Fast Track Day Seven

Today was our seventh day of shooting and it was spent in an empty building that’s doubling as our police station set. This was our first day without any action or driving sequences, just pure dialogue scenes in a clean, interior location (as opposed to warehouses). And in comparison to the previous six days of production, it almost felt  like a vacation, though we had to cram a lot of scenes into 11 1/2 hours of work. The crew is exhausted  and so am I, but their enthusiasm hasn’t waned. Everyone seems to have a smile on their face…between yawns! It’s 1 a.m. but I still have  work to do. For one thing, I have to sort through 511 publicity shots and pick my favorites…   

Beauty Shot

Lee_on_set Today we shot near one of Berlin’s most popular landmarks…but you won’t see it in our movie. We’ve been careful NOT to include the landmarks you’d see in a tourist’s home movies. We’re shooting the modern city of Berlin, the exciting  architectural mix of old and new…but staying away from things like Brandenburg Gate, etc.It was the perfect day for location shooting and we got some terrific footage. (You can click on the photo for a larger image).

Mr. Monk and the Book News

I delivered my draft of MR. MONK IN OUTER SPACE to my editor a couple of weeks ago and learned that they’ve  moved up the release date of the hardcover to November 1. That was quite a surprise and only underscores how enthusiastic and supportive they’ve been for these books. 

The hardcover of MR. MONK AND THE TWO ASSISTANTS  comes out in three weeks and I won’t be there to see it…this is the first  time I have ever missed the publication of one of my books. I won’t see it until I return to the U.S. in mid-August. The paperback edition comes  out on January 1st.

The hardcover for MR. MONK GOES TO GERMANY will hit bookshelves in July 2008 …which feels like wishful thinking right now, since I am still contemplating the plot on the set of FAST TRACK. With the hardcover and paperback schedule for the MONK books, it feels like I have even more books coming out than I did when I was doing  both MONK and DM at the same time…

While I’ve been here in Berlin, the German editions of MR. MONK GOES TO THE FIREHOUSE and MR. MONK GOES TO HAWAII have both come out…and I got word that MR. MONK AND THE  BLUE FLU will follow soon.

Hollywood, Berlin

We wrapped our fifth day of shooting at about 1:30 Monday morning and it was  past 3 am by the time I got back to my hotel. I woke up at about 11 am and spent a couple of hours doing laundry in the basement of my hotel, where I also ran into one of our actors and several crew members from SPEED RACER, which is also shooting in Berlin. Ah, the glamor.

After the excitement of washing my underwear and buying groceries, I went to a cafe and met Ute,  the leader of the German Diagnosis Murder fan club, and her adorable son Florian. We chatted for an hour or so, I signed some copies of THE LAST WORD, then hurried away to more  FAST TRACK meetings before taking a two-hour nap. I ended my day with a long dinner with a German movie director, answered what seemed like 10,000 emails, and went to bed around 2 am.

Today was supposed to be a day off, but I ended up working, of course. I started my day at 10 at the post-production facility to see dailies, which looked even better than I thought they would. I can’t believe the production value we are getting  for our Euros. The racing/stunts/action are terrific but, having seen what Action Concept’s stunt team, drivers, and second unit director Roland Busch can do, I was not surprised by that. And, of course, I thought our actors were fantastic. Am I using enough superlatives? Oh, wait, I forgot the say how awesome the fifty cars looked…I owe a big thanks to all the "tuners" who came from all over the country to share their beautifully pimped cars and SUVs with us.

After watching dailies, I spent the rest of the day on an emergency location scout with our director, line producer, assistant  director, production  designer, and construction chief because we abruptly lost previously "locked" locations thanks  to the G-8 conference. Another reason to hate Bush.

The shoot has gone remarkably well. That’s not to say we haven’t had our troubles — besides losing those locations, the weather has been schizophrenic and a supporting actor took ill with a terrible skin ailment two days before  he was supposed to shoot, which forced us to hurriedly recast  — but these things always happen on a production. You have to expect the unexpected and roll with it.

As you can probably guess, I couldn’t be happier with the movie. It’s shaping up very much like I imagined it…and where it differs, it’s for the better. The four days of rehearsals with the cast before shooting  has made a huge difference on the set and has allowed us to move very fast without sacrificing the quality of the performances. I love our young, gorgeous, and incredibly talented cast…and although I tell them I am focusing only on delivering a great movie/pilot, the truth is that I will probably be heart-broken if this doesn’t go to series.

Ah, but I am getting ahead of myself. Tomorrow at 7 am we  begin day six, shooting on the streets of Mitte, right in the heart of Berlin…and a block from my hotel. I’ve never been able to walk from my front door to the set before, so this will be a first…

Rights Grab Update

The Author’s Guild sent out this notice to members today:

Simon & Schuster executives yesterday apologized for "any early miscommunication" regarding reversion of rights, according to the Association of Authors’ Representatives (the literary agents’ organization).  S&S is willing to negotiate a "revenue-based threshold" to determine whether a book is in-print, says the AAR. 

Simon & Schuster’s new position reflects substantial movement from their initial stance, but it raises many questions, including (1) whether revenues would be measured by income to the publisher or the author, (2) what level of revenues would meet the threshold, and (3) how unagented authors (particularly children’s book authors) would fare under this policy.

Fast Track

I have been on the set each day at 7 and have been stumbling into my apartment around midnight, absolutely exhausted. But it’s going great. I will give you a full report as soon as I have a free hour and I can actually keep my eyes open.