PLAYING SOLITAIRE

Playing Solitaire was too long for a “Short” and too short for a Feature in most all of the Festivals. We got calls from Sundance and a few other festivals asking us if we could shorten it, but it was too late.   So, there were only 3 festivals I could enter.  I won top awards for it in all three. 

BEST DIRECTOR
BEST PICTURE
BEST ACTRESS (for Liz Hyun)

In our interviews afterwards, they spent some time talking about the conditions for shooting, which made the achievement that much more incredible for a first time Director.

  1. WE SHOT 23 PAGES IN ONE DIRECTION FIRST DAY
  2. WE SHOT ALMOST HALF A FILM IN 3 DAYS ON 35MM WITH NO OVERTIME
  3. BOTH STARS NEVER ACTED BEFORE
  4. WE ONLY HAD ENOUGH FILM FOR 1-2 TAKES! 

 

I had rehearsed the actresses for weeks.  Then when we shot, I rehearsed them before rolling.  Then, we had one shot to nail it.  And did. Then would move on. If I was in doubt, we would shoot a second take. Only one scene went to 3 takes, and that was the jumping scene where a jib had to follow the actress through the air.  No special effects.  And we nailed it on take 3.  

On the final day, we ended up with only 112 feet of film left over, which I kept as a memento for excellent production planning. 

I had a great connection with my DP, Patti Van Over, who won awards for cinematography.  We had so little money, we only had three locations, but it worked stylishly.   I was running every department.   Michael Holmes was terrific as my First A.D.   We didn’t have a Second A.D.   The only snag was the Sound didn’t synch for the first half of the first day.  

Liz later told me (after she saw how terrific it was) that she knew this would either be great, or the worst thing in the world due to the intense dialog. 

My Directing style used Sydney Lumet’s style, and proved it works!  More on that if you ever ask. And for my cinematic look, I went with solid, old fashioned camera moves and lots of close ups .  All film was short ends.  We had the loader working so fast that he was literally sweating to keep up with changing roles.   

There is a castration scene in the film.  We ran to a butcher and got a pig snout and our Make Up girl sewed it up to look almost perfect.  Liz was a surgical assistant for a Plastic Surgeon, and so she knew what she was doing.   Funny thing happened.  When shooting the castration scene, the second camera man fainted!  

We went to Vegas for the debut. And the theater gave us a standing ovation! That is, after about 10 people walked out due to either shooting up heroin under the tongue, or the castration scene.  Four punk rockers who were famous but I did not recognize with their  pins stuck all over their bodies said it was the wildest thing they saw and loved it.   Aside from that, we had people come up to us right after watching and said, “You win, hands down. This was fantastic filming and acting. “ 

This film opened the door to Warner Brothers and Universal, who had scouts in the office.