Early tomorrow morning I fly to Kansas to shoot my short film, “Stull”. I won’t actually be shooting it for more than a week after I get there, but even for a short, simple script there is a ton of pre-production that needs doing.

As best I can, and thanks to my terrific producers, I’ve been lining things up long distance. I’ve had pictures of possible locations and an audition tape sent to me; I’ve hired a D.P. who I’ve never met in person.

I’m utterly excited and more than a little trepidacious. My day-job is in post-production and I haven’t done anything on the production side for nearly a year. I worry about all the things I’m forgetting. I worry about finding the right actors for the roles. I worry about a rain-out.

If everything goes well, I’ll have a project that will eat up my weekends doing post for months, then have to promote like crazy just to get people to consider watching. It’s a crowded marketplace.

A key part of pre-production is looking ahead and imagining the end result. But it puts your mind very far from the immediate needs of the project. Forest, meet the trees. With a small budget and a tight shooting schedule, I have to know exactly what I want. I plan to rehearse with the actors ahead of time, and work-in any ad libs to the script well before the shoot. I plan to scout the location with the d.p. and draw up very precise lighting plots. Then, I’m ready to throw all that hard work out the window and roll with the punches as needed.

There’s a dramatic theory that sees the world in terms of a gap between expectation and result. I’m dreaming big, but less than two weeks from now, those dreams are going to handshake with reality. Which one will travel further to greet the other? There’s a lot that can happen in the long distance between expectation and result. I guess the key is not minding the gap.