taken a moment to say a few words about two of our fantastic leads, Clay Evans (who plays Dallas's best friend, Hank Jackson) and Jeanne Whitney (Dallas's girlriend, Lindsey DuPree). And then, we'd wrapped them; at the time, we had four scenes left to shoot, and their characters didn't happen to be in any of them. But at the end of the day? Not usually.

"So what do you say?" she asked me.

"I don't know," I told her. "Basically, I just tell everyone thank you, and to go the fuck home."

My wife, Erin, has been our catering service for this entire shoot. How she has done this, while wrangling our two children through entire weekends where I'm off making movies, is beyond me. The woman is amazing; people regularly tell me that I've either married up or married a saint (which, I think, technically would also be marrying up), and I have absolutely no argument with that statement.

So, being amazing, she decided to mark the occasion of The Book of Dallas's wrap day by making us all a cake. Which, iced on the top, gave everyone the instruction that - you guessed it:

"Now You Can Go The Fuck Home."

I love my wife.

But yes – we wrapped The Book of Dallas last weekend, after a final trip to the series's Heaven, and two scenes in the Aztar Conference Center. The excitement in the day came early, when Dallas (Benjamin Crockett) got angry and flipped a restaurant table across the dining room of Just Rennie's in Downtown Evansville. I have to take a second to thank Chef Doug Rennie - both for allowing us to film in his beautiful space, and for letting us flip over a table on his hardwood floor. Twice.

Of course, we brought a large mat, and towels to catch any mess that might have been made. But even with that, I only wanted to flip the table once; the chance of breaking something in Doug's space made me VERY nervous. But when one of our crew members' hand came into frame on the first flip (he was trying to keep a flying plate from hitting the camera lens), I had to try and figure out how to handle it.

"I think I can save it in post-production," I said. "A quick digital zoom and a cut-out ..."

"Flip it again," Doug cut in.

I looked at him, stunned.

"Are you sure?" I asked.

"Yeah," he said. "We're good on time. Get it right - go for it. Doesn't bother me."

So today, a huge shout-out to Doug. If you're looking for a place to host and cater an event, check out Just Rennie's - both because it's a beautiful space, and because the owner let us film there, cooked food for the scene, and let us flip it all onto the floor. Twice.

But I digress.

Several people have asked me how it feels to be finished. I've spoken pretty freely on this blog as to what this project is to me on a personal level. So finishing the filming - getting everything we need to turn what was 164 pages of words on paper into a living, breathing, moving picture - is a pretty incredible feeling of accomplishment. But it's also strangely bittersweet, because the process of filming The Book of Dallas has been a great one, filled with great people who I have - in the months since we started rolling on March 10 - come to consider my filmmaking family. Not to get all sappy on you folks, but I'm gonna miss seeing these people every weekend.

That dichotomy of emotion - the rush of accomplishment from finishing and the sadness at not seeing these folks every weekend - all kind of washed over me after the extras from the last scene left the set (and thank you all again for coming - you know who you are!). Andy, our 1st AD, had taken Ben out to do a Behind-the-Scenes interview in the hallway. Jake, Brad Reinhart (our fantastic boom master) and others were talking; we were all eating cake. And suddenly, I found myself sitting on the floor, my back against the wall, just staring.

I couldn't tell you what was going through my mind at that moment. Not specifically. But that was when it all hit me. We're really finished.

So now what?

Now comes the work of taking hours and hours of footage (in all, we shot nearly a terabyte of footage over 18 filming days) and making it into something that people will (hopefully) want to watch.

That process is a lot quieter, and a lot less exciting - no stories of neighbors protesting our fake protest, or table-flipping on-set. It's mostly me, Jake, and Marx all sitting in front of our computers, slicing and dicing footage into tiny little clips, then lining them up until they're a narrative. It's Mikey Armanno and Jarrod Moschner taking our lined-up clips and correcting the color, adding in the visual effects, and basically making every frame of photography look prettier. It's the incomparable Paul Grajek stripping out the sound that doesn't belong, turning up the sound that does, and merging it with the music of people like David Barajas and Christpher John De Mory to create sonic awesomeness. And then, it's putting all of those pieces together and putting it out there for everyone to see.

In the meantime, for those who may have missed it, we introduced the first teaser for The Book of Dallas earlier this week. If you have a minute, check it out:

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