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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"What's the Use?" film update: Old Ladies, Fake Blood, and Near-Death Experiences

Last night, Mike, the DP of the film, wanted to show me two potential locations to shoot for the feature film project this summer: What's the Use?  We've been dealing with what to do about one character's house.  The "antagonist," Shy, a sorta sleezy car repair shop owner, lives with his suicidal mom.  The house we are probably going to use is probably not the best visual fit for him, as it looks like a bunch of 30 year-olds live there, but it's what we have.  Mike, the DP, thought he could show me another place. 

He called up a friend of his and off we went to check out the house.  Poor old lady was in the middle of watching her basketball game in a completely dark livingroom.  One wall was nothing but mirrors, which is interesting.  Had lots of ceramic statues, soft thick carpet. But the thought of having to put this poor woman out for five days while we had scenes involving the removal of a man's finger, a gun being fired, Shy looking up an Asian porn site, and a 14 year-old seducing a man just gave me the chills. Not to mention the fake blood we'll have to pour over the rug.  Even if we use a cheap craig's list rug, that crap will soak through.  No matter how hard one tries, fake blood will get everywhere.

So nix that.

The scariest part was yet to come.

Mike took me out to a narrow bridge over Mopac, one of the major north-south routes through Austin, to a set of train tracks.  We walked over the railroad ties, the fat rocks sliding under my thin shoes as we walked over the bridge.  This was not a pedestrian bridge, and was meant only for the trains that pass.  It was very dark but the way Highway 183 rose over the tracks and how Mopac traffic rushed below was really interesting as far as framing goes.  How we would light it was another issue.  We started to head back and are on the thin bridge over Mopac. It brought to mind the scene from Stand by Me where the kids are running over a bridge to get to the other side just in time before the train could have hit them.  Just as I am about to mention this scene, Mike calls:


I turn to see a series of bright lights pummeling towards us. Where did this thing come from? We didn't hear it!  We quickly jump off the tracks to the side of the rails on this thin bridge while the horn blares at us angrily.  I grip the side of a waist-high bar and lean as far away from the train as I can, staring down at Mopac below me.  Mike, with the death wish he seems to have, enjoys the thrill of having a train pass four feet from his face at over 70 MPH while I just hope that there isn't some item projecting from the side of the train that is going to hit us or decapitate us.  My grandfather worked for the trains and an accident to his head from a train is what killed him.  The wind from this moving beast of iron and steel is pulsating around us and my heart is absolutely racing. It is probably no more than five feet from us and the only place to go involves walking beside it to get on one side of the bridge we are stuck on. I wait in true terror and as the cars' wheels click over the rails, and when I can get my breath back, I ask Mike to move so I can get past him and get away from this damn train.  I go hide in a bush.  Mike stays there watching this thing move like a snake.

Well, let's just say I felt sick.  Mike thought it was exhilarating. Yes it was.  But not in a cool way for me.  There are some risks I'll take in life, but I won't risk my life. 

Strange. Pre-production seems to be a period of danger for me I've noticed.  Last time, I was in my apartment going to get some coffee started before rehearsing with the actors.  As I was walking into the kitchen, I rammed my toe into a mirror and sliced off the toe nail.  That was a trip to the emergency room.  Funny thing is...we rehearsed the scenes in the emergency room.

Anyhow,  so I'm putting some photos up of some of the props I created for the film.  I think they are really funny.  The guide books I had particular fun with.  None of these books or cards are real!  So don't get any ideas...  

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