July 25, 2013
Liam Brady on the set of Fog City
I'm suspended in midair, momentarily weightless, like a trustful little kid who's been lofted toward the ceiling by a sure-handed dad.
Two weeks ago, we wrapped production on a short film called FOG CITY. The shoot itself lasted only eight days, but preparations were more than three years in the making.
About five weeks before the cameras started rolling, we still hadn't made a serious decision about how to cast the film. The 19-page script included three scenes in which grown men compete in some very serious baseball. The original plan was to cast actors in the main roles and then use my real baseball teammates in the background.
But in the year leading up to the shoot, as I returned to play for the team that I'd based the script upon, I realized we'd been looking at it backwards. These guys who I'd written into the background of the story were actually the most interesting part. We decided to bring them to the front.
"The guys" of Fog City
So it's like a documentary? Not really. We documented events, but at other times we worked really closely from a script. So it's like a movie movie? Yeah I guess, but movie-people would call it a narrative. A narrative? Yeah, like a narrative film, you know? Oh okay, so it's a film. Yeah, a film. I like that word.
But no actual film went into any actual can. We shot on the RED Epic (almost entirely on steadicam) in splendid 5K. We got five terabytes of raw footage on a shit ton of hard drives -- our Malick dreams across the dunes at Ocean Beach and the baseball diamonds of San Francisco.
In spite of the technology, the story is very backward-looking and nostalgic. The ballplayers play because they're missing something: a dream deferred, a sense of belonging, or acceptance in a larger community.
The main character after practice one day agrees to give his teammate a ride home, but stops to see his ailing 97-year-old grandmother on the way, all the while puzzling over a discovery he made earlier with a generations' old twist.
Creating a story based partially on my life, in the place where my family is from, became surprisingly personal surprisingly fast, and I remembered the original inspiration for the film, from 2003 when I was living out on 48th and Irving, walking on the beach at sunsets after work, exposing rolls of Kodachrome on my dad's old Eumig.
Because of this, FOG CITY was meant to have a small feel, but looking backwards so intensely only seems to make the past feel bigger. A constantly moving camera in mostly wide open landscapes gave us something a little more grand than I'd originally anticipated. I'll say one thing for nostalgia, it certainly creates an image.
We're moving forward so fast, and the future is full of possibility as we adopt new technologies and leave old technologies behind. But I wanted to create a story with a conscience. Things change, but it's important for us to take our time, to never feel rushed, and to never stop asking why.
Film still means what it used to mean. "The future has an ancient heart."