The Intervention

The Intervention
2004, mini-DV, 96 min.


Anthony’s friends have decided that things are so bad with him that they must hold an intervention.

They gather at his place while he is out of town and prepare for him to arrive. Everyone is anxious about being there, but they get to work: they hold practice sessions, they cook breakfast for him, they clean his place. Just as they are ready for him to arrive, they get a phone call – Anthony’s plane has been delayed; he’ll be a few more hours.

Although a few of them would prefer to leave they agree to tough it out and wait. They eat the breakfast and sit tight. We begin to learn more about Anthony - and about them - as they wait. Eventually we begin to realize that they are not all in perfect agreement about whether they should be there. A few of them are just as “wild” as Anthony, and view the whole thing they are doing as ludicrous. A debate begins.

There is an unexpected arrival: Anthony’s girlfriend. She is there to move in with Anthony. Although they initially try to hide why they are there, they eventually come clean with her. She stays, and joins in the debate.

Another meal is prepared, and the debates heat up. Should they be there? Does Anthony really have a problem? And then they get another phone call: Anthony has missed ANOTHER plane. They are so engaged and by now fighting each other that they all agree to stay until he arrives. (Anthony is oblivious to the fact that they are all there – he thinks one of them is there to feed his fish.)

As the day wears on, several ongoing conflicts from within the group play out in the debate. Allegiances are formed, people are recruited from pro to con. There is an abortive insurrection – a few of them try to hold a “counter-intervention” on the majority, to no effect.

Meanwhile, Anthony’s liquor that was being saved for him to ceremonially dump out, is slowly being depleted as the flustered friends begin drinking. Eventually the majority of them are tipsy, and the fights increase in magnitude. And then the third call comes in: Anthony has missed his third connection.

It’s the last straw. The friends hold a belated vote. It is split down the middle, They decide that that the sensible thing to do, finally, is to simply leave and pretend that they were never there. They dirty his apartment back up, remove all signs of their presence, and leave.


Naomi Ashley . . . . . Jill
Aimee Bravo . . . . . Katrina
Lorri Hamm . . . . . Felicia
Casey Hayes . . . . . Danny
Bill Hyland . . . . . Martin
Michael Klug . . . . . Peter
Jessica McCartney . . . . . Gretchen

Written and directed by . . . . . Chris McCaleb
Lighting / Sound . . . . . Simon Clements
Macy Lawrence
Music by . . . . . Ben Benedict
Produced by . . . . . Jen Peepas
Thanks to . . . . . Kim Pierce

Production Timeline

1/30/04: "Intervention" postcard version two:

Now in post-production

10/12/03: Nothing feels more half-assed than my aglet-budget looping set-ups.

Casey came over to re-record some Danny lines; it always seems to be Casey. He sat on my couch and watched the videotape I made with the loops, while I pointed the shotgun mic at him and videotaped the television. I video the television because that makes it easier to match the sounds up to the original image in editing - I can sync up not just the sound with their lips, but the actual image.

Nothing feels more half-assed, and it's always more of a hassle than shooting the original scene, and I always FORGET that it's more of a hassle, but what's amazing to me is how much it actually works. Oh, it's not up to Hollywood standards, where they perform alchemy on the sound in post-production. But it usually goes unnoticed in viewings. I don't believe the actors actually have to perfectly sync the sound, I think if they can get it 90% of the way there, I can scoot things around within the lines in editing, and people usually aren't looking for it anyway.

Of course, I have been described as an Ed Wood sort of filmmaker, so perhaps take this with a grain of salt.

I forget that every bit of recording I have to do for the movie after the fact is harder, even if it's just the tiniest insert. When I shoot, I get into a momentum, and trying to get that back and remember where you were, especially for something like dialogue, is hard.

Delilah's original design:

View "Intervention" stills

5/8/03: Major crisis last night as the hard drive that houses all the footage and the project file for the movie went KAPUTSKI. And not in an obvious DISK NOT FOUND way, but more like I could see all the files on them, only the project file - the precious project file which represents lo these many months of editing - was coming up as WRONG TYPE kind of way. All is well now thanks to TechTool, but it was white knuckles in Mission Control for an hour. It's inevitable that panicky trips to online support sites will be a part of filmmaking in the future, it just doesn't feel like filmmaking at the time.

4/12/03: I've got a skeletal cut of my own now, although a lot of work remains. It's still coming in under an hour and a half! With more to be taken out. Some looping will definitely be needed, and color correction. I feel like I've watched all the footage 10 times. I wish I'd been digitizing the bloopers as I went along, as that would have been a lot easier!

