Wednesday, July 30, 2014

I Was A Teenage Production Assistant: In the Best of Families: Marriage, Pride, and Madness!

Production Assistant Day Work Volume 3!

This CBS miniseries started shooting in 1993, but I didn't get hired for the main unit shoot. I did hear that a 2nd unit was gearing up so I threw a resume in and got hired for a fast two day shoot - a Saturday and Sunday - fairly unusual. They were also paying horribly - basically a tiny bit more than the standard day rate at the time - but for both days. Flat, no overtime.

But you know what? It was a paying job, so I took it. Saturday we geared up for a downtown shoot. This was a true story about a crazy guy pretending to be first a medical student then later a doctor who mesmerizes his own cousin into leaving her husband for him. They commit some crimes and it has a very sad ending. Apparently the main unit had missed some shots, or there was a sequence that needed more punch - so we geared up to shoot a scene where the crazy guy - played by Harry
Hamlin - but photo doubled for these wide shots - got out of his armored truck and shot up downtown Greensboro NC in the 80's with an Uzi.

So we had the armored truck, the double - a guy named Vince - and about a dozen extras. We shot him pulling his truck into an intersection, stopping, then getting out and spraying his Uzi. After we had that we turned around to film the damage he did - first to a truck carrying 5 gallon jugs of water - then some store front property with the extras.
Kelly McGillis, Harry Hamlin, and Keith Carradine
It was very cool shooting with the blanks for the gunfire and then the various effects used to simulate his bullets hitting stuff. The water truck was loaded with squibs - little explosives that can be set off in sequence to fake the trail of bullets going across something - wild, and very cool. This was a long time setting up - but it went off without a hitch and looked amazing - the water jugs bursting and the water spraying everywhere.

Somewhere in there I did a spectacular stunt myself - I took off running to make something happen - and managed to trip over a wire holding a tent down - it sent me flying through the air and I landed stretched out on the cement sidewalk. It hurt like hell but I played it off and kept moving - a long soak later that night helped.

With the various effects this shoot took all day Saturday. The craziest moment came when there started to be a very light misting rain – not perceptible on film – but prompting the motorists driving in downtown Wilmington NC to turn on their headlights – which is a law here. The setup was a shot looking down Third Street – we were at the corner of Third and Red Cross, should you want to come and see the location. The movie was a period piece set during the time of the actual events in the 1980’s, so you would think there would be a problem seeing all of those 1990’s cars down Third – but there was a shallow depth of focus to the shot – so we had 1980’s picture cars all around us close – then everything further away was soft focus enough not to register as being the wrong time period. But those headlights were a problem.

Now – we were holding traffic intermittently, and detouring the traffic around our intersection so we could leave our picture cars and bad guy truck and water truck all in place. When we actually shot we would hold the traffic all around so the sound would be better. So they want the headlights off down the street the way we’re looking. I was told to head down there and “act like a homeless guy” talking to the drivers as I clean their windshields – but really work to get as many as possible to shut their headlights off. So, armed with a bucket of water and squeegee – off I go. Again, the traffic is being held – but I’m still walking on an open street among cars that are going to be released to move in a couple of minutes. It was a little scary being out there – but I had some success – I’d say I got 70-80% of the drivers to turn off the headlights.

We wrapped up as the sun started to go down – a fun (if low paying) day of work.

McGillis and Carradine in a prop family photo

Sunday we geared up again – this time shooting some light vehicular stunts as a warrant comes down for our bad guy’s arrest, prompting the authorities who have been shadowing him to swoop down on him for the arrest – but his armored truck proves to be too much for their midsize government issue sedans and he smashes his way out of their impromptu two car roadblock and makes his escape. As all stunt sequences do – this took a lot of setup – all morning in fact – and we finally got ready to shoot in the early afternoon. During one of the rehearsals we’d suffered a mishap – and the armored truck – meant to squall to a stop thisclose to the roadblock – accidentally hit one of the cars – doing a lot of damage to the right front (passenger) quarter panel. We did not have a replacement car – which we usually didn’t on most of the shows I worked on – and it was Sunday – so any ideas of a quick repair were pipe dreams. So, they reworked the planned shots to hide the damaged section of the car from camera – at least until after the impact on film.

It worked – but the 2nd unit director was not thrilled as it limited what angles he could use. After we’d shot the stunt stuff we moved around to a few different locations and shot some establishing shots of building exteriors with a few 80’s era cars to park outside. Nother earth shattering and the money was not great but it was a pretty good shoot and it got me better networked with one of the assistant directors in town – who might hire me for a future show.

Sorry for the lack of pictures in this post - I didn't take any and there just aren't a lot out there to grab.

