Archive for the ‘Movies’ Category

Day 36 - IF YOU WANT THE EQUIPMENT – TAKE IT!

Friday, February 22nd, 2008
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Finally: the first shooting day. After organizing stuff, picking up actors and buying cigarettes for my team I went to our location in the early afternoon. Before I was complaining about the heat in the car, now that I entered the house I thought I would collapse. It was unbearable hot and had a humidity of 100%, you couldn’t breath anymore. As the set was pretty small and as we had some of our equipment outside on the street (a horror for any insurance) I decided to go outside watching the equipment. First I was relieved getting from 104° into 95° in the shadow, but I soon started regretting it. The Filmcommission warned us from the beginning of shooting in Southmost and informed preventative the police that we are there. Beside that they called me every hour to see if we are still alive or if there was a shooting or something like that. I knew that Southmost isn’t the best area in Brownsville, but I thought that their concerns are a little bit exaggerated.

Without thinking anything bad I sat down next to our equipment, when I suddenly realized that with the darkness obviously the whole neighbourhood appeared. I got the feeling to be in a MTV musicvideo, everywhere gangsters with bandanas, Dickies, muscleshirts and rosaries. They started smoking, some of them showed each other their guns and all of that with still watching me. A thought comes to my mind - “don´t look at them” - and I started remembering what RJ told me. One wrong glace will be interpreted as disrespect and who knows what then might happen. So I started looking at the ground, but still realised that they were talking about me and looking at me. And I was totally by myself. I decided to go into the house to see how long they still gonna shoot. I knew they were working as fast as possible but I really wanted them to finish and save me from my position in front of the house. As there was no chanceto I had to go back to the equipment. When I sat down again I feverish made observations on how I could save the equipment if they were going for it. The truth is: if they had wanted the equipment I would have given it to them without doing anything. That’s how scared I was…
Yeah, so what shall I tell you. One hour later after 17 hours of shooting the equipment was my smallest problem. Now I had to tell my totally overtired team that we are doing a musicvideo shooting. Somehow the gangster had found out that I am the producer of the movie and they wanted to take that opportunity. And I can say only one thing: THANK YOU so much for this exciting first shooting day and for an unforgettable musicvideo shooting!!! That was the beginning of a wonderful friendship!

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Day 35 - TONI GARZA JR. GOES NUTS

Thursday, February 21st, 2008
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Unbelievable, really unbelievable… I got a phone call from the filmcommission today and they informed me that Toni Garza Jr. had called them totally drunk and cursed them. Now we’ve got proof for our suspicion that he seems to have an alcohol or drug problem… The last phone call I got from him was 2 days ago when I made it clear to him not to call me ever again. After that incident, the filmcommission will now inform the police, just in case he shows up at the hotel again.

Day 33 - THE GHETTO: UNBELIEVABLE DAY IN CAMERON PARK

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008
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We’re already shooting our first scene on Thursday and still don’t have the location for it. The problem: We are looking for a poor house. I know, Brownsville is full of poor houses but nobody wants to show that in front of a camera. Besides, people won’t even open their doors. So I get Luis, who speaks Spanish, and Haake as my personal bodyguard (just kidding) and drive to Cameron Park, the ghetto of Brownsville. In devastating heat we walk from house to house, knock on doors, ask for entry. We see scared faces of people who think we are from the government because we look so white. We see families squeezed together with their children, chickens and geese on unbelievably small space. Some share outside toilets with their neighbours. An old lady gets her shots outside in front of her poor housing. It’s unbelievable how poor these people are, living so close to the rich Country Club.

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We meet a young pregnant woman who lives in a little trailor with her husband and three children. I have never seen anything that poor before, yet so friendly and hospitable. She shows us her trailor, shows us the worn out mattress where her family (5 people!) sleep. She shows us the cesspit, next to the chicken cages. Snakes move, coming from the dirty river behind her trailor, across the grass. Never seen anything like that. The woman doesn’t mind us filming in her trailor. “I know, I am poor.”, she says, “Why should I pretend it’s different? I’ve got nothing to hide.” Still, there’s a problem: The trailor belongs to her mother-in-law who is renting it out to her. So she has to ask her for permission first. I respect that. Somehow it seems to me as if her mother-in-law has a lot of power. So I guess, we gotta wait until she gets a hold of her.

