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  • August 26, 2009

    A Scouting Life: Thanks for nothing, Texas

    by Sam Hutchins

    Okay, I’ll say this in the nicest way possible: f*ck Texas. F*ck that entire godforsaken excuse for a state. If it weren’t for the abundant natural resources I would mount a one man campaign to give it back to Mexico. Actually, Mexico probably should still govern Texas were all right and just in the world. If Mexico were in possession of the territory they could capitalize on the natural gas and oil fields and our economic imbalance would be lessened. The Battle of the Alamo would stand as an earlier, lessened version of Vietnam, potentially forestalling future military misadventures. On that note, no Texas means no Bush family dynasty and no Iraq war.

    This may seem a lot to extrapolate from the mere act of scouting locations in the state but you didn’t experience what I did there. The entire matter was simply awful. To begin with, we were in the early stages of our national excursion in Iraq and I was in the company of two Frenchmen. As much as I tried to avoid politics it inevitably came up. Being rather patriotic, I felt the need to at least attempt to argue the American perspective. Further, I believed then and do now that the French objection to our invasion had more to do with their unhappiness at not being consulted in the matter than anything else. They are an argumentative people by nature and we were foolish enough to give them good reason to object. So yes, part of my antipathy towards Texas is based in the fact that I was obligated to at least attempt to argue a pro-invasion perspective unwillingly simply due to being in the state.

    Even worse, it is by and large an ugly and desolate state. We were in the depths of our misery at not finding anything remotely interesting to photograph or scout. Driving back roads in Texas means you are really on back roads. Even the average rancher commutes by small plane in that corner of the world; we blew across the horribly ugly landscape at 110 miles per hour for days on end without seeing a single interesting thing. It was flat, ugly, and went on forever. At least the other drivers were courteous. On the rare occasion we overtook someone they invariably pulled over and drove on the shoulder of the road. That was nice of them, however I have to suspect it was a byproduct of driving in such a heavily armed state.

    Another in my long list of grievances about Texas involves the Super Bowl. The night the game was played we were busting ass across west Texas looking for the remotest sign of civilization. Even my pampered French pals would have crashed in a dumpy roadside motel. We couldn’t even find that; there was nothing but sagebrush and stars. This was the first Superbowl I didn’t watch since I was six years old. I had bet a bundle on the Steelers laying six and a half when we passed through Vegas and had a vested interest in the outcome. I wound up frantically searching the airwaves, finding and then losing station after station carrying the game feed. No shortage at all of apocalyptic preachers raving about the democratic menace though. The NFL is so media savvy you can probably catch a radio broadcast of the Super Bowl on the moon, but not in west Texas.

    One of the smarter things I did before setting out cross-country was researching great roadside restaurants. Not to scout, mind you, but to eat in. If I could find someplace that served amazing barbecue I was going to get us there. This was a once in a lifetime experience; when else are you going to get to a legendary rib joint in Prairie View, Texas? So we did, and the food was worth it. The day after the Super Bowl I was celebrating a nice payday and insisted on detouring out of our way to a barbecue shack I had read about. The ribs were indeed spectacular, but holy God I wish we had never had the conversation we did with the waitress. Generations of Frenchmen will be told of this talk and scoff at America for having heard it.

    Our waitress was a cute girl, maybe 17 years old at best. A pale-skinned, freckled west Texas gal. The confusion began when Stephane decided to order a corn dog.

    “What ees thees, ees eet corn?”

    “No, silly, it’s a hot dog battered and deep-fried. I don’t know if there’s any corn in it. You talk funny, where y’all from?”

    “We are both French, we come from Parees.”

    She sucked her breath in sharply.

    “Oh my, I am so proud of you for coming to America. Was it hard to escape from there?”

    “Escape, what do you mean escape? We are allowed to travel freely.”

    “Well I know that is not the fact. They taught us in school that foreigners are held captive, like in Iran and Korea, and that only the lucky ones escape and make it to America. Was it hard getting here?”

    “No, we got on a plane.”

    At this point I was sinking progressively lower in the booth. I’d like to tell you that the waitress was an idiot but she was not. She was well-spoken and alert, she was also a frightening example of what is happening in America. I was able to steer the conversation back to the menu and we ordered, but she could not stay away. Shortly after putting in our order she drifted back to our table.

    “Is it true that they make you have abortions if you have a little baby girl?”

    Darius responded this time.

    “No one forces you to have abortions, you are free to have one anytime you need to.”

    He may as well have slapped her.

