Independent Filmmaker
October 7, 2000 - Beach scene

Well this was a bitch. It's certainly easier to conceive of this shit verses trying to film what pops out of yer little head. I thought it would be funny to write a scene where EVERY romantic cliche was crammed into one ridiculous scenario. What's that? Long walks on a beach at sunset, romantic dinners by a fireplace, violinist serenade and a surprise balloon delivery...all in one location. Problem was I then had to FILM this fucker.

First problem was finding a location. It was October, so I knew we wouldn't have to fight with any crowds at any beaches. We wanted to get some sort of permission to go there, because it would've sucked it some cop had shown up and started to ask questions. Dan had done some earlier scouting down the south shore near Boston. We both took a drive out there earlier in the week to choose a final spot. We found a small secluded beach in Houghs Neck, Quincy. We also spot a cop near his cruiser just over the sea wall. What better person to find out who we need to contact to film here. I sick Dan on him...Dan will approach ANYBODY. We find out that this mother lives in the house where he was parked. She also works at the town hall and knows the guy who is in charge of the beaches. Great. Just as we are leaving, Dan decides that he has to go back and ask one more thing. I wait in the car while he pounds on the cop's mother's door for 5 minutes. "Can we use your bathroom when we film here?" he asks. Jesus Christ..I couldn't believe he did that. I was worried if he might go as far as requesting a meal for the crew once we were finished. Dan and I both had a laugh at how ballsy he was at approaching strangers. Pity any poor film distribution company that tries to ignore him once this project is finished. Anyhoo...even though we got permission to use the beach, we still would've snuck on and got the shots we needed if we didn't, just maybe not THIS beach.

I also needed a violinist. Who could play sappy music like you would hear in a restaurant, come to a beach in October AND not be paid? A couple of people apparently. I had posted an ad on an electronic bulletin board associated with the Berkley College of Music in Boston. A few women violinists had offered their services, but everyone felt that it had to be a guy. (To fit the typical profile, and the fact that Lauren would end up screaming at this person on a beach.) The one male who responded, Jonah Shue, actually plays sappy violin music in Italian restaurants in Boston on the weekends! He was a cool guy who plays all sorts of music. He also did some great expressions during the rehearsal. Perfect.

Next, a fireplace. At first I thought, "how am I going to get a pile of bricks on the beach?" I found this paneling that looks just like bricks at the Home Depot. Built a flimsy box out of it with the right sized hole for the logs to sit in. In a rush to get everything done, I ended up painting the inside of my fake fireplace black the night before. Because it was a drizzly night, I immediately took the still wet panels inside. My girlfriend Therese, who was sleeping two floors up at the time, was awoken by the fumes. The whole house stank.

On the way down to the location, we picked up a rental clown outfit and a dozen balloons. We got to the location around 2 pm. I knew we had light until 5:30, but after that is when the sun would really start to set. It was a cloudy day, so the sun kept peeking behind a cloud for a few minutes. We were trying to match the light from shot to shot, so we had to wait until we had direct sunlight. Of course we didn't have our lines down pat, so we had to rehearse the scene a few times to get up to speed. I played the clown who makes the balloon delivery on the beach. I had Therese put my clown makeup on when I got there, so I was giving orders in clown face the whole day. (Very surreal I was told.) I bunch of local 12 year old kids had spotted me and the crew on their beach. They decided to hang out, watch and make noise. Therese then switched to crowd control to keep the quite while we filmed. She told me that they wanted to "kick the clowns ass." (Just because you feel compelled to at that age.) I must've looked like a big guy, I was wondering if they thought a 235 pound clown would've given them some resistance, or are all clowns pussies in the eyes of a 12 year old?