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Walking back to our car, we meet Zuly, who lives in Cameron Park as well. She is not surprised to see us. She was already told some hours ago that “some filmmakers” were walking around Cameron Park. It seems as if a lot of people already know. I have this weird feeling that people are watching us.

It’s getting dark when we arrive back at the hotel. We’re just about to get something to eat when I receive a call from Carol’s mom from Cameron Park. It’s a warning: Mother-in-law knows that we walked around Cameron Park. Mother-in-law is very angry. We should rather not show up in Cameron Park anymore. Wow. I think we’re in trouble and I don’t even understand why. I ask Carol’s mom if I could meet the Mother-in-law to sort things out because I think there must be some misunderstanding. Carol’s mom calls back: Mother-in-law wants to meet us in an hour.

Before we get going, we try to overcome our fear of Mother-in-law by joking around. But as soon as Haake, Luis and me are in the car, driving to Cameron Park, there is complete silence in the car. Everyone is nervous. Who is Mother in Law and what is gonna happen?

We drive to Carol’s house in Cameron Park. From there, Carol’s mom leads us to the house of the Mother-in-law. It’s a big, fancy house, Mexican style. Several people are sitting on chairs on the porch. We take a seat as well. Some man is offering us a papaya. They all seem very friendly but I still don’t know which one, out of the many ladies, is the Mother-in-law. Then, all of a sudden, all the men leave and the meeting starts. It gets clear which one the Mother-in-law is: An old Mexican lady. She doesn’t say a word, lets the others talk, listens carefully. A very angry Mexican woman starts to speak angrily, only in Spanish. I don’t understand a word. Luis tries to translate it into English as fast as he can. I soon understand what the problem is: They think we are stuck up white filmmakers who want to film in Cameron Park to drag its people through the mire. She explains that her whole life she had to fight the bad image of the people from Cameron. People think that Cameron Parkers are criminals, lazy illegals and the scum of Brownsville. If her children mention they are from Cameron Park at school, they will be put down by teachers and treated badly. Therefore, the lady wants Zuly and Carol not to come out in the movie and wants to forbid us to film in Cameron Park. We try to sort things out and Carol’s mom and Zuly’s mom are very helpful. Finally the Mother-in-law is making a decision: Without saying a word because she had already decided before we even arrived. We are not allowed to shoot in any of her properties in Cameron Park. What Zuly and Carol do will be up to their parents. Both already said yes, so at least we got that sorted out. However: We lost our location for the first shooting day.

I am disappointed, down and exhausted. A whole day of searching for the right location in unbelievable heat and humidity with no result. Carol’s mom notices how disappointed we are and feels sorry for us. She offers us to shoot in her trailor. It is already late but we take a look at it. She offers us homemade cake and milk. She’s so nice, but her trailor is not poor enough for the movie. So, Carol’s mom thinks of something else: A friend of hers has another trailor, which is kind of poor. We decide to take a look at it tomorrow. Now it’s almost 2 o’clock in the morning. Haake was so tired, he fell asleep right away when we got home. I am ready to do so as well, to be honest.

Day 30 – 27 MISSED CALLS

Saturday, February 16th, 2008
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Toni Garza Jr. is calling all the time and wants to talk about the production. With every single call I get more and more the impression that he’s kind of confused and doesn’t know anymore what he’s talking about. I’m not sure if he’s taking some medicine or drugs. Till now I’ve always been friendly but it really gets too much for me. I’ve already stopped picking up the phone when I see it’s him who’s calling. In the afternoon I went to the front desk for a couple of minutes and when I came back I had 27 missed calls from him. That’s fucking weird…

In the meantime the rest of the team developed the right attitude to help us save money – check out the video to see what I’m talking about:

Day 25 - STORIES OUT OF THE LOO

Monday, February 11th, 2008
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All right. So, now it is Haake, Constanze and me sharing an apartment together. And after only one day we already have some serious problem: The toilet. Let me put it this way: The plunger is Haake’s best friend from now on.

