Archive for February, 2008

DAY 41 - THE KEY TO SUCCESS

Friday, February 29th, 2008
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Our first location of today was a hit. An old shrimp harbour with countless old rustily boats. The scenes were great, our friends Patty, Zuly, Carol, Lalo and RJ improvised like movie stars. Weather was beautiful, blue sky and compared to the natural herbal sauna in the car of Carol’s mom it almost seemed frosty to me. It was only about 105 degrees Fahrenheit, not that bad, nevertheless there was no shadow. We’ve been ready with the scenes in an amazing time, enough time to repeat the scene with Lalo and RJ at the beach. Yesterday the sunset was to fast for us.

But then the key of Lalo’s Low-rider was in the car, which had closed it self. The owner and we were outside, looking inside, inside America :o) With a lot of violence and a wire out of my set bag the car was persuaded to open itself again after two hours of trial and error. Ok, fast to the beach again and we had the same situation again; a sunset to fast for us, nevertheless the mosquitos found us, but that was no problem. They didn’t find any place to bite us, because of too many bites from yesterday.

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DAY 41 – SHOOTING AT THE PORT

Thursday, February 28th, 2008
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Well, in comparison with yesterday today’s shooting was really easy. It just took us only 1 hour to find the location at Port Isabel again and we suprisly could really shoot some scenes. Then a little accident happened to Barbara as she spilt most of our fake blood that we bought with us from Austria and which is actually pretty expensive. That coincidentally someone closed the doors of our Low Rider leaving the keys inside, this is something I shouldn’t even mention. Since after 2 hours in the pure heat and various tries to open it again, we finally managed…

Something more from yesterday by the way: one of the scenes we shot yesterday was a beerrun. I was responsible for buying the beer but could really not imagine how much to buy. Over here when you steal beer you just hide one or two bottles under your coat… After hours of discussions with RJ I finally got persuaded to buy 4 boxes and really: RJ and Lalo are that trained that each of them could run with 2 boxes of beer without loosing breath (check out the picture from yesterday)

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DAY 40 - PREGNANT WOMEN AND ELECTRONIC TAGS

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008
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What a day! In the morning I picked up RJ and Lalo to drive together to Ana’s house, who is pregnant and comes out in the first scene of the movie. Even though both of them are from Brownsville and even though I gave them a map to guide me, it took us more than 45 minutes to find the right street which is actually just around the corner of Lalo’s house. There the first drama: Ana is not there. A woman who opend the door after 10 minutes of knocking assumes that she slept at her mum’s place but has no idea where that is…
Then a phone call from Barbara: The guy who wanted to lend us his car for the first scene didn’t show up and can’t be reached anymore. So we need a new car… RJ, Lalo and I start to ask people on the street, but without success. I decide to bring RJ and Lalo to the set on Boca Chica Beach so that we don’t loose even more time and to go on from there.
Then the saving idea: Zuly’s mum will borrow us her car, it’s not exactly what Barbara had in mind but it will work out. While I give Zuly’s mum a ride back to Brownsville I continue calling at Ana’s house. After 3 hours I finally succeed by reaching her and she tells me to pick her up.
So I drive to her house in Southmost where I see two men sitting at the porch. As I come closer I recognize that one of them is wearing an electronic tag and doesn’t look very friendly at me. So I start beaming as much as I can, ignore the danger, come closer and say: “Hi, I’m Constanze, I’m picking up Ana, is she ready?” and oh wonder, during waiting for Ana, we talk about the weather…
Hours later I make my last tour to the beach to pick up RJ, Lalo and Barbara. After getting out of the car for only 2 minutes I already have the feelings as if thousands of mosquitos are sucking away my blood. So back into the car, but oh horror, there are approximately 30 mosquitos already waiting for me. A race against the time starts, how many can I kill before they get my blood… - all I can tell you is that at the end I could count 17 bloodstains…
And oh yeah, just to end the day the same perfect way it started: our Minivan got stuck in the sand and couldn’t get out by itself but when the bordercontrol stopped us they didn’t find the drungs some of us were carrying with them…

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Day 40 - 4th SHOOTING DAY: GIVING BIRTH AT 120 DEGREES

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008
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What a day! I got bad diarrea, have to film inside a car at 120 degrees with rolled up windows and no AC, and my pregnant actress is pretending she’s delivering her baby and making me cry together with her, so she won’t feel that embarrassed. In between I have to solve problems like:

- Where is the next toilet.
- My actors are gone and we need to find them.
- The guy who was supposed to lend us his car, won’t show up.
- The car we found instead won’t start.

In between I take all sorts of medication for my stomach. Well, what can I say… I guess, it can’t get worse for me. Nope, it can’t.

