Thursday, February 15, 2007

DAY TEN/HACK FILMMAKER KILLED IN FREAK ACCIDENT

While the above headline would certainly have satisfied my legions of enemies, I’m afraid it only ALMOST happened today. Next time, I promise to try harder to die…
With the overnight snowfall forcing us ONCE AGAIN to change our schedule (and prompting yet even MORE complaints from some crew members who apparently feel that every decision we make is a personal insult directed at them because they are French Canadian…), we end up returning to the studio where the art department is frantically putting the finishing touches on our fake bathroom set. In this scene, our Young Mr. Wilson inadvertently causes the bathtub to flood the entire second floor of his neighbor’s house, thus somehow securing his future as a grumpy old man…trust me, you have to see the movie to understand.

After much confusion – once again nobody tells me what’s REALLY going on until I get the facts from my loyal On Set Dresser - it is suddenly discovered that the running water for said bathroom set has NOT been installed. We lose yet another hour and a half waiting for hoses to be connected and attachments to be made but of course, they aren’t the correct attachments and what is supposed to be a great gushing GEYSER of COMEDY WATER is more like the kind of dribble one could expect after emergency prostate surgery.

I don’t know why I’m so surprised – so far, NOTHING has worked on the first attempt on this movie – and when the finger pointing breaks out, I stop it by calling lunch and telling the special effects and art departments to just fix the damn thing!
I corner my First AD and ask why the hell things like this keep happening; he shrugs and tells me – I swear to you, dear reader – that he feels that myself and the producer are simply asking for TOO MUCH from the crew. Apparently, we “Hollywood” types are expecting “too high a level of filmmaking” and that the usual Quebecois production simply accepts mediocrity as “good enough”.

I wonder how many pieces my crew would carve him into should I let them know what he’s just said….

Lunch passes, we return to the bathroom and - miracle of miracles - it works perfectly. Once again my On Set Art Team saves the day. A huge blast of water gushes out of the wall, knocking our Young Mr. Wilson into the tub on cue, he gets a big laugh and applause from the crew and he’s wrapped from the movie. His mother gives me an envelope with, I assume, a little “thank you” note as is customary at these sorts of moments, but it actually turns out to be a very bizarre three page tirade about how the production office “refused” to give them a map to the studio and therefore her son was late, something I wasn’t even vaguely aware of, but it wasn’t his fault and she hopes I won’t hold that against him as he continues his climb up the ladder to SuperStardom.

Frankly, a “thank you” note would’ve been just fine.

However, as they leave I am suddenly aware of a great flurry of activity around my chair. Various Production Assistants are scurrying to and fro with mops, rags and brooms, desperately trying to stem the flow of water from the overflowing tub. It appears that in their haste to finish building our bathroom, the art department hasn’t created any kind of “dam” around the set, so there is currently a tsunami happening all over our studio floor, inexorably making its way toward the high voltage boxes nearby.

Scooping up my Continuity Girl, we head for the high ground near the snack table until the danger passes. I know I am eventually going to die on a film set, but I’ll be damned if it’s gonna be a Dennis the Menace Movie.

Of course this delay means we have to rush through the rest of the day, including the hospital scene where the lovely Louise Fletcher has yet another appearance in our film playing Mrs. Wilson. The running gag has been that every time she arrives, she utters no more than one line --usually, “yes dear” or “of course dear”—in response to one of RJ’s diatribes against Christmas. This scene is no exception, as Mr. Wilson lies in a hospital bed, the victim of another of Dennis’ escapades.
When our Producer first suggested her, my initial reaction was “hmmm…Nurse Ratched as the kindly gramma next door? I don’t know about that…” but I am utterly delighted to have been proven wrong. Beyond the fact that this Academy Award Winning actress has more talent in her left earlobe than I have in my entire “oeuvre”, she’s also great fun to have on set.

At wrap, I find out that one of our day players has been causing some trouble in the Craft Services truck, digging around in one of the storage bins and being rude to the guy who makes our on-set snacks and meals. Full of myself, and seeing the opportunity to win the crew over with my “I’m just one of you” routine, I tell the producers that this day player, whom we had been considering for an extra day or two in the movie, is not to return. I don’t mind actors being rude to me, I tell them, but I will not have them being cruel to somebody who works as hard as our Craft Guy, "my good friend Gary".

Unfortunately, some of the impact of my self-righteousness is lost when I am told that the "my good friend" the Craft Guy’s actual name is Ray.

Oh well. Moral indignation makes me look fat anyway.