Today we had a small miracle. The actors and I blocked the whole script Monday and Tuesday, and today we needed to run the entire movie. This was our last chance before Saturday to solidify the blocking in everyone's minds.
I have a number of actors who will only agree to come to a few select rehearsals. So tonight was essential. It was also essential for Chuck to film the whole run through so we could finally get an accurate run time for the movie.
At 8:00pm, the power went out for the entire neighborhood.
As night fell, the actors grew increasingly anxious. Would they be able to read their lines? Would they trip and fall in the dark?
By 9:00pm, the summer sun had set and the backyard was nearing complete darkness. Some of the crew ran to their cars and grabbed flashlights so we could keep filming the run through. Some of the actors shined their cell phones on their scripts to keep reading lines in the dark. It must have been a strange spectacle, this bubble of lights floating through the backyard.
But some of the actors grew increasingly upset that we were rehearsing in the dark. Some of my producers felt I was being self-indulgent, forcing everyone to work in these conditions. They took sides with those actors and kept begging me to stop the rehearsal. To give up and send everyone home. I refused. I've run enough rehearsals in my life to know never to send people home on a down note. This rehearsal was too important.
As night dipped into complete darkness around 9:15, the power returned. Everyone cheered as the backyard lit up like Vegas. Spirits revived and we finished the rehearsal on an emotional high note. The actors went home with a sense of accomplishment, having performed the entire movie on their third rehearsal.
In a quiet moment, actress Heidi Johanningmeier passed me and whispered in my ear, "You did the right thing." This simple sentence means all the world to me. Tonight identified the type of people you just want to work with again and again. Guys like Chuck who stuck through it unquestioningly, because he understood what was at stake. I think the job of a strong producing team is to support the director in his or her decisions and spread that positive message to the actors.
With all humility I got very lucky tonight. Another five minutes of darkness and I would have had a mutiny on my hands.
I am incredibly grateful for this lucky break. And for our first run time: 100 minutes.