DAY 2 - TUESDAY MARCH 6,
A MESS OF COPS & A DASH
INT. POLICE PRECINCT - OFFICE - DAY
EXT. POLICE PRECINCT - BRIEFING ROOM - DAY
INT. POLICE PRECINCT - FRONT DESK - DAY
INT. POLICE PRECINCT - LOCKER ROOM - DAY
EXT. POLICE PRECINCT - MAIN ENTRANCE - DAY
our first day filming in the East side SAPD substation. A big budget
film would have created an elaborate set to resemble a real police
precinct. Here in the low budget world, we had no choice but to use
the real thing. Real is better in many respects, but in the case of
a busy police substation, there are a number of potential problems.
The biggest is that the real cops need to do their jobs. As amusing
as a film set can be, it is also very intrusive; there are lights,
cables, trucks and crew everywhere. The novelty wears off very
quickly when you're tripping over a 40-person film crew and all
Morning makes his announcement
scene (sc. 34) was set in the briefing room. We had to set up right
after the 7 AM shift change and be done before the 2 PM roll call.
This was also the first scene to involve several SAPD officers
working as extras. As discussed in an
earlier journal entry, I decided to use the same uniforms as the
SAPD with badges and patches for our fictional San Lovisa Police
Department. So, first thing in the morning, our crack wardrobe staff
made themselves busy sewing San Lovisa patches over the San Antonio
patches. Props then removed the cops' SAPD badges and replaced them
with our own -- which are much better looking in my opinion. Simply
replacing badges and patches saved us a huge amount of money in
wardrobe purchases, and all the SAPD boys and girls looked great.
Yvonne sews on a San Lovisa patch
discovery was that finding off-duty cops willing to work for our
paltry "extra" wages wasn't easy. We had a number of
no-shows, but were able to pull some officers from the substation to
fill in the gaps. It all went fine until the Captain started
hovering and asking when he could get his guys back -- they were due
out on the streets. We were able to get our last set-up finished
before things got tense. And I especially didn't want to piss the
cops off on the first day of several filming in the substation. A
frequent occurrence in the low budget world is not getting invited
back to a location after the first day of shooting. Having a signed
location agreement is all well and good, but if they're pissed off
you've got a problem.
Lou visits San Lovisa for the day
locker room scene (sc. 9) was the first that required actual
performances from the real cops. The timing of entrances and exits
was important and one or two of them had actual lines of dialogue.
Seasoned actors make hitting a mark and saying a line look pretty
easy, but it's is harder that one might imagine. The best you can
ever do with non-actors is pray that they come off naturally; there
is no direction that will help someone with no experience. Officer
Mike Ross stood out as a natural talent, and we ended up featuring
him in several other scenes over the course of the film. He had some
excellent cop stories, too, which I'll tell in a later journal
Morning (Bill Sage) contemplates Mather
Mather returns the look
disaster of the day didn't reveal itself until the following week.
The lab called to report that several takes from the substation
shoot had severe gate weave. Gate weave is just what it sounds like:
the filmed image stutters and weaves, and is essentially unusable.
When a report like this comes from the lab, it strikes terror in the
hearts of directors and DPs. At first, you don't know how much of
the day's work has been affected by the problem. And until the
negative report comes for the following days, you don't know if
you've lost further work as well. Once Tim's
staff reviewed their paperwork, though, they determined that the bad
footage was specific to a single film magazine, and that it was one
that we hadn't used again since that day.
Mather gets interrogated
turns out, there were other circled takes of everything that was
ruined but for one setup, scene 65. Scene 65 is Mather being
interrogated by one of the officers that arrested him, and was a
"oner," a single shot (with minimal lighting). Since we
were planning on returning to the substation anyway, we could just
add this one shot to the end of that day. For having a bad mag, we
got off pretty easy. Still, problems like this give you a feeling of
taking two steps forward and one step back. Well, at least the net
result is a step forward.
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