Get the Dime was conceived after I had spent a year doing research for and writing a feature film script. I had planned to try and raise money to produce Fear of Falling on a very low budget and gave it to a friend, Penny Franks, to budget out.
Penny is an experienced producer and knows budgets. When she came back to me with the figures, it became obvious that I would not be making Fear of Falling my first film as director. Who would give a first time director that kind of money?
I immediately dove in and struggled with creating a short version of Fear of Falling. After several drafts, taking various approaches and attempts to mold the one hundred thirty pages into thirty, I realized that the story would not lend itself to the short form — it was becoming diluted and therefore compromised.
Fear of Falling was about my search for and my first meeting with my father at age twenty-four. My intention was always to make my first film a personal one, but in the short form. The challenge was to focus on one defining moment. My very astute wife Lisa made the suggestion that I revisit an experience I had many years ago, that she was witness to. She remembered the night I arrived home with fake fingernails peeling and mascara running and told the story of what had happened to me and how deeply it had affected me. I set out to write, Get the Dime. My eldest daughter, Vanessa came up with the title, by the way. Thanks, baby.
In about four weeks time, I had a script that I was happy with and set out to find a young actor who was up to the challenge of playing the role of Julius. He needed the chops and the looks — a rare combination. It was not surprising that many young actors in the main stream were uncomfortable with the idea of committing to all aspects of the role. In my mind, that discomfort would be a major deficit, for the simple reason that Julius is a person who will commit 100% for his craft. I needed an actor who was so secure in his masculinity that when he experiences the feeling of being in a woman’s psyche he is blindsided It hits him deep and hard.
The next step was finding the rest of the cast. Bonnie connected us with several good actors including the talented Emily Bergl who Daniel actually knew from their work together in New York, and Lobo Sebastian, who is one of Bonnie’s favorite actors and is now one of mine as well, in for role of Tory. Jonathan Stockwell Baker blew us away in the audition. My good friend, the amazing agent Neil Bagg, suggested Robert Picardo for the role of Jack. After reading the script, Robert called me with some questions and observations, which told me that he had an immediate and deep understanding of the character. I was blessed with this group of fine actors. They all worked long, and sometimes cold, hours and never once complained.
I interviewed about six Directors of Photography altogether. We discussed and referenced some paintings and I showed them stills from favorite films that evoked the shooting style and palette I was after. Lisa Wiegand had the best looking reel I had come across. I remembered meeting her at the DV Expo the year before when she was on a panel with some of the best Cinematographers in the business. Since we already shared the same favorites, we looked at three or four key films to finalize the look. It was my intention to have as many women on the crew as I could. I felt they would give more to the piece because of its subject matter. I was happy when Lisa Wiegand suggested Shana Hagan as Camera Operator. They had worked together at the Sundance Labs. Both Lisa and Shana were amazing.
- Stephen Nichols