Director’s Blog – When the Poo Hits the Plan

Covid, the upcoming elections, fires, hurricanes, earthquakes, and melting glaciers are but a few of the many challenges 2020 has presented to us, me, you, the world.

So, what is an artist to do? Create more, even if it is against one’s better judgement. I co-founded a group of actors, writers and filmmakers, affectionately know as, The Tribe. We basically help each other create, complete and distribute content.

So, one day, I was thinking, “How can we still shoot meaningful work during this time of the pandemic?” I decided to write a series of three films specifically for six actor members of The Tribe. My plan was to shoot these three films with me directing and being the only crew member present. I would have the actors in one location without being in the same room at the same time. I would use all my bag ‘o’ tricks that I have acquired over the years, the actors would perform and interact with each other, but not at the same time. I would use the wizarding world of postproduction to but these images together, thus creating the illusion of both actors acting opposite each other. The actors would arrive make up ready and at different times, so as not to have them exposed to one another and food would be individually wrapped to be eaten by the actor it was assigned to. Once one actor had completed the work, that actor would leave and the other actor, would arrive an hour later to complete the shoot.

I was convinced I was a genius and that I had solved the whole problem about COVID-19 film shoots. That is until one of our actors tested positive for COVID-19. A week earlier, several of the actors from the shoot had gotten together to celebrate my birthday in Malibu on the beach and all of us keeping social distancing. Fortunately, everyone, with the exception of that one actor, tested negative for the virus. It was another scare and a wake up call for me.

I’ll backtrack a little and mention that one of the three films was shot and is in post using my afore mentioned method. It was the lead actor of the second film scheduled that tested positive. I am happy to say that that actor is not very sick and is getting better every day. But my other two films in this terrifying trilogy have been shut down. Why? The answer is less than flattering, but very true. I was being very selfish to want to shoot at this time. I wanted to make art and produce work, because I feel the whole industry has shut down and I missed working. It is true that the studios are back in production, but they are very limited and face the same problem we had. I wanted to work so badly, that I did not think through the possibility of failure and of inadvertently causing harm to others.

As a result, this is my second project that has been shut down because of the pandemic. All of my projects are now in limbo and awaiting the vaccines for us all, or the ever increasing numbers to die down considerably. In the meantime, I have four scripts to either polish, rewrite, submit another draft, or begin the first draft. I also have three films that are in post and aren’t getting any better waiting for some attention from me.

My mistake was in starting something new, every time I hit a setback. I substituted one project for another instead of taking responsibility for all my work and finishing one project before starting a new one. And in terms of how much more of the world is experiencing an upsurge of this virus, it is time for me to finish a lot of projects that are just waiting for my attention. While I wait and to help me refocus on what I already have in hand, I took a trip with a buddy on our motor bikes to the Grand Canyon, to get a little perspective…Be safe folks.

Javier Ronceros
Author: Javier Ronceros

Javier Ronceros has been a working actor since 1989 in New York and Los Angeles. In Film, Television, Web and Theatre.