A week had passed since the campfire shoot, and I knew we needed to get the shots for the chicken game and Wood’s reveal. BRAXTON BOND said he was available that weekend and would do whatever I needed him to do to finish the film. I called my best friend BOOMASTER and asked for his help. He also agreed.
First thing I needed was the convertible, again. ADAM the producer gave me the original rental agreement from Enterprise, and I called them to see if they still had the car. Oddly enough, convertibles aren’t that popular as rentals in southern California, as it’s often too hot to drive them with the top down.
The girl I talked to said what I expected: she didn’t know if the car I wanted was still there. They keep them in rotation. I gave her the original lease number and license plate, but that did no good. I’d have to make an appointment to rent a car, then look around the lot when I got there to see if they still had it.
We were shooting this on a Sunday afternoon, and CVK was going with me to pick up the car so he could drive mine back. On the way there, I called again: could you please tell me if the car is there, so in case it isn’t, I don’t have to waste my time driving all the way to LAX?
“Sorry, no. You’ll just have to look around the lot when you get here,” a young man said.
“Well, all right…” I gave in, but CVK grabbed the phone out of my hand.
“Look,” he said sternly, “we need the car for a fashion shoot. She (!) wants that specific car. We rented it last week. If you don’t have it, I don’t want to waste my time coming down there, because we won’t want another car, only that one, and we’ll have to start looking elsewhere. Now do you have it or not?” He described the car’s make and model. “Thank you,” he said, hanging up.
“They have it,” he smiled. “If you give them a story, a specific reason for wanting it, then they usually make more of an effort to find out.” Hats off to my honey.
We pulled into the lot, and I saw the car sitting next to a silver Sebring convertible. The customer rep told CVK to go and get the keys out of the Mustang while I filled out the paperwork. Soon, we were on our way home.
Let me just say that I love convertibles. There’s nothing like driving a car with no roof, feeling the wind in your face. I love it. Next, it was into Hollywood to pick up Boomaster, who pleaded with me to put the top up, but I refused. Friend or no friend, this was the first convertible I’d been in since I shot HOW TO SEDUCE A STRAIGHT MAN earlier this year, and my own little convertible years before that. You can put on a cap or slather on some sunscreen, but I was driving it with the top down!
I had asked Braxton if we could use his car for the other car in the game of chicken, and he said yes, so I told him we’d meet him at his house at 1:00. About 15 minutes later, he text-messaged me, asking for my address. I told him we were meeting him at his house, and he texted me again for my address, which I gave him.
As Boo and I were heading for Braxton’s place, I called him to find out if we’d passed the street, because we were having trouble finding it.
“Hi, Jett,” he said, “I’m just a couple of minutes from your house.”
“What?” I exclaimed. “Braxton, I told you we were meeting you at YOUR house.”
“Ohmygod,” he said. “I’m so sorry! I’m mixed up!”
I told him to stay put, and we’d be there in 20 minutes. I called CVK to let Braxton in so he didn’t have to sit in his car, but he was out shopping.
When we arrived at my house, Braxton apologized again for the misunderstanding. I said it was okay, but it had put us back 30 minutes, and we had to drive all the way back to Palmdale to the original location (I couldn’t think of any other place that was closer with long, straight, flat desert roads with no traffic and little population).
On the way, I explained in more detail to Boomaster what I wanted: I would sit in the passenger seat of the convertible next to Braxton, while Boo drove my car (Braxton decided we couldn’t use his, after all). The convertible would be at one end of the long stretch of road, and my car would be at the other. We would drive on the wrong side of the road, while Boo drove on the correct side, so that we were on a collision course with each other. When we got within close (but safe) range, Boo would simply swerve into the other lane, passing us, then back into the correct lane, after which we would get into OUR correct lane. Simple.
We had two safety signals that would abort the take: 1. If there was another car behind Boo that we couldn’t see, he would flash his headlights, and we would get back into our proper lane. 2. If there was a car behind us, even though Boo would see it, we’d still signal an aborted take by simply getting back into our own lane. It sounds complicated, but it really was easy to understand and relatively safe.
“So this is a stunt,” he said.
“That’s right, and if we do it correctly, it’ll look great. The important thing is, we can only do it twice. I don’t want anyone tipping off the cops or the road commissioner that we’re shooting something, even though we’re not surrounded by huge RVs and grip trucks to give us away this time.”
Once there, Boo and Braxton went over the safety signals again while I prepped my camera. We decided to shoot on 140th St., which was long and straight but also paved, something the other road was not.
We got in position. Boo started toward us, and Braxton and I got in the left lane toward him. With lots of road to spare, I shot through the windshield as Boo swerved to miss us, and as he did—I saw a black convertible behind him! He had not signaled us! Now, in the novel “Watership Down”, death comes to the rabbits in the form of a black hare, so on that hot Sunday road, it struck me that it might be fitting for me to die in a silver convertible hitting a black convertible head-on!
I’m making the whole thing out to be more dramatic than it actually was, however. That’s the nature of blog-writing, I suppose. The black car was quite far down the road, and we returned to our lane with lots of distance to spare.
I told the guys to go back to their starting positions, and this time I filmed from the side of the road. It looked pretty cool. From my angle, the space looked a lot shorter and very dramatic.
“Do you want to do another one?” Boomaster asked me.
“I think we’d better vamoose,” I said. “I don’t want to get caught, and there’s a house nearby.”
“Let’s do one more, quickly,” he said, and giddy with excitement as I was, I agreed. We shot one more take with me in the passenger seat, and as Boo got close to us, I zoomed in, which made for a dizzying take. I almost panicked, as the shot actually made me think for a split second that we were going to crash.
We high-tailed it out of there, and I rode with Braxton half of the way back, getting shots of him driving and some scenery. We talked about the business and his desire for more exposure. He had done 7 movies, he said, and none of them were released yet. He wanted the cover of a magazine and some layouts, too. I told him it would come, but he needed to be patient. Magazines take months for pictures to come out. It would happen.
We pulled over at Escondido Canyon Road, and I got back in the car with Boo. I wanted to get what I saw as Braxton’s “reveal” shot in the film, in other words, the first shot in the movie where we see him. With Boo driving, we pulled up alongside the convertible. I started the shot with a closeup of the rear wheel, then we accelerated slightly so the camera would dolly alongside the car up to Braxton’s face. It was difficult to match the speeds, and I was getting frustrated with Boo, plus we were blocking traffic on the two-lane road. To their credit, no one was honking at us. Maybe they saw we were shooting a film, as I was clearly hanging out the window, camera in hand.
We got several takes until I was happy, and we returned home. Hugs all around, and Braxton left, then I took Boomaster to his apartment. On the way back, I realized that CVK had work the next morning, so how would I return the car? With a heavy heart, I understood that the car had to go back that very night, and after dinner, we both drove back to Enterprise and turned it in.
So now all that was left was to shoot the first scene in the subway station with Psycho Sam and Darren, and production would be over. But an e-mail I’d receive from Adam in 2 weeks would throw a monkey wrench into those plans.
To be continued…