intersection of Can't Stop and Lamar in San Antonio
ran across (so to speak) the above intersection while scouting in San
Antonio. There must be a great story behind that street name.
Orr and I go up to Toronto on Tuesday to view the answer prints of the
film. This will be the first time that either of us will have
seen the actual film of EvenHand. Up until now, the entire
process has been digital (for the picture editing) or we have used the
Beta tapes made from the original negative (for the sound mix &
ADR sessions). It's kind of weird working on a 35mm film for
well over a year and never actually seeing the film (or a projection
thereof). I don't expect any big surprises; the conform (Beta tapes
edited to match the Avid output) looks really good, so the film should
as well. By Wednesday, I expect it will be looking superb as Tim
will have a series of mysterious conversations with the color timer
and make innumerable subtle changes to the look of each shot (darker,
lighter, more cyan, less magenta...). Then, sometime in the near
future, after two or three answer prints, we will actually get to see
the final print. Outstanding. Now all we need is somewhere to
The Bills enjoy some quality time with a two-dimensional fashion
Speaking of which, here's a link to the website of our new favorite: ELLONA!!!
there is really not much happening here now, and I can only stretch
the anticipation of the excitement of the viewing of the answer prints
so far (one paragraph, I guess), I'd thought I'd digress and tell the
story of my first day on set as a location manager on a feature film.
film was Five
Corners, directed by Tony Bill. It starred a young Jodie
Foster (in one of her first adult roles), Tim Robbins and John
Turturro. The late Rodney Harvey had a small role, as did Todd Graff
(better known these days as a writer). John Patrick Shanley wrote the
screenplay. If you have never seen it, please rent it! It's a terrific
film that somehow slipped largely and undeservedly into obscurity.
had had some experience doing locations on a couple of TV movies and
was ready for the jump to a moderately budgeted feature.
Pre-production went well, especially after we finally identified the
elusive "five corners" neighborhood. It ended up being a
small working class area just South of the Triborough Bridge in
Astoria, Queens. All my efforts at finding an intersection that
literally had five corners were for naught. It wasn't that they didn't
exist (which they do in abundance in NYC), or that I failed to find
them (I found them all, thanks to the trusty Hagstrom's Five Borough
Atlas). It was rather that this particular neighborhood simply didn't
have such an intersection. What it did have was some great views
of the bridge, little period row houses and a lot of character, making
it suitable for a film set in 1964.
first day of shooting was certainly one of the most difficult and
harrowing I have ever had to endure in my career in film (although not
quite as hair-raising as day one
on EvenHand). It started relatively smoothly at a great location
in Inwood (upper Manhattan): an old abandoned police precinct. With a
little help from the production designer (Adrianne
something-or-other), it had been transformed back into a pretty good
facsimile of a ca. 1960's precinct. It was the second location of the
day that caused all the trouble.
several mugshots I found at the abandoned precinct
was on set, making sure that things were going smoothly from a
locations standpoint, when a PA came up to me and said that the police
were threatening to arrest our scenic artists at the next location, a
subway entrance on 190th Street. I immediately got in the Batmobile (A
shit-brown Dodge Omni Rent-a-Wreck with a giant Batman logo on the
door that served as my mobile office) and raced to 190th Street.
there, I met with a Transit Police Officer who said that he was going
to charge our scenic artists with defacing Transit Authority property.
Ironically, they were actually repainting the station to get rid of
the graffiti, a staple of the NYC Subway system at the time. I said,
surely there is some mistake. We have permission to film here. I dug
out my files and showed the permit from the NYC Mayor's Office. He
hemmed and hawed and said he had to get his lieutenant. The lieutenant
arrived and scrutinized my paperwork. He said while it was all well
and good to have the Mayor's Office permit, we were missing the permit
from the MTA. He had me there. I desperately tried to call the
representative of the MTA's Public Relations Dept. that I had dealt
with, but she was on vacation that week. While I had certainly secured
her permission to film there, she had evidently not processed it to
the point where we had an actual permit. Not good.
this time, a few departments from the shooting crew began to arrive.
Things were wrapping up at location #1. The Lieutenant announced that
he had better get the Captain down to see what was happening. By the
time the Captain arrived, the entire crew was at the Subway station,
waiting for me to secure permission for us to film there. The scenic
artists had also not been able to complete their fine work. The
pressure was mounting.
Captain listened to my story, not unsympathetically, but there was a
certain level of back-up with which I was not providing him. Unless I
pulled something out of my hat, we were all going home -- and I was
probably going to be fired halfway through my first day on set.
Sweating profusely by this time, especially as the line producer was
hovering in an extremely agitated fashion, I rifled through my
paperwork one more time. Finally, I found the key: an insurance
certificate, naming the MTA as a named insured and specifying the
190th Street Subway station as one of the locations. This document
finally satisfied the Transit Police, and the crew was given the
go-ahead to film.
was only the following week that the MTA became aware of what I knew
as we were standing there on the street: the insurance certificate was
not valid until several days later. I got my ass chewed out by them,
but by then it didn't matter. As I stood there sweating bullets, I
helpfully pointed to the termination date, distracting from the fact
that the certificate was in fact not yet in force.
learned two valuable lessons that day. The first was to check and
double check: the most important ingredients in covering your own ass.
The second was: when failing the first, wing it.
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