    “What? That is a sin. Babies are innocent and killing them is wrong, you go to hell for that.”

    Fortunately, for once, he backpedaled.

    “I have never had one.”

    A look of relief crossed her face and she meandered away. Shortly thereafter she brought our food and it was indeed amazing barbecue. Unfortunately she stuck around for some more chit-chat.

    “I met another foreigner once, he was from Jamaica. Is that close to Paris, France? He said it was always hot there. I think he was a drug dealer. Is it hot in Paris, France?”

    The conversation went on a bit longer but it’s too painful to even relate. Even now, reading the words on the page, it’s hard to believe the sheer level of ignorance we encountered but it’s all true. I sat and wailed at the cosmos, finally understanding just how creationism had become a mandatory science class. We needed to get out of that state. Even the most amazing barbecue wasn’t worth this.

    ….

    STAY TUNED FOR THE NEXT INSTALLMENT OF THE SCOUTING LIFE.

    Sam Hutchins has been working in film production for twenty years. He started as overnight security on the set of “Working Girl” while attending film school at NYU. Since 1995 he has been a location manager for some of the top names in the business. He’ll be blogging from a unique insider’s perspective on the filmmaking process, as well as speaking to his colleagues in the production community to share their experiences with you.

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  • August 24, 2009

    Best Movies by Farr: Other Orson

    by John Farr

    Citizen Kane casts the longest shadow, but Orson Welles’ other work proves his genius:


    The Stranger (1946)

    WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

    Unbeknownst to his comely young bride Mary (Young), East Coast prep-school teacher Charles Rankin (Orson Welles) is actually Franz Kindler, a Nazi war criminal in hiding. When a German visitor to their sleepy Connecticut town turns up dead, federal gumshoe Wilson (Edward G. Robinson) begins poking around, threatening to bring Rankin’s crimes out of the closet.

    WHY I LOVE IT:

    The conventional wisdom is that Welles made “Stranger” to prove he could churn out a Hollywood studio picture on time and with little fuss. That he certainly does. And while the director himself was no big fan of his 1946 Nazi noir thriller, he underestimated his efforts here, as he coaxes fine performances from his stellar cast, especially Robinson (playing against type as a war-crimes investigator), Young, and Konstantin Shayne as the ill-fated visitor. If for no other reason, see this for the final scene at a clock tower, a well-engineered climax that will really leave you hanging!


    The Third Man (1949)

    WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

    Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) travels to the rubble of Post World War II Vienna to unravel the mysterious demise of old friend Harry Lyme (Orson Welles). He starts with few clues, and the little information he can gather from various sources simply doesn’t hang together. In this treacherous world of deception and black marketeering, Holly perserveres, aided by a police inspector (Trevor Howard) who’d also like answers. Is Harry Lyme really dead, and if not, why fake his own death?

    WHY I LOVE IT:

    One of the all-time great mysteries, the excellence of this production is reflected in the talents of its key contributors: old Mercury Theatre colleagues Welles and Cotten, screenwriter Graham Greene, producers Alexander Korda and David O. Selznick, and director Carol Reed. Together, they create an intricate thriller, with corrupted souls inhabiting a decimated city like so many vultures. One of the best uses of music in all film, with Anton Karas’s original zither score adding to the bizarre, ominous proceedings.Stunningly shot on location, this is a must.


    Touch Of Evil (1958)

    WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

    Orson Welles’s late noir entry starts with a suspicious killing in a seedy border town, pitting honest Mexican investigator Mike Vargas (Charlton Heston) against bigoted, corrupt American cop Hank Quinlan (Orson Welles). Quinlan, who claims jurisdiction, has no intention of probing into the mystery, quickly finding a young Mexican to serve as scapegoat. Vargas senses a cover-up and begins snooping on his own, placing him and his wife Susie (Vivian Leigh) in jeopardy. Will Mike and his bride live long enough to unravel the conspiracy?

    WHY I LOVE IT:

    The director’s original version is restored for this DVD, to powerful effect. Welles creates a desolate night-time world in the dirty town of Los Robles, a forgotten speck on the map where everyone seems to carry a nasty secret. Lurid, almost surreal atmosphere is complemented by uniformly first-rate performances, with Heston and Leigh never better, Welles himself a bloated symbol of moral decay, and Akim Tamiroff memorably slimy as a local crime boss. Don’t miss Marlene Dietrich playing a gypsy- as you might guess, she gets the final word. A cult movie with a capital “C”.


    Visit Best Movies by Farr for more great DVD recommendations.

