Saturday, December 13, 2003


I think everyone had a good time. I showed my epic 42 minute making of chia pet video and the making of "The Bell." I feel guilty I didn’t let people bring significant others. I didn’t think we would fit in the apartment. I feel bad.

Wednesday, October 29, 2003


October 27, 28 and 29, 2003

San Diego shuts down. We cannot return the equipment because SDSU, Southwestern and Stu Segall are closed. The only good thing about the fire is that now people have something else to talk about than just the idiotic reality tv shows.


Dear All:

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to our film. I feel lucky and privileged to have had the opportunity to work with such talented and professional individuals. It was truly a special filmmaking and learning experience. I hope you all had as much fun as I did in spite of yesterday's terrible working conditions. Now that the film is in the can, half the work remains to finish the film. Below is a tentative timeline of steps and events that will have to be completed in order to finish the film:

1. Get film processed--ASAP
2. Film-to-digital video transfer (telecine)--Mid to late December or early January.
3. Edit--January
4. Sound design, mix, and music--first two weeks of February
5. Title and credit design--February
6. Completion of film--early March

I think this will be a very special film and it is because of all your wonderful contributions. We will have a wrap party soon and I want everyone to attend, so please send me your availability in November so I can schedule accordingly. If you have any questions or need anything, please do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you again. You guys are the best.

Lesson: Filmmaking is about more than about the finished product. It is about the time you had with your friends and colleagues creating the film.

Sunday, October 26, 2003


Sunday--Last Day of Shooting

As I am getting in my car, I notice there is ash on the ground. The sky looks dark and strange. What the fuck is going on? I arrive at the Civic Center and immediately take a light reading. I am one half stop under what I need. I look up. It is as if there were a giant silk over the sky. I decide to shoot the bus stop and Conformist sequences with the 50D and push it a stop. Freddy and the rest of the guys arrive with the phone booth. That thing weighed a ton and it took a lot of effort to get it to the middle of the concourse. I am glad it’s them and not me. Poor guys. Neil has to leave the shoot as soon as he gets there. He is afraid his house would be on the fire’s path. He never comes back, but he calls us to tell us he’s okay.

We go off, guerilla style, into the street. The light changes constantly and it is annoying. We had a blast shooting the bus stop sequences. It was hilarious chasing Dulce down the street. We have to put up lights to shoot the Conformist shot. The Civic Center guards are very helpful and get us additional stingers. Ash starts to fall from the sky and allergies start to flare up. Since all of the characters appear on the last sequence, all of the actors are there. Genaro asks me if he can make Israel look “prettier”, softer. I say go for it, but the ass an boobs are fine.

The ash gets worse. How can this be happening? San Diego on fire on the last day of my shoot. I will not quit or shut down. I can’t and I won’t. I will finish shooting this film today. I think that if the fire gets close to Hillcrest I will need to go home and get the film we already shot. I have my priorities straight.

I go off to get some water and when I get back I notice Natalia is crying. I see Freddy leave in a huff and sit down far away on a bench. I ask one of the grips what happened. He tells me. Major drama. I tell Freddy I cannot have the two people I need the most right now fighting. He is giving me a lot of stress. Laura comes and asks me why Natalia is crying. I cannot believe what is happening. Laura talks to Freddy, then Freddy goes off and talks to Natalia. They come back smiling. I guess they made up. I am surrounded by people, but I feel so alone.

It takes forever to shoot the phone booth sequence. It is mostly dolly shots and I have to shoot them without a tripod. My body feels like a pretzel. I look over to our camp, and I see people are having lunch. Burritos from Baja Fresh. Luke is worried about his parents, since their house is on the fire’s path. I tell him to go home. I look at my shot list and storyboards. Nothing makes sense. People talk to me, I hear their voices, but I can’t understand what they are saying to me. Dulce asks me how I am doing. I am worried about her, her allergies, etc. She says she is fine. She has a great attitude. So different than the actor I had to deal with on a certain shitty film I directed that will never see the light of day.

Somehow, we finish shooting the end sequence. Freddy is supposed to take the phone booth back to Stu Segall, but it turns out the workers there are fighting the fire trying to keep it from getting to the studios, so he won’t be able to take it back today. We have three hours until we have to be at the Market Place. Lesley goes home to rest and Dulce, Genaro and Melissa go to my house to get ready for the next scene. I look for my burrito, but there isn’t one. I find a half-eaten burrito on a table and I eat it without shame.