1/16/03: Macy and Simon have created not one but TWO rough cuts of the movie. One followed the script fairly faithfully, the other deviated quite a lot - combining, subtracting or compressing scenes in a way I sometimes hadn't thought of. This is the first time I've ever had anyone else edit a movie I've shot; I watch and am amazed at what they have wrought. I secretly felt an urge, some months ago after handing the fourteen hours of raw footage over to them, that I should have immediately run out of the room cackling. Because surely they had no idea what tedium they were into: logging all the footage (my halfway-done log was no help), digitizing, building the first timeline, all of it. Whether they knew or not, whether they have been broken on the Wheel of Final Cut Pro or not, the rough cuts are done, and look great! I can't believe we wound up less than 1:30. Hurrah.

11/11/02: Done, and done! Last night was the end of the shoot. The day started at 8AM and ended at 10PM, when we dropped the equipment off at Fletcher. The actual shooting went TWELVE hours. Why would you do this to yourself? We started at Kim's, went over to my place for some reshoots of the "football" scene, then headed back to Kim's for the rest. I think we may have shot some 20 pages yesterday. I'm amazed at what people are willing to do to get the movie done - everyone was completely enthusiastic throughout, even towards the end when it seemed like it was going to go on forever, and we still had four stunt pies to drop.

11/02/02: We shoot "laundry room" and "backyard" scenes at my place. This is my favorite way to work so far - everyone comes over, there's food everywhere, we're watching footage, and occasionally a few of us will go into the backyard to shoot a few scenes. Fine with me! The next movie I write will be about people watching dailies and eating pizza, and the comedy and wrenching drama that occurs between them all.

Never ask me how long a shooting day is going to last, because I was certain we'd be done in three hours, and instead it was a full day. Scheduling for me is always like putting together a jigsaw puzzle in midair without all the pieces. After it's over, I feel like I've been beaten by thugs. But FRIENDLY thugs - the kind I'd still smile and say "hi" to later, and then invite them over for another beating when they had the chance.

We have two days left - NOT THAT I AM COUNTING. I wish we could all keep making this same movie as a living. In fact, maybe I'll just keep scheduling shooting days and see when everyone catches on. By the way, click on the image to the right to see more production stills.

10/29/02: Almost done. We're taking a week-long pause while our schedules re-align. We have three shooting days left, and as fate would have it, around twenty pages to shoot in that time. And, as fate would have it some more, these are the climactic twenty pages. We won't be coasting to the finish line on this one; it's going to be intense up to the end. But people always seem willing to stay on for as long as it takes! I clean everything up and out of the location, to allow Kim to be able to return home in our downtime - which feels strangely futile as it will all have to go right back in on Tuesday!

By the way, this measly attempt at a "production journal" will be greatly enhanced, revised and expanded after production is over. I always keep a much more detailed one, but sometimes it's just filled with barely-finished sentences or just words that I put there as placeholders for when I go back and clean it up later.

10/24/02: Because of the way the scheduling windows open and close on us, we reach a point where there's still a LOT of movie left to do, but we've done every scene we can with available cast and location. So we spend a night getting cut-ins and individual "cleaning / de-cleaning" shots that will be used for the opening and closing sequences. It's always interesting how the rhythm of work changes from dialogue-heavy sections to purely visual work.

10/8/02: Last night we had our first rehearsal in the location. It was a fun, awkward jumble of actors, director and producer all crowded into a hallway, of moving chairs around, throwing Casey into the tub in slow motion, and screenplays all over the place as people begin to go off book. Actors have their character haircuts, their character hair colors, their costumes, and suddenly it's starting to feel like we're really going to make a movie, not just meet several times a week to go over the script!

Ami Franklin will be catering the shoot, and she has several ideas that should keep us all well-fed during the production. She'll also be making the "picture" food that Jill makes during the movie, which, because it would be a shame to just throw it away, will also double for our own lunch on those days. Ben Benedict, who will be creating the music for the movie, will be stopping by rehearsal this week to see what we're up to.

9/25/02: "The Intervention" is into the second week of rehearsals, (not counting a few early read-throughs) and everything is going swimmingly. We're spending our time reading the screenplay, inventing the history of the characters together, and also occasionally adding bright yellow pages to our screenplays. We're to the stage where all the furniture in the director's living room will have to be shoved out of the way so that we can start putting scenes on their feet.

Friend and saint Kimberly Pierce has agreed to let her apartment be the primary location for the shoot, and the cast will also have the last week of rehearsals in her place (and maybe even shoot a few scenes early). We're hoping she won't come to her senses until at least early November, when we'll be long gone.

Sometime around 9/15/02: We cast our ensemble comedy on August 30th, and began rehearsal on September 4th. We're very excited about the cast we managed to find for the first Hand / Eye feature - Naomi Ashley, Aimee Bravo, Lorri Hamm, Casey Hayes, Bill Hyland, Michael Klug and Jessica McCartney - and plan to start shooting in mid-October for three weeks. The movie will be shot digitally, in a verite style; we're currently doing the final scouting of locations, and interviewing for crew positions!