I finally have a moment to breathe and update here. I’ve been working pretty solidly since Friday on the new feature film that Larry and I are in, “Deadly Obsession”. I rode out with Larry Friday night thinking that I would be going back home since I had to film on “Henchmen” on Saturday. Then I got a call from the “Henchmen” director telling me that he was doing some rescheduling so I was free Saturday. “Deadly Obsession” used this to their advantage to schedule some of my scenes on Saturday. So far it’s just been me and Larry staying in the guest house. Since I had planned to go home, I didn’t really come prepared but luckily the Grr came and visited me on set and brought me some essential supplies. She happened to be there at the right time to watch me have my kissing scene in bed with my on screen wife.
The actress requested “no tongue”, which I totally understand, so I was hoping that we still made it look real. I asked Jess and she thought it looked fine. I asked Larry how it looked and he said it looked good but that I had “a little too much head movement” for his taste. For some reason, insecurity set in and I started dwelling on the scene, convinced that I probably looked like an idiot and that the actress would be telling tales of her worst screen kiss ever. It didn’t help that since I hadn’t been prepared to stay, I hadn’t had a chance to shave and therefore was probably sandpapering the poor woman’s chin.
Aside from my possible lack of prowess in the fake bedroom department, filming has been every bit as fun as I expected. The cast and crew are all phenomenal people who I already know I will miss when this wraps and I hope I will remain in touch with them. I’ve been having an absolute blast sinking into this twisted role.
Sunday, however, brought many tales to tell. We were shooting in an old white van that was my character’s vehicle and this included shooting on location on some roads about 45 minutes away. Since I had to drive the van, they had to get me set up with insurance. Sadly, since I was the ONLY one on the insurance this meant that I was the only one who could drive the old, quirky, un-air-conditioned van at all. I drove it to the location, during the shots, and back from location.
While we were shooting one scene where I pull another character over (I’m a sheriff), We pulled over and then they unexpectedly told me to go ahead and get out and approach her car. I wasn’t ready for this so I quickly tried to put my badge and handcuffs in place and stepped out of the van. Unfortunately, I also left it in gear and it started rolling forward toward the borrowed convertible we were using in the scene. I leapt back in, frantically trying to stomp the brake pedal, but I kept missing and slipping in what seemed like a movie scene itself. Finally, just as it would probably happen in a film, I managed to stop the van mere inches from the back of the convertible. At another point the turn signal lever fell right off the steering column. Luckily, I could stick it back in and still use it and it would pretty much stay in place.
Toward the end of the day, we were starting to lose light so we really got into indie film style quick-and-dirty shooting. It was fun and invigorating. Back at base camp, I helped the crew load up the grip truck and we finished just in time to leave ahead of a big storm. Soon the storm caught up with us. As we drove with the windows down (since we’d rather get a little wet than ride in a mobile sauna), I discovered that I couldn’t seem to turn the wipers on permanently. All I could do was push the switch that caused them to wipe a few times and then stop. So as we drove the 45 minutes back to the Ranch Studios where we were staying, I constantly pushed the switch every few seconds.
Meanwhile, the director was driving the borrowed convertible back and couldn’t figure out how to put the top up when it started raining. When the rain started getting particularly bad, she pulled over into a gas station and I pulled over behind her. The three of us in my van jumped out and eventually figured out how to get the top up and turn the headlights on. Relating it now doesn’t seem to do it justice. At the time, it really felt like this absolutely crazy moment that we would be telling tales about.
When we got back to the ranch we’d been working for about 13 hours. I walked in and found out that I needed to have my loin cloth fitted for a scene the next day (my most dreaded scene; trust me when I tell you that you do not want to see me in a loin cloth in high definition…or even in low definition for that matter), and the special FX guy needed me for a few things. I told them I’d get to them after I grabbed some quick dinner. After eating in the clubhouse, I needed to go back to the guest house to change clothes. As I walked across the field to the guest house, some real bad weather was brewing. The winds were picking up in a very scary way accompanied by some spectacular lightning. About halfway across the field I really started feeling a sense of foreboding regarding the worsening weather. I ran the last half of the way to the house and changed clothes.
As I was about to go back to the production house, the sky opened up to unleash some of the most hellish end-of-days storming I’ve ever seen in my life. It was insane. I could feel rain blowing through the cracks of the door and it started coming in under the door and flooding the kitchen. The guest house is very large and kinda scary on your own. The power was flickering on and off but at least the two doors were predominantly glass so I could see outside and get some of the light from the night sky and lightning. At one point I decided I was going to just brave it over to the production house. I knew I would get soaked but I was just going to strip down and try on a loin cloth anyway. I stepped outside and within about .87 seconds, I was completely soaked to the bone and felt like I was being pelted by rain bullets. I quickly retreated back inside, trapped alone in a big scary slightly flooding house with no power.
I tried to call Jess, but either couldn’t get the call to go out or got disconnected the few times I actually reached her. I called Larry and found out that he was holed up with everyone else in the clubhouse. there were rumors of a possible tornado headed our way so we discussed the safest places to be if that happened. For example, standing in front of two large predominantly glass doors would not be a good place to be if a tornado showed up but I wasn’t about to descend into the depths of the pitch dark house unless I needed to.
At this point I remembered that Zoe and Gigi who plays two of the lead roles, had driven home slightly ahead of us and might have been caught in the earlier, not quite so apocalyptic storms. I thought about texting Zoe to make sure she was alright but I hesitated fearing she might think I was some kind of weirdo for texting her. You see, I have this weird paranoia when I’ve never actually phoned/emailed/texted someone before that if I do they’re going to think “What the hell? We barely know each other! We are not on a phone/email/text level of relationship yet, you freak!”, Therefore I didn’t even consider texting Gigi since I had only just met her that day. A few more minutes of nervous isolation in a dark house and raging storm makes a guy do crazy things though. Using my cell phone for light, I looked her number up on the contact sheet and texted her to make sure she had made it home. In the meantime, I needed a way to pass the time and keep myself entertained so I got out my guitar and sang some tunes. The house has really great acoustics for that since there is no carpeting on the floors.