I still have to get the props for the shopping basket. I will have to cross the picket line. I can’t look the strikers on the eye. The people united, will never be defeated. Fuck it, the film always comes first. I try to pick cinematic vegetables and a baguette, of course. As I am leaving I apologize to the striking workers and I explain why I crossed the picket line. Their expressions say “we don’t give a shit and why are you telling us this?” The shoot at the market goes relatively smooth. I want a shot from inside the shopping cart, no way I will fit, so I put Natalia in there with the camera.

We are exhausted, faces black from the ash, eyes watering and noses running, but we finish one hour under budget.

Lesson: Never schedule to shoot the ending to your film on the last day.

Saturday, October 25, 2003



The guys go to Stu Segall to get the phone booth and the rest of us go to the first location: the boutique. There is no coffee and no breakfast. Barry, the owner, looks miserable. Turns out he hasn’t slept because his band had a gig last night. He leaves about half an hour later. Eventually, Laura shows up with food from Jack in the Box. My sister calls me to inform me that the building management is complaining about the phone booth in my parking spot. I call them back and I tell them I can put a fucking phone booth in my parking space, which I pay for, and it is obviously a prop and it is not staying there forever and it is not in anyone’s way. I never hear another word about it again. The boutique is very easy to light and we get those shots really fast. We are way ahead of schedule, so I decide to shoot a sequence I had scrapped: Koko trying on clothes and taking pictures of herself in front of the mirror. We also get a few midget shots in the can and we move on to the next location: Convention Center trolley station.

We set up at the very end and people seem uninterested in what we are doing. Good. Israel shows up in drag and wearing a cape. He is wearing a sequined top and it makes him look flat chested. He asks me if he needs more boob. I say of course you do. What about ass? You have enough ass. Do you like my wig? The wig is fine, you look great as a blond. What about the boots? Fab dahling, the red boots are fabulous. Neil goes for a walk and do some shopping. Melissa and Ivy go to work on the cast while Freddy, Natalia and I set up the first shot. I think they are getting along because I haven’t heard them snap at each other.

Everyone is in a good mood. I scrap the dolly shot and decide to shoot the whole sequence handheld. A drunk woman starts hitting on and harassing Carlos. He is a gentleman, so I send Mr. Manly-Man Freddy to go take care of it. The men getting off the trolley act as if they have never seen a man in drag before. Everytime a trolley passes by, the conductor tells us to stay way from the yellow area and that enforcement officers are on their way. This goes on for a couple of hours, and of course, we ignore the warnings. Neil is beside himself with worry. He needs to chill, but he doesn’t. He thinks we are all going to get arrested and get hauled out of there in a paddy wagon. Laura arrives with lunch, sandwiches from Subway. A trolley cop approaches us and tells us he has had enough with us ignoring the warnings and that he has been trying to cross the street to shut us down for a long time but couldn’t because of the train that was stalled. Whatever, we are finished shooting anyway. Laura tells the cop to give us a citation, which he doesn’t. Neil looks like he is going to have a heart attack he is worrying so much. We eat the trolley station and I decide not to go on to the bus stop location and let everyone go home early and get some rest. We’ll shoot that tomorrow.

Laura and I fall asleep on the couch. She wakes up at 9:00 p.m. and says she is hungry. She wants to eat. Eat something from the fridge. She wants soup. Goddammit, we are shooting tomorrow, can’t we just go to bed? No, I’m hungry. We go to Coco’s. Isn’t the producer supposed to babysit the director, and not the other way around?

Friday, October 24, 2003



I leave work early so we can shoot the park scene during magic hour. Laura informs me that we still don't have a permit from the trolley people. Also, she didn’t get the Uhaul. I tell Freddy and he gets very mad, since he was supposed to get the phone booth from Stu Segall in the Uhaul. This is a major crisis I tell him. No phone booth, no ending, no film. Then, I notice the plate from the tripod is missing. Cannot use the tripod without it. Not a problem here, but how will I do a tracking shot later on without a tripod? Neil calls. He broke a tooth and has to go to the dentist.

After shooting the park sequence, we move on to the office. The security guards are not very nice, but they have orders to let me in and help me. Freddy calls me from Stu Segall. The guy there is being a world class asshole and won't let him take the phone booth without securing it safely to the truck. Freddy does not have blankets or rope. I tell him: no phone booth, no ending, no film! Somehow, he convinces him to let us pick up the phone booth tomorrow morning. Good, because I was about to cry.

Neil finally shows up and Laura gets KFC for dinner. KFC is a Tricon Restaurant. Tricon also owns Taco Bell, and they exploit migrant workers. If that was not enough, she tells Neil he has to be the last one to eat because he was the last one to arrive. Neil ignores her and serves himself anyway. This is in front of EVERYBODY. I am so embarrassed and livid, so I leave the room. I apologize to Neil and he is totally cool. Somehow, Freddy manages to cheer me up and we get started. We immediately start joking and having fun in spite of the fried chicken incident. Melissa, the costume designer, becomes the dolly grip, since everyone else sucks at it.

