Tuesday a big wind blew in weird weather. Dust, kicked up from distant environs, was brought down by rain. Late in the afternoon I saw a sprinkling of drizzle leave small splashes of dust once the rain droplets evaporated. This was in the parking-lot of a restaurant up on the northside near the medical district. I was meeting with some film people who have an idea for a feature narrative. It was a fun time, tossing around ideas (the project is still very much in the development stage) — I'm not sure if there is a place for me on this project, but all the people there are very nice and enthusiastic. While we ate and drank and brainstormed, a good dousing of rain fell. It had all dried by the time we walked outside to the parking-lot. All the cars were coated on a thick skin of brown dirt — it was as though we had all been out 4-wheeling in a dusty arroyo. It rained mud, thick mud, and it had dried into this layer of filth.
Hardly as apocalyptic as a rain of frogs, but it still generated an unsettling impact.
Wednesday I got up before dawn. It was day one of Sam Lerma's SAL Film Festival promo shoot. I made it to Russ' place by 7am. We packed up a shitload of video and audio equipment into his truck and headed to the set, a townhouse over near the interchange of I-35 and loop 410 — over in the Windcrest neighborhood. This can be a bit confusing, as half a dozen major roads, highways, and frontage roads snarl together in a maddening knot. But Russ had his new birthday gift, a Tom Tom. This is a GPS system, and I can attest to its unerring accuracy. It apparently has several personalities preprogramed. Russ had settle upon Kelly, a beguiling siren who, with her dulcet Irish accent, coaxes the driver through the most improbable twists and turns and hairpin maneuvers to the very place you need to go.
We arrived exactly on time.
Dar and Sam were there already, and we loaded in the equipment, as well as the snacks that Dar had brought.
We had three scenes to shoot at this location. Two interiors; one exterior.
Here we have the elusive Sam Bayless (in the headphones).
We lost an extra we need for the outside scene. And when it hits the fan, who are you gonna call? Why PrimaDonna, of course. Nikki Young made a few calls, and in no time she had locked the fabulous Jade Esteban Estrada into the tiny role.
After tinkering with the lighting (a bit of an ordeal, because the sun kept creeping up and into a window where we actually wanted fake sunlight provided by Andy Miller's HMI light kit). The HMIs had to serve to augment the sunlight. But we got the bedroom scene out of the way, and we set up for the kitchen scene. Jade showed up, camera ready, in the jogging suit the scene called for.
JJ Phillips and Rainya Mosher moved to their second scene, in the kitchen. They play a couple. And for the kitchen scene, Rainya's little girl, Maeryn, worked her way through a few run thoughs, as Sam tried to get his perfect single take — this scene called for a single camera set-up. Maeryn (who I believe is three yours old) might be cute as a bug — and she is — but she had a habit of looking up at the camera. But JJ and Rainya managed to convince the child that we, the crew members, were really of little interest.
Finally we moved outside and had JJ and Jade jogging down the middle of the street and delivering their lines. They trotted by the camera a few times. And finally we crammed Sam Bayless and his audio equipment, Russ and his camera equipment, and Sam Lerma into the back of Lerma's SUV. The hatchback and tailgate was open. I got into the drivers seat. And we moved slowly along the street as JJ and Jade gave us take after take. Soon they were panting like racing hounds.
We got some great stuff.
Soon, we wrapped that location, saying good bye to Jade, Rainya, and Maeryn. Here we have a snap of JJ Phillips, Rainya Mosher, Maeryn Mosher (AKA, Super Baby), and Jade Esteban Estrada.
Every film project should be lucky enough to include actors such as these.
We broke down the equipment and headed out to lunch.
As we were eating, I looked at my phone (it had been on silent since we began shooting). I noticed Carlos Pina had called. And as I knew we'd be wanting extras for the last shoot of the day — the convenience store — I gave Carlos a call. He told me that he was already in town and would be more than happy to drop by the set.
Our convience store was the Korner Store on Austin Highway and Rittiman. Pete Barnstrom had shot there for his short film “Lucky Numbers.” Fred, the owner, seemed a bit taken aback by the size of our cast and crew (6), and he told Lerma that he had once been visited by a film crew who weren't so respectful. He actually had to ask them to leave. I tried to find out who they were (so I could castigate them publicly), but he couldn't recall a name. We did our best to be charming and respectful. I think we pulled it off.
Carlos showed up. As did Pete, who brought along Cooper. I wish my camera hadn't run out of batteries, because Cooper had recently lost his two front baby teeth (a playground mishap, he explained to me), and, damn, but if he doesn't look like a Kindergarten Vampire (and, really, with a title like that, do you really need to waste you time writing the treatment for the film?).
Alicia Shaddeau showed up. She was our convience store cashier. Back when we worked together on the “Prometheus Thesis,” she had removed her rings for the final scene where she was supposed to portray a primitive cavewoman. And, as I forgot to return them to her, I'd been carrying around her jewelry for a couple of weeks. They are now returned.
Everyone did great. We got Fred (our host), as well as one of his regular customers, to serve as extras.
We moved fast and got out earlier than we had told Fred. I'm hoping we helped to redeem the San Antonio film making community. It didn't hurt that Pete showed up to help vet us.
As we were leaving, I looked up to see Fred standing outside of his store throwing out bird seed for the neighborhood pigeons. I have this wonderful image in my head of him holding out a hand of seed with a bird perched there, placidly pecking away. I really wonder what in the world this as yet unknown film crew could have done for this genial soul to demand that they leave his premises?
We headed over to Russ' place — seeing as he lives in that neighborhood — so we could watch the footage.
It all looked great.
And then me and Russ headed off to meet up with Deborah. We were all planning to take in a dance piece over at Trinity University. I had received an invitation from a dancer we all knew. The three of us had a quick dinner at Titos and then sped to Trinity. But there was nothing going on. The doors to the building were locked. Deborah called up the dancer in question. And it seems the performance had been the previous night. I had brought the email invitation along with me — I guess it was just a typo.
We headed over to La Tuna and sat out in the beer garden and listened to Deborah pitch an art project we were all thinking of collaborating on. At the moment, the emerging project involves a large mandala on the ground, a dancer (maybe two), and video with digital effects.
After a couple of drinks, we all realized it had been a long day. We dropped Deborah off at her studio. And when I got home, I discovered the Luminaria honorarium check in my mailbox. Thanks! Now I can get my car insurance company off my back.