Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Behind the Green Screen - Addendum

I have added a few things on the bottom of the blog.

I've been asked a number of times in the last month "What is a blog".

The short answer is that a blog is short for Web Log. This brings chuckles because all that is done is to take off two letters which is making the total letter count 33% less. But in reality you are making one word out of two words.

But after getting vacant stares I confess that a blog is just a public online diary in which people can write about their normally dull and dreary lives and try to make it sound exciting. Typically it is a self gratification thing and peoples lives are actually dull and dreary and who wants to read about other peoples dull and dreary life.

The problem is that many people need not have a dull and dreary life if they just open their eyes and enjoy the moment. It doesn't take an adventure, all it takes is reflection. There are stories of trips to the dentist of you pay attention.

ANYWAY - I digress, I'm stalling.

I have been invited back for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday as part of the Picture Car Department and I feel that if I write about yesterdays adventure (if you can call it that) I will squander my chances for 40 more hours of mind numbing yet very entertaining boredom. Universal is not to fond of having people on the set that write about . . . being on the set.

I hope they will take pity and not worry. I feel I have done more good then bad and maybe raise the excitement level a tad greater then what most movies have after a month of filming. If I get to the set tomorrow and they say they don't need me? Well . . . THAT is a story in itself so it's a no lose situation.

I was invited by Scott from Minnesota to be the passenger on his 1933 Graham. There are only three 1933 Graham's in existence in the world and Michael Mann really loves this car. It's beat up and not one of the shiny cars but it is a beauty. It was owned by Scott's father and there is a amazing story behind him finding it, but that is a different blog (and not mine).

The story begins when I arrive in Oshkosh Sunday night. I meet Scott and his parents and two other Picture Car people. We decide to walk to the downtown to see the set. I have never been to downtown Oshkosh so this was a treat. The places looked GREAT.

We walk around and Scott and I are wearing our hats (I really like my hat and might wear it a lot) and asking people where a place to eat is. Sunday night in Oshkosh is like a Sunday night in Columbus - not many places open. People start asking if we in the movie and we say yes we're Car people. All of a sudden we're being asked to stand here and there and people are snapping photos of us and pointing in our direction.

Our group decided to head back towards the hotel and there is a Pizza place. As we're outside discussing the situation there is a big window and I can see people turning their heads and pointing but I assume IT'S THE HATS . . . or something.

Entering the place all is normal until I hear a little girly squeal and a woman jumps out of her seat , looks at ME and says "ARE YOU ROD?" and reaches for my hand.

Not knowing who this was I immediately liked her (note to other people, little girly squeals and hugs are always appreciated . . . .unless you are a guy where a simple bow will suffice).

"I'm Pam" she blurts out and I know who she is from a few emails. Then others at the table stand up and shake my hand and customers in the restaurant are now staring my direction. I'm having my five minutes of fame moment.

We talk a while and then excuse myself to go to my table. We eat great Pizza and Pam and others come to say goodbye and little Emma shakes my hand with a shy grin. I find out this morning that Emma will probably not remember ME because later the next day she got a hug from Johnny Depp who has a slightly elevated wow factor then some dude with a blog.

Back at the hotel it's about 11:30 and it's lights out for a 4:30 wake up call. We get the the picture car garage about 5:30.

There it starts getting exciting as I see 40-50 old cars getting inspected and so forth. The dirtying process is talked about but since Scott's car is still dirty from the Columbus shoot they want us up the Main Street first.

There is a green sticky on the window which means Mann likes the car so much it will be one of the main cars for the three day one scene shoot later in the week. There are five of us driving to town and people turn and take photos.

A little out of order here but there is a Picture Car Meeting but first breakfast. I have always heard the food is amazing and as I stand in line, outside, in 29 degree weather, with no chairs I say, "This truly IS amazing". Then it even gets more amazinger as our plates are piled high with growing cold eggs and other pretty darn good getting cold food, we have to walk a few blocks, while eating to wardrobe and paper filling out and instructions.

Then our little group with cars already in the parking lot are told to go and be with our cars. In fact that is the one major instruction. Be with your car.

It is getting warmer, the crowds are growing a little, it's 7ish and we stand around. Howard (baseball cap) is the guy in charge of us and is a great person. He is looking at cars and taking things off hear and putting them there and like being picked for a team in gym class, he says "that one" and the driver is told to drive to the set to be placed.

Every 15 or 20 minutes they come over and are looking at cars. Meanwhile, I'm over talking the the crowd who seem bored and just filling in gaps on what they happening (like I have a clue LOL).

After about an hour our car is the last one, we're all alone and left out. About ten more cars are driving up and they park surrounding us.

Then once again they are looking at cars and they point to us. A guy jumps on the running board and we drive a few blocks to the set. Howard tells us to turn around and back up towards the green screen.

We back and back and back and are told to stop, front and center in the middle of the green screen right across from the "bank". WOW!! Not really out of the way at all.