Thursday, October 23, 2003


Dear filmmakers:

Thank you for all your hard work this last weekend. Below are some details of what is going on for the next few days.

THURSDAY: Freddy and I to pick up equipment at Digital Pickles Studios.

FRIDAY: Laura will pick up some equipment at SDSU. If any of you can helpher, please let me know. Laura to pick up U-haul. She needs someone to drive her, so she can drivethe Uhaul back. Any takers? Freddy will pick up phone booth and curve tracks at Stu Segall after thescene at the Park.


Children's Park (Front Street and Island): 2:30 p.m. Show time: 4:00
OFFICE: 501 West Broadway, 9th Floor 6:00 p.m.

7:00 a.m. UNUN Boutique, 560 6th Avenue

IMPORTANT NOTE: For those of you who would like to carpool (I highly recommend it); we will meet at my house at 6:30 a.m.


Below is a "don't forget list"

Laura: Chia Pets
Freddy: Equipment and phone booth
Natalia: Can you please bring the Yashica camera and changing bag?
EVERYONE: Extension cords if you have any.

I think we are going to have a lot of fun shooting on location, but we must stay focused because the distractions will be many. Thank you for reading this message and I will see you soon.

Sunday, October 19, 2003



Laura calls me and tells me to buy ice. I am already downtown, so I walk to the nearest liquor store. Closed. I should be setting up for my first shot of the day, but instead I am walking around downtown at 8:00 a.m. looking for ice.

The refrigerator arrives. It is very small. No way my ass is fitting in there. Luckily, Natalia is petite. She has no problem fitting in there with the camera to do the over the chicken's shoulder shot. I am very happy with Dulce’s performance and ability to do exactly what I tell her to do. Yes, we are doing something good here.

Laura feeds us tamales and beans. Torrence and Paul are kind enough to let her use their kitchen and we eat on their couches. Laura makes them chicken soup with one of the prop chickens. I am worried they will get food poisoning, but I don’t say anything. I ask Laura if it is okay. She says the chicken is fine.

Freddy makes the chicken look as gross as it smells. Everyone is grossed out and gagging while we are shooting the rotten chicken sequence. It smells terribly nasty, but Dulce goes to town on the chicken even though the script only calls for “poking.” My sister calls me from Phil’s barbecue to see if I want something for after the shoot. Hell yes. But just ribs, no chicken.

Neil and Laura start arguing about who is going to take back the equipment to SDSU. I am too tired for this shit. I tell Laura not to inconvenience Neil. We’ll take care of it. We come up with a plan for the return of the equipment. I try to talk to Freddy about it, but instead of listening he gets all worked up and won’t let me talk. I say something, he says something back and then we start yelling at each other. Unbelievable. I go to my car to load some stuff and I notice I locked my keys inside. Ok, I need to call Sprint PCS roadside rescue, but I can’t find my phone and when I do I don’t have the number. I go to Digital Pickles to use their internet and Torrence and Paul are eating and loving the chicken soup. Freddy comes in and wants to talk to me, but I say no I don’t want to hear it. So he leaves.

Everyone leaves and Laura and I left behind thinking we are hungry. I am not going anywhere at this hour, especially when I have to be at work tomorrow morning. I remember about the Phil’s BBQ in my refrigerator. Laura and I eat it before going to bed.

Saturday, October 18, 2003



Alex Farnsley shows up first thing in the morning to help us with the camera problem. I was right. We did not shoot anything. I decide to leave that shot for later. As we are setting up, I notice something different about the pantry. There is food missing! Three bottles of two-buck chuck, four cans of ravioli, three cans of vienna sausages and two cans of tuna. I am sure it was the guys across the way. Fuckers! They took the good food and left the Pick 'n Save food behind. We are shocked and appalled. We are very shocked and appalled.

Freddy is acting weird. I can smell more drama coming my way. Things go pretty well until the kicking of the phone sequence. I find myself sitting on an apple box feeling terribly alone. I look around. No one is around except for Dulce and I. I think, okay…I'll shoot this one by myself then. I don't need a crew! I want to cry, but there is no crying in Teri's world. I can sense some tension between my AD and 1st AC and also my producer and production designer. I see them getting along, but then all of a sudden, they snap at each other. Natalia keeps telling Freddy what his job is and isn't, and Freddy is not taking it well. Oh yea, Natalia wasn’t there during my pre-shoot “this is not a SDSU shoot” pep talk. Grace under pressure, I tell myself. I see that one of the prop chickens is not looking very rotten and it must be rotten by tomorrow. I tell Ivy to put make up on the chicken and make it look the part. Freddy is not convinced with her make-up job. He will take care of the chicken later.

