Last week, we heard from Director of Photography, Steve Acevedo on the many aspects of his job, and what it was like working on the film. This week, we’ll talk to Co-Writer and Music Supervisor, Jonathan Case, about the writing process from conception to post-production.
How do you approach the writing process and how did this work when writing Satellite of Love?
There’s a quote from the artist Julian Schnabel that says, “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” I love that quote, but I can’t help but hear it as an indictment of my lack of discipline and further proof, beyond the fact that I’m not a paid screenwriter, that I’m an amateur; not a professional in the strict sense. I know I’m a good writer, but only recently have I hit any kind of stride with it from a discipline standpoint, and found pleasure in the implementation of something resembling a regiment.
It’s still a pretty loose regiment but more than what I had before. I’m trying, in all aspects of my life, to cultivate more discipline and just get to work. On the other hand, inspiration has never really seemed to be in short supply. I’m inspired by everything, all the time. I’m inspired right now. I mean, the word “inspire” is derived from the Latin word that means “to breathe.” I’m breathing, I’m inspired.
As a writer, what was it like being on the set watching your film come to life?
Horrifying. The first three days were horrifying and I wanted to be anywhere else. My role on set was undefined, there had been no rehearsals, not even a table read. I had no idea if the actors were seeing this script the same way I was. Come to find out, not even Will and I were seeing everything in the same light. It kind of dawned on us that we hadn’t even really had a big picture conversation since dealing with all the minutiae of dialog, etc., and rolling straight into pre-production. Will would yell “cut” and all the actors would turn to me to see if they were playing it right, and I could feel Will wanting very badly to punch me in the neck, but there was nothing I could do about it. I went into the woods with a headset and just kind of eavesdropped.
When Patrick Bauchau, the actor from my favorite piece of cinema ever, 1967’s La Collectionneuse, arrived on set to play Alex, I couldn’t be there. I went AWOL. I wanted to go live in the mountains and never have anything to do with filmmaking again. I was trying to be deferential to Will and allow him to direct the ship. There was never any question about who the director was, but I found myself in a very uncomfortable position feeling ways I hope I never have to feel again.
Rather than punching me in the neck, Will gave me the job of “Script Supervisor,” and then I got to be behind the monitor with him holding a copy of the script and making note of where the dialog was off in the take. Then when Will would yell “cut” and Zach, for instance, would turn around and look at me, I would look at the script and then yell back to Zach, “It’s ‘I’m so happy to see you.” Then on the next take Zach would say whatever he felt like saying and go have a sandwich. Thanks to Northcutt and Frank for the food, by the way. Delicious.
Later in the shoot, when Janina was back in LA for True Blood, I sat in and fed her lines to Mr. Bauchau in a scene that was later cut. Reading lines that I wrote to a guy that was in my favorite movie almost 50 years ago across a campfire was pretty magical.