Couldn't believe it, we had three lousy shots left, and this cold front rolls in and covers the entire horizon with the sun behind it. We were shooting almost all the way closed in the direct sun, and we finished the day shooting all the way open in the fading light. Christ. Hopefully the shots will at least match somewhat. On the final shot of the day, we filmed Johnny walking away from the scene of this tragedy as I walk off camera in the other direction while letting the balloons go. Dan rolls camera, I start to walk, let go of the balloons, walk off screen, turn around and see a bunch of the 12 year old rodents trying to catch the balloons WHERE THE SHOT WAS TAKING PLACE. Those little fuckers. Dan didn't think they ran into frame before the shot was over. If they did, there would've been a couple of missing child reports in the town of Quincy that day.

Gang on beach

Johnny w fireplace

Lauren & Johnny

Lauren w script

Jonah on beach

Beach LS

Clown with camera

Cold front clown


October 8, 2000 - Drinkin in car, outside bar scene

Well, they say write what you know, so this is where this scene came from. During my 20's (and sometime my 30's) one always had to have a few pops in the car outside of the club you were going in. (Why? Because if you could get your buzz started BEFORE you entered the expensive nightclub, you would be that much better off money wise. This also seems to apply to football stadiums too.)

I THOUGHT this little scene would be easy enough to do. A page and a half long of four guys sitting together in one spot. Who knew that trying to light four guys in a car at night would be such a hassle. I had no crew to help me on this night. (Except Johnny and Geoff, who were busy learning what they were supposed to say.) The problem was, once you've got something that looks good for one person in a car, it won't work for the person sitting behind them. They will have all sorts of shadows blowing across their face from the headrests, mirrors, roof, dashboard, etc. Not to mention what it sounds like to record audio in a car.

I had forgotten to buy booze props for this scene during the week. (I thought we were going to get rained out.) I still hadn't gotten them on Saturday, because I was running around trying to get the beach scene shot. Thank God New Hampshire doesn't have blue laws. I got Johnny to run up to the state where the drinking never stops. We still had a hard time finding the right kind of booze. I wanted to make a joke on Johnnys character drinking Midori. (A melon liquor) They only had large bottles of the stuff, so we settled on a generic bottle of melon liquor.

The scene called for the guys to PRETEND to take nips from their bottles. Of course as the shoot wore on, the guys (just naturally) started to deplete their bottles. As usual, they were havin' way too much fun while I played the part of an entire film crew. (I had to start the camera AND the DAT before each take.) Someone in the front of back seat would work the slate. I can only hope that I exposed the camera properly. (It's hard to take an ambient light reading when everything in the scene in back lit.)

I also shot this scene on my one roll of Kodak 7246 ASA 250. This was basically a 300' short end that I had gotten for $20 from a cinematographer called Doug Shafer. It was two years old and had been sitting in his freezer the whole time. You can't buy this film stock anymore, so he had no use for it. I had no idea what I'd do with it, until I realized that I had enough for this one scene. Since it was at night and looked completely different from anything else in this movie, I used it. (What the hell, if the colors look funky, I can always say that's the way I lit it. :-P) It'll be interesting to compare all the different film stocks that I've used so far. Here's the run down: Kodak Vision asa 100, asa 200, asa 250, asa 320. At the very end of the night, I still had a couple of feet of the weird asa film, so we shot the guys hanging around a wall, then did a sequence where they leave and we see Horrigan pissing against the wall. (Someone suggested it earlier, they shouldn't do that.) :-) Who knows if we'll use it anywhere.

While we are on film stocks: I recently got back the asa 200 footage that I shot at Dave Chubet's house. (The Kim Lannon scene) Shit, the Vision 5274 looks beautiful compared to the 320 stuff that I've been using all along. I only over exposed half a stop with the 200 asa film, and I don't seem to be getting the weird highlights that I was getting with asa 320 film over exposed a full stop. I've learned that Kodak can control the contrast with their film emulsions. I guess Vision 320 is supposed to have less contrast than 'regular' stock like their asa 200 or 100. Go figure.

Car scene LS

Four guys at wall

Inside rehearsal

Outside LS

Phil & Horrigan

Three guys squirt


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