Falling in Love in Pongo Ponga / 2002 Edited

John's Thoughts

Just as I was finishing up the Skyy Blue Vodka spots, the production company was readying a project for James Woods to write and direct. Little did I know just a few days later I'd be in a pre-production meeting with James and the crew to prepare for his short film called, "Making Love in Pongo Ponga." The first day we met, I had a 102 fever and was attempting to feign being my energetic self with no avail. I thought to myself, "This guy must think I am the biggest drag." I finally confessed I was not feeling too well, and came in a couple days later to another meeting a new person, probably to his relief.

The production company (Tate and Partners) along with the Skyy Blue people produced this film for James' directorial debut for use on the internet ... but James had bigger plans.

It's an understatement that James is an enthusiastic film-maker! And his debut reflected his energy. In about 2 days they were to shoot a 7-minute, helter-skelter comedic romp. I was quite astounded that, when I got the footage, they actually made it though the shoot and got most everything. In the film, the idea was - after a "poetic" intro - to slam the audience into the topsy-turvey world of a film shoot soured by a primadonna actress. I hadn't edited comedy in years, so the foray back into it editorially was a blast, mainly because the material was just so unencumbered. I tend to have a wacky sense of humor, but rarely get to express it musically or editorially, or directorially for that matter! So when I get the chance, I have a good time. James is similar I guess, joking that everyone would assume his debut to be some fucked up morbid violent affair; so I guess we both like to surprise in that way, being that I too am oft labeled the "sinister, dark music" guy.

Anyway, over the course of a few days, we put it together. The first day, my editing assistant, Michael Berk, had brought a CD in from some music library without a cover to it. He played a few selections, and I thought one cue sounded perfect for the opening flying sequence. It was sweeping and emotional, yet a little heavy handed -- which was ideal for the ridiculous opening. The script had called for "You Are So Beautiful," but I thought that this syrupy piece we stumbled upon would feel more unique and certainly more rye. So I used it. It then ended up working perfectly over the ending love scene, thus book-ending the film nicely, and timelessly. The real drama began when we realized that no one at the editing facility knew where the case for the CD was. There was no way of knowing what in the world this piece of music that we had all fallen in love with was called. So bagan the full investigation over the course of the project all the way through the final mix. Day by day James fell further in love with it, so no one wanted to have to be the one burned at the stake when telling him we couldn't use it. The head sleuth ended up being producer Susan Kirson who finally found someone in Europe who knew what it was. Susan then wheeled and dealed to extract out the information from them and get the rights to use this obscure, yet now, very powerful piece of music in our lives! Whew.

As of this writing, "Pongo Ponga" is supposed to premiere at the Los Angeles Film Festival, and possibly to other venues ... We all survived "Pongo Ponga!"