I don't know about you, but when I think about film making and directing, the first thing that comes to mind is an image like this:
You know, being all cool. wearing black shirts and jeans, making big decisions, and, best of all,dramatically pointing beyond a glamorous person, like so:
And, in truth, there is a lot of that fun stuff going on during the actual film shots. But what I always, always, always, ALWAYS forget it is how much work it takes to actually get to the set. You have to find (or write) the script, convince other people that it's awesome, recruit your cast, cast your crew, scout your locations, find/buy/build your props, costume your characters, storyboard, schedule, rehearse, re-story board when your location changes or your rehearsal changes the pacing of the scenes, arrange for make-up artists, hair-stylists, stuntmen, camera people, sound equipment, music accompaniment, artists for the credits, etc, etc.
When you're doing an historical piece, like The Dinner Party, every task takes on second and third dimensions: do the locations look like the period or can they be made to? Will that couch work for 1906 or do I need to figure out how to get it out of the living room we'll be filming in? Is the prop period appropriate? Will the costume rental place allow me to plaster one of my actresses with eggs? Can you call an Irishman a potato-eater or is that not a thing? What sort of dress would a wife wear when instructing her maid in the middle of the day? What sort of jewelry would she wear? Would a New England family start a dinner gathering with an aperitif? Should the make-up artist use eye-liner on the ladies? What sort of hairstyle would the maid wear? And where on earth can I lay my hands on a western saddle?
In short, in order to get to this:
...you have to get through this, first:
Which isn't to say that prep-work isn't fun, because it can be a blast! (Especially rehearsals - you never know what's going to come up in those.) And it's not like I'm doing this alone, thank goodness (and thank Terry Traynor, also producing and running crew), because there are many many hands at work in all of this. Prep-work is where the magic really begins. As fun and cool as it is to be on set, making dramatic motions with your hands, it's what you did leading up to the shoot that really matters in whether your films is a fun, artistically fulfilling project or not.
Now, if you'll excuse me, there's a Film-Project To-Do list as long as my house waiting for my attention...