Sunday, July 17 - Sunday, July 24

The Arizona dig, in contrast to the frantic pace and mental fatigue of the shoot, is simple, hard, physical labor -eight hours a day of digging in ninety-degree sun.

Strangely enough (for me, that is), I actually enjoy the physical labor…but my mental state is something else.

I can't turn the movie off.

I can't sleep at night. When I do sleep, I dream about the edge, and the wonderful characters who live there. I know I must be a huge bore to everyone else, because it's all I can talk about.

Fortunately, half a dozen other Edge veterans are there: Prop builder Steve Johnson, Bill Acedo, assistant art director Brett Alexander, production assistant Todd Fellman, Mike Stuart - and we have kind of our own wrap party (we hear the real one we missed was a bit disappointing anyway, although I would have loved to have seen Matt Shakman in his white tux and high-tops).

Still, as much as I enjoy the week, I'm glad to get on the plane Sunday night, and vow never to do this again if I'm coming directly off a project like Life on the Edge.

Monday, July 25 - Friday, July 29

It's right back into the swing of things with meetings at Linden to discuss the new opening for the movie Tom wants to do. As we started to near completion of principal photography, we realized the pipes we shot at the cannery just don't work any longer - they were shot during our first week of production, before the film took on a life of its own and went in a somewhat different direction. What Tom and I have been discussing for the opening is a cross between live-action cartoon-style pipes that breathe and quiver, and a 30s-style montage tracing the connecting lines of Henry's call to Miriam. We bring Ed in to help design and sketch out the sequence, and Mike agrees to head the crew building it, working evenings after his new regular job as a key modelmaker on James Cameron's latest film The Abyss (actually, a number of Edgers have gone on to this film). It's determined that we have three weeks to design it, build it and shoot it, since the film must be locked down by September, when it will be turned over to our sound effects and music teams.

Linden also begins to seriously consider publicity this week, and although at first they hand this job to me, by the end of the week they've hired the best genre publicist in the business, Paul Sammon. That takes a lot of the weight off me, although I'll still be heavily involved with various promotions and the like.

Linden also begins to express more interest in this very journal (which, horrifically enough, almost didn't survive shooting - after I left on the last day, Neil dug it out of a dumpster late that night!).

Friday night John Chavez holds a party exclusively for the art department (I think I'm invited since I took the final rap for 'em). Aside from the fact that it's a great party, I especially enjoy hearing the stories about the after-hours escapades I never partook in - swinging from the rafters, breaking in to craft services nightly, bringing in a video camera to make silly home movies on the sets (I'm particularly interested in seeing "Billy's Party", featuring a tender love scene between prop master Eric Roemheld and Spike the dog).

I'm going to backtrack now to Tuesday night for my real news of the week: I venture over to Tom's house to watch the rough assemblage of Life on the Edge.

This first cut is long - 106 minutes - and Tom is anxious to cut it down to 90 minutes. It has a few temp tracks laid in (The Who's "Pinball Wizard" over the Splat Spray game sequence is fabulous), but otherwise it's barren of music, sound effects, opticals…and I still totally love it.

In fact, I'm so completely astonished by it that I can't quite believe I worked on it in any capacity, let alone co-wrote it. It's the weirdest damn movie I've ever seen, and it now strikes me that one of the reasons it's so bizarre is that, unlike other oddities such as Eraserhead or Un Chien Andalou, it actually tells a story, and often a happy one at that. I can't begin to imagine how the public will react to it, although I keep hearing that it's a hot topic throughout the industry; Pippa, Joe, John and Tom are constantly running into people who shouldn't know about it, but they do - and what's more, they've heard it's great.

Well, it is.

And I'm happiest to say that after years of believing in Tom's ability to direct, even when we couldn't sell him that way, after several occasions when I turned down offers on my scripts because they wouldn't consider Tom as director - the movie is brilliantly directed. Although I know Marvin Rush is responsible for most of the beautiful camera work and lighting, it's Tom's work the with actors that most amazes me. Not only are they all delivering very stylized performances, but it's all the same style, a feat only a few other directors have successfully pulled off (only David Lynch comes immediately to mind).

Although Nancy Mette is an overall favorite of those few who have seen the rough cut (and it is only a very few - paranoia is rampant, and perhaps justifiably so), my personal favorite has to be Joshua Miller as Joey. Aside from his wonderfully-strange way of eyeing Miriam and his feverish Splat Spray work, I have a sentimental attachment to him as well; there's something poetic in the fact that he's the son of actor Jason Miller, star of The Exorcist, the film indirectly responsible for this whole crazy business. You see, I saw The Exorcist when I was 15, and in the course of that two-hour film I gave up my previous career goal of becoming an anthropologist and knew I had to become a writer.

Saturday, July 30

I receive a slightly frantic phone call from Tom late this afternoon, telling me that Pippa has requested a screening of the movie on Monday, something Tom and editor Carl Kress were not entirely prepared for. Although the cut is basically there, down now to 90 minutes (they've cut mainly small snippets here and there, with Mr. Crabneck's dinner speech about how his ex-wife was a rationalist being the only major chunk to go), it still needs more "temp tracks", or music we cull from existing sources and insert now, just to convey the appropriate mood. Some of what Carl has used is wonderful - the afore-mentioned "Pinball Wizard", cuts from Glenn Jordan's demo tape, and Madonna's "Burning Up" over Cindy's montage; but still more is needed, and we need it now so Carl and Tom can insert it tomorrow. A call to our post-production supervisor Ken Hall produces some possibilities, and, fortunately, as a soundtrack album collector, I have all the material suggested. I also throw in a few suggestions of my own, particularly recommending the edgelike work of composer Jean-Michel Jarre, and we soon have our music selections.


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