The Way Way Back   

by directors Nat Faxon and Jim Rash

It was a giant mass of blue and green blobs, moving slowly on an iPad. 

“See? It’s going around. It’s going to miss us,” one of our producers said. 

The “it” was a massive storm. And “it” had no intention of “going around us.” 

We were no strangers to unwanted rain. It rained on the very first day of production. Rain put us behind before we had barely begun. It caused the bond company to call us on the first week, wondering how we planned to make up our days. And now, here “it” was, on our very last night of production, threatening to send us back to L.A. with an incomplete film. Rain would be our induction into, and graduation from, our directorial debut. 

We stood on this covered porch, watching the downpour. Should we wait it out? Hope? But that blue and green blob had seemed to hunker down on the iPad screen, expanding. Our brains followed suit. A complete shutdown. Exhausted and spent. It had been eight years up to this point. Eight years since we had written the first draft.  And, from that moment, it had been an all-too-typical journey for a small, independent film: A roller coaster of “it’s happening!” and “it’s not happening!” moments, a long wait to get the script back into our hands, the decision to direct it ourselves, the miraculous commitment of actors we had long admired and respected, the crew that, as first time directors, we were almost unworthy of, and now this. 

Day 25 of 25. No more money left to extend. An incomplete movie. That’s where our brains went. We couldn’t see anything else. 

We didn’t see them. 

“Them” being members of our crew, from all different departments, mounting a giant tarp. They were on the roofs of two adjacent houses, creating a “dry haven” for us to continue shooting under. They straddled posts and gutters, holding the tarp in place against the rain and wind. And, that’s where they would stay while we continued to shoot. 

Between takes, other crew members would run in with mops, wiping down anything and everything that was wet or dripping water into the shot. 

Their brains didn’t shut down. It’s so easy to get swept up in the bad things that happen. Tempting to just complain about them and allow them to consume you. But problems are facts.  They don’t go away because you talk about them. They only get bigger. They feed off your frustration. They want you to keep talking about them because that takes away from the time you should be spending trying to solve them. 

We owe the rain, big time. It acted as a constant reminder of the fact that filmmaking truly is a collaborative effort. It’s an ensemble in the best sense of the word—a selfless pursuit by a group of people to help make one, or in this case, two guys’ dream and vision come true.

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