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Day 39 - A DAY OFF: BLACK MAGIC

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008
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Something’s wrong with me. I feel weak, got heavy headaches, for two days already. We’re not shooting today but there’s so much to do, so I can’t take the day off. Overall, we’re still looking for “Zinnia’s House”, the location of a very conservative Mexican familiy. It’s supposed to be small but nice and packed with photographs of the family, Christian stuff (Holy little statures…) everywhere, couches covered in see-through plastic…

We’ve been looking everywhere for that house already but nobody will give us permission to shoot. And I don’t know who to ask anymore. So I just give it a chance and ask the Mexican cleaning lady at the hotel. And guess what, she knew a house that might fit our description. Right before we wanted to go there, I got dizzy. Something’s wrong with me. I got hot and cold shivers and felt sick in my stomach. But since there was no time to rest, I left with Haake and the cleaning lady for the house. An older woman was already expecting us. She told us about herself and the fact that she had cancer and tried to cure herself with black magic. Right then I realized that the house was packed with skulls and holy figures (Saints) made out of skeletons. Right then my stomach made some weird noise, I got super-dizzy and felt like collapsing any minute. I took a seat real quick, so I wouldn’t faint. Right then, the son of the family asked me what the movie was about. I could hardly talk but mumbled something like, “Haake please tell him”. Haake got pissed off because he thought that it was my job to tell people about the movie and he didn’t wanna do it. If Haake only knew what was going on with me at that moment! But I guess, he soon noticed what was going on because next thing I knew, I was sitting on the toilet with explosive diarrhea. Okay, now it’s official: Barbara is suffering from “Montesuma’s Revenge”. Great. The lady with cancer gave me some of her medication and she ensured me it would help. I didn’t care about what I took any more, I just wanted it to go away, and so I took that weird looking pink pills. After a while I did feel a bit better and could even tell the family about our movie. (Haake had still not told them anything. Grrrr…) Well, the result of all this: The house is not the perfect location for our movie but a possible one if we don’t find anything else and if we exchange the black magic stuff with Christian saints. Besides that: I need good medication, otherwise I won’t survive tomorrow’s shoot.

Day 38 - 3rd SHOOTING DAY: FIRST LARGE SCALE LIGHTING OPERATION

Sunday, February 24th, 2008
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Today was the day for our first large scale lighting operation. I mean the lightning equipment that fits into our Minivan; 3 Kinoflos, a few 300 Watt-lamps, a China Ball with light bulb and two daylight lamps with 1200 and 575 Watts. The camera with its P+S Adapter needs much light. So I wasn’t sure, if it was enough, but it worked. I’m a bit afraid of the next weeks, because this wasn’t our last garden to shoot at night.

Barbara was very nervous today, first we had no gang, then two different gangs which only like each other during film shootings. Thank god, Fuego keeps them together. He needed years to fight for “respect”. We also had a lot of time pressure. There was a party somewhere, so we had only two and a half hours for shooting the scene. Our decision to shoot the whole film with a documentary-like handheld camera seems to be right. It’s the only way to change the point of view fast enough, to get a bit time to see what happens in front of the lens, if Barbara gives me enough time.

I’m surprised about the candidness of the people to dope while we are filming. They really want a movie that takes place in their world I think. Luis was very brave. He lives in a completely different world than the gang-members. As the scene went completely out of control, the gang had thrown a lot of cookies on his head, he stayed in his role, stayed cool.

Because of Barbara’s big improvisation-talent, we got all the images to edit the scene, which had been written in the script.

DAY 38: 3rd SHOOTING DAY: OUT OF CONTROL: LUIS THREATENED WITH KNIFE

Sunday, February 24th, 2008
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The scene for today: Ricky, the nerd, gets in touch with a gang and is being forced to take all kinds of drugs. Everything was supposed to run in a documentary kind of way. Which meant: A real gang, a real situation. Luis (=Ricky) didn’t really know what to expect but wanted to give it a try. We made a secret sign, which meant “Stop it”. Also, I talked to Fuego, Triste and their gang, so nothing would get out of hand. But then a call from Triste: He and his gang got in a fight last night and Triste got hurt badly. Therefore, Triste and the whole gang cannot be there for the shooting. Fuego tried to find other people from the hood and also, Saint, a friend of his, tried to get a hold of gang-guys. And all of a sudden I had two gangs from different hoods on the set. Gangs that would usually fight each other. Fuego knew both gangs and was sure he could keep everything under control. For the movie, he said, they would remain peaceful. I thought I might discuss this matter with Constanze and went to look for her. I finally found her. She was just buying drugs from Jesús because we needed them for the scene. One could say she was actually buying props. However, anyone who knows Constanze, knows how absurd it is to watch her buying drugs. Even more absurd than that was the fact that she then asked for a receipt as she need a proof for every penny she spent for the funds. All that was just too crazy for me and I decided to deal with my matter myself. In the meantime, the gang guys were already stoned from their own drugs and I just thought, we had to start now. Luis agreed and we started shooting. The gang guys had fun with Luis and Luis was acting wonderful. They all got into it and the scene developed quite well. But, as easy as it started, as tight it became. The gang guys got more and more into it, became kind of aggressive and finally I had no control over it no more. When one of the guys took a knife out and threatened Luis with it, I stopped the shooting. Saint and some other guys tried to get everything under control again. They were pretty helpful. Luis remained unbelievably cool and after a while he wanted to continue the shooting and finish everything. No doubt, Luis is really cool. So, in the end we finished the scene and I really gotta say: It rocks. One of our best scenes in the movie, for sure.

