Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mister Rogers, Morrissey & Me

I dashed through Times Square to Chris' edit suite just after sunset.

He's made a bunch of headway in just a few days, covering Amy Hollingsworth, Tim Madigan and Marc Brown's segments with b-roll and photos, all of which add whole new levels of depth and nuance. We watched the segments back, and discussed materials we've yet to acquire.

Our pal Mark Mutschler showed up around nine o'clock (not long before the garlic, tomato and sausage pizza). He's a seasoned Executive Producer himself, and is one of very few people to have screened the film. His fresh perspective was valuable.

We talked a while about what worked for him, and what didn't, and what went on too long, and what needed more explanation. All three of us agreed that we'd done a better job weaving Mister Rogers himself into the film (which sounds obvious, but remember that we didn't interview him and don't have a ton of actual "Neighborhood" footage), but that the "Me" in the titled (as in, yunno, me) needed help.

Not that we need to see or hear more from me (we've been really sensitive to being sure that I'm far secondary), but I need to do a better job sewing the segments together. Example. You've heard me tell the story about how Mister Rogers asked about my father within, like, twenty minutes of meeting him.

"I don't hear much about him," he said, gingerly inquiring about my parent's divorce. Which is what he did so well. He found that spot that needed nurturing or healing, and gave you a safe place to be nurtured or healed. Tim Madigan felt it (and talks about it). So did Mark Brown. And so did I. So I need a way to demonstrate those sorts of threads more effectively. (In other words, more voice over.)

Mark had another interesting insight, essentially boiling the film down to a Morrissey lyric:

It's so easy to laugh
It's so easy to hate
It takes strength to be gentle and kind


T said...

This reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite movies, "Harvey"...
"Years ago, my Mother used to say to me, she'd say, "in this world, Elwood, you must be," - she always called me Elwood - "In this world, you must be oh so smart, or oh so pleasant." Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me". - Elwood P. Dowd (Jimmy Stewart) in Harvey (1950).

Steve said...

I can die a happy man- you've made a connection between Morrissey and Fred Rogers. :) It's amazing how very different artists often share views on certain things.

Here's another quote that I think we can add to the list. It's from the Sting song "An Englishman in New York":

"Modesty, propriety can lead to notoriety; You could end up as the only one. Gentleness, sobriety are rare in this society. At night a candle's brighter than the sun."