Archive for March, 2008

Day 47 – 11th SHOOTING DAY: FIRST DAY SHOOTING AT SCHOOL

Saturday, March 8th, 2008
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Let’s keep the story short. It was a real horror day today. First: insane discussions with the principal, where our extras can meet (nowhere), then where they can stay (only in the C-Pot), then that NO-ONE is allowed to leave that area (probably not even if there is a fire), then discussions with parents if their kids get something to eat and if we really don’t film them naked, then discussions with actors which outfit fits them best. In the meantime I prepared hundreds of sandwiches for the extras, tried to entertain the reporters from the Brownsville Herold, so that Barbara is not being distracted, and talked to the Filmcommission. Besides, I organized more teachers for the next days and Security Guards for tomorrow. After leaving school punctually at 6pm, I am sure not to survive another day at school, specially because the principal wants to talk to me tomorrow…. BUT we had 80 extras and the scenes came out great!!!

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Day 46 – 10th SHOOTING DAY: KICKED OUT OF FOSTER HOME

Friday, March 7th, 2008
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Today we filmed at the foster home. Slowly things are becoming complicated, ’cause we need more and more people for the supporting parts. The ones Barbara picked have to be called and we have to hope they are available on the dates we need them… Besides, Haake infuriated me. I urgently needed to talk to my production assistants Laura, Luis, David and Robert to prepare tomorrow’s shoot at school. I already know that this will be pretty delicate, so we really needed to plan everything in detail. But: can we sit inside the house? No. Can we sit behind the house? No. When he finally frightened me away even from the sidewalk in front of the house I started screaming at him. But it didn’t help at all. In the end we had to hold our meeting in my car one block away from the location…

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Day 45 - 9th SHOOTING DAY: MORTAL FEAR

Thursday, March 6th, 2008
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It was supposed to be a regular shooting day (film shooting, by the way). Film setting: Cameron Park. Scene: Fuego is cruising through Cameron Park, along with a little boy (Sergito), showing him the hot spots and drug places in the ghetto.

We wanted to shoot everything from inside the car, which is not an easy thing in Cameron Park. A lot of people might get offended by a camera. You just pass by some drug dealers and they might think, we’re filming them and a big problem could appear. But, we had Fuego with us, who grew up in Cameron Park and knows how to deal with the people from the hood.

Besides, Robert, a CP (Cameron Park) Gangster, was gonna join and support us, too.

