Monthly Archives: September 2009

Burning down the house (or, How far can jackassery go without killing someone)

Okay. It was tough to keep up with this when we are exhausted, smelly, and wet. So, I am going to just continue as if it were still last week.  Again, I hope to get the more Director’s Journals from Tyler.  But for now, enjoy my rambling version of events.

  • Wednesday, Sept 23 – Day 4 – It’s shed burning day! It’s shed burning day!  The cry rang from the rafters… well, rafter since our shed was half-assed. We got to the location early and Tyler got to work getting the remaining scenes on the inside of the shed, including some cool shit with Stephan stunt-doubling for Bigfoot (resulting in some singed suit…).  He knocked out most of what he needed by lunch. We agreed to eat first, then let the flamage begin.
    Getting some interiour shots. All would partake in the jackassery this day!

    Getting some interiour shots. All would partake in the jackassery this day!

    Stephan, Tyler and I worked our asses off, but burning that bitch of a shed was not as easy as we thought it would be. Lighter fluid burned out quickly. Gasoline, same. Rubbing alcohol… whatever the hell.  Then we remembered the Duraflame logs… yeah, those are supposed to burn, and for a long time. Well, it took a while to get those going, but eventually they took. But the walls of the shed would still not go up. Shit. It was like it refused to die. Then I got a brilliant idea and decided to use copies of Draft 3 of the script as kindling. And, an hour or so into our effort, I finally got the damn thing to start to burn.

    Why won't you burn, you shed of satan?!?!?!

    Why won't you burn, you shed of satan?!?!?!

    That was the last of the brilliant ideas… because everything that followed was insanity. We are, by no means, fire experts, nor did we have any on set.  But we had a plan. It more or less involved more of the above mentioned flammable liquids on the fire to get it flare up at the right times for the shots Tyler needed, and to get the whole thing to burn up nicely.  We had a single fire extinguisher (one of our sources for them did not come through) and a huge pit half full of water with a vague bucket-filling and dowsing action plan. We were as ready as jackasses could be.

    For some reason, this seemed like a good idea...

    For some reason, this seemed like a good idea...

    I designated myself “Safety Manager” which meant that I would be the thrower of fluids and that everyone else would be safe. Worked out wonderfully. I caught the gas can on fire twice and myself on fire twice as well. The first time, Stephan was Captain On It and jumped right in to put it out.

    Stephan make fire!

    Stephan make fire!

    The second time did not go as smoothly.

    As the gas can caught fire for the second time, I tried (again, being a jackass) to put it out with my hand, which immediately caught fire as well. I attempted to put my hand out by slapping it on my leg, and threw the flaming gas can to the ground.  It splashed flaming liquid all over my lower leg, which also immediately when up in flame as well.

    “Dad’s on fire again,” came the nonchalant call from my son.

    There was a pause for a long second as this simple statement took time to register with cast and crew. For some reason, the fire extinguisher sat alone, smiling at me knowingly, WITH NO ONE HOLDING IT!

    The bastard extinguisher taunts me...

    The bastard extinguisher taunts me...

    Suddenly, Tyler switched on and became Action Ty. He was furthest from the extinguisher, but got it in a flash. He picked it up rushed over to me and my flaming hand and leg and… proceeded to put out the gas can. He later admitted that he did not even realize that I was on fire. Fortunately I was standing close enough to the chemical blast that the leftovers managed to put me out as well. I was a tad toasty, but unharmed and no worse for wear.I changed techniques and put the gasoline into cups for tossing over our rafter-lacking roof, and into the flames inside, for a glorious burst of flaming goodness from a relatively safe-ish distance (of about two feet…).  The only downside was the corrosiveness of the gasoline on the plastic cups (jackasses, remember?).  So, I would stand with full cups, a foot or two from the burning structure and wait for Tyler to call for more fire, then tosses them in and back the hell away quickly.

    Cups of gasoline do the trick and jackasses spring into action!

    Cups of gasoline do the trick and jackasses spring into action!

    Dangerous? Yes. Glorious? You betcha!  By the fourth cup, that lovely piece of shit shed went up so big that I expected Steve McQueen to stick his head out and demand more dialog and top billing. It was both our most asinine and our finest moment as filmmakers. Stephan called it “extremely therapeutic”, which I think summed up all our feelings (but his the most).  And at the end of it all, we were spent and called it a day.

Day 4 was educational and nearly fatal and really made us take a hard look at ourselves and our priorities. And we all walked away having learned an important lesson:

"Fuck'n A!"

"Fuck'n A!"

Huge fire looks really fuckin’ sweet on film!

Filmmaking is Murphy’s Law incarnate.