Not being told exactly what to do we just sit there and watched what is going on. Pretty soon th real talent starts to arrive, Stephan Dorff, Christian Stolte, that Australian dude Viola wanted to see and of course Johnny Depp and Michael Mann walk right past us over and over.

They start setting up for a shot and Scott and I just sit in the car being invisible. People look at us and say nothing.

They rehearse a hostage scene over and over and over and then do a final run threw before a real take. A funny thing happens. They have these cop that runs up, gets smacked beside the head with the rifle and twirls around be bends the rifle barrel. Every body laughs.

Since they are still rehearsing I take a few photos. and we just watch the action. In front of us they are wiring a car with little explosives.

Then they are getting ready for a real shoot. That cop has now been strangled about about 30 times and he is getting better and better.

I thought THAT would be the hard part.

A guy who has been taking care of the rubber guns now comes up with a gun that looks way way more dangerous. People are putting in ear plugs and cameraman have darth vader shields on. The gun guy hands the BIG gun to Dorff, barrel down, the same exact way EVERY TIME the entire day. Stephan takes it, holds it, the gun dude reaches over and takes off the safety.

About 20 people now scream "ROLLING, FIRE IN THE HOLE . . . . . . .ACTION"

The cop runs up, gets smacked, falls, Dorff grabs him by the neck, a cop car in front of us fires there little pop guns and Dorff fires BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM BAM. HOLY MOTHER OF GOD that is loud. A cop car cop gets killed and falls .


This goes goes on for over two hours and that poor cop is getting smacked every time AND that gun is going off next to his ear OVER and OVER and OVER.

That is a photo has the guy that got killed and that is Scott talking to him. The thing is that THAT police guy was the one getting chocked but I guess Dorff smacked him pretty hard once with the rifle so they decided to just kill him and get a new cop to smack.

They are setting up for a new scene and we're still sitting there when Bob Wagner who is everywhere yelling instructions see's us and screams "HEY, YOU TWO GET OUT OF THAT CAR YOU WOULDN'T BE THERE DURING A BANK ROBBERY"

We get out of the car sheepishly and Howard yells at us "He meant to say please" and smiles. Howard is on our side.

AND - the rest of the day was spend behind the green screen. We could see a lot of action and they kept yelling "Picture car drivers, please move over here" and please move over their and then over hear again. We had to stay close but . . not too close.

Meanwhile the real Extras are just getting beat up running their scenes over and over and over and over again. I wonder if any of them will ever do it again.

Late in the day I spot five guys taking a break and with my tiny camera and knowing I could get busted by hanging out with the Extras I snap of a shot.

That is Scott, Dan, Michall, Andy and Michael.
There were SO many photo ops I wish I could have gotten.

One was when all the Extras and Picture Car people walked to lunch. Seeing 200 full wardrobe people walking down the street was really a great sight!

At lunch I mention the blog and a few people perked up and said "That's you?"

And lunch was amazing. They really DO eat well. There were perhaps 10 main courses and all the trimmings.

I sat at a table with three extras and we were talking. They were on the other side of the street and were suppose to run into a building when the firing started, to bad the building was locked, so they just cowered behind rails.

I did not have a chance to get a photo but later after we were done they posed.

Of course since they were now official actors they could not just stand there so they pretended a guy had just pulled up with a gun.

Obviously lady #2 on the left likes the "bad boys".

if anyone knows these people - a lot of people really love this photo - contact me.

So we just sort of stood around for the final five hours until shooting was over, about 7:30.

We head back to the hotel after parking the car in a special garage and I'm packing up to drive back to Columbus. I'm at the elevator and it opens and a woman walks out. We make eye contact and she says "HEY, your the guy this morning that we talked to". We make a little small talk about Johnny and somehow I mention the blog and the story of "lucky duck'. All of a sudden she gets a look in her eyes and ask's.


"I'm from Arizona and I have a friend that flew in from Kentucky and two more from California ALL BECAUSE OF YOU!" (actually the blog but I'll take any credit I can get). She gives me a big hug and we talk more about how they all met in Chicago and drove to Oshkosh. They met Johnny and yada yada yada.

And I then drive home and collapse.

and that is my story.

I guess I'm going back tonight for another 40 hours of tedium but I think this time there are driving scenes and a huge robbery. It's really is fun in a boring do it over and over and over way.

SO - I hope I see all of you and I honestly do not know about the content in the coming days. I feel guilty actually.

Here are some shots captured from the far side of the green screen. I was NEXT to the green screen.

Every photo has a story.

The blond being held by JD was, I believe a double. She was there early in the morning and went through some practice runs. Then went to wardrobe, got all dressed up, and sat inside for the next 10 hours never to be called. She looked very very very sad when it was all over.

One of the perks of being in a movie is you get free STAR WATER. Obviously it is cranked up with caffeine as Stephan Dorff was drinking a lot of it.

I never saw this - sometimes your TOO close to see things.