All work and no sleep makes Devi a grumpy girl. The day shoot went well actually. The local sheriff had given us permission to basically shut down a highway and let us shoot with our actors holding open containers of (empty of course…) beer cans.
BTW, we highly recommend our featured beer – it’s called Warbird. David Holmes, psychology prof in Fort Wayne, Indiana makes it. He used to can it, but they’ve since gone to bottles. Really good stuff, though as Zed points out in his production blog, it’s better served chilled than sitting around in a hot van for hours on end.
But back to the shoot….
Ian Issitt, our d.p., and I had one of those shared moments of filmmaking bliss. We were set up on the road by a cornfield and getting this great shot of blood dripping onto the pavement. It felt like we were in a David Lynch film for a moment – vivid colors in the Midwest with shady characters. Circus-Szalewski who plays Red was in fine form, bringing his charmingly menacing character to life. We were positively giddy.
“Yeah it so does” Ian responded.
They were simple words but somehow it was a deep moment. We exchanged one of those smiles that says, “We’re experiencing the exact same thing – there’s nowhere else I’d rather be, nothing else I’d rather be doing.”
The best was a bit later when we were in the back of the van shooting over Kenny’s shoulder as he was supposed to gun it past Circus who’s standing in the middle of the road looking ominous.
Ian nodded, “Sure. I got the camera in place with sandbags, it’ll be fine.
So Kenny guns it and me, Ian and the tripod with the camera all go flying. Fortunately nobody, and more importantly no expensive equipment, were damaged in the fray. Ian and I laughed so hard we had tears running down our cheeks.
“What the fuck were we thinking?” he proclaimed.
“I have no fucking clue, “ I replied wondering how we possibly could have thought a few sandbags would do the trick. I guess the elation of filmmaking made us think we and the camera were invincible.
Our evening shoot seemed to be going okay at first. We were a bit behind schedule, but we had an easy scene to shoot – the bong scene. I figured we could get it done in under an hour and move on to the next scene before our FX were ready to shoot. We had to schedule shooting around very time-consuming FX, so it was crucial to be ready for them once they were ready for us.
We blocked out the scene and Ian I. was tweaking the lights. Then the lights went out: a problem with the generator.
“No worries,” Ian explained.
He and Erin and Elyse – our camera team, would resolve the situation in under 5 minutes and we’d be good to go.
Some of the cast asked if there was time for a cigarette break. I told them, “Sorry, but no.” We really needed to get these two scenes done before FX call and a 5-minute break is never really just a 5-minute break I’ve learned.
However, once 5 minutes had passed with no sign of restored lights I said, “Okay 5 minutes. But I need you right back. Don’t go far.”
10 minutes later, cast and camera team were nowhere to be seen. I sent Joe, our A.D. out to fetch them. In the meantime, Heathyr (Mickey), our only non-smoker, picking up my tense vibe, entertained me by going through the whole scene playing all the characters.
I found Agustin who had been briefed of none of this.
“Where is everybody?” I asked.
He seemed baffled. “Why aren’t you all in the cabin shooting?”
We got everybody back in and tried to get shooting, but had 2 more light failures. Finally, it was down to 15 minutes before the FX were scheduled to be ready. Shit.
I figured if we at least got the one scene done, we could pick up the second one after the FX scene. So, Joe locked down the set, called everybody outside and the FX team down in the basement on his walkie talkie,
“Quiet on the set! We’re shooting this bitch”
I called “Action!.” It was going great, that is until thunderous screams and applause from the basement below exploded.
The FX team had had some big triumph and couldn’t contain themselves. Unfortunately, they cost us our shot. They burst up the stairs to show me their latest masterpiece, completely unaware of the storm that lay in wait.
I lost it. I yelled at nobody in particular saying some pretty terrible things about incompetence, people not taking things seriously, that the film would never be completed and what the fuck did we think we were trying to do.
Everybody looked at me dumbfounded.
The rest of the evening was tense. We were way behind and things did not run smoothly.
This was the first and last time I ever had a temper tantrum on set. While it was not entirely unprovoked, it was entirely unprofessional.
Not too surprisingly I didn’t sleep a wink that night/morning either.