I received an email from John on Thursday saying that our film was here. I stared into the word “came back” for a while and shut my laptop and went to sleep. The next morning, I checked my email to see if its still there and (un)fortunately it was.
I was waiting for John at the center, and when he entered the room I squeaked “NO!!!!!!” I don’t remember exactly why I said no but that was the only thing that popped into my mind. I was so excited to see it, but at the same time so terrified that I wished I didn’t have to see it. The box came with the film negatives and a hard drive.
My heart was actually pounding when I opened the box. I had no idea what I was going to see. My only hope was to at least I could see something when I opened the files. Although I had experience from freaking out excessively over film during my classes last semester, I still was freaking out. Very nervous and paranoid, I messaged Sue saying that our film was here, sending her a photo of the box and its contents so that she would freak out with me.
Sue and I weren’t ready to watch it. The whole day, I walked around campus hugging the box that contained our film. We met up in the library after her class and decided that we shouldn’t watch the film because we are not mentally prepared. Sue was tired and caught up in work and I wasn’t mentally strong enough to see it by myself. So, we promised we would see it on Sunday.
Sunday came and we were at the DMC with the orange Lacie hard drive connected to a Mac. We opened the 45Gigabyte file labeled “JHU Hee Won Han” and stared at it for a minute. We took a deep breath, looked at each other nervously, and hit the play button.
After 5 seconds of darkness, an image appeared on screen and we screamed “yay,” the fact that there was something on the file at all was a huge relief to us. We watched our clip with some hushed commentary for 36 minutes. When we finished, we hugged and agreed that we were really proud of what we were able to do. Some of the shots of the cherry blossoms were beautiful. All the chaos we went through to get the footage was so worth it. We watched the scenes on repeat, admiring how beautiful the cherry blossoms were. There were definitely some shots that we were not happy with because of the low light inside the house, but it wasn’t horrible. We could definitely fix some of them in post.
After looking at our 16mm footage, we looked at the footage that we shot on digital. The train scenes, which I was most worried about were pretty decent. I was worried about the color temperature throughout the entire shoot on the train, but it looked fine. Some of the shots were really nicely lit and overall we were happy with what we had. We went back to the clips and exclaim things like ‘hell yeah, that lighting was on point” “I love this framing so much!!” “What a great line!!” We were having so much fun seeing what we had made.
It was a really good moment for us. Although we are far from being done since we have SO much work to do in post, we are starting the next phase of our film with good material and happy mindset. Sue and I went out for a drink to celebrate and talked about everything that went wrong during our shoot. It was nice because we could actually laugh about it now.
I came back to my house and sat in front of my computer and thought about everything that Sue and I went through to create this film. It started off as a conversation, then became a script and now its actually a film. Because Sue and I were the only ones really invested in making this happen, we had to put so much work into it. From pre-production to production and even looking forward to post, we’ve done so much and have a lot to do. To be very honest, most of the process was difficult and stressful. So many things fell through and went wrong that I can’t even count them all. However, there were some really breathtaking moments. There were moments so great that I forgot about all of the difficulties.
Overall, I’m just proud of myself and Sue, and I feel very fortunate that I had so much support from people around me. My crew—especially Jack Cullinane and Lydia Milano—were so amazing and I can’t thank them enough for everything they have done. John was helpful in every way possible, and my actor was simply marvelous. But most of all, I thank my co-director Sue who was with me every step along the way and kept me sane at the most insane times. I would not have the started project if were not for her, and I would not have been able to complete it without her at my side all times. I feel blessed to have been able to come this far with the help of so many great people.
Although it sounds like I’m done, I’m really not. I have so much more to do. Our goal is to finish the film before I graduate and screen it sometime next semester. I had a lot of fun writing this production diary, it really helped me organize my thoughts, about what happened and where to go next. I hope this was interesting to read, or at least fun to read about my painful stories! This will be my last production diary, and lastly I want to thank Helena Chung for reading all of my posts before I submit and giving me the most helpful feedback.