It was 9:10 am when I pulled my car onto the set of the Four-Aces movie set. As soon as I opened my car door, the heat rushed in and wrapped itself around me like stifling cotton. The set manager was there, as was the fire marshal. Since the Four-Aces had no electricity at all, a generator had to be connected, and that meant we had to have a fire marshal onset to make sure all the power was properly hooked up.
Around 9:35, the Falcon armada pulled in: the RV, followed by the grip truck, the generator truck, several cars and SUVs. The cooler was immediately invaded as the heat instantaneously assaulted everyone. It was a desert setting, and the temperature was over 100 degrees. CHRIS GREEN and ADAM KILLIAN were godsends as they kept bringing beverages and popsicles to the set and wet towels for our heads and necks to cool us off.
LEIF GOBO and COLBY TAYLOR asked me what shots I wanted to do first, so I said while JAMES the lighting guru lit the diner and the gas station interior, we should start with the interior car dialogue using the side camera mount. This was the best decision of the day, as you’ll see later.
A side camera car mount is a small platform that you strap to a car door so you can attach a camera to it so you can get footage of the people inside, mostly doing dialogue, while the car is moving. It looks very cool. Colby attached the mount, then Camera B was attached. Leif and I squeezed into the back seat; me, so I could follow BRAXTON BOND and RILEY BURKE’s dialogue and make sure they got it right, and Leif, so he could keep an eye on the camera and steady the boom mic.
After several trips up and down the road next to the set, we almost had the job done. Braxton and Riley were absolutely perfect in the delivery of their lines. We pulled the car back onto the gas station set to check that the camera was recording picture and sound correctly. Leif worried that being out in the sun so much might overheat the camera. There was only one more shot to get, and Leif decided that he didn’t need to be in the car anymore, so Braxton, Riley and I pulled out into the road for the last take. As we did, a red and white pickup truck pulled onto the set. I saw a tall thin man with a moustache get out. Colby went over to him, then turned around and walked away.
“I wonder what that’s about?” Braxton asked.
“Whatever it is, we’ll find out soon enough. Let’s go,” I said, and we took off down the road to get the last piece of footage. On the way back to the set, we came across Colby walking down the road toward us, waving us down. The car pulled to a halt, and he walked over to the camera and popped out the tape.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“That guy you saw was the county road commissioner,” he said. “He says we can’t film on the roads without a permit. I’m putting in a dummy tape in case he tries to confiscate the footage.” Colby inserted the bogus tape. “Now you guys turn around and drive down the road a bit. Don’t hurry back,” he said, returning to the Four-Aces.
I looked at my cell phone for the time. We were a bit behind schedule, and this “out of sight, out of mind” act, though necessary, was a timewaster and would almost certainly through my schedule off.
We turned around and drove down the road all the way to Avenue O, which was about 2 miles, then turned back around. About a quarter mile from the set, I had Braxton pull us over and park underneath the shade of an overhanging tree. We tossed a small towel over the camera to keep it shaded, then sat and waited. After about ten minutes, I called ADAM the producer on my cell and asked him if the coast was clear. “Not yet,” he said. “Give us another fifteen minutes.”
Finally, Colby came back, dismounted the camera and we all returned to the location. Adam approached me immediately.
“Apparently, this area has a really strong neighborhood watch program, and with all the driving back and forth, someone saw you and called the commissioner. He said without permits, they could fine us heavily, so I assured him we wouldn’t do any more filming on the road.”
“But Adam,” I said, “we still have lots of stuff to get on the road. How can I show Braxton picking up Riley hitchhiking if I can’t shoot the car on the road?”
“You’ll have to think of something,” he said.
By then, ERIK RHODES and TYLER RIGGZ had showed up, and we filmed them entering the gas station to lead up to the shots of them going into the men’s room. I also had LOU CASS go into the gas station, too, even though I wasn’t sure I’d use it. We also shot Braxton doing the same, just in case.
I shot some of the hitchhiking stuff, fudging it by having the car drive alongside the road instead of on it, so we wouldn’t break our word. I wanted to get the scene where Braxton and Riley kiss for the first time, only to have it broken up by Lou, who has returned for his backpack. I told Leif how I wanted the shot, but the sun was setting, and it was impossible to get without seeing the cameraman’s shadow, too, so we decided to do it the next day. This worried me a bit, as the next day was the store room sex scene with CORT DONOVAN and NOAH DRIVER. We also had to shoot the diner scene and the campfire scene. Could we get this, too?
It was going to be a long day, and I was preparing to spend that night at the motel with everyone else so I wouldn’t have to drive home so beat. This would lead to a surprise that I was not expecting…
To be continued…