Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Creative Eclipses

It's a Cave-In album title. Get it? Oh well, you will in a few paragraphs. Anyway, it's been a while, and with good reason. The past few days have been chock-full of movie craziness. As predicted, this last weekend was the roughest, and we did not make my shooting goal for setups. We got 90% done, though, so if we add one more shooting day then we're good. Unfortunately that means we have to go to the cave again, but that's the way it is. Let's begin the recap, shall we?

Monday the 26th/Tuesday the 27th - I had to recast the BEN role and in a whirlwhind feat of e-mailing/taping/mailing craziness (further complicated by the virtual shutdown of all services due to (non) Hurricane Rita), Peyton Wetzel got his reel in to me and I was able to fill the part. Peyton was cast on Tuesday, with a scene to be shot on Thursday.

Wednesday the 28th - I picked up our third and final witch (Zoe Hunter) from the airport and checked her in to the hotel. No shooting on this evening, but we discussed the goings-on for the next few days. She was even cooler than I expected her to be. For a Yankee, that is.

Thursday the 29th - We all congregate at the Top Hat Bar to shoot our bar scene. The proprietor wanted no money from us for the location...he only requested a donut as payment. Red flag. We met at the location at 9 AM - by 11 AM the guy still hadn't opened the place up for us. Truly a sucky situation, especially since the main actors in the scene are from New York and Dallas (so a reschedule wasn't an option). Fortunately, our location manager (Richard Boatto, aka "Cluj Hajeman") came through in the clinch and secured a locale for us to shoot at later that afternoon. Mad props to Griff's Sports Bar for letting us shoot there on two hours notice. If I drank, I'd drink at that place exclusively from now on. Ultra cool for them to do that for us - they even let us turn off everything and keep it quiet while shooting. The scene went well - Zoe, Peyton, and Tim did a great job and the scene came off very natural.

After the Griff's shoot, we convened later at the Houston Metro Fight Club to shoot Ben's kill scene. It took us a while to get started, but once the ball got rolling, we got through it relatively quickly. Hardest of all to capture was a crane move for the final shot that I really, really wanted, and I think we got it. Big thanks goes out to my boys (and sometime instructors in the fine art of pain infliction) Saul Soliz and Robert Barillas for letting us shoot at the fight club.

Friday the 30th - The cave. We all left over the course of the day to head out to San Antonio/Boerne and the Cave Without A Name - my group which consisted of Zoe, Russel, Domingo, Oliver, and myself booked it at about 11:30 AM, arriving at the hotel about 3:30 PM. After checking in, we head to the cave and start lugging stuff 85 feet closer to the bowels of hell. Due to the screwy arrival schedules and people getting lost, we didn't really get shooting until about 7 pm, so not much was accomplished on that first night. We shot a few insert scenes here and there, but with half of the essential cast not getting in until late, the coverage options were not very massive. Thankfully, the owners of the cave let us leave our stuff down there for the next day's shoot. I thought I could breeze thorugh the pickups and get my entire shot list done on Saturday. Boy...am I fucking stupid, or what?

Saturday the 1st - Cave II or "The Darkest Day of Production". The crew got there earlier to get a head start on the massive amount of shooting to be done. We had to shoot both of the COVEN'S LAIR scenes - which translates to about 13 pages of script, most of which is action-oriented. Fortunately, we could run a second unit, so we had double the shooting ability. This led me to believe we could power through the whole shot list. Yeah, right. Things began to go long really quickly, and before I knew it, it was 11 PM and we weren't even halfway done. Lights started blowing out, cast and crew disappeared for inordinate amounts of time, the guns jammed in the cop scene, attitudes started developing...all adding up to a near meltdown on my part. I would have killed for an experienced Assistant Director at that point. Unfortunately I did not have that luxury, so I had to make do. We shot all we could (the remainder of the first COVEN'S LAIR scene, 75% of the final battle, the cops entering the lair), and then I had to cut my losses. I asked all cast that would be needed to return if they were willing to do so, and they all agreed, so that settled it. I got my last shot about 11:30 or so and then it took us a good hour and a half to get all that equipment back up to the surface. On the way up I almost had an asthma attack and heart attack at the same time. I'm sure it didn't help that my blood pressure was about 265/197. Then went to Denny's (which I kind of hate) to eat afterwards. Of course, my bowels decided to turn on me about 6:30 AM, and I was up for the rest of the night/morning. Awesome. In a couple weeks, we go back to finish the coverage for the final battle, and then maybe shoot some ancillary stuff just to really jazz up the ending.

Disasterous though it seemed at the time, we actually got a lot done on Saturday night, and after wiewing the footage, it all looks pretty damned good. Anjanette especially stepped up by first of all eating fire in a vinyl t-back bikini, and then letting us rig up a jerk-rope to pull her backwards for the fireball impacts in the magic battle. I think she really wants to get hurt or something. When we return to the cave, I will definitely be exploiting her disregard for personal safety.

Sunday the 2nd - we get up to check out and caravan back to New Ulm for a variety of shots in the forest primeval. We actually used the 2 unit approach to our full advantage this time - I was shooting with one camera, and Robert and Will were off shooting with the other. I got the Lonely Man death scene knocked out first (Zoe is great in this one, along with our TV Party Tonight! cohort Thomas Kurzy as the titular man of lonely) - some lady actually stopped on the side of the road to see if we needed help. Thomas was face down covered in blood with a hole in his back, and Zoe was holding one of the fake hearts out over him...needless to say, the good samaritan looked like she was about to have a heartattack. Wish I had taped that. Next, I taped another kill scene in the trailer, and then after that we did some pickups from the cave fight with Melanie body-doubling for Jennifer.

While all this was going on, Will, Robert, Kenny, and Lynn Michaels (one of the cops in the movie) were running second unit on some car chase footage. These guys went totally Dukes of Hazzard, apparently. They nearly flipped my Explorer and put some rough miles on Roxy's Mustang...but, boy does that footage look sweet. It's like Bullitt with witches. It'll definitely add a lot to the finished product.

We wrapped about 8:30 PM and drove the rest of the way into H-town. Monday, I got up and took Zoe back to the airport, and then met Tim, Anjanette, and Roxy for some quick pickup shots to start off the chase sequence. And here we are now. On the 15th, we are doing a pickup shot back at the office location with Peyton and Tim, and then sometime after that it's back to the cave to finish what we started.

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