This is the first of a 13-day cccrazzyyy!!! blog adventure on the making of my micro budget indie movie, DEAD WEIGHT, a desert survival tale that will screen at the Golden State Film Festival at the Chinese Theater, 6925 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028 - on Tues., Feb. 25 at 9:30pm.
The night before…My first day shooting my film can’t be tomorrow because…well, I’m not ready! Nothing’s packed. I get that nightmare feeling I used to get in grade school; I’d dream I got up so late for school, I’d find myself reading in front of the class… in my pajamas! God, not the pajama nightmare again. I stare at the devastation my apartment has become. Every square inch of the floor – and furniture – is covered with stuff ready for movie mobilization. But yet not ready. A mess. I cannot be caught in my pajamas on the first day of my shoot.
My beautiful homemade prosthetics, the impalement and the heart, are carefully packed with lots of buffer around them. Catering and motel reservations made. Film props are roughly categorized and boxed in mostly their proper places. Overnight changes of clothing and toiletry articles…I’m still in my pajamas on that one. Better get packing.
I will make this very organizational. Streamlined. Methodical. But… the packing soon disintegrates into a desperate throwing and re-organizing of articles, props, clothing, helter skelter into various bags and boxes. I guess things weren’t as well categorized as I had thought. This is not the way a movie should be prepared for, probably. But it’s almost midnight now, and I have two hours of driving into the desert before reaching the motel, to then get up and be ready at the crack of 7am. And my filmmaking debut.
So the throwing grows more frantic. When all the bags and boxes are packed and bulging in a most haphazard, unmethodical, unstreamlined, uncategorized way, I guess I am ready. I bring the giant rental SUV around to the front of my apartment and just throw stuff in. I shove the generator way back to make more room.
Oh wait. The gallons of water for me and my crew tomorrow. I run back in the house and get those. Finally I think I’m ready. I have checked and re-checked every prop I will need. It’s all there. Let’s go. Oh! The freshly revised scripts – and the hard drives to transfer the footage to. I run back in and get those. Almost forgot. That wouldn’t have been good. I make a bathroom pit stop, see a tiny sewing kit in a half open drawer. Take it. Why not? I don’t know it now, but boy will I need it.
One last check of my emails on the computer. A crew member wants to know where are the call sheets. Call sheets? Wasn’t giving you the motel address enough? How’s this for a call sheet? Meet me outside my motel room door at 7am. We don’t need no stinkin’ call sheets! What is he thinking? If he thinks this is another run-of-the-mill well-planned methodical movie shoot where things are done right and everything is planned, he’s got another thing coming.
Finally, just past midnight, I hit the road. Halfway through the dark, starry, sleep-inducing midnight desert drive, it hits me. The snake guts! I need snake guts! We’re shooting the rattlesnake scene tomorrow (which is already today). Everything must stay on schedule to make the twelve to fourteen-day moviemaking blitz work. I remembered to stop and get the fake snake from the prop rental house but I forgot to get snake guts!
I hightail it off a freeway exit. Thanks, 24-hour desert Walmart. I walk to the meat section, half asleep. The rotten smell of semi fresh meat that’s about to go south knocks the sleep right out of me. I need something slimy, ropy, pale, smooth, slippery, snake-gut-like. Intestinal. But no, everything is very red and very meaty. The closest thing is a container of chicken gizzards, bloody, leaking, way too red, and looking several days too old. There’s nothing else. Don’t these desert people eat octopus and things like that? Well, chicken gizzards will have to make do. The thing starts to leak smelly rotten blood in the car, in spite of the two paper bags and two plastic bags it’s in. Ugh!
Two and a half hours of driving later, eyes mostly shut, nose and senses numbed by the rotten meat smell, I finally pull into the motel. I noisily (but quietly as possible) haul myself and some of the must-have stuff into the motel room, trying not to wake my roommate, the DP. Her blond head peeks half out from under the covers, makes a moaning sound of angst, and dives back down again. Sorry.
I set the chicken gizzards quietly on the table. As if that will make up for my noisy entrance. Now, that was stupid. I should have left the gizzards in the car, where it’s a gazillion degrees below zero. The high desert in March is positively Siberia-like. They’ll rot in here. Oh well. I’m not going back out there.
I quickly super-glue my movie boots (the sole is flapping around and I keep tripping), take a shower, put finishing touches to my best and final impalement prosthetic, and finally fall into bed at 3am. Whew! Four hours to go.
As I look over my script, trying to get into my acting zone, I drift off to sleep, wondering if the crew will show up… I guess I could have checked with the 3am motel desk clerk, see if they’re here. Too many details. I can only keep so many details in my head. No more details. … Is it true? Am I really making a movie tomorrow (today) …? It seems surreal. Will they show up…?
DEAD WEIGHT, a desert survival tale, will screen at the Golden State Film Festival at the Chinese Theater, 6925 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA 90028 - on Tues., Feb. 25 at 9:30pm.
Please do come out and support local filmmakers! The filmmaker you support may be the filmmaker who hires you one day!###########