Finally, lunch arrives. Laura went and got rolled tacos for everyone. Neil doesn't eat food from foreign countries, so he leaves the set for his break. Laura claims she asked him what he wanted to eat. In spite of all the drama and occasional tension, I feel we are doing something good. I did not get that feeling when we were shooting "The Job." This is a good, committed and focused crew and cast.

Neil and Natalia start the midget shtick, and it is pretty funny but terribly un-PC. I hope no one here has a midget friend or relative. We were supposed to shoot the refrigerator/chicken sequence today, but we don't have a refrigerator. Laura was supposed to bring one from Tijuana, but then decided to get it from the SDSU drama department. We have to wait until tomorrow to get it from the other students using it for their film. Bye, bye shooting schedule. By late afternoon, we are in a better mood and having a better time. We had a good laugh with Dulce's salsa dancing. We set up for the mirror scene. I made them hang the mirrors with fishing line. It was no easy feat, but they did it. I love my crew. After shooting, Chris, Natalia, Neil and I go to the Rosary Room for a much needed beer. Just one, since they were closing and they kicked us out.

Friday, October 17, 2003


Friday--First Day of Shooting

I go to work, but I should have taken the day off. Get many calls from Laura about this and that. I start wondering if I will get anything in the can tonight. I arrive at the loft and Melissa and Neil are already setting up. We have a lot of equipment. We have a lot of lights. Why do I need so many lights? Do I really need a 2K? I asked for them, remember? Yes, I do love those Mighty Moles.

We set up for a long dolly shot. It is the scene where we reveal the pantry (match cut from the supermarket). I am loving the prime lenses. A lot easier to focus than the Nikkor. The dolly tracks are not really smooth and Chris suggests spraying them with hair spray. Bad idea. They start squeaking after that. We get some flour from Digital Pickles to stop the squeaking. Natalia plugs the 2K and the lights go off. Blown circuit. Of course, Torrence starts ranting and freaking "I told you no more than 650 per circuit!" It is true, he told me, but I forgot??? We cannot find the breaker, so we have to find alternate circuits. Torrence goes on and on and on... He seems on the verge of tears. We are stuck with 650s for the whole shoot. I really wanted to use the Mole Richardson lights! Fuck.

Finally, we are ready to shoot. Dulce gives a speech. Laura tells people that if they want a hot breakfast they should eat at home before they get to the set. Diplomacy is not her forte. We do several takes and I notice that the counter on the camera is not advancing. I tell Natalia Alex warned us about that. I call Alex and leave him a voicemail. I am fearful we did not shoot anything tonight. Time to go home. We put everything away at Digital Pickles, except for the prop cans of food in the pantry. Who would steal canned food? The crew did not get any dinner tonight. I know I said we weren’t going to eat any pizza on this shoot, but...not even pizza? Not happy about that.

Lesson/brilliant idea for future shoots: budget for a couple of illegal Mexican workers to hire as PAs so we don’t have to deal with loading and unloading of equipment.

Thursday, October 16, 2003


I reluctantly begin this journal wondering why anyone would care. In the end, it should be good for something I suppose. Since wisdom is acquired from experience, i.e. falling on your face, then I hope to share that painfully acquired wisdom with other filmmakers.

The day before we start shooting, we meet at Digital Pickles, the site of our "sound stage" which is actually an empty loft. The loft is dirty since the tenants were evicted by the sheriff. Alex Farnsley delivers the camera and gives us a demo. My 1st AC does not show up, and I am freaking silently, since I am shooting the show myself and I need a lot of help. Neil assures me that Natalia is a professional, so she will show up for the shoot. We find out that we will not be able to lock the loft. Great. That means we can't leave anything in there after shooting. We will have to store everything next door at Digital Pickles.

Dulce, the lead actress, and Laura show up. Dulce's hair is a different color. Her make up looks great, but she looks uncomfortable and is acting a bit weird. I gave my "this is not a Hollywood set or SDSU shoot" and “no pizza as a hot lunch” speeches and everyone seems to be psyched. On my way home I get a call from Dulce. She is crying because she hates her hair. It is not Koko she says. I agree and tell he to dye it back. She is relieved. I hope Genaro won't be upset. It is a great dye job, but not right for the character. Let the drama begin.

Laura took it upon herself to grow the Chia Pets, since I am no good at domestic stuff. She confesses the Chia Pets did not grow as expected, mainly because her cats peed on them. I refuse to worry about that.

Natalia calls me back apologizing for missing the meeting. She had to work at the TV station. What a relief. I go to bed telling myself I can handle anything.