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  • August 24, 2009

    Best Movies by Farr: More Sam Shepard

    by John Farr

    Get your Sam Shepard fix from these recommendations:


    Days of Heaven (1978)

    WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

    After fatally injuring his boss in a fit of rage, Chicago steelworker Bill (Richard Gere) flees to Texas in 1916 with girlfriend Abby (Brooke Adams) and his younger sister, Linda (Linda Manz), where the three find work laboring with other migrants in the lush wheat fields of a lonely, ailing landowner (Sam Shepard). When the handsome farmer falls for Abby, who’s posing as Bill’s other sister, Bill devises a simple, deceitful plan to lift them out of destitution.

    WHY I LOVE IT:

    Hailed for his poetic debut “Badlands,” Malick returned five years later with a film every bit as innovative and dreamlike. As adversaries in love with the same woman, the male leads are outstanding, with Gere’s intensity blazing from his eyes and Shepard’s brooding, wary farmer matching him for sheer charisma. Narrated by Bill’s jaded, uneducated sibling, Malick’s film employs an elliptical storytelling technique, but is filled with so many arresting images of pastoral beauty that you never care. With a harrowing, cathartic sequence involving a plague of insects, “Heaven” is a cinematic masterpiece of Southern gothic romance.


    The Right Stuff (1983)

    WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

    After pilot Chuck Yaeger (Sam Shepard) conquers psychological demons to break the sound barrier in 1947, N.A.S.A. recruits the hardiest group of fearless pilots it can find to spearhead its space-race program. Ill-fated Gus Grissom (Fred Ward) and squeaky clean John Glenn (Ed Harris) are the first to attempt an orbit of the Earth, but not without danger and dire frustrations, both at home and in the eyes of the public, as the Russians edge closer to the same goal. Eventually, four men, including wild-at-heart flyboy Gordon Cooper (Dennis Quaid), are selected for the Mercury program and groomed for success.

    WHY I LOVE IT:

    Adapted from the book by Tom Wolfe, this dynamic, three-hour history lesson recounts the formation of America’s space program through the stories of the daredevils recruited to do the impossible, and “punch a hole in the sky.” Apart from assembling a top-grade cast (Quaid and Harris are marvelous in breakout roles), Kaufman melds testosterone-fueled adventure with poignant family drama, sci-fi with broad All-American slapstick, even nodding to John Ford Westerns in staging cowboy pilot Chuck Yaeger’s breaking of the sound barrier in the California desert. “The Right Stuff” soars as it tracks seven unlikely heroes on a thrilling journey into a brand new era: the Space Age.


    This So-Called Disaster (2003)

    WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

    This intriguing film provides an astonishingly intimate glimpse into the intense rehearsals leading up to the 2000 San Francisco production of “The Late Henry Moss,” a play written and directed by Sam Shepard, based partly on the author’s recollections of his own alcoholic father. From initial readings to opening night, we follow the stellar cast, including Sean Penn, Nick Nolte, Woody Harrelson, and Cheech Marin, through a remarkable process of preparation.

    WHY I LOVE IT:

    “Moss” is a dark, demanding piece, so the rehearsals director Michael Almereyda respectfully captures in “Disaster” are draining for all concerned. What transfixed this fly on the wall was how directors and actors adopt their own language in rehearsing a play–one virtually unintelligible to the layman, but to trained professionals, a pure dialect pinpointing emotion and motivation. “Disaster” is an absolute must for anyone interested in the inner workings of acting and the theatre.


    Visit Best Movies by Farr for more great DVD recommendations.

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  • August 17, 2009

    Best Movies by Farr: Comedies about Eccentrics

    by John Farr

    Feeling like an oddball? John Farr suggests you watch these comedies.


    Harold and Maude (1972)

    WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

    A comedy about the unlikeliest of May-December romances: Harold (Bud Cort) is a bright, eccentric nineteen year old fixated on death, Maude a 79 year old free spirit whose singular obsession remains the wonder of life and living. This movie traces how these two unlikely characters connect and form a loving relationship.

    WHY I LOVE IT:

    A warm and quirky comic gem that’s built a sizable cult following over the years. Director Hal Ashby’s second feature boasts inspired casting, with veteran stage actress Ruth Gordon irresistible as Maude and Bud Cort so ideal for Harold that the young actor was forever typecast as a weirdo, as mentor Robert Altman had sagely predicted. Fabulous soundtrack from Cat Stevens.