Well, it is the end of Day 3 of principal photography and, as expected, there is awesomeness to report and suckiness to report.  I am limited on time so I will give a quick rundown:

  • Saturday, Sept 19 – Day 1 – went well, with some slight mishaps. First, my half of the cast and crew that I transported ran a bit late. There were a lot of last minute “ooh, I forgot to pick this up” moments. Our director had the similar issues getting started on time due to misplaces memory cards. Had to wait for Best Buy to open to buy some new ones. Once we got going, though, shit was golden. We got some good stuff and then we taken by Tyler to a surprise location for an unscheduled (and unscripted) stunt.  Not something I would advise, but it worked out.   Long day, but cast and crew were well fed and watered, so they remained happy.

    Whatcha doing? Why? Where should I stand? Why? What's my motivation? Why?

    Whatcha doing? Why? Where should I stand? Why? What's my motivation? Why?

  • Sunday, Sept 20 – Off Day!!! We all collapse into comas and rejuvenate for Day 3.  Our Special Effects Dept Head celebrates his birthday by catching something on fire.  Later that night, I find out that our star, the man that has been preparing for the definitive portrayal of bigfoot, Jory, hurt his back on Thursday and has been out of commission since. Worried about his status on the film, he did not make this information public until now. After a quick producers’ meeting, Tyler and I insist that he see the doctor and update us in the morning. He is not going to further aggravate his injury by running around in a bigfoot suit. Period. We will find a way to deal with it. We assure him that his role is secure (after all, the suit is built specific to him).
  • Monday, Sept 21 – Day 2 – This day is supposed to be dedicated to one pivotal scene in the film. It involves stunts, makeup effects, a fire, and an explosion. In other words, a shitload. Well, with bigfoot out, the middle third of the scene must be put off. Bit of a downer, but we can make it work. Tyler re-worked his shot list the night before, and has a plan. We get at it (a tad late) and bust ass a hectic pace. And then it suddnely poured down rain, hard for about thirty minutes or so in the afternoon. SHIT! We managed to get all of the set pieces and equipment under cover, thankfully.  We are now further behind, we got some good stuff shot. We do not finish the scene, and have to finish it the next day.  Mutiny aain averted by superior catering skills of Stephanie.
    The face of a star in pain... or modeling his new Sasquatch grillz. Either way, ew...

    The face of a star in pain... or modeling his new Sasquatch grillz. Either way, ew...

    Report from Bigfoot HQ: Jory has a possible pinched nerve. He is sufficiently drugged up and will continue to be on hold until he is able to be as mobile and pain free as we need him to be.

    Punishment from the director is harsh, but fair...

    Punishment from the director is harsh, but fair...

  • Tuesday, Sept 22 – Day 3 – Well, we are further behind than we would have hoped. On the plus side, Tyler posted a few short, quickly edited together scenes and… IT ROCKS! Morale is boosted. Energy is high. We focus on finishing up the previous day’s scene, which is to culminate in a blazing fire and explosion. Good shit… if it ever gets to be shot. Once again, the shooting takes a bit longer than anticipated. The pace is quickening, but… well, to put it simply, you have to get a lot more coverage for an action film than for a sit-in-a-restaurant-and-talk-about-your-life film.  And our, young,  non-bigfoot star, Damion, is getting worn down quickly as well… he get more irritable as the day progresses. After a short producer’s meeting, it is agreed that we are loosing light too quickly for the remain shots and that we should salvage the time by getting a scene in an alternate location (with different characters) that has more sun exposure. Tyler heads off with Stephan and the makeup fx head to the other location, while I get the crew together and clean up. I have a talk with Damion and we straighten things out. It’s been a long day, but cast and crew are smiling still with barbecue stained lips. I have determined that good catering is the glue that binds the film universe together.

    Jory Watch 2009: He is walking better and enjoying his new drugged lifestyle. He is, however, convinced that he is getting ‘roid rage from his corticosteroids.

    I have been trapped in this box for 2 days... can I please, please just have some Burger King?

    I have been trapped in this box for 2 days... can I please, please just have some Burger King?

So, there it is. A quick summary of events so far.  I hope to have more detailed journals posted in the future, both from myself and Tyler. But for now, suffice it say that things are as good as shitty allows.

One definite lesson from all of this: apparently there is no way in hell to predict how many pages you can actually shoot in a day. Some days, it’s two. Some days, ten (although, we have yet to get close to that number).  Every night, Tyler and I talk about what is working and what we can do to improve. And every night Tyler shifts the schedule around, so that we can get everything the MUST at this location.

Are we gonna pull this off? Hell, yes. Once way or another, it will get done.  And it will kick ass! And Murphy will kiss mine.

Lovin it... or dangerously unstable....

Lovin it... or dangerously unstable....

Here we go… Principal Photography Begins – Follow us!

Principal photography for The Legend of Grassman begins Sept 19 (tomorrow… well, technically today).  Follow MonkeyLtd on Twitter for live updates all during the shoot.  Do it!

The journey begins! Follow our crazy asses!

The journey begins! Follow our crazy asses!