The storms eventually subsided and Larry called me to tell me he was bringing a carload of people back and I should get my guitar out and get ready to play.
“What do you think I’ve been doing for the last hour?”, I told him. We found some candles since the power was still out and we proceeded to have a great time playing guitar and singing.
Around midnight I decided that I should go back to production house to deal with this ugly loincloth business. The loincloth would work but man was I going to be embarrassed. There was definitely going to be some testicle leakage from the sides, but luckily there was also a big hanging flap at the front and back that should pretty much conceal that. Many thanks to Danielle for making me as comfortable as I could possibly be in such a situation.
At this point I now had to deal with another snafu. We needed to drop the van back off with its owners and I was the only one who could legally drive it. The directions we had were vague at best. Mac had been getting them during the storm and the woman had given lots of directions such as “go toward this road” and such. I felt like we had some kind of pirate treasure map. “Go 10 paces toward the rock face, then take 4 paces to your left until you see a monkey perched on a wrecked ship”. We tried Googling it but we didn’t have all the info to accurately do that either. We finally set off at about 1:00 a.m. to try and fulfill this mission. Mac was following me in another car to drive me back after the drop off.
First we went to a location that had the correct street name and had been very near the studio. We looked for the address but it did not seem to exist and to make matters more complicated, the addresses were not readily apparent so we had to resort to creeping around a dodgy neighborhood in the wee hours of the morning hoping I wouldn’t get shot for sneaking up to people’s doors looking for addresses. I very quickly determined that this could not be the right place as it really bore no resemblance to the vague pirate map directions we had.
Mac talked to a guy who happened to be outside at this hour and he told us of another street with the same name that sounded like it corresponded more to the metaphorical giant X on the pirate map. We stopped at a gas station because the car Mac was in was nearly empty. For some reason, he couldn’t get his credit card to work and the station was closed so he couldn’t pay cash. I was also a bit worried because the van had stalled twice which had made me take notice that my gas gauge had been at about half full…all day long…even though I’d probably driven 100 miles or so.
We set off in earnest to find this mythical place where leprechauns ride unicorns and creepy vans get dropped off. About a mile or so down the road the van ran out of gas. Extreme tiredness was setting in along with a sense if disbelief at this farce and a slight numbness to save my sanity. Mac called the office and Steve borrowed Laura’s car to go buy a gas can and bring some gas. Got all that? Don’t worry, neither did I. It was now somewhere in the realm of 2:00 a.m. or so and I had a 7:00 a.m. call time. Mac told me to try and get some sleep while we waited. I sat in the passenger’s seat trying to catch a few winks but then Mac fell asleep first and started snoring which complimented the loudly buzzing street lamp nicely.
So here I was, in the middle of the night, out of gas on the side of the highway next to a creepy building where a killer might store bodies, a buzzing street lamp mocking me, and someone sawing logs in the seat next to me. I felt torn in two. On the one hand, I was remarkably close to a nervous breakdown and yet I just had to laugh at it all and think about how happy I was to be starring in a feature film and what a great time I was generally having and all the awesome people I had met. I wanted to cry, laugh, smile and most of all, sleep.
Steve eventually arrived with some gas. We poured it in the van, inevitably getting some on my hands. Excellent, so now I reeked of gasoline too. Mac jumped in Laura’s car with Steve and we once again set off to find this magical land where the sun is always shining and the air smells like warm root beer and the towels are oh so fluffy. And where you drop creepy vans off.
It turned out to be quite a bit further than we thought. We ended up in San Marcos. We saw what looked like the last leg of our journey but stopped to gas up the cars fully and fill the gas can back up in case the car Mac was driving needed it when we went back to pick it up. We confirmed with the attendant that we were indeed close to our destination which was just 16 more paces past Amelia Earhart, and then to the right of the Flying Dutchman. We once again found ourselves in a place where people apparently believe that no one ever needs to actually see what your address is. More skulking suspiciously through the darkness of night and we eventually found what we were pretty sure was most likely the right place. Good enough. Due diligence done. Goodbye creepy van, alas, I knew ye too well.
Feeling like I had just made some kind of dodgy mafia drop-off, I jumped in the car with Steve and Mac and we proceeded back to where we had left the other car. We decided to go ahead pour the gas can into it just to be safe. As they retrieved it from the trunk they found that the gas can had fallen over and therefore now made Laura’s reek of gas. While they poured it in the other car, I had to get out of the car so as not to be overwhelmed by gas fumes.
Steve dropped me off at my guest house and I had a shower. As I was preparing for bed I thought back on the text that I had sent to Zoe. I had never heard back from her but Stacey, our awesome makeup person, had told me that she spoke with Zoe and confirmed her safety. Never the less I suddenly had a sneaking suspicion. I flipped open my phone and looked at the text I had sent. Then I picked up the contact list and looked at Zoe’s number. I discovered that when you’re looking up someone’s number on a sheet of paper using only your cell phone for light, 6 and 8 look very similar. I’m not sure who received my three long rambly texts, but it wasn’t Zoe. I smiled and laughed out loud at this appropriate end to my day. I crawled in bed at 4:15 a.m. to catch a few hours of sleep, dreading my 7:00 a.m. call time that was barreling down on me like a train. Despite it all, I went to bed smiling for various reasons but most importantly because I was one of the few lucky people in this world who are doing what I love to do and meeting some absolutely wonderful people in the process.