PRODUCTION JOURNAL


DAY 13 - Wednesday  MARCH 21, 2001

IO ROCKS


EXT. POLICE PRECINCT - REAR ENTRANCE -- DAY
Scene #11

EXT. POLICE PRECINCT - REAR ENTRANCE -- DAY
Scene #64

INT. POLICE PRECINCT - OFFICE -- DAY
Scene #65R

EXT. MURAL OUTLINE -- DUSK
Scene #49 pt.

EXT. MURAL - 1/3 COMPLETE -- NIGHT
Scene #60A



Io contemplates life in handcuffs

Toby is the emotional heart of EvenHand. He's a strung-out kid, a follower, not a leader. He's always in trouble, but is hardly a threat to anyone but himself. Morning arrests him repeatedly but never takes him in. Morning is practicing some strange kind of tough love, but fails to see that it's only driving Toby to hate him.

Io Tillett Wright plays Toby. Although it's not obvious from the name (or performance), Io is a girl. She first came to our attention when Allen Mindel, one of the scary executive producers of Julian Po, suggested her to play a small role in that film. That, too was a male character: Walter.

Soon after Julian Po (Christian Slater) announces he's going to kill himself, Walter and his gang of young boys start following Po around town. Po finally confronts them to ask why they're following him. "To see when you do it," replies Walter. "Well, I'm not going to do it today, so you can go home." Po walks away, but Walter still dogs him. Po asks "Why are you still following me?" "Cause a guy who'd kill himself might lie."

Io brought a wonderful worldly innocence to the role of Walter. We became instant fans. So, when it came time to cast Timmy in Cherry, Io was our first choice. Timmy had no dialogue, but several amusing scenes. In my favorite, Timmy is in the doctor's waiting room tossing around a plastic model of a uterus with another kid when Dr. Kirk (Jake Weber) confronts him, snatching the uterus from him and rapping him on the forehead with it: "Timmy, this is not a toy. You could seriously hurt someone with one of these."

I actually didn't think of Io as a possibility for Toby right away. Our goal was to cast all of the day players and other supporting roles in Texas. As the local auditions progressed, though, I found actors for every role  except Toby. It got to the point that whenever I saw Susan Jasso, our San Antonio casting director, I would ask "Toby, where?" (a play on Morning's line in the Food Mart: "Cranberry juice, where?"). As the days passed and production loomed closer, there was no Toby to be found. Susan started going to local high school drama departments and, in desperation, even brought in a few real drug addicts (ugh).

Finally one day I thought of Io. I knew she was now 15 years old, but hadn't seen her in at least three years, so I had no idea whether she could still convincingly play a boy. After a couple of phone calls I found out that she was attending school in London. After speaking to her I had a friend in London put her Toby audition on videotape. I won't lie and say the audition was good, because it wasn't really. What I saw, though, was the same natural quality and energy that she brought to her other roles. I could imagine caring about her Toby.

After a brief negotiation with her dad, Io was signed up. She couldn't start work until today, though, because of school. Her first scene, which also happened to be Toby's first scene in the script, was a great success.

Morning and Francis, who have just met, walk out to Morning's patrol car behind the police precinct:

Morning sets the ice water and the blue duck on top of the car and opens the back door.  Inside sits a kid, TOBY, sweaty and handcuffed.

                      MORNING
             I almost forgot my cuffs here.

                      TOBY
                    (angry)
            
Where you been, man?

He grabs Toby by the arm and yanks him out of the car.  Then he takes the cuffs off.

                     MORNING
            
This here's Toby.  He does a great
            
impression of a young John Wayne
            
on heroin--

                     TOBY
                   
(interrupting)
            
If you're takin' me in, then let's go.

                     MORNING
                   (suddenly stern)
            
Don't interrupt me, understand?

                     TOBY
             You aren't taking-?

                     MORNING
            
Do you understand what I just
             said to you?!

Beat.

                     MORNING
             It ain't that complex a question, Toby!
             Yes or no.

Beat.

                     TOBY
            
Yeah, but I just want to ask you
            
somethin', alright?

                     MORNING
            
What.

                     TOBY
             Are you going to take me in?

                    MORNING
            
Nope.

                     TOBY
                    (angry)
             I knew it!  Fuck this!  Every fuckin'
             week!

Toby stumbles off, but turns and comes back after a few steps.  He reaches inside the car and takes his hat from the back seat.  He starts to walk away again, but spots the ice water on top of the car.

                     TOBY
             Hey, can I get a sip of that?

Morning takes a big gulp from it and sets it back on the trunk of the car next to the duck.

                     MORNING
                  (smiling)
             Sorry, Toby. Can't do it
.

He takes a step back and glares at Toby, waiting, daring him.

                   MORNING
             So, you gonna do that John Wayne
              impression, or what?

 Toby wheels back around and stomps away.

                     TOBY
             Fuck you, man!

                     FRANCIS
            
You ain't gonna take him in?

                     MORNING
             He's just a damn kid.  Not good for
            
much except smokin' whatever drops in
            
his lap.

He takes an empty plastic soft drink bottle from the back of the car and throws it at Toby.  It bounces off the pavement.  Toby keeps walking.

                     MORNING
                    (yelling to Toby)
             You better pick that up!!

                     TOBY
             Fuck, man!?

But Toby shuffles over to the bottle, picks it up, and continues on his way.

                     MORNING
                (to himself, suddenly angry)
             That boy's a goddamn shame.

Once I had the make-up dept. remove her finger nail polish and had the wardrobe dept. bind her chest (an important detail when a girl plays a boy), Io was excellent. I couldn't wait to shoot the rest of her scenes.

*    *    *    *    *    *


Linda feels the heat

By now you're probably wondering what went wrong today. My mood darkened somewhat as a result of some members of the prop dept. (who will remain unnamed) sitting in the shade of the police substation while the rest of us toiled in the blazing sun. Every time the water or ducks needed to be reset, props had to be summoned over. That stuff should be automatic and not something I'm even aware of. Then, I asked the 1st AD how we were doing with preparations for our company move to the mural wall. Today was the day we were going to shoot the continuation of scene 49 (see the March 12th journal entry).

James replied that Carlos (not his real name), one of the mural guys, decided that he didn't want to return as an extra. I patiently explained what James already knew, that we needed him to repeat his actions because the shot we were doing today with Io had to match exactly the shot we did on the 12th. Apparently Carlos didn't like working in the rain (scene 21R), so he decided his career as an extra was over. After having no success getting Carlos to show up, I told Fernando to tell him that I didn't want to see him on our set again in any capacity. He never showed his face again.

The actual mural artist, Gabe, did arrive, but he didn't have his correct wardrobe. One of our drivers, Brian, who played the third mural artist, was also lacking his matching wardrobe. That essentially made us 0 for 3. Arrgh! What an unholy mess!

We still had to make the shot work, however, so I started figuring out what could be done to salvage the disaster. First, I recruited James, who bears a passing resemblance to Carlos, to fill the role of the missing mural artist. Carlos wore shorts in the original shot, so I asked James if he would mind a little modification to his pants, which were otherwise the right color. No problem. A few judicious snips later and James had shorts.

Thomas Espy, our crack set dresser, had a shirt that was the right color for Brian, so he kindly lent it to the production. We pieced together an approximation of Gabe's wardrobe from other understanding crew members and finally had our three mural artists, more or less.


The Mural, 1/3 complete

Epilogue: Lovisa and I cut the two pieces of scene 49 together the other day and it works great. No one will ever guess how wretched my afternoon was.

- Joseph Pierson
 


Io and Joseph


              


Copyright 2001 Cypress Films, Inc. All rights reserved.