When sitting shiva, the door is left open so that visitors can enter freely without having to ring the bell. 7 DAY GIG was filmed in our home. Just as if we were sitting shiva, our front door was left unlocked. The cast and crew tramped in and out hauling lights, fish tanks, roller skates and dolly track. We also left open the metaphorical door; the one ideas and surprises come through.
In the midst of their sadness, people need to be reminded to eat. Additionally, sharing a meal with friends heals the feeling of isolation that death can create. Similarly, on a film set sitting down to a meal with the cast and crew makes me feel like we are family. Thanks to the amazing hustle of our producer, Frances E. Chang and our production coordinator, Constance Parng, all of our food was donated! (Thank you Veggie Grill, Chipotle, Hint Water, Panera Bread, Trader Joe’s and Fresh n’ Easy).
Adventures with Epic Amounts of Bagels, Paco and Me
Disregard Personal Appearance
When sitting shiva, the mourner covers the mirrors. This ritual frees someone from having to worry about their appearance, leaving a space to turn inward. When making a movie, I enter the world of the film and lose myself in the process. Filmmaking frees me from having to worry about the things that don’t matter on a voyage to the world within.
Share Memories of the Person Who Passed Away
The best part about making 7 DAY GIG was being able to share memories of my dad.
As we set up the fish tank, I told people about how my dad loved fish. He had a pond filled with gigantic fish that he fed every day. He loved to cook smoked salmon on a barbecue grill. When he was in the hospital, I pinned a fish brooch to his hospital gown. When packing up the props, I looked on the mantle and was stunned to see that the three books production designer Amanda Smith had put there were his favorites: Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, and Return of the King. He read these books over and over again. To him, they contained life’s greatest wisdom.
Winston Story (Actor), Leah Anova (Cinematographer), and I sharing stories.
Usually, kids on set are accompanied by a stage mom, but in this case the kid who played THE PUNK, Kristin Coffman, brought along her dad. On a break she would run to him for a hug. Having a dad on set couldn’t have been more appropriate.
Bill Doran who plays THE OLD MAN recently picked up acting. This was a dream of my dad’s who was the life of every party and who could have made some wonderful films in his older years.
Winston Story, the actor who played JAY brought together the perfect mix of comedy and pathos. Not only did he have an authentic connection to the Pacific Islands; his dad (like my dad) is from upstate New York.
The saddest part of losing my dad was the idea that life would charge on without him; that every day would bring us farther apart. It felt like the hole would just get bigger and deeper. While we were making 7 DAY GIG I would catch myself talking about my dad in the present tense. The process resurrected my dad for me and suddenly I felt like he was still with me; like it was impossible for him to be anywhere else.
BFF's, my dad and I after a mishap with tinted chapstick