PRODUCTION JOURNAL


DAY 24 - Wednesday  APRIL 4, 2001

THE LAST DANCE


Preparing to hoist the camera


WARNING: THIS JOURNAL ENTRY GIVES AWAY THE SURPRISE ENDING OF THE FILM!

FOR A MORE ENJOYABLE CINEMATIC EXPERIENCE, DON'T
READ THIS ENTRY UNTIL AFTER YOU SEE EVENHAND.


EXT. CRACK HOUSE -- DAY
Scene #95

INT. CRACK HOUSE -- DAY
Scene #90

INT. CRACK HOUSE -- DAY
Scene #96

INT. CRACK HOUSE -- DAY
Scene #94

INT. CRACK HOUSE -- DAY
Scene #92



Morning's empty chair

Having completed all the Crack House interiors and the earlier lunch club scenes on our prior visits to 806 Pine Street, we had nothing but the fun stuff left for today. Toby shoots Morning, cops shoot Toby, and various shots that precede and follow the action.

First thing, I gave instructions to build an angled plywood frame to hold the mattress that Bill Sage falls on after he is "shot" by Toby. I didn't want the mattress lying on the ground as Bill had thrown out his back the other day and didn't need to be falling any further than was absolutely necessary.

We had a high speed camera to film the gunshots and bloody squibs in slow motion. This was our Special Effects Supervisor Ron Allen's big day.


The whole gang

We started by getting the easy stuff out of the way by filming the lunch club scene that immediately precedes the fatal confrontation between Morning and Toby. Next up was our first high speed (slow motion) shot: Morning getting shot. Ron Allen carefully dressed Bill Sage in his squibbed shirt and fastened a belt around his waist so he could jerk him to simulate the impact of the shotgun blast. In his right hand he held the trigger for the squib. The theory was that he would pull the trigger on the squib as he simultaneously jerked Bill out of frame.

When we were all ready, Matt got the high speed camera going with a sound like a clock spring unwinding all at once. The second he shouted "Speed!" I hollered "Action!" and Ron worked his magic. Kay Cruz (Boom Operator) simultaneously videotaped the shot so we could review it. It looked really good, except that Tim thought the purple strap around Bill's waist was visible in the shot. The strap was readjusted, Bill was cleaned up and a new squibbed shirt was issued. This was our last shirt, so we were depending on everything going perfectly this time. "Speed!" "Action!" It all went like...clockwork.

Next up was Toby shooting the shotgun. For this one, Ron went into the middle of Pine Street and demonstrated several different types of shotgun blanks. We chose the one with the biggest muzzle flare. Again the high speed camera was set up, this time behind a big piece of the beloved Lexan. We got several takes of this shot as it depended on nothing but a new blank cartridge each time. No problems.

The final high speed shot was our most ambitious. In a reversal of Mike Jones' original scene description, the camera starts at Toby's feet, then slowly cranes up to a point above his head, revealing Morning lying on the sidewalk with the empty lawn beyond him. A half second later, the cops from the lunch club come spilling around the corner, guns blazing. The choreography for this shot was extremely precise -- the camera had to rise at just the right speed, the cops had to enter frame at exactly the right moment (at a full run) and fire their guns in a predetermined order. Io also had to move out of the way as soon as she was no longer visible in the frame. We rehearsed the move with the dolly booming and the cops running and yelling out "One!" "Two," etc. instead of firing their guns. The dolly track had to be adjusted several times to get it out of frame, the Lexan was it's usual supreme pain in the ass, but after a bunch of gripology voodoo we were finally ready for action.

Then, disaster struck: the camera refused to work. Matt looked it over, tested all cables and connections, replaced the battery several times. Nothing. And this was a special camera that came from Dallas for which we had no manual or on location expert. What happened next is why Matt Petrosky is the undisputed king of camera assistants. He started taking the camera apart. I was silently freaking out as microscopic screws and little parts got piled up and mini-maglites were shined over his shoulder as the light outside began to fade. Finally Matt removed a tiny fuse from deep within the guts of the camera, found a replacement from his kit, put back all of the microscopic screws and little parts -- and the damn thing worked again! Incredible.

After three takes we nailed the shot and moved on to more coverage. The final shot was Toby lying dead in the doorway with many police cars and an ambulance blinking in the background while the cops and paramedics finish their futile attempts to revive Morning. The day was sad and kind of freaky for Io, who had never killed or been mortally wounded in a film before and found the experience to be unsettling. It was her last day, too, which is always hard for a principal actor.

- Joseph Pierson
 


              



Copyright 2001 Cypress Films, Inc. All rights reserved.