DAY 25 - Thursday
APRIL 5, 2001
BELLIGERENT MAN AGAIN
EXT. FRANCIS' HOUSE -- DAY
EXT. COP'S HOUSE #1 -- DAY
EXT. COP'S HOUSE #2 -- DAY
EXT. MURAL STREET -- DAY
candidates for the Belligerent Man yesterday at the crack house.
What a motley assortment of humanity! One guy was about 65 -- not
ideal for someone Bill Sage would be repeatedly throwing to the
ground and roughly handcuffing. Another guy was 6'4" and soap
opera beautiful. Not what I had in mind for a white trashy guy
hanging out on a lawn drinking beer out of a paper bag. After
exhausting the small talent pool assembled for my scrutiny I looked
around the set and noticed Roger
Eickenroht, one of the grips. He was kind of scruffy (as we
all were by then) and not too old or too big, but obviously in good
shape. I asked him if he wanted to be a day player in the film, with
the understanding that he would be subject to considerable
manhandling during the scene. He deliberated for a few moments and
said he was game.
you who have read this production journal from the beginning (you're
my favorites) will remember that the belligerent man scene was
originally shot on our first day of production, the Day
from Hell. The journal entry for that day explains in great
detail what went wrong that caused us to be in the position of
re-shooting the scene today.
difference in the first day and today was striking. First and
foremost, the guy I've called "Sammy," the long-gone Stunt
Coordinator, was, well, long gone. We accomplished several
stunt-like scenes since his departure convincingly for the camera
and without any injury to actor or crew. This one was probably the
most involved; Officer Morning chases a belligerent man across
several lawns, then tackles him and cuffs him in a single smooth
action. He jumps up like a cowboy and shouts "What's my time? I
knew I should have been a cowpoke!"
the biggest problems the first time we attempted this scene was
conflict between Sammy and Tim & I on how to block the scene. To
prevent a repeat of that conflict, Tim and I met last night in the
Liberty Bar and I scrawled a shot list on a stained paper napkin
whilst we sipped our cocktails. First thing in the morning we taped
the napkin to the back of the camera. We solemnly consulted the tiny
scrawled water-stained diagrams as necessary throughout the morning.
Not our usual way of working, but we were making a statement of some
another one of those days where we had to make a choice on the
"look" of the scene -- sun or clouds. We had a little of
each all morning, so either way there would be a fair amount of
waiting around. Tim and I decided on the cloudy look. Before each
take there was a five to ten minute wait for a new little bunch of
and Roger rehearsed the stunt on a furniture blanket until they were
both familiar with the action and confident in their ability to pull
it off. We did one final rehearsal for camera and it went perfectly.
Bill got the handcuffs on Roger almost instantaneously.
we ended up doing 13 takes altogether. I was compelled to keep
shooting because Bill never quite got the cuffs on as fast as
he had in that last rehearsal. I was seduced into thinking that the
next take would be the perfect one. Roger and Bill both assured me
they could have done more, but I finally quit before someone got
hurt unnecessarily. On reviewing the takes later, several were good
enough for us to believe Morning's dialogue.
house I assigned to Hodge
did a series of shots of Francis (Bill Dawes) on his way to
Morning's funeral. Francis drives his patrol car to a couple of
different cop's houses to pick up other officers, all of whom wear
their dress uniforms. I had to pick three other cops for the scene,
so I chose the three SAPD officers who were my favorites for their
natural ability as actors (and storytellers) and who had each become
a friend during the making of EvenHand: Richard Hodge, Kenny
Hagen and Michael Ross. All three are featured in several other
scenes in the film.
Francis' house (pre-landscaping)
arrived at Francis' house first. The set dressers were still working
on the lawn and sidewalks. Since we were doing just fine on time, we
hung out and watched them furiously chopping away at the turf. I don't
know whose house this was, but they got a pretty damn good deal from
us; we paid them a location fee and then our crew spent all day edging
and mowing their lawn and trimming shrubs. It looked mighty fine when
those sweaty boys were done.
Kenny Hagen's house
we were filming one of these shots of Billy D. driving up to a house,
Tim asked me why I chose such crappy houses for the cops of San Lovisa
to live in. The question surprised me, but it also made me articulate
why I changed my original plan of choosing more middle class homes for
the cops. I grew to love the weird old houses of the East side of town
where we concentrated so much of our filming to the point where I
couldn't bear to have our cops live anywhere else. It seemed right to
me that they would be part of the same curious old neighborhood in
which our story unfolds.
final scene of the day was the bear: the funeral procession. Fernando
and I spoke frequently throughout production about this scene. On the
one hand we couldn't afford many vehicles. On the other, it was meant
to be the beginning of a slain officer's funeral procession, so it had
to look pretty impressive. Fernando had asked me several times if I
wanted a hearse, but I couldn't really justify the expense, so I
always said "no," even though I really did want one. He
figured out how to get me one anyway. Transpo also scared up several
additional decommissioned police cars, bringing our total to about ten
cars. Not bad.
a remarkable thing happened. All the police officers on set started
making phone calls and before long we had assembled some thirty police
vehicles, including several Bexar County Sheriff's Dept. cars and
eight motorcycles for an escort. Sweet.
scene was awesome, but a logistical nightmare to organize. I drove one
of our patrol cars down Pine Street until Tim, at camera, couldn't see
it. This became the start mark for the procession. Then, after some
wrangling with the AD department, I had all the vehicles line up
behind that first car. On action, they all began to roll down the
street toward camera, all lights flashing. Like any shot with so many
variables, we tweaked as we went along, but I was always mindful that
each additional take meant resetting thirty-odd vehicles by sending
them around a 12 block square. I was also keeping in mind that the
cops who showed up to help us out did so as a favor and when they got
bored or called to duty, they were likely to simply leave.
1: the procession was too slow, the cars were too far apart and the
camera needed to pan later to catch more of the procession as it
approached. I asked Tim to pan with Francis' patrol car, the one
immediately after the hearse. Reset and wait.
2: tighter, but still kind of slow, and a gawker vehicle stopped in
the middle of the street, blocking the camera's view of the dramatic
approach. NG. Tighten up the traffic lock-up and reset again.
3: the slate was not in frame enough. Tim called "Second
sticks." I said, "Forget it, the cars are already
coming." New slate boy sticks the slate in anyway. Tim says,
"Still too low, third sticks." I say "NO! It's going to
mess up the shot!" New slate boy sticks the slate in again.
Perfect slate this time, but the shot is ruined as the procession is
well in frame by now. I say "God damn it! CUT!" It's
the first time on the entire shoot that I lost my shit and it felt
pretty good. I then told Tim to pretend to be filming the patrol cars
as they passed so the cops didn't think we were just goofing off while
they burned county gas. Reset yet again.
4: pretty good, but the guy with the sign that ends the shot didn't
come into frame quite early enough. I gave him a new cue. Reset the
5: nice all around. No reason to test the patience of thirty odd cops,
so we wrap.
guy with the sign paces in front of the completed mural, now
transformed into a memorial to Toby and Morning. His sign reads
"I am a liar."
- Joseph Pierson
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Films, Inc. All rights reserved.