Day 23 - I’D DO ANYTHING FOR CONSTANZE!!!

Saturday, February 9th, 2008
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Déjà vu: Casting in the City Hall. I can’t believe there is still people in Brownsville that I haven’t met.  People are still great, they are so much involved with, unbelievable what they do to convince me (check out the video).

After the casting we have an appointment with BISD. The next couple of hours will decide whether we can shoot at Hanna High School or not. And since it is our most important location, we have to give everything. And so it happens that Constanze forces me out of my flip flops into uncomfortable adultish-looking high heels. Does she really know what she is doing to me?

Day 21 - NO, NOBODY HURT!

Thursday, February 7th, 2008
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Not sure about the cast for the gang. So I get Zuly, Lalo, Fuego and Carol together to try out some more scenes. They are all from the ghetto, they are goddamn real and if they manage to forget the camera, they’ll be perfect. Lalo, Fuego’s brother-in-law, is with us for the first time. He’s that kinda person who forgets about the camera quite quickly. I give commands, he gets into the mood and just does his thing as if it was the most normal thing in the world. Well, at some point he really got „too“ much into it. The following clip shows how. All I told Lalo was to start a fight with Fuego by kicking him a little. Well…

I think, Lalo is perfect for the movie. Fuego of course, too. Oh, and by the way, nobody got hurt.

Day 20 - HORRIFYING NEWS FROM PATTY

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008
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First recall for the girls that would fit the part of the „Strutter“.
Unbelievable talents. Hard decision for me. (check out the video)

Finally I got a hold of Patty. – The one and only I can think of for the part of the „Mexican Girl“. After 20 days of calling and leaving messages, she finally calls back. While I am on the phone with her, there’s this cockroach flying across the room. Right then the shocking news: She can’t play in the movie. While the cockroach makes itself comfortable in the bathroom, Patty explains that she had a car accident and lies in the hospital. Her injuries are not too bad, but she has to get a job to afford fixing her car. Therefore she won’t have time for taking part in the movie.
I am speechless. In the meantime the cockroach takes over my mango.

HELP!!!

Monday, February 4th, 2008
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Barbara forced me again to play a role at her rehearsal, but not without telling me first how to behave in front of the others. I’m not an anxious person, but after that I got a little bit scared. “Don’t look into their eyes, don’t ask them anything personal, don’t ask them anything about drugs, don’t do anything that might look like disrespect, …” – what does she need me for if I’m not allowed to do or say anything? Anyway, I was a little scared of what to expect, but it turned out to be all fine… at the beginning. I’m sure the offered Austrian chocolate was the reason for breaking the ice J. Yeah, so I met my first two chulos in Brownsville, which I liked, but THEN Barbara wanted to try out a scene and I can only say: How could you do that to me, Barbara????????? How????

P.S.: Barbara, if you stopped putting your stuff everywhere and didn’t leave the leftovers all over the room, I bet we wouldn’t have any cockroaches :-)!!!!!!

I HATE BARBARA

Friday, February 1st, 2008
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We still don’t know if we will get money from the last fund we have applied for and therefore we don’t know how high our budget will be. Just in case I did calculate various shooting times. Regarding our equipment, the flights, the rental car, etc. I need to have everything on standby for all the possibilities, which means three times more work. Can’t change it, we just have to be prepared for everything… But don’t think this is enough work, all the calls regarding the casting drive me crazy, the phone never stops ringing, not even for 5 minutes. But I can’t complain; if nobody called I wouldn’t be happy either. The only thing that put the lid onto my situation today was Barbara forcing me to play a role at the casting. I hate playing roles, if I did, guess what, I would have become an actress, not a producer… And beside that, Barbara thinks she can do it better anyway, why do I have to try anyway???? That’s the hardest part of my job, directors are like little kids, they scream till they get what they want, so you have to please them wherever you can…


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