Sunday, October 26, 2003


Sunday--Last Day of Shooting

As I am getting in my car, I notice there is ash on the ground. The sky looks dark and strange. What the fuck is going on? I arrive at the Civic Center and immediately take a light reading. I am one half stop under what I need. I look up. It is as if there were a giant silk over the sky. I decide to shoot the bus stop and Conformist sequences with the 50D and push it a stop. Freddy and the rest of the guys arrive with the phone booth. That thing weighed a ton and it took a lot of effort to get it to the middle of the concourse. I am glad it’s them and not me. Poor guys. Neil has to leave the shoot as soon as he gets there. He is afraid his house would be on the fire’s path. He never comes back, but he calls us to tell us he’s okay.

We go off, guerilla style, into the street. The light changes constantly and it is annoying. We had a blast shooting the bus stop sequences. It was hilarious chasing Dulce down the street. We have to put up lights to shoot the Conformist shot. The Civic Center guards are very helpful and get us additional stingers. Ash starts to fall from the sky and allergies start to flare up. Since all of the characters appear on the last sequence, all of the actors are there. Genaro asks me if he can make Israel look “prettier”, softer. I say go for it, but the ass an boobs are fine.

The ash gets worse. How can this be happening? San Diego on fire on the last day of my shoot. I will not quit or shut down. I can’t and I won’t. I will finish shooting this film today. I think that if the fire gets close to Hillcrest I will need to go home and get the film we already shot. I have my priorities straight.

I go off to get some water and when I get back I notice Natalia is crying. I see Freddy leave in a huff and sit down far away on a bench. I ask one of the grips what happened. He tells me. Major drama. I tell Freddy I cannot have the two people I need the most right now fighting. He is giving me a lot of stress. Laura comes and asks me why Natalia is crying. I cannot believe what is happening. Laura talks to Freddy, then Freddy goes off and talks to Natalia. They come back smiling. I guess they made up. I am surrounded by people, but I feel so alone.

It takes forever to shoot the phone booth sequence. It is mostly dolly shots and I have to shoot them without a tripod. My body feels like a pretzel. I look over to our camp, and I see people are having lunch. Burritos from Baja Fresh. Luke is worried about his parents, since their house is on the fire’s path. I tell him to go home. I look at my shot list and storyboards. Nothing makes sense. People talk to me, I hear their voices, but I can’t understand what they are saying to me. Dulce asks me how I am doing. I am worried about her, her allergies, etc. She says she is fine. She has a great attitude. So different than the actor I had to deal with on a certain shitty film I directed that will never see the light of day.

Somehow, we finish shooting the end sequence. Freddy is supposed to take the phone booth back to Stu Segall, but it turns out the workers there are fighting the fire trying to keep it from getting to the studios, so he won’t be able to take it back today. We have three hours until we have to be at the Market Place. Lesley goes home to rest and Dulce, Genaro and Melissa go to my house to get ready for the next scene. I look for my burrito, but there isn’t one. I find a half-eaten burrito on a table and I eat it without shame.

I still have to get the props for the shopping basket. I will have to cross the picket line. I can’t look the strikers on the eye. The people united, will never be defeated. Fuck it, the film always comes first. I try to pick cinematic vegetables and a baguette, of course. As I am leaving I apologize to the striking workers and I explain why I crossed the picket line. Their expressions say “we don’t give a shit and why are you telling us this?” The shoot at the market goes relatively smooth. I want a shot from inside the shopping cart, no way I will fit, so I put Natalia in there with the camera.

We are exhausted, faces black from the ash, eyes watering and noses running, but we finish one hour under budget.

Lesson: Never schedule to shoot the ending to your film on the last day.

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