|I had never been on a shoot
where a camera had been smashed. We were always extremely careful with equipment
and had never dropped or scratched a lens or even a filter before. This
particular day had already been a frustrating one and we had been stopped again
by the police in the morning and then had to wait a further 5 hours for the
prop car to arrive which was essential as it was not only in the scene but
happened to be full of props and other equipment. It had broken down yet again.
|News had come back by phone
that it was now fixed and would be there in twenty minutes, so I suggested we
set the dolly and track up, get Rob and Prince into costume and take the shot
the moment the car arrived. It was just a scene when they pulled up at a
farmhouse and we had already positioned a scarecrow and cleared the scene of
unwanted items. It felt like a reasonable suggestion at the time and within
fifteen minutes, an Arriflex 35mm camera with the chosen lens was up on a
reasonably high angle, with video assist and all the required items. We were
ready to go.
|Suddenly, out of nowhere the wind
picked up around us and a huge gust causing the camera to start
tracking on it’s own away from us, I can still see it now in
slow-motion picking up speed towards the end of the track. There
were shouts and we were up and after it but CRUNCH.
The camera had reached the
end of the track and smashed on the ground, it was literally split open and the
magazine broke off exposing the film. It was dented and bent in so many ways,
it was clear that this camera would never shoot film again. I won’t even bother
explaining Jon’s reaction, this camera was one of his babies, he had probably
spent many an evening tinkering with its wires and each ‘magazine change’ was
probably deep down a fatherly experience.
|By now, I was so used to the
unthinkable happening that if someone’s head had fallen off I would just have
to accept it. I had decided I could no longer feel emotional about anything or
I would not survive. I could not have taken on board the sheer amount of upset
people or aggressive situations I would face on a daily basis.
|I had taken to almost having
out-of-body experiences in those moments. If something traumatic was happening
it would be like I was outside myself watching and deciding what the best
course of action might be. My physical self was just a puppet that I was operating
from afar. I would also do strange things like feel my pulse whilst I was
witnessing the unfolding of some great problem, so I could be sure that it was
not affecting me emotionally.
|It was time for another call
to Amir. I had never even claimed on insurance before but by now, he was
probably on first name terms with them. Luckily Amir and his wife Kerry had
received the lab’s ‘office’ copy of the rushes and seemed to really like the
footage from the shoot.
|Probably with all the bad
news filtering back they were expecting there wouldn’t be much to look at, but
of course, the challenges of the shoot don’t show on screen. At least to those
who don’t know what the shots looked like in your head. So Amir remained very
encouraging and reminded us that all these things would be forgotten one day
when the film is done. Even though I felt part of him must have been protecting
his investment with his pep talks, I always appreciated his injection of
positivity. It was a world apart from what was going on up close.
|I had to cut the call short
as the battered old prop car had finally arrived and we still had a scene to
get before dark. I tried to enthuse Jon by passing on Amir and Kerry’s
enthusiasm over the footage but Jon was so devastated by the mashed up 35mm
camera that he personally owned that it was hard to get him to carry on at all
|In fact, he is so p**ssed
about the entire situation that he will not let me take the hand-held shots I
want looking into the window of the farmhouse. I assure him they will be creepy
and add tension but I can feel while I’m saying it this is not re igniting his
passion, so instead I go to the van and set up the ‘B Camera’ myself.
|While I’m in the van setting
up the camera, I look over my shoulder and Jon has laid the broken bits of
camera, spread out on display in front of him and is in a sufficiently sombre
mood, staring at them rather like an open casket at a funeral. .
|I want to ask him a
technical question as I’m not even sure how the magazine goes on but I avoid
it, as I know it will cause an eruption. Instead I select the lens I want and I
slip out of the van and over to the farmhouse pretending to be Rob’s eyes
looking in through the windows. I’m desperately trying to keep at least a small
percentage of me on the creative side amongst the chaos.
|Between Dan and I we guess
what the light reading might be and I shoot the shots. A POV shot through the
bloodied sticks across the window. A shot of a darkened doorway with nothing
happening and Rob’s POV of a stick on the floor with some guts next to it that
Max quickly put together. I get away with it and rightly or wrongly I’m much
happier about the sequence.
|As it turns out, I could
have done with Jon’s light reading as the shots came out very slightly
underexposed and Jon always gets his exposures bang-on, but I remember that
‘sneaky’ feeling every time I see the shots and I’m still happy we have them.m.