Veronica Narang is the lead in our movie, No Sleep For Ronni. However, it'd been years since we actually shot anything with her. We filmed a ton of sequences back in 2014, before she moved to Phoenix. Unfortunately, the Ronni script we were going with then was rushed together, and as a result, it had real problems. We made numerous attempts in post-production to create a flow, but eventually the project stalled out.
Fast forward to mid January 2018. A breakthrough idea materializes that could fix all of the issues. I contacted Veronica on January 25th. She was excited about the new direction. We began sharing thoughts on potential locations, wardrobe, etc. In the blink of an eye, it was feeling like a brand new project again, except with the added bonus of already having most of the scenes shot!
On the 26th, I sent her a quickly-sketched outline of the new story. Things were moving in the right direction. Then a mere few hours later, I received a text. Veronica had fallen down some stairs while carrying her dog. She was in the hospital and had fractured her leg in three places! Of course any talk of making a movie came to a halt. All that mattered was Veronica's health.
On the 27th, I checked in via text to see how she was doing. I saw photos of her and the leg. It was bad! Most of the day had passed when a truly awful, yet marvelous thought popped into my head. The new story called for a hospital scene where the Ronni character is in bed, looking like she's at death's door. From the pics I saw of Veronica, we would need no makeup, no set dressing, no additional lighting. She simply had to deliver a few lines and find someone to shoot it on an iPhone.
I was hesitant to share this with her. She'd just broken her leg! Yet, the Veronica I knew here in Madison was the most dedicated actor I'd ever seen. Never tiring. Never giving up. Always working to the end to get the right take. So I texted her my idea of shooting the scene while she was actually there in the hospital. Of course she said yes!
It took a few days. Some of our texts were slightly odd. This was to be expected. Veronica was in extreme pain at times, and at others, the drugs were really kicking in.
On January 30th, my phone rang. She was ready and had invited several friends to help. They set me up on a tablet via FaceTime. I would be able to direct the shoot in Phoenix, Arizona from my office in Madison, Wisconsin. A long-distance first for me.
Veronica's parents guarded the door to keep others out during the takes. Her good friend Nadine Jackson was a tremendous help and acted as the assistant director. Her daughter Micha ran the camera. Another friend, Corinne, filled in as a "hand double" for an actor who'll we might film later here in Madison.
One cool development was the addition of a brand new scene, one we thought up on the spot. It included Nadine as a medical staffer attending to Ronni. She was great.
Images provided by Veronica.
Veronica's lines come at a critical climatic moment in the movie. Ronni is weak and hardly conscious. With a broken leg to aid in her motivation, Veronica hardly had to act. The delivery was dead on. Filmmaking is the best!