OH YEAH, HAPPY NEW YEAR
toots in 2002 with gusto
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pleased to report that I'm still alive, which you wouldn't know from
the number of journal entries I've made in the last month and a half.
Much has happened since November. I'll cover the major events:
did some reshoots. Well, reshoots are what most everyone in the film
world calls them. I like to call what we did "Additional
Filming." The difference is more than just semantic; we didn't
actually reshoot anything. I liked everything we shot the first time
just fine. What we did was film some additional transitional material.
up for production a second time is a huge pain in the ass, so you only
do it when you really need to. I felt the need because after months of
editing and refining and periodically screening the film for a few
civilians, a consensus developed that the film was missing a few
roughed out some ideas for several new scenes and began to tweak the
structure of the film to accommodate them. As the content became
clearer in my head, I actually put the ideas into script form. Both the
Bills liked the direction the new scenes represented and had a few
good ideas on how to improve them. A plan was beginning to take shape.
first challenge was to find a time when we were all available to
return to San Antonio. After much wrangling (and hand wringing) we
settled on the weekend of December 21st. The weekend before Christmas
was hardly ideal, especially from a travel standpoint, but it was the
only possibility. After the new year the Bills were both on other
projects. As if that wasn't challenging enough, I also needed Io
Tillet Wright (Toby), Hector
Garcia (Victor) and Lee Stringer,
who plays Mather. Miraculously, they were all three available,
next challenge was to get all the props and wardrobe back together.
Fernando still had Toby and Mather's wardrobe and I kept the San
Lovisa Police uniforms, but gave the badges away as wrap gifts. New
badges and nameplates had to be ordered. Fernando took care of that
and began the process of assembling a skeleton crew and putting in a
request for two new patrol cars from the SAPD. As before, we would use
one car for a tow rig and the other for filming exterior shots.
were coming together pretty well, but I knew it wouldn't last. This is
EvenHand, after all. But what could possibly go wrong in three
days of filming? Let's see...
starters, the company that made the badges and nameplates had a
history of screwing things up. I asked Fernando to order the new
badges and nameplates well in advance so we would have a chance to
send them back if they were not made to specs. But, as of the
Wednesday before filming was to commence, they had not yet arrived.
Fernando called them a half dozen times, Kinya even went over in
person, all to no avail. They would be ready on Thursday, the day
before filming. This had disaster written all over it, so I called
Lovisa and had her FedEx my display case of badges and nameplates from
New York to San Antonio, just in case there was a problem. When the
ones we ordered finally arrived, there was only one nameplate that was
useable. Both the badges were completely different from what we had
used for principal photography and Morning's nameplate was the wrong
size. Unbelievable! But at least I was prepared for that one.
number two. Fernando approached me on Thursday afternoon to
inform me that the camera package, which we had again ordered from New
York, had missed it's connecting flight in Atlanta and would not be in
San Antonio until noon on Friday at the earliest. We had expected to
start filming at 8 AM on Friday -- and had a full day scheduled.
Fernando did everything in his power to reroute the camera to get it
to us earlier, but it was not destined to happen. Call time on Friday
was pushed to 1 PM. Fuck!
had to leave on Sunday, so we scheduled her scenes for Friday and
Saturday. The one we started with, once the camera finally arrived,
was a scene in which Francis and Morning are on their way to the
lunch club and Morning spots Toby ambling down the street. He
jumps out of the patrol car and chases Toby down an alley. We shot
some handheld stuff while the grips rigged the car mounts. We
were finally ready for the driving shots at about 3:30 PM. Time for
we're rehearsing the scene, which consists of the two cops driving
Toby home, we hear sirens. The we see billowing gray smoke. A house
two blocks away was engulfed in flames. Soon, there were three
helicopters overhead, seven or eight fire engines and several police
cars. Our chosen route was blocked and we had to contend with the
smoke and sirens and the incessant thwocking of helicopters.
Fortunately no one was hurt in the fire, but the house was ruined. In
all the mayhem we were able to get three takes of our scene before it
was too dark to proceed. Oddly, this was about a block and a half from
our original burnt house location.
a nutritious lunch at the Pig Stand on Broadway we moved to our final
location, the East Side Substation, where we filmed a scene of Francis
and Morning driving from the precinct after they drop off the Old
Man with Brick. After no fewer than seven false starts, we got
that one in the can.
some time for fun, too
* * *
actually went pretty well, all things considered. We filmed several
hours next to a huge fire ant hill, but I was the only one to get
stung. I had a bag of fake drugs for Toby, but the color was wrong, so
I thought I'd add a pinch of dirt from a pile in the grass. The pile
was an anthill. Viscous little monsters.
the car -- again
first glitch of the day was a camera mag problem. The 1st AC had to
leave for his wife's graduation. His replacement reloaded the camera
just fine, but it refused to work. He tried a new mag and still
nothing. Everyone stood around scratching their heads until Tim
Orr finally found a little safety switch that needed to be
tripped. Meanwhile, I had visions of another aborted day of filming.
The next problem (not, in retrospect, severe enough to warrant the
term "disaster") was with the car mount. Every time we hit a
bump it jostled the camera horribly. Straps were tightened, speed rail
was added, Ron drove more slowly, but it still looked awful on the
monitor. We did about twelve takes, searching for a stretch of road
that wouldn't cause us problems, but our little East side neighborhood
hadn't been paved in a while, I guess. When I finally saw the dailies,
there wasn't a single take that didn't look fine. Go figure. Lunch
today at the J & I cafe. Yum.
* * *
was a comparative breeze. We were next to the fire ant hill again, but
even I was clever enough to avoid getting stung. It was also colder,
so they were pretty sedate (for fire ants). Lunch today was at Bill
Miller's BarBQ. Yuck, that place really sucked.
final scene was possibly the most important addition to the EvenHand
canon, a post Carol scene
chat between Francis and Morning in a bar. Tim created a ton of
atmosphere from three or four dinky little lights, with the help of
about 200 metric tons of cigarette smoke from the Bills. It's a nice
scene and one that will add immeasurably to the film. We also managed
to knock off a few add-lib scenes of the boys sitting in the patrol
car chatting about superheros and peeping at naked women. It was all
funny stuff, but I'm not sure it will find a home in the film. DVD
easter eggs? A man can dream.
* * *
other news, I have hired an editor. Until now, I have been editing the
film myself, with the help of Lovisa, who has evolved into a crack
assistant editor. We worked well together and, I think, were doing a
pretty good job. I had, however, reached a point in the process when
the film became a big blur. I no longer knew what was good, or why. It
was clearly time for a fresh pair of eyes. Alex
Albanese is the newest member of the team. He came recommended by Joel
Goodman, our composer, who had worked with him on two projects.
is now recutting the film, including the new material. I am pleased to
report that I haven't seen a frame of footage since viewing the
reshoot dailies. In the next week or so I'll get to see my movie for
the first time since early December, with my own fresh pair of eyes. I
Merry Christmas at the Cadillac Bar
- Joseph Pierson
© 2002 Cypress
Films, Inc. All rights reserved.