PRODUCTION JOURNAL


DAY 7 - TUESDAY MARCH 13, 2001

MATHER MADNESS


Attitude to spare


EXT. DONALD'S HOUSE -- DAY
Scene #22

EXT. DONALD'S HOUSE -- DAY
Scene #62

EXT. MATHER'S HOUSE -- DAY
Scene #63



The dead 'possum

Today was a busy day. We had a big fight sequence, which was a chance for our new stunt coordinator, Sid, to reassure us that there is a reason to have such a person on set.

The first couple of scenes took place at Donald's house, across the street from David Mather's. Donald (Greg Bransom) is a timid civil servant who is systematically harassed by Mather. First it's beer cans in the yard, then a dead opossum hanging from a tree and, finally, arrows shot by a crossbow into his house. The arrows prompt Francis and Morning to go over and talk to Mather for the first time, which results in him punching Francis through the screen and getting arrested for his trouble.

The opossum was a challenge. I insisted on not killing an actual opossum, even though it would have been easy -- just drive around San Antonio at dusk and you'll hit one eventually. My solution was to buy an opossum pelt on eBay. Paul Ross, our Prop Master, stuffed the pelt and gave it wooden teeth, paws and a lovely long cardboard tongue. After hanging it from the tree, I took the ever-present stage blood and soaked the pelt with it until it looked sufficiently gross.

The Bills played off the possum corpse excellently well. Once we pan from the possum to the actors, I will probably never return to the available possum single -- the scene plays great with them looking off-camera to the thing.


Scrutinizing the 'possum

Next up was arrows in Donald's door. This was a simple scene -- the cops respond to Donald's complaint, then cross the street to Mather's house. As originally scripted, the arrows were meant to be in the lawn, but they would hardly have been visible, so we put them in the siding and door instead. I added one bent arrow that Morning picks up as he talks to Donald. As simple as the scene was, the Bills and I got wrapped up in a long and ultimately pointless discussion about the meaning of it all. We eventually snapped out of it, finished the coverage and moved on to the biggest scene of the day, the cops confronting Mather.


Mather glares through the screen

I talked to the new stunt guy, Sid (not his real name), before he showed up on set and explained what we needed from him. We got off to a bit of a rocky start, as Billy D. was more comfortable doing his own thing for the moment when Mather punches him. I told him that as long as it was safe, I was perfectly cool with him choreographing his own moves. He had already demonstrated an affinity for stage fighting, and the result was a very realistic stagger across the porch and down the steps.


Morning cuffs Mather

As Francis recovers from the punch, Morning pulls his gun and gets Mather out of the house onto the lawn, where he cuffs him and gives him a big kick for good measure. Here again, there was some dissent about how the kick should be administered. Sid insisted on a bent-knee approach. I was inclined to go with the expert, but because he was pulling the kick with his leg bent, Bill S. kept inadvertently kicking Lee Stringer in the arm, instead of flat on the chest (see the photo below). Finally, Billy D. suggested a kick with the leg fully extended, which looked much better and was less likely to hurt Lee (more surface area). We tried it and he was right. Stunt guy #2 was on thin ice by the end of the day.


Mather gets what he deserves

- Joseph Pierson
 


              


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