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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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:
Huge fire looks really fuckin’ sweet on film!