Richard Schenkman MFE Blog, part three:
Well, the best laid plans…
The actors found the rehearsal period exciting and inspiring, but one week is not two weeks. The first few days were spent discussing character, debating what appeared to be script flaws, and talking through some of the historical facts behind the dialogue. To further mitigate what we could achieve, we weren't fully cast when we started rehearsal, and one of the actors (or, more likely, their agent) did not make themselves available for the entire period. On top of that, the only time available for wardrobe fitting and hair & makeup meetings was during the hours that had been set aside for rehearsal.
I had also previously made the decision to actually only devote five days to rehearsal (four in a rented room, one on location), and then to start shooting on Day Six, so that we'd have seven, not six shooting days.
What all this meant was that when we arrived on set for that first shooting day, it was not exactly like Lumet's "Twelve Angry Men" situation. Not everyone was fully off-book (which means to have all one's lines totally memorized) and we still needed to work through certain blocking and performance issues. In short, it was much like a conventional film shoot than the one I had been dreaming of. Still, we dove in.
Near the end of Day One (of the shoot), John Billingsley ("Harry") said to me, "If you're going to need an eighth day, you should probably ask around to make sure no one's going to leave town or anything." I nearly scoffed at him, replying that I might be an hour or so behind, but I'd hardly need an eighth day.
By lunchtime on Day Two, I was polling the cast to make sure they were free for the extra day.
It's not that things went badly, or particularly slowly; after all, an hour lost out of a twelve-hour day is not even 10%. But an hour to ninety minutes lost per day for seven days is nearly a full day right there, and if anything goes wrong above and beyond that… well, it was quite clear that I needed the extra day, and it was a good thing I'd budgeted some contingency funds to pay for it. This meant, however, that nothing else could go wrong.