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DAY 37 - 2nd SHOOTING DAY: WHAT A NIGHT: WILL AIMEE GIVE UP?

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008
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One thing for sure: I feel terrible. I think I caught some desease. My head hurts and today’s shooting location doesn’t really make it better. But: I gotta keep going. Wwe are shooting at a Tortilla-Factory. Today’s temperatures are worse than yesterday but at least we don’t have cockroaches on the set. We are all soaking wet and I don’t know if it is from the heat inside or the rain outside. We are shooting a scene, where RJ is being chased by Triste, Fuego and the gang. The chasing looked damn real. I guess, they really knew what they were doing. After all, violence is part of their lives.

After the chasing, we were shooting a scene with Aimee, the rich girl. In the scene she was supposed to give RJ, the gang guy, a ride in her car. In order to get Aimee in the right mood. , I ignore her the whole time before we start shooting. I only talk to RJ and look down to Aimee in a mean way. I notice how Aimee gets more and more shy and insecure until she looks really sad. I know, she is ready now. Haake fixes the camera on the hood of the car. It’s hard to drive with the camera in front of your face but there’s still a little space to see the street. I put some tear-drops in Aimee’s eyes, which are supposed to itch and make her cry, and yep, we’re ready to shoot. Aimee’s mood is perfect. She is totally in-character, acting unbelievably good. She cries and acts like an Oscar winner. Still, everything turns into a real catastrophy: Something’s wrong with the camera, the car rigg shakes and causes blurry film recordings. Even worse, it starts to rain and Haake totally freaks out because he thinks his camera got damaged by the rain. Aimee can’t stand the itching of the eye-drops any more, her eye-lids hardly open no more and she drives down the highway like almost blind. At 2 a.m. I decide to quit because we don’t know how to fix the camera-problem and it won’t stop raining. Besides, Aimee has reached her breaking point. I feel so sorry for her: The first film shooting in her life: The director ignored her for hours, her eyes burn like hell, she would give everything to suit the scene….and in the end: no result. I really give her credit on her effort and hope she won’t quit. Because in the end it looked like she would not shoot any more scenes.

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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 36 - FIRST SHOOTING DAY: 18 HOURS NONSTOP

Friday, February 22nd, 2008
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Set: Triste’s House

First shooting day was tough! It had around 110 degrees on location, the heat of our lights made it even worse. Not to mention the humidity. Our clothes were wet from sweating. And everywhere cockroaches. Everywhere. No kidding. Still, we were working like mad. One shot after the other, RJ acting highly professonal as if he had never done anything else in his life.

Still: After 10 hours of shooting, we were all about to break down. But we had to keep going. The whole time Constanze was outside, taking care of the rest of our equipment. When it got dark, she started coming in every once in a while to ask how much longer we were gonna shoot. I got pretty mad on that because I felt she was putting pressure on us while we were working our asses off (sorry). After 17 hours of shooting we were ready for the last shot, which was gonna be outside. So, we took our equipment and went outside. Right then I realized why Constanze had been so nervous all that time: Around fifty people from the neighborhood, all tattooed and dressed in Dickies, tanktops, bandanas, with dogs,…had come together in front of Triste’s house, and were staring at Constanze who was anxiously standing amidst the crowd, avoiding eye-contact as good as she could. Right then Triste came up to me, explaining everything. He had called his homies to shoot a Rap Music Video. He thought that since he already had a camera and light equipment at his house, he could just take the chance. Wow…already 17 hours of shooting. Well, so it became 18 hours. But to be honest: It was worth it.

Something on the side: Thanks RJ. 18 hours on your first shooting day, along with unbelievable temperatures and still no complaining. That’s highly professional. I really give you credit on that!

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