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“THE WACKNESS” writer-director, Jonathan Levine

What did I wish I had 10 percent more of when making The Wackness? Easy, sleep. As I approached the first day of production on The Wackness, I couldn’t help but feel the overwhelming sense of: “Don’t mess this up.” I had worked so hard on the script and I was really happy with it. My heart and soul were all over every page. So in my dogged determination not to mess up the movie, I decided I could live on two hours of sleep a night. I stayed in the office storyboarding and tweaking dialogue until the sun came up. My d.p., Petra, and I were used to working this way. In film school we would do it all the time. Thing is, when you’re making a short film, you can survive on two hours of sleep. Over the course of a grueling six-week shoot, it’s a different story. After a first week filled with Red Bull, coffee and soda, I was about ready to collapse.

In his book Making Movies, Sidney Lumet describes his typical day of production. When I read that this day always included a nap, I was blown away. The great Sidney Lumet slept through lunch! I would imagine that none of my Sundance colleagues know the joy of a mid-afternoon nap. In my case, I tackled production with such fervor that adrenaline would not have permitted a nap. This was my opportunity to tell my story, and I would sleep when it was all over. But Mr. Lumet has it right: a feature film is not a sprint, it’s a marathon. Early on in his career, he possessed the perspective to know that. Suffice to say, by the last week of my shoot, I was catching some afternoon z’s on set in my main character’s bed. I only wish I had figured out this secret sooner.

[PREMIERE SCREENING: Friday, Jan. 18, 8:30 pm — Racquet Club, Park City]

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