4-10-91: Finally, the confrontation with Campbell. The hostile humor is creeping into his performance. "And who are you?" he says, when I try to talk with him. I am mystified again by human behavior, even as I stand here trying to direct a movie about the mysteries of human behavior. A few minutes later, while the camera is rolling, Campbell cavalierly flips off camera assistant Shawn Hise as he snaps the slate. (Shawn looks wounded; he's a Campbell fan.) That's it. I take him aside and tell him again to knock off the endless sarcasm. Campbell goes off, his voice booming. He's pissed off at the way actors are treated. He wants me to understand him. He wants actors everywhere to be understood. The sheer volume of his voice is astounding. And then it sort of sinks in . . . He's yelling at me. I cut loose myself. I start yelling at him. It's freeing, and he backs down. In fact, he seems grateful. Now we just want to make friends again, like two guys who just had a fender bender and, their hearts racing, have to bond over the crisis. He tells me he respects me, he thinks I'm a great writer. Pointedly, as thirty waiting crew members pretend they're not listening, he doesn't add the occupation I'm currently pursuing – directing. Maybe I'll just be a writer. This part of it, when blood is in the water, is not my favorite.
4-11-91: Mark Arm from Mudhoney brings Sonic Youth to the set. They arrive on an important day. Today is the French Club scene. It has been the target of countless assassination attempts in story meetings at the studio. ("Take it out. It'll never end up in the movie.") The scene survives because they are wrong. Proudly, I collar [Sonic Youth guitarist] Thurston Moore. For some reason, I feel the need to explain the French Club scene to him in great detail. He nods courteously. His eyes glaze. Thurston invites us all to their big concert tonight with Neil Young. Can't wait for this show.
4-12-91: Passed out in the hotel and missed the show.
4-19-91: This movie is a freight train. Eric Stoltz has joined us for a few days. During Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Stoltz once promised to be in "everything you ever write." In Singles he plays a Bitter Mime. Typically, he is twisted and savagely funny in the part. Stoltz and Bridget are a couple in real life, they're good together, their relationship seems destined for a life outside of news photos.
It's a loose and goofy night, and we finish a ton of work. By 4:00 a.m., Campbell, Eric Stoltz and I are doing Michael Bolton impressions. Bolton sings Zeppelin. Bolton sings Guns n' Roses. We are all so tired that just the word – Bolton – sends us into hysterics.
4-22-91: The studio calls and floats a (lead) balloon. Isn't the title Singles "dated"? Isn't there a popular song that would be better? I hope this issue goes away. Jeff Ament comes to the set at lunch time with the first rehearsal tape of potential songs for the movie. Mookie Blaylock is now Pearl Jam. The first song, "State of Love and Trust," is ferocious. It's about battling with your instincts in love (". . . help me from myself . . ."). Somehow it matches the movie-in-progress. The tape contains four other new Pearl Jam songs. A little over a year after losing Andy Wood, Ament walks with quiet pride. Like maybe lightning is striking twice.
4-28-91: We film Alice in Chains playing live at the underground club Desoto. It's a boost. I can't tell you much about the precise filmic style of John Ford's westerns, but I can tell you about the pure emotional perfection of Todd Rundgren's Hermit of Mink Hollow or the Replacements' Tim, Mother Love Bone's "Crown of Thorns" or even the Beach Boys' Pet Sounds. To get that feeling watching Singles, that would be something.
4-30-91: The Car Crash scene goes well. Today I overhear two grips having a conversation about me on the radio-mike headset. I hear that I look especially happy today, that I must have gotten laid last night and that after all the talky scenes it was great to get out there today and "T-bone that fuckin' car."
5-24-91: Tonight is the wrap party. Extras are starting to get drunk now, telling me how this has been the best time of their lives. Where was I? I feel like I blinked and the whole thing was over. I am proud to have made a movie in which Bridget Fonda shares a scene with the legendary Sub Pop thrash rocker Tad. But now our de facto family is breaking up. Movie-crew people are nomads. They'll go on to three or four more movies, and I'll still be with the child – Singles.
7-23-91: Today is the day we look at the first cut of the movie. It's two hours and forty-five minutes long. Parts are thrilling; parts make me squirm. Back in the editing room with Richard [Chew, our editor] and Art [Linson, executive producer], we attack the problems. Nothing is as funny as we'd hoped. Everything feels long. Oddly enough, I don't feel panicked.
9-9-91: I'm starting to panic. Perspective is slipping away. I'm lucky to have Richard, a careful editor, a protector of characters. Forty minutes have been taken out of the movie. I hope it's the right forty minutes. I know this – the French Club scene is staying in.
10-4-91: I have reached tunnel vision. It's a strange syndrome. All I do is watch Singles. The only people I see are crew people who watch Singles. I want to go out with my wife, maybe to see The Fisher King, but I can't. It's too dangerous. I might feel bad about Singles. I am Bubble Man. All I can see are bona fide classics from another era – which don't count – or very bad contemporary movies. I stay home and watch Elvis in Live a Little, Love a Little, and all is right with the world again.
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