8 - WEDNESDAY MARCH 14, 2001
A GOOD PLAN
Cosmo's big moment
MURAL STREET - WHITE WASH -- DAY
INT. CARLA & VICTOR'S HOUSE -- DAY
INT. CARLA & VICTOR'S HOUSE -- DAY
EXT. DONALD'S HOUSE MONTAGE -- DAY
EXT. MATHER'S HOUSE -- NIGHT
schedule was the result of a weekend realization that we could never
finish Carla & Victor's scenes in two days as originally
scheduled, and that completing the Donald/Mather coverage (day and
night exteriors) in a single day was also impossible. Fernando and
Tim and I met on Sunday and shuffled the schedule around until we
had created an extra day for the above scenes. I was right, of
course. The previous days at both locations were plenty full, so
this made it possible for us to succeed in making our days, an
important morale booster on a film set.
also the day we picked up Sc. 21, one of the scenes that was
unusable due to loss of light on Day 1, the
"Day from Hell."
The reshoot was hardly easier, though. We showed up at the Mural
wall in a steady downpour. Fortunately, the location provided an
awning for the featured "I'm a Thief" boy (Cosmo
Inserra) to stand under. I had the Bills wear their SLPD jackets
that Yvonne thoughtfully provided, so they wouldn't get soaked on
their way to talk to the boy, and so that they'd appear to be
prepared for rain in the film.
calls for Morning to walk over to the boy, who wears a large sign
around his neck with "I'm a Thief" scrawled on it.
Throughout the story we see various characters with similar signs.
This is the scene that provides some exposition on why they wear
them. The inspiration for this theme is Judge Ted Poe of Harris
County, Texas. Judge Poe is known for creative sentencing and has,
on occasion, sentenced criminals to wear signs proclaiming their
crimes in a sort of modern day version of the public stockades of
Puritan times. He says it works great. "I don’t want people
in my courtroom to get confused and think they’re in New
Jersey," says the Judge.
the scene: Morning approaches the boy and grabs his hat, saying
"Judge says no hat." We infer from this that he wears the
sign as some sort of court ordered penance. Meanwhile, the Mural
kids are busily whitewashing the graffiti in the background,
prepping it for the Mural.
pissed down on us all morning, causing the scene to take twice as long as it
normally would have. Today was one of our rare Fisher dolly
days, which meant there was that much more equipment to keep dry.
Everyone was in a bad mood, but we managed to fight through the
scene and dragged our sodden selves over to Carla & Victor's
house, where we could look forward to all interior scenes and a
respite from the rain.
truck took longer than usual to arrive at the next location. I was
soon informed that the reason was -- another car accident!
Apparently, a car tried to pass the truck and ended up ramming it
instead. The truck sustained only minor damage, but the car was
totaled. More ambulances, tow trucks, fire engines and broken glass
to be swept up. And another delay.
waited for equipment and actors to arrive, I had another chat with
Sid (not his real name), stunt guy #2. The scene we were tackling
first was sc. 37, which as you recall, is
the scene where Morning hog-ties Victor. I told Sid that the Bills
and I had established a good working relationship and that we had
also worked out many of the specifics of how Bill S. would
accomplish the hog-tie. I asked him to watch as we worked and step
in if we got into a jam. Sid's reaction was not altogether
promising; he said he could just as easily wait in his car if we
weren't going to make use of his knowledge and experience. My attitude
warning flags went up, but I said something soothing and left it at
got underway with the scene, there was again disagreement about how
to make the action work. The Bills drew on their experience in
Police Academy training to figure out how to bring Victor to his
knees in preparation for hog-tying. Sid had a different idea. I
watched both and again decided that I liked what the Bills were
doing better; it looked natural and real (because it was). In a
conciliatory gesture, Billy D. tried to demonstrate on Sid what they
learned at the academy. Sid helpfully locked his knees and said
"You'll never be able to take me down." This prompted Bill
S. to ask if this was about penis size, and if so, he'd be happy to
whip his out for comparison. Sid replied that Bill would definitely
that the relationship, such as it was, was rapidly deteriorating, I
asked Sid if he would step outside with me and the 1st AD. I told
him that things didn't seem to be working out and that I thought it
would be best if he left. After explaining to me that the hierarchy on set was
"the director, the stunt coordinator, the cinematographer, THEN
the actors," he stomped off. That ain't how it works on my set,
pal. Bye-bye Stunt Coordinator #2.
did find a replacement stunt coordinator, which was just as well.
Both the Bills had enough cop training and enough good sense to make
all the action stuff look very real, without hurting themselves or
any of the other actors. And besides, this was not about crashing
cars or jumping off buildings, just a little rough arrest here and
there. Piece a cake.
* * *
second company move brought us back to Donald's and Mather's for the
night exteriors. Tim got to play with big lights for the first time,
and the hour + of set-up time paid off; the locations looked great.
The scene at Donald's house was the one in which he complains of
beer cans in his yard, which he suspects come from the neighbor
(Mather). It's a montage scene, and the first to establish this
growing conflict between Mather and his dweeby neighbor (sorry
Scene 1 takes shape
scene of the day was scene 1, the first scene of the film. It was
not original to Mike Jones' screenplay; I added it after arriving in
San Antonio. We open on a tight shot of a Texas license plate. An
engine revs, and the plate pulls away from camera, revealing a black
station wagon, which we ultimately discover is Mather's car. We
later see it smashed up as a result of a hit and run accident that
plays a pivotal role in the story (see the first couple of
paragraphs of the pre-production journal entry, Carol).
It's a simple and entirely visual scene, but it immediately
establishes the place (Texas) and the tone (foreboding).
Felix drives Mather's station wagon
as it was on paper, it was not the easiest to execute; a car
speeding away from the camera, starting on an almost macro shot of
the license plate is a challenge for the best focus pullers. Matt
stands tall among them, but we had to do in excess of 10 takes
before we were satisfied that we got the shot.
heartbreaker was the discovery, some days later, that the film stock
we used for all of today's night scenes had been mislabeled by the
company that provided it. It was recanned stock, meaning it had been
opened and loaded previously by another production. There is nothing
inherently wrong with recans, but it has to be tested to be sure
that it matches it's label and has not been exposed to the light,
etc. (not an issue with fresh stock). Of course, the company's
literature said "tested" -- obviously a lie. The film
stock was so wrong that the footage from that night appeared almost
black and consequently was completely unusable. Damn. Another step
back...and a hell of a long day.
© 2001-2006 Cypress Films, Inc. All rights reserved.