Before the fun

THE CRUSH                                                     3/02/01

One of the cool things about being the director is that when you ask for stuff, the crew generally figures out a way to accommodate you. There are, of course, limitations. Safety is a huge one. Time and money follow close behind. In the case of EvenHand, budget is one of the primary concerns with everything we do. Fortunately, Fernando and the art department have come up with some pretty great creative solutions for many of my requests.

Here's a terrific example: I wrote a new scene for a montage sequence that occurs early in the film. The purpose of the scene is to provide a visual transition from the montage that precedes it to the beginning of the story. The scene reads as follows:


Tight on Francis in the passenger seat, lights flashing above him.  The patrol car slows and turns the corner, arriving at the scene of a car accident in front of a small take-out restaurant.  A small crowd has gathered.

We continue straight down the street and find A MAN standing on the corner wearing a sign reading "I sold drugs near schools."  In the background the patrol car lights flash as Francis and Morning slowly get out.

We never get close to the accident, so I wanted it to be visually interesting from a distance. I also wanted it to be different enough from the Carol scene that opens the story, which features a car accident as well. My conclusion was that an overturned car would be perfect. Could we afford this for a tiny little scene that didn't strictly need it? Only one way to find out: ask.

I told Gary Ledyard, our production designer, that an overturned car would be fabulous for this scene. He said he would see what he could do. Today a flatbed trailer arrived with the car you see in the photo above  (a Dodge Daytona) sitting on it. I was surprised that it wasn't crushed or otherwise damaged. Thomas, the Art Dept. coordinator, told me that it would be smashed to order.

The first step was flipping it over. With some deft maneuvering by the operator, the flatbed did most of the hard work and the boys and I gave it the final shove. Note the director's finely chiseled posterior.

The car was flipped onto it's back, but sustained very little damage other than coffee cups, dust mites and small change collecting on the inside of the roof. It was now evidently time for plan B: dragging it back onto it's side and ramming it into the edge of the loading dock.

Above you can see our crack Art Dept. intern, Robert White, observing as the Daytona is prepared for it's final ride.

It's impossible to convey in a still photo the screeching slide across the pavement and delicious sound of crunching metal and glass that accompanied the ramming, but I assure you it was quite marvelous. Below you can see the final result.

Total cost: $150.00. Low budget filmmaking at it's best.

- Joseph Pierson



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