Sunday, May 14, 2006

Bad Day Film Set Memories

Yeah, I've had a lot of these. A previous post had talked about my actor playing Grandpa in my film, West River Drive (2002), deciding to bounce on a pogo stick in between scene set-ups. It wasn't pretty, but at least he was done shooting that day so the scratches on his forehead from hitting the curb & tree had time to heal.

Not sure if I mentioned in a past post about getting 2 of my main actors together (they played a girl & boy in West River Drive who liked each other and were supposed to share a kiss), problem was she GREW in the month we had seen her last and TOWERED over our boy. It looked utterly ridiculous.

Or the first time I loaded a 16mm film camera (1997), not at school, alone, in a dark closet at my house. Didn't go well. The film had come off its spool and at that moment, the anger/rage/embarrassment/etc was at a peak level. I thought I would literally explode. I eventually got it together and went out to shoot my meaningless student film (it was called The Passenger, and was about a guy who's car broke down, so he started walking.....and walking........and walking.....and walking....)

Or in 1998 when we were shooting a trailer on Super 16mm (for a script I wrote and was to direct called Driftwood) and my brother-in-law, who was carrying the sandwiches on a platter (we had a crew of 25 - yeah, way too many) dropped the platter onto the gravel parking lot. Gravel, ham & cheese, anyone?

This is a good one: In 2001. We were shooting the climax for my movie, Better Days. I was directing & operating the camera. We were filming at a retirement home - no it wasn't about old folks, but the place had an awesome chapel & reception hall and was perfect for our wedding scenes. But on that day, we were behind. A lot. Things were moving too slowly. But we had to be out of the recpetion area by lunch - the old folks had to eat. But we wouldn't be finished in time, not at all, and we simply couldn't afford another day at this place (it wasn't free).

So as I'm trying to film my lead actor run across some tables and land on the dance floor (I was in my wheelchair dolly, trying to smoothly follow him) I had my PAs trying to hold off the incoming old folks (they had wheelchairs, too) so I could get my last few shots in. And then 2nd & 3rd takes. Luckily we were shooitng MOS (no sound) but if we did have sound you'd be able to hear them grumbling around us. They were pissed, yeah, but we made our day.

Rule #1 - Be prepared, including CAST better (or more equally sized)
Rule #2 - Don't let me load your film
Rule #3 - Don't let my bro-in-law carry your food
Rule #4 - Don't piss off the old folks.
Rule #5 - Bring First Aid kit for Pogo-bouncing Grandpas.


Aaron said...

Yeah, not pissing off the old folks is a cardinal rule. You don't want to get kicked out before you get all your shots.

Remembering all the gear is an important rule too. There's nothing like being on location and realizing the sound guy forgot the headphone adapter for the DAT. I've seen audio guys record sound just using the meter on the machine. It's like watching someone burn money.

The one rule they should really drive into student's skulls in film school though isn't the shot, the script or the acting... your film will absolutely die without good audio.

Patrick J. Rodio said...

Aaron, you hit the head on the nail.

Bad sound will KILL a project, kill it! It's killed one or two of mine.

Chris Soth said...

Thanks for tips as I'm writing my directorial debut...and it looks like I'll even be PAID for it...


Systemaddict said...

Heres one Patrick---

Dark Angel-- 3rd day of shooting on a 12 day run...

I was one of 4 guest stars...and lo and behold...wake up at 6 cars gone. no where to be seen.

Run back inside my place, call to report it missing, yada yada...hour and a half cab pulls up to the circus a good hour after call...scrammble onto set...

And the whole place goes dead quite. I woulda been about 18 or 19 or so...little punk coming in late...

The first noise to break the silence is the 1st AD OVER THE RADIO!!!, saying "ladies and gentlemen, it appears that James is okay, and that she was worth it last night!"

I've never felt so bad, thinking they were about to fire me on the spot...and then been so relieved that the one usual 'tight ass' on set had a penchant for comic timing.

Suffice it to say - barring death, call a cab first...then deal with outside life.

PS- my car was fine, someone borrowed it without telling me...they now have no teeth.


Aaron said...

Adapt to your surroundings.

This one is on me as much as the director I was working for.

I was D.P. on a student feature (please, no one else do that) and we were shooting a vast majority of the show in a Gold's Gym. The problem was that we weren't allowed to shoot until late, after the place had all but emptied. What we did was try to hide that there was no one and yes, we didn't do a good job. What we should have done was work in a reason why those characters would have been there that late. I think doing that would have even added to the story and characters.

Anyway, I say this two years later...

Patrick J. Rodio said...

Good stories guys. I kick myself when I think back about certain choices, decisions, etc, that I should have made.

gizmorox said...

I'm with Aaron on the sound thing. I watched a crew of art school kids interview Ellen Burstyn and John Gulager and not get any sound at all. It was painful.

And I thought of you the other day, PJ. I was at a friend's house and she hands me this pint glass that says "Cricket Hill Brewery, Fairfield, NJ". I was like "Hey! That sounds familiar!" :)

Jenna R. Lee said...

Hahaha I did grow quickly, I'll never forget thinking "Really? I have to kiss this little boy who is at least 5 inches shorter than me??" It was utterly ridiculous... still would love to see it though! I left a comment on your most recent blog with my contact info...