Last week, John Gulager was picked as the Director of Feast, much to the dissatisfaction of many involved. Feast also wasn’t a thrill among Dimension studio executives who are weary of the budget constrictions involved.
We start off at the celebration where Gulager was picked as Director. “We’re going to have to make a funny as hell scary ass movie,” he muses. Chris Moore believes they are going to ruin the Project Greenlight, even though Ben Affleck and Matt Damon think he’s going to save it. Affleck confronts Moore about it, angered. Craven listens and stands by without adding anything. “We’re going out in a blazing of glory,” Moore says.
“Filmmaker is basically the only thing I know how to do,” Gulager explains. “It’s taking me 35 years to get here. It’s the biggest opportunity I have.” He goes on to explain his family background in television and movies; his mother passed away last year, while his father still helps him produce films. He’s done a lot of B-rated movie and on the side, he shoots wedding videos to make a living when not directing.
“There’s so many e-mails and phone calls,” Marcus Dunstan laughs. He puts some of the calls of speakerphone for the cameras. “This is an uncommon opportunity,” he says. “Finally, the weird boy gets to do something that people can see.”
We’re then cut to Gulager and his girlfriend, who have been together for twenty years, in a bathtub going over the script. “As a director, I’d like all the help I can get,” he says about getting his family to act in the movie. “I’ve never really had a boss. I do everything myself, and this is completely new to me.”
At Neo Art and Logic, home to the Feast production, everyone gathers for their first meeting of the project. Patrick Melton and Dunstan join him. They get new laptops and other tools to help them out with production.
Later that day at Dimension Films, they met with Andrew Rona. He’s Head of Dimension in New York. “A lot of what I say will be influencing your lives for the next year,” he jokes. He notes the concerns of Gulager, such as not being able to speak up and speak his mind. “That’s what the director does.” Gulager was upset a bit by it. “We’re making a movie, and we’ll do what we can to protect our interests.” Then, he looks to the scriptwriters, and tells them they need $20 million to make it; it looks like a marketable idea, which is why it was picked. “It’s going to be difficult for you guys. You’re going to have to make major changes.”
They threaten to have the script rewritten because it’s so horrible. If they can’t do it themselves, Dimension will bring in the people that can make them look good. “Can you fire us?” Gulager asks. “Yes,” Rona says in all seriousness. “Is it over?” Gulager looks around, laughing. Rona threatens to bring in someone else to do it if they can’t do it.
Back at Neo Art and Logic, with thirteen weeks until production, Mike Leahy (one of the producers come in). They have budget meeting to sit down and discuss the realities of the film. “This is the most important part of the producer’s project,” Joel Soisson says. They have a script that’s worth $20 million, and they have to whittle it down to two million dollars “If we go and do the three million dollar Feast, let’s not make line cuts, let’s use a machete,” Soisson jokes. “It’s going to be gutted.”
They want to get the script in shape, first, before being able to go in and try to get all the money needed to make it a great film. It’s a better way to go about it to get the money than to do it the opposite way demanding money.
At the first script meeting, Soisson went in with an agenda from the budget side and creative side. They want to decrease the amount of creatures to decrease the price. Gulager’s asked a question, and he flounders, with his creative vision. “John by no means inspires confidence,” Soisson sighs. There’s three weeks to do script rewrites and not a minute more, because they have to convince the studio to still back it.
Melton and Dunstan work twenty-four hours a day on their script in shifts. Where one of them will work for 12 to 14 hours, then pass it on to the other for another 12 to 14 hours shift; this is a consistent 24 hours of scriptwriting, which can be a bit confusing but is most effective if they want to get their script done in the three weeks allowed for pre-production.
Gary Tunnicliffe is going to create the monsters for Feast and has visions of what will be in the movie. However, when Gulager had another vision and saw Tunnicliffe’s vision as alien-based. “Less of the alien-thing,” Dunstan jokes to him. “Everybody has a different take on it,” Gulager explains. “Today’s meeting was good,” Tunnicliffe says, planning to get it to look like what he wants rather than what they are trying to do, because they merely think it’ll look good on screen.
Another meeting is discussed about the rewrite. Rona and Moore were on hand. “Without Andrew, it’ll be hard to get the money for the film,” Moore says. “Every step of this line we’re walking a thin line between comedy and horror,” Rona bursts there bubble, “This is a scary movie with comedy in it. You’re making a horror film.” Gulager compares Feast to Jurassic Park, but he isn’t giving anybody a clear vision of where the film is going. Thus, everybody is waiting for Gulager to step up and give a vision of what the point of this film will be. Again, he flounders, “You want me to say something?” Rona ends up hanging up, angered by the lack of an actual meeting or Gulager’s input.
