1 - MONDAY MARCH 5, 2001
DAY FROM HELL
MOVING PATROL CAR - MURAL STREET -- DAY
EXT. LAWN -- DAY
EXT. MURAL STREET - WHITE WASH -- DAY
this didn't look like a terrible day. It was a reasonable page
count, 2 7/8, well below average for a 26 day shoot. But, it was
also the first day with a new crew, and my first production day
since we shot Cherry.
Scene 12 is the first to feature the mural
started by setting up for scene 12, Morning and Francis on their
first drive together. This involved mounting the camera on the side
of the patrol car and towing it around. Car mounts take a while,
just because there is a lot of hardware involved. A 60 pound camera
has to be securely fastened to first one then the other side of the
car, sound has to hide a mike somewhere, the camera must be set up
with a remote switch and numerous cables need to be run from the tow
screw-up of the day involved Morning's nameplate. It arrived a few
days before production with "P. Morning" engraved on it.
We had sent our order in writing for "T. Morning," but
some clown had apparently yelled "T" across the room at
the noisy nameplate factory and the guy at the engraving machine
heard "P." We immediately put a rush on a replacement, but
the correct nameplate had not arrived in time, so we were stuck with
the "P." Morning's first name is Ted and I couldn't stand
the idea of renaming him "Patrick," so we agreed to live
with the wrong nameplate for the day. Minor, but annoying
grips were busy building the camera mount, a lanky guy in a satin
Teamster jacket, cowboy boots and wide-brimmed hat got out of his
Cadillac and asked of no one in particular, "Why do ya'll have
a car parked in my driveway?" Everyone thought he was joking
(you know, Teamster humor), but we had, in fact, parked our second
patrol car in his driveway. Of all the driveways in San Antonio, we
had to choose one at a Teamster's house. What are the odds of that?
I approached him and said we would move the car. His only response
was to ask "Why don't ya'll have any Teamsters on this
job?" I immediately had visions of big burly guys picketing our
shoot. Shit. "We can't afford Teamsters," I offered. He
looked around at all the vehicles, nodded, and said he was pretty
sure we could. As soon as he went inside his house to call the hall
I summoned Fernando over and told him to be prepared to deal with
the situation. Fortunately, Fernando had already had a visit from
some of the boys, who seemed satisfied that we couldn't afford
Teamsters. Mercifully, nothing came of the incident.
got rolling, scene 12 went really well. I hid in the back seat,
operating the remote camera switch and slating the scene. The Bills
were great together, establishing a good rapport in this, their
first scene together. There were a couple of glitches, though. One
was school letting out, resulting in a minor traffic jam on our
chosen route. Another was cutting a corner too tight on one take,
causing the camera mount to hit the curb. The camera was OK, but the
mount had to be rerigged, which took some time. And that was the
real killer on day one -- time.
lunch we were getting ready to start up again, but our one scruffy
motor home was nowhere to be found. The 1st AD said the driver had
gone to get gas. But lunch had been over for a half an hour and he
hadn't returned yet. And all the wardrobe for the Bills, make-up,
etc. were in the camper. Hmm, maybe Teamsters weren't such a bad
idea after all. They're expensive, but at least they know enough to
gas their vehicles up at the beginning or end of the day (not that
earth-shattering a concept) and bring the damn thing back when the
crew's in after lunch.
motor home finally reappeared (I suspect it wasn't just the camper
getting juiced up), we finished scene 21 and made a small company
move around the corner to begin work on scene 23.
Joseph and Billy D. consult
was a total disaster, for a variety of reasons. The stunt
coordinator (whom we'll call Sammy) was, in my opinion, completely
insane, which meant the choreography for the belligerent man being
arrested was a mess. The scene was not really that complicated:
Morning was to chase the man (played by Tracy Westmoreland, owner of
in NY) across several lawns and then tackle and handcuff him. But it
did require some thought; it needed to be as safe as possible and
convincing for the camera. During rehearsals I had told Sammy to
work with Bill Sage until they had a plan for how to do it.
problem was that Sammy showed up on set with a whole new concept for
the take-down, something entirely different from what had been
rehearsed. The second was that it was no good. The third was that he
totally misunderstood the point of the scene (which is pretty clear
in the script). It was not about the chase, but rather the smooth
handcuffing. Sammy had spent hours setting up an absurd obstacle
course of trash and discarded lawn furniture for the actors to crash
into as they ran -- a total waste of time. The fourth problem was
that the handcuffs didn't fit around Tracy's enormous wrists. Sammy
was supposed to have brought larger cuffs, but that never happened.
As if all
that wasn't enough, the Steadicam operator we had hired turned out
to be far less experienced than either Tim or I had anticipated, and
this was a tough scene for even the most seasoned Steadicam guy --
running at full speed after the actors across three lawns (covered
with broken crap).
Tracy Westmoreland throws his weight around
a total trooper, though, submitting to repeated handcuffing and
tossing around by Bill Sage. Based on my experience in Siberia, I
suppose it was just an average day for him. But, as the sun began to
dip below the horizon, things still weren't coming together. And we
had another scene to shoot. I finally had to end the fiasco and move
on to scene 21, back at the mural wall.
time we got back to the mural we had a serious light problem. Tim
said he was pushing two stops, which he had never done before. When
I asked if the footage would be usable, he said he didn't think so.
It was important that we shoot this scene early in the schedule,
though, because it featured the mural kids white-washing the
graffiti wall in preparation for painting the mural, so we kept
result was that after talking to Tim over a much-needed cocktail at
the end of the day, we agreed that both scene 21 and 23 were no
good. At that point I told him that I would not put anything in the
movie that was unacceptable to either him or me. So, we agreed to
flash the film (ruin it by exposing it to the light) and find a spot
in our already crowded schedule to reshoot both those scenes.
decided to cut our losses by firing both the stunt coordinator and
the Steadicam operator. We would just have to shoot all of the
remaining Steadicam stuff handheld and find someone else to help
choreograph the stunts.
lesson for the day was don't bite off more than you can chew on the
first day of production. The good news was that we only had one
scene featuring the dreaded "P. Morning" nameplate, not
© 2001 Cypress Films, Inc. All rights reserved.