    Being There (1979)

    WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

    Sellers’s second-to-last film proved to himself and the world that when called upon, he could be a superb serious actor. Ingenious tale written by Jerzy Kozinski tells of Chance, a child-like gardener in Washington, D.C., whose only education has come through television. Through a twist of fate, after his old employer dies, Chance (re-dubbed Chauncey Gardner) ends up in the home of powerful wheeler-dealer Benjamin Rand (Melvyn Douglas) and his lonely younger wife Eve (Shirley MacLaine). Rand sees the stuff of genius in Chauncey’s simple pronouncements, and soon the humble gardener has the ear of some even more powerful people.

    WHY I LOVE IT:

    Top “70′s director Hal Ashby’s adaptation of Jerzy Kozinski’s original black comedy is a triumph, due to Sellers’s bravura lead performance and terrific turns from supporting players Douglas (who netted an Oscar), MacLaine, and the gravelly Jack Warden as the President. Smart, funny and thought-provoking, the film’s enduring poignancy comes from the fact that Sellers had only one year to live when he made the film. If you love Peter Sellers, you’ll love “Being There”.


    As Good As It Gets (1996)

    WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

    Melvin Udall ( Nicholson) is an obsessive-compulsive neurotic with no friends, who ironically makes his living as a successful romance novelist. Melvin is forced to come out of his shell when gay neighbor Simon is injured and Melvin must care for his dog. Then there is Melvin’s growing attachment to the waitress who works at the diner he frequents. Carol (Helen Hunt) can handle Melvin (a major achievement), but she has a lot more on her plate, including carrying for an asthmatic son. Is this a scenario where love could blossom? You’d be surprised.

    WHY I LOVE IT:

    James L. Brooks’s quirky, touching film brims with humanity, as three societal misfits find each other and against steep odds, ultimately connect. Nicholson fits oddball Melvin like a defective glove, but it’s Oscar winner Helen Hunt who steals the film as the beleaguered, world-weary Carol. An unlikely romance with a big heart, this gem truly lives up to its title.


    The Big Lebowski (1998)

    WHAT IT’S ABOUT:

    Super laid-back ’60s dropout Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski enjoys hanging loose and getting high with his two bowling pals, cranky Vietnam vet Walter Sobchak (John Goodman) and easygoing ex-surfer Donny (Steve Buscemi). But his groovy-loser L.A. lifestyle is about to undergo a massive makeover when some thugs looking for a millionaire named “Jeff Lebowski” bust into his Venice bungalow and drag him into a tangled kidnapping scheme.

    WHY I LOVE IT:

    Ace filmmaking team Joel and Ethan Coen (“Fargo”) took more than a few pages from Raymond Chandler’s seedy L.A. noir novels to create this absurdly comic caper masterpiece. Bridges is riotous as the unflappable aging hippie who finds himself embroiled in double and triple extortion plots-think Phillip Marlowe on a bag of weed-while superb sidekicks Goodman and Buscemi get to sling around a lot of ripe witticisms. Also great is John Turturro, playing a vulgar-mouthed champion bowler named Jesus, and Julianne Moore, fetching as an “erotic artist.” In typical Coen fashion, the camerawork is wildly offbeat, the dialogue sharp, and the performances goofy and intriguing. Don’t miss this kooky homage to the weird world of noir.


    Visit Best Movies by Farr for more great DVD recommendations.

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  • August 11, 2009

    A Scouting Life: A bar packed with heavily armed, paranoid, and seriously drunk men

    by Sam Hutchins

    Our first few days were exciting and fruitful, but soon afterwards things slowed down. That’s the thing with scouting: you have good days and bad days. I’ve been through the bad days and know that you just have to keep grinding it out. Darius and Stephane had not experienced them before and didn’t understand. Typically a producer and cinematographer start scouting after I have been out on my own for a while and come up with several selections. They aren’t scouting per se; they are looking at locations I have already scouted. This was their first experience going out cold and seeking locations. This country is a big place, and we spent the next few days ambling around the southwest without seeing anything interesting.

    I should clarify that we actually saw lots of interesting things, just not the locations we were seeking. We did get to see endless open desert landscapes and roads stretching to the horizon, and we took pictures of it all. I ate the best chicken fried steak I’ll ever have. We drove through west Texas towns that were empty because everyone was at the rodeo. I impressed one of my companions by scoring some pot from a desk clerk at a motel in El Paso. We saw sunrises and sunsets, beautifully decrepit trailers, mesas, cacti, and packs of appaloosa horses running on the plains. Just not any good locations.

