One difference between Tuesday night
and Wednesday night was the rain. Lots of it on Tuesday, none on Wednesday. Which meant
that there was more street traffic tonight.
I don't mean cars. We had them both nights. But part of the
glory of shooting a movie in New York City is the street action. It is inevitable that a
movie production, bulky, hulking, with bright lights and big trucks, is going to cause a
disturbance. In Hoboken most of the locals just passed this jumble of tired young men and
women and weaving electrical cables and chrome-y lightstands and folding tables and other
ephemera, passed with maybe with a glance.
In New York everybody stops. Everybody wants to know the
name of the picture. And who's in it. Chances are they know the costar, or someone who
knows the costar. A man on a bike stops by three times to inquire about the union status
of the picture, and to look for any of his "brothers." An older man with a small
dog asks the title, then asks if "that's with a Ch?" When told it is he nods,
says, "Well, good luck with it," and passes on down the sidewalk.
The grips and electrics usually work the longest days. They
have to set up before anything else can be done, and after everyone else goes home they
have to break down and stow all the gear and secure the trucks. But while their days are
long, once the lighting and other production equipment is set they usually don't have a
lot to do.
During Tuesday's rain everybody huddled in the doctor's
office waiting room. There is little opportunity to talk, just some whispering between
takes, and so some read and some try to catch a few winks. The scene has the feeling of a
snowed in bus station near a ski resort.
On Wednesday night Nicholas and Julia and Wesley are
standing by the alleyway through which the electrical tie-in runs. Julia is security, the
guys are just hanging, waiting for something to happen. Because nothing is they mix it up
Nicholas has a laser pointer. It is standard grip
equipment, useful as a pointer ("Put it there!") and to mark starting
and ending points on the dolly and tracking shots. The light is exceptionally focused. You
can pick it up on the side of building a block away. And while that is fun for, oh, about
two seconds, the real sport is laying the spot in unexpected places.
Such as on the sidewalk in front of a walking dog.
Pooch after pooch jumps in surprise and tries to pounce on the red light. Dog
walkers laugh at loud. It's really funny, and most surprisingly, socially wonderful. The
dog walkers love it.
It's hard to tell if the woman behind the cash register in
the beauty salon across the street really likes it. She'll be counting out some change
when suddenly this red dot appears on her computer screen. But when she tries to track it
down she can't. She looks around cautiously and resumes her counting. Is she freaking out?
Or cool? Well, she doesn't leave.
Crew members are used to the hijinks, and it isn't
surprising to follow the red dot down an electric's throat or into a grip's ear. What is
surprising is a little foray into Video Village (between takes, of course), where the red
dot plays across the backs of the heads of the directors and the writer and the script
supervisor and various producer types.
One of the others at Video village is Carol, Caleb's mother. But she has the last laugh. Surreptitiously,
she reaches into her bag and pulls out her own laser pointer. When she whips around and
sends her own red dot at the source of the dot that's been playing on her, we all break
There's always a new twist to be found if you look hard
Scene 98 is a dolly shot through the church. On the right
side of the room there are a ton of extras. And most of the principals. They represent the
bride's side. The bride, by the way, isn't Leila.
In the scene the camera moves up the aisle on a track. It's
a tracking shot, capturing the reaction of all the friends on the bride's side. They are
looking toward the back of the church, where something surprising is taking place.
Something surprising I'm keeping a secret.
The only problem is that in the back of the church, at this
particular moment, there isn't anybody for them all to look at.
[FYI: The Kirk of which they speak is Dr. Beverly Kirk,
played by Jake Weber. He is the costar of the movie.]
Jon calls out: "Do we
have a Kirk?"
Elizabeth: "I had
a Kirk." She points to an empty seat.
Joe: "Kirk isn't
there." Meaning that in terms of the script Kirk wouldn't be where Jon and Elizabeth
are trying to put him.
Jon: "Kirk is a sightline."
Elizabeth: "I had a Kirk." She looks around
helplessly, then grabs Brian, a PA.
Joe: "Isn't Kirk outside?"
Jon: "We just need a place for them to look."
Brian sits down in a pew.
Jon: "Good. Brian's perfect."
Elizabeth: "Brian's perfect."
[Which must be awfully nice for Brian to hear.]
By the time I can get a picture, however, Brian is gone.
For this work he wasn't perfect. He had something else, more important to do. In his place
is an extra, or, as Sandy York informs me, a background artist. The extra's name is CJ.
Gil Rogers tells a story about Lee Marvin
telling a story:
Gil's working with Lee on a picture, and after work they're out having a
drink, talking. It's about 3 AM. Marvin is talking about the making of The Wild
One, Laslo Benedek's great motorcycle picture.
I'm not giving up much by saying that I had the poster from the movie, of
Brando on his bike, on my wall growing up. But by that point I was actually a bigger
Gil says that Marvin says that the first take of the first scene he and
Brando are doing together, Brando does the whole scene looking down at the ground. Just
staring down at the ground! The next take Brando won't look at Marvin either.
Marvin wants to engage, to show down with Brando, but Brando refuses. He
keeps looking down at the ground through the whole scene.
They do the scene many times, with Marvin getting madder and madder and
madder but unable to do anything about it. And then, finally, it comes to him.
On the next take he reaches down to the ground and picks up a tiny pebble
that is lying there. He slowly brings it up off the floor, until he holds it directly in
front of his face. And by then Brando is looking right at him. He didn't care where the
pebble was, he just wanted to look at it.
On a different (and final) note: Sherri
and Terry, as a team, have beaten Locations, as a team,
three straight times at pool. They would like to announce that they are taking on all
comers, and believe they can best every department.