Melton and Dunstan talk about how Gulager isn’t being a leader. They find it frustrating, because they feel they had the answers Rona wanted, and it makes them all look bad. He talks to Gulager, who didn’t really understand what the big fuss is, and again, makes excuses for his lack of leadership. He also tries to pin the blame on his fear of “suits” and people who don’t understand him.
Two hours later, Gulager is advised to call Rona and talk to him. Gulager tries to get someone else to call him; he’s given Rona’s number, but decides not to call today. He says he’ll call tomorrow but doesn’t seem so confident and we watch as the days go by and he doesn’t call him. “I still have the phone number in front of me, and I’ll probably call him Monday,” he deflects.
Dunstan and Melton go meet with some agents at ICM. “I’ve never seen two first time screenwriters step into the process with more confidence,” Soisson jokes. They have the biggest egos, and Soisson notes that. Gulager hasn’t had anything change, even though the screenwriter’s lives have changed significantly. He picks up his paycheck and ends up using most of it to go pay his bills and pay back debts. Gulager takes his family out to eat and gives them the rest of his three thousand dollar paycheck.
“The anti-Gulagers,” as Soisson dubs the screenwriters, are having lunch at Le Dome with their lawyers. They’re eating up the Hollywood spotlight, as opposed to their director, who is now showing off his cashed check. Michelle Gertz, the Casting Director for the film, meets with the screenwriters and Gulager to discuss casting. The writers were displaced for casting, and they had to go and share offices with others for the pre-production portion of Feast. “They just want name recognition,” Ben Affleck explains about the casting.
They had people come in and read for them, to see what they can find in the way of casting. Gertz and Gulager weren’t impressed at all by who showed up and what they showed in front of the camera. Gertz is frustrated by the lack of knowledge and feedback Gulager had when dealing with the potential actors and actresses. “They really crave direction and feedback from you,” she tells him. She flips when he tells her he wants his family in the film; she tells him that he can’t necessarily do that. “The director usually gets to cast people he wants in there,” he says. “Ideally, I don’t want to bring anybody in for any of the roles.” Gertz holds her ground to tell him how the casting actually works. She’s very frustrated with him. “I think he still has his plan, there is some friction,” she says.
Rona makes a call and tells everyone the creatures look horrible. He doesn’t want them to be aliens; he wants them to be better than that. Tunnicliffe is floored, and he doesn’t know what to do, and he wants to make whoever he can happy. “I’m not designing them for John Gulager,” he muses. He comes back with better drawings, and everyone sits around, not sure what to make of the picture. Ten weeks closer to production, and they don’t have a budget or creatures.
“I’m not getting great feedback from their meetings with them,” Gertz talks to Leahy about the casting process. So far, nobody wants to come in and audition, because of his lack of confidence. “It’s with everyone,” she says, nobody has confidence in his ability behind the camera and because of that nobody wants to come in and audition for Feast. Later that day, Gulager’s family comes in and reads for various parts. Basically, he wants to get his family into the spotlight and break into the big time, too. As Gertz tries to work with his family, she gets them to do things that Gulager doesn’t necessarily want them to do, because he is close to them. She gives him the benefit of the doubt, but it doesn’t hold much wait. “What do you feel about nepotism?” Soisson asks. Gulager tries to use other director’s as example as to why he should be allowed to hire his family members, but Soisson tells him he’s going to have to deal with hiring people who aren’t his family.
Ben Ormand, the line producer, comes in to discuss the budget. Rona was going to give them range. Even though reductions to the script, for five million dollars, was too much for a film of this caliber. Out of a $5.3 million budget, it still has to be slashed down by one-third, as said by Soisson. He advises a one week major restructure, he’s coming to Los Angeles the next day and have a conversation face-to-face to discuss the project.
At another casting meeting, Gulager gives little feedback. Gertz confronts him about his brother for the “beer guy character.” “Usually, you submit a number of actors to a studio for a role,” Leahy says, “That’s going to be problem with the studio.” Gulager sticks to his guns, but nobody is happy about it. He then confronts her based on her audition skills, and she goes back at him for bringing it up three days later. “So, if you don’t get your brother where are we going to be with beer guy?” she asks. “I don’t know,” he shrugs. They tell him he can’t do this, but he doesn’t want to listen to anybody.
Carpesomediem is an aspiring freelance writer from Lancaster, Pa. who enjoys music, movies and writing about the way the world works; you can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org to talk about this week’s episode or anything at all.