Posted by: normanlgreen | February 12, 2012

Dream, February 12, 2012 movie shoot stunt scene & King Edward’s Folly


Dream, home, 7:10 am

Location shooting for an action mystery is to begin in a snowy mountain town. The principal actress is a small woman in her early seventies, a stage actress. Her character is a detective in the Miss Marple mold. The set crew scuttles around adapting the main street with its false-front western buildings. The first take is to be master shot of a younger woman, a stunt expert, who skates down a curving hill into the main street at high speed. The detective is to rush from the front of her hotel and with a flying blocking tackle, knock the skater off of a a sloping platform.

The Director is incapable of making decisions – is more interested in appearing to be the Director than in doing the work. Before long I discover that I am making most of the coordinating decisions, that I have become the Assistant Director.

The town people simultaneously prepare for the Christmas parade and have set up the officials reviewing stand between the board sidewalk from which the lead actress must run and the ramp from which she must knock the skater. It will be tricky enough to time her run without putting obstacles in her way. I demand that the reviewing stand be removed.

I ask that the speed skater run the route that she will take when the cameras roll. We need to time the two actions independently of each other so we can coordinate the movements, knowing when the little detective must commence her run. There are serious concerns that our very sweet, cooperative and professional lead actress can cover the ground in the time allotted.

We signal the skater via radio to start her run. No one has cleared the steep road down which she must skate, she has to dodge hikers and snowshoers. At a curve, she checks her speed by spreading her stance so she can reach the curved snow walls of the narrow road. She shoots into town, passes my position beside the ramp and brings herself to a halt just before she collides with the wooden staircase at the corner of another hotel. The stunt woman tells me that she will have to shout out at the last moment when she is to be tackled and which side of her body she will present to be hit. I tell her that we will eliminate any instructions from the soundtrack. I convey the information to the tiny lead actress – who might be Helen Hayes.

In the mean time, the set crew has put together part of a new set in the middle of the track down which the skater must pass. I tell them to get it out of there. They say that it is needed for the next shot. I answer that there will be no next shot if we fail to get the first one.

I turn back to the Lead Actress to clarify why, in terms of plot, she is out in front of her hotel and why she is to body check the skater. She tells me softly that the script is unclear on both of those points. I call for the continuity person and the script writer. they are not to be found.  I search for them on a bus. Instead of those two, I meet the personal assistant to the romantic lead actor, a young Hispanic man in his early twenties playing his first big role. I ask after the actor. His assistant, a seasoned film professional, point out the window where the actor walks past in the shade of the bus. He is dressed as a toreador and holds himself with great dignity. I think of Valentino in Blood and Sand. I say to his wrangler: “If this were 1922, he could be an overnight sensation – and I bet he would get laid a lot.” The personal assistant suggests that two of the make-up woman are already on this young actor’s trail.

I wonder how the bull fighter character works into the plot.

Earlier: (3:48 am) King Edward VII of England has commissioned an overwhelming engineering feat. He has asked that a deep water seaport be cut many miles inland. The south coast is to have a massive square notch cut into the landscape. I am invited to the official opening along with a group of top-hatted industrialists. The men and I spread a blanket onto a Salisbury hillside, set a picnic and watch as the crew completes the process of squaring the corners and painting the stone walls, hundreds of feet to the sea channel. It still looks very rough, not at all the controlled environment envisioned by the engineers.

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