    We also started to get on each other’s nerves. Darius was only happy if he got to choose the music. Whenever I plugged in my iPod he would gradually turn the volume down lower and lower until it wasn’t worth listening to. Stephane started griping about Kar Wai not being with us. I snored too loud when I caught the infrequent nap in the back seat. We all smoked way too many cigarettes. The tension in the car was becoming palpable.

    We were in our third straight day without seeing anything even remotely right as a location. It was starting on late afternoon and breakfast was the last time we’d seen any signs of human life. The beauty of the landscape kept it from feeling overly ominous but not by much. Beautiful red stone mesas and rock formations were strewn about, breaking up the chaparral of the high desert. The empty road stretched to the horizon.

    When you live your life surrounded by humanity the absence of people can be a little frightening. Spend enough time in such barren landscapes and you start wondering if the apocalypse happened and no one remembered to tell you. The complete lack of any sign of humanity gets downright worrisome. We were somewhere on the Arizona/New Mexico border and we were very alone. Darkness was creeping up on us quickly. I’ve spent a few nights camped in the desert but my companions had not and certainly weren’t going to start now. Sometimes you start to wonder if the road might just run out. Silence was ruling the day in our truck.

    Coming to a T intersection in the road, we had a choice to make. Even with the detailed topo maps I had acquired, we were lost. The roads we were on were so isolated they weren’t on any map. The right thing to do would have been to ask Darius and Stephane which path they thought we should take. I had waited on their indecisiveness often enough already that I was in no mood to do the right thing. Hauling the wheel over suddenly I took the turn with the tires squealing. I had hoped a quick decision would forestall any debate. Not likely.

    “You sure this is the right way to go?” Stephane asked.

    Unless you have spent a lot of time in a car with someone it’s hard to understand how the little annoyances can build up. Part of it was cultural as well. I love so much about the French. These are the people who gave us Flaubert and Rimbaud. What is better in life than sitting at a café in Paris having good Bordeaux, some oysters, and a nice little salad? They gave us absinthe. I challenge you to stand in front of a Monet and say something negative about Gaul. However, until you have listened to a pair of Frenchmen spend 13 straight hours in an SUV arguing whether it is a one day drive from Paris to the Mediterranean or better done in two you do not know what frustration is. As a race they live to discuss, debate, and disagree. Fortunately, I didn’t have to argue in support of my decision as we saw a building on the side of the road with a few trucks out front.

    The Witches Well looked like a roadhouse anywhere else in the country, only in Arizona style. Food, a drink or two and a little local guidance sounded like a great thing to me. We had found an oasis, or so I thought. It turned out to be one of those times where you realize you made a mistake the second you walk in the door. I actually stopped and was about to bail when I saw what was going on inside. Unfortunately my two companions were hard on my heels. They pushed right past me, jabbering away in French as they headed straight for the bathroom.

    Although there had only been a few vehicles outside the place was pretty crowded. There wasn’t an empty stool in the place, and every one was filled with a heavily armed American Indian. They wore western dress, although a few had small feathers or other tribal accents on them. Without fail they wore side arms and a number of them had rifles slung over their backs. The room had dropped into utter silence when we entered, and although no one had turned to look I could still feel every eye in the place on me. Definitely not cool, not cool at all. The smart move would have been to smile, apologize and slowly back out the door. I couldn’t leave my friends behind, though.

    “Now just who the hell would you be and what do you want?” The bartender asked. He was the only one in the room who didn’t appear to be wearing a sidearm. Instead, his pistol sat right on the bar back next to the cash register. A double barrel shotgun leaned against the wall next to it.

    I carefully explained that I was there to scout a movie and would like to talk to him about it. Now a few heads turned to take a look.

    “Bullshit. Who really sent you?”

    Oh my. This was serious. What the hell had we just walked into here? There was a vast empty desert outside to dump corpses in and I was all too aware of that. My companions chose this moment to emerge from the bathroom, still arguing loudly in French. They stopped short when they saw the situation. Thank God for small favors.

    I wasn’t afraid as much as I was aware of every molecule in the room. I had already processed the fact that this might be it for us. Every dust mote hanging in a beam of sunlight stood out individually to me. No matter how you play it, when your reality involves a bar packed with heavily armed, paranoid, and seriously drunk men the resolution can be problematic.

    “Tell him we’re scouting a movie.” Stephane said in his heavily accented English. I wouldn’t have been completely surprised if someone had just shot him on the spot. Had I been armed I might have considered it myself. I turned back to the bartender to do some serious selling.