Next up for this department – a TV movie reviving a beloved TV series and starring (among others) a bona fide Academy Award winner…

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Maniacal Movie Poster Monday #174!

Under Cover  (The Cannon Group. 1987)

Wonderfully silly Cannon flick with the same setup as 21 Jump Street - and look at that guy's hairline!

Equalizer 2000   (Concorde, 1987)

The always mazing Cirio H. Santiago directed yet another late in coming Mad Max ripoff with Richard Norton carrying a gun with about twenty nine barrels. And look at young Robert Patrick a few years before he was the T-1000!

Frightmare  (Saturn International, 1983)

Kind of a ripoff of Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things - here the teens dig up their favorite dead horror movie star - and that makes the old guy very angry. I saw this a thousand years ago - I seem to remember liking it?

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Saturday Night at the Movies 7/26/14!

Who cares what picture we see?

Janine Turner surely does, and we don't want to disappoint her and make her cry - the poor woman doesn't even have tear ducts anymore after all...so it must be this one tonight..

Here's a typically cool and entertaining Larry Cohen movie that just kind of disappeared after its run on the VHS New Release shelf at Blockbuster in the early 90's. And that's really too bad, because, despite Eric Roberts' mullet - this is a really well done movie.

Roberts plays a comic book artist - so in addition to all the cool actors in the trailer and on that poster - you also get a wonderful Stan Lee cameo.

This one is on DVD - but I have it on VHS - and we could be unspooling it anytime - even tonight - as long as you don't fall ill on the way over here...

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Maniacal Movie Poster Monday #173!

Theme Week!
Glen Larson TV projects that ended up on the Big Screen!

Battlestar Galactica  (Universal Studios, 1978)

The three hour (with commercials) TV pilot got chopped down to two hours and released to theaters. I love this show - so I'm good with either version. Note - this poster was for theaters that were not equipped for Sensurround - as that crazy gimmick sound system is not all over the top third of the poster - as previous versions featured here at the blog were.

Mission Galactica: The Cylon Attack  (Universal Studios, 1979)

I guess the chopped down pilot movie did okay in theaters, because the next year Universal took the two part episode The Living Legend - with guest star Lloyd Bridges - and blended it with another episode called Fire in Space for a second theatrical release. I've seen this cobbled together edition one time - it's neat to think of these TV episodes playing movie theaters.

Buck Rogers  (Universal Studios, 1979)

After the extra money from Batttlestar Galactica's pilot made its way into Universal Studios' coffers - they decided to launch their Buck Rogers series on the Big Screen first - so another Glen Larson TV show pilot got a theatrical release in the same two year period. Note - a lot of reviews from back in the day say this show uses a lot of the by-that-time cancelled BG's hardware for their effects - but Galactica was an ABC show and Buck was an NBC show - and I don't remember seeing any recycled footage, props, or effects in Buck Rogers. Can anyone tell me different?

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saturday Night at the Movies 7/19/14!

Who cares what picture we see?

Arthur Hunnicutt might or might not...depending on the weather...but we'll make it this one tonight:

I'm a John Wayne fan - and I actually like him more the older he is in the movie - so I like this semi-remake of Rio Bravo pretty well. The Duke plays the John Wayne role; Robert Mitchum subs for Dean Martin, little Jimmy Caan covers for Ricky Nelson, and Arthur Hunnicutt is in for Walter Brennan.

It's a good old fashioned Western and I just added it - along with another 60's John Wayne picture - Hatari! - to the video vault so we can be checking it out any old time - even tonight - if you want to come hang out!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Celebrity Endorsement: Bill Moseley!

I first encountered Bill Moseley in a darkened movie theater when he played THIS guy:

I thought he was a marvelous addition to the Sawyer family in Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 - and I've enjoyed his work in scads of movies since then.

Thankfully, in addition to being a fine actor - Bill Moseley also knows good blogging when he sees it:




Thanks a lot, Mr. Moseley!
Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Maniacal Movie Poster Monday #172!


Mighty Joe Young  (RKO Radio Pictures Inc., 1949)

The third big ape movie with stop motion animation effects from Willis O'Brien (and his new assistant - Ray Harryhausen!) It's old school adventure and one of my very favorites.

Blackwoods  (Boll Films, 2002)

Hey - it's a Uwe Boll movie! That means nearly everyone in the world hates this movie! I don't - because after years of hearing this guy raked over the coals for every movie he's ever made - I watched one - Rampage - and it was pretty good. So all the haters can suck it!

The Man Who Lived Again  (Gaumont British Picture Corporation of America, 1936)

This was known as The Man Who Changed His Mind in its native England, but got this rather generic title for its American release. I haven't seen it - but it's Karloff - so you know I want to!

Until next post, you Can Poke Me With A Fork, Cause I Am Outta Here!