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In director David Slade's psychological thriller, fashion photographer Jeff (Patrick Wilson) connects online with charming young teenager Hayley (Ellen Page), who agrees to meet him at a local coffee shop. They end up back at his place listening to music, while she mixes some vodka screwdrivers and starts stripping off her clothes for an impromptu photo session. It's Jeff's lucky night. But Hayley isn't as innocent as she looks, and the night takes a nasty turn after she drugs him, ties him up, and attempts to investigate his possibly scandalous past.

 Jammed Camera: An Excerpt from
 the Hard Candy Shooting Diary

The clouds are moving far too slowly.

There have been patches of deep aqua, but now we are sitting under a bank of diffused white sky.

I am pacing up and down on the roof of a house with absolute purpose.

Earlier the neighbours were out again; they come out when Ellen starts shouting.

Ellen has to shout a lot in the next hour, and for a split second before it becomes another obstacle in the way of getting the film made, I feel glad in my heart that someone would have the humanity to take the time to come out and investigate the sound of a girl screaming.

A PA (production assistant) runs down to explain that it’s okay. That we are just making a movie, that none of it, including the gunshot that the concerned neighbour might hear later, is real.

Ellen Page is in tears, conflicted, and it’s wonderful. Her character wants to drive a knife into Patrick Wilson’s spine, but in this scene, as he loses his hope, she has to caress him to the brink of a plot-turning decision.

While I am giving Ellen my “director reasons,” her eyes betray that she may not be able to do it; then she says it to me out loud in a harsh whisper “I want to stab him!”

Ellen is in character. I had been accidentally calling her Hayley on set for a while and apologizing. I’ve stopped apologizing—she is Hayley Stark and she needs no direction whatsoever, except to do what her character doesn’t want to do.

The clouds are still moving too slowly. The camera has jammed and we are reloading. Ellen is in the peak of her performance, as is Patrick. I know that reloading a Panavision Platinum is fairly fast, but it seems like an age to me, and I know that I may lose these performances to that age.

I talk in whispers. We have tried this scene three times now; a plane came by, a loud dog started barking, and then the neighbour. With the camera jam adding to the mid-sentence cuts, the frustration is working its way into both Ellen and Patrick’s eyes.

Patrick keeps walking in our direction while the seconds tick by. He has a warm heart and he can see Ellen is upset and I know he wants to console her, but Ellen wants to stab him, and we are on Ellen for this next shot so I can’t let Patrick near Ellen.

So I am pacing up and down on the roof with absolute purpose, and I know that in two to five minutes the sun will break from behind the clouds and secretly I want the loading to take longer, for the frustration to build.

Ellen is asking me for something to help, some kind of direction and I tell her I can’t, that we’ll get it, she knows what to do.

More seconds tick by. I close my eyes and keep pacing, while my random zigzags appear like nervous tension (and god knows they are) I am also trying to keep Patrick away from Ellen, but I can’t tell him why, because Ellen is within earshot, and well it would just take too fucking long to explain and he might take it the wrong way, and the sun is getting closer to the horizon, and we have three more set-ups to do, and I know I am only going to get two and I am trying to figure out which I can live without.

I head him off and say something I can’t remember, something like “Stay out of the sun Patrick, I don’t want you to get a tan for the interior pick ups” or some such shit.

He walks away and picks up one of his props; he’s still perfectly in character. I return to Ellen and she is still with it and I am talking to her between her tears. She’s nodding but she’s not listening. She’s not meant to be listening, just staying in this moment that in real time is going to take another half an hour to shoot but will fly by in minutes on the screen.

Patrick is walking this way again and I walk out to block him. This time I don’t actually remember saying anything, maybe he knows, he turns around and Ellen whispers to me “How much longer?” and both at once the sun comes out from behind the cloud and I hear the words “camera ready,” and the action that follows is heart-wrenching.

We move fast and two hours later, as the sun dies behind the mountains, we complete the third set-up I knew we were not going to get.

—July 2004