    “I’m telling the truth. We’re driving cross country from LA to New York scouting locations for a movie we’re making. I’ve made movies for twenty years, this is what I do. I can prove it. I don’t know what your deal is here but if you aren’t interested we can walk out the door right now, no hard feelings. I don’t want to cause any trouble.”

    As I spoke some of the men at the bar started muttering under their breath. I didn’t catch any specifics but I didn’t get the sense they were saying anything very friendly. Time to really pour it on.

    “The thing is, we’re looking for a bar exactly like this to film in. We pay lots of money when we do that. You aren’t interested, we can move along. We’ll find someplace else. It’s up to you.”

    “What’s up with your friends over there? What kind of shit language they talking?”

    “They’re okay,” I lied. “I’ve known them for years. They’re just French. They’re producing the movie, its French money. The French love America. They love the west. They love this place.”

    This brought the house down. Everyone at the bar laughed. Even the bartender. It was that “laughing at you” laughter, not the “laughing with you” kind.

    “You’re damn lucky Billy isn’t here. He hates the fucking French.” The guys at the bar nodded in agreement and chuckled. It seemed the moment had passed and the tension broke slightly. I did know that I didn’t want to meet Billy, though.
    “Give me some ID.” I handed over my driver’s license. He looked it over carefully. I gave him a business card and told him he could call and check me out with the New York City Mayor’s Office. He ignored that suggestion.

    “Okay if my friends take some pictures?” He gave it a long moment before giving me the OK. This caused some more grumbling from the crowd at the bar. I looked over at Stephane and Darius. Normally they would be chomping at the bit to shoot the place but for the moment neither of them had moved a muscle. I was scared that if they didn’t start shooting it would seem suspicious.

    “Okay guys,” I said in my most casual voice, “let’s get some pictures. Probably better if we avoid this area, though,” I broadly indicated the area where all the customers sat. Basically most of the bar.

    There was a connecting room with a pool table in it. Suffice it to say that they went to the farthest corner of that room and shot an extensive photographic record of the far wall, facing away from the bar. I really would have loved to have shot some good pictures of the interior myself but my attentions were better focused on the bartender.

    “You have to excuse us for being a little careful.” He opened up, “We get it from both sides here. The Feds hate us and look for any reason to take my license. Those bastards from the American Indian Movement been trying to shut us down for years. We’re the closest bar to the reservation and they got a problem with what we do here. Matter of fact just last month they got their courage up and loaded up a couple cars full of braves. Drove right up the road there. I didn’t want no trouble but my sons weren’t having it. They got up on the roof and put a dozen bullets in each car.” He chuckled at the memory. “You betcha they figured out how to put those jalopies in reverse real damn fast. Good shots, my boys. Youngest one is only thirteen and he can put a bullet through a nickel.”

    I told him I wanted to buy a round for the bar. At this point all the customers had turned back to their whiskey but it was clear plenty of attention was still quietly being paid to us. Stephane and Darius were done pretending to shoot photos and were trying to look small in the corner of the room.

    “They won’t drink with you. If you buy a bottle and leave it on the bar they’ll have it after you leave.”

    “Fine with me. I’ll buy one for them and why don’t you give me a bottle of Jack Daniels to take with us.”

    As he rang me up I finally noticed all of the bullet holes in the walls. I guess I was too nervous to really see before but they were everywhere. I had to ask.

    “Are those bullet holes? Was that from the AIM guys?”

    “Nah, those pussies never got a round off. No, you come back later tonight and someone in here will get mad and throw a couple shots around. If it gets too wild I fire a few in the ceiling and things calm down. “A quick glance up confirmed that he was telling the truth.

    “You’d best be on your way. Some of my customers still don’t like you.” I didn’t need to be told twice. The three of us went right for the door. As I left I heard over my shoulder.

    “Filming a movie, huh? Bullshit.” I didn’t stay to argue the point.

    The really funny thing is that a few months later, after I returned to New York, the phone calls started. Every few weeks I’d get a drunken voice mail from the guy at the Witches Well asking when we were coming to film there.

    ….

    STAY TUNED FOR THE NEXT INSTALLMENT OF THE SCOUTING LIFE.

    Sam Hutchins has been working in film production for twenty years. He started as overnight security on the set of “Working Girl” while attending film school at NYU. Since 1995 he has been a location manager for some of the top names in the business. He’ll be blogging from a unique insider’s perspective on the filmmaking process, as well as speaking to his colleagues in the production community to share their experiences with you.

    • comments (0)
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