PRODUCTION  JOURNAL


DAY 12 - Tuesday  MARCH 20, 2001

BIKERS BUY BEER


INT. FOOD MART -- DAY
Scene #18 pt.

EXT. FOOD MART -- DAY
Scene #19 pt.

INT. RESTAURANT -- DAY
Scene #75

EXT. FOOD MART -- EVENING
Scene #28

INT. FOOD MART -- NIGHT
Scene #72

EXT. RESTAURANT -- DUSK
Scene #105



Joseph, Billy D. & Bill S. discuss the day's work



Morning waits for Francis to buy gum


Today was another split day, so called because we shot some day scenes and some night scenes. The most fun was the scene with a pair of bikers who come into the Food Mart to buy beer and cigarettes. This scene, written by me, replaced a scene written by Jon Glascoe, which in turn replaced a scene written by Mike Jones.

The evolution of this scene speaks to the process of refinement that every script must go through as the characters and situations become clearer in the director's mind. In the original scene, Francis goes to a party where he chances to meet Jessica. They have an awkward conversation in which Francis ultimately angers her by saying he can't imagine doing what she does for a living (working in a mini-mart). He says it innocently enough, but she misinterprets him and an opportunity for a connection between them is lost. She walks away to find a friend, leaving Francis alone to watch an episode of "Cops" on the television that sits nearby.

In Jon's version of the scene, Francis walks into a neighborhood church to seek solace and chances to meet Jessica there. She's with her parents. The moment is awkward as well, but it's more about reinforcing the connection between Francis and Jessica than undermining it.

In the final version of the scene, Francis is home alone, reading a book, when he decides to go to the Food Mart to see Jessica again. Their only real contact to this point is the flirtatious scene that is broken by the Old Man with Brick. In this, their second encounter, he goes to the back of the store to get a carton of milk, when the bikers approach the counter with their beer. They are drunk and rude, coming on to her and dumping a pile of scrunched up bills on the counter. When Jessica informs them that they're short by a buck or two, they become more threatening. Francis (in civilian clothes) pulls his police ID from his pocket and is about to approach the bikers, but he stops to think about what he's doing. He decides to not intervene; he would rather be a person to Jessica than a cop. She handles the bikers perfectly and he goes up with his milk after they've left.

The biker scene accomplishes two things that neither of the earlier versions did. First, Francis decides to see Jessica, rather than meeting her by chance. This was important to me because I wanted him to make an effort to bring love back into his life. His willingness to actively seek Jessica is one of a few signs that he will weather his crisis; he hasn't lost hope. The second important element to the new scene is that by deliberately stepping away from his role as a police officer, Francis shows that he can separate his work from his personal life. That's why his marriage failed; he brought the job home every night.

*    *    *    *    *    *

Two things made today a pain in the ass. The first was the endless stream of customers coming in and out of the Food Mart. To "own" a location like this was well beyond our means (which is how we could afford a Condor crane for Tim at the Abandoned Street). The only alternative was to pay the owners a nominal location fee and allow customers to come in to the store between takes. That sounds great in a pre-production meeting, but in practice it sucks. If you add up all the delays caused by people standing around buying lotto tickets and slurping Big Red, it's at least an hour a day. It's hard enough to get through the days without having to wait for civilians to clear the store twenty five times in the course of an afternoon.

Annoying thing #2 was a member of the prop dept. (who will remain unnamed) not having a key prop. After lunch I casually asked him if he had Francis' police ID ready, as we were doing Francis' coverage right after lunch. He produced the leather wallet, but didn't have the printed San Lovisa ID card that Lovisa had made. When I asked him why he didn't have a key prop for a scene that we were shooting in twenty minutes he didn't have much to say. Lovisa hopped into a car and raced back to the production office to get the ID. She returned with moments to spare. We snapped a Polaroid of Billy D., slapped it on the ID card and got our shot. Scary to think that if I hadn't asked that casual question we probably wouldn't have made the day.


Joseph watches some harassment

The main biker was played by Robert Chambers, an almost legendary figure in San Antonio film production circles (he's on the right in the picture above). He is a key grip most of the time and one whom we couldn't afford (more lights for Tim!!!). Robert is known for being a tough customer, having been in innumerable brawls, gotten shot, hit by cars, and who knows what all. He excelled at playing an appropriately nasty biker, adding a few of his own charming ad-libs.

We shot scene 105 today, by the way (the one we failed to get yesterday). Gary Ledyard, our production designer, had some stern words with the boys in his department and they positively whipped those bars off the restaurant's windows in plenty of time for us to get our nice sunset shot of Francis driving up in his patrol car. Barbie's bitch (as Gary likes to be known) came through again.

- Joseph Pierson
 


              



Copyright 2001 Cypress Films, Inc. All rights reserved.