Years ago, a friend and I referred to running, inside jokes, phrases, or expressions as “clams.” I’m not sure where this came from, but I use it to this day.
The process of filmmaking results in many clams. When I think about production of A Life’s Work, one clam comes immediately to mind.
Andy Bowley and I were in Hat Creek, CA, at the Allen Telescope Array shooting. Andy brought his camera and gear and I brought mine, including a tripod that I bought used from a cinematographer, let’s call her Jane Doe. New York being the small place it is, Andy knew and worked with Jane, and he had, in fact, seen my tripod action. My tripod became known as the Jane Doe Tripod.
It developed a personality and it spoke in a sad, pathetic voice. Andy took photos of it and sent it to Jane with messages like, “In California without you and having a GREAT time with David and Andy.” This joke went on and on, each of us riffing on it, and it never got old. At least not to me. Eventually, Andy just needed to say “The Jane Doe Tripod” and I’d crack up. I still chuckle thinking about it, but you probably had to be there…
Postproduction also has its clams. But right now, there is no editor for me to crack jokes with, it’s just me. There are two clams I have adopted based on the material. One is Robert Darden’s line when he talks about a setback the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project endured and how this affected him. “Ok, I need more faith.” I say this about the film, but also many other aspects of my life right now.
Another clam I’ve picked up is an expression Paolo Soleri uses in the following clip, shot at his first commission, Dome House. Look for it at two minutes in.
I find use that same facial expression when someone says something to me that would warrant a verbal response such as “So it goes …” If I were working with an editor, the full clam might be this expression and “Yeah, you know, he liked the floor.” But as it is now, people get it when I raise my eyebrows and smile faintly. As Soleri also says in the clip: It works.
An interesting pair, these two: “I need more faith,” and “So it goes…”
Is there a catchall expression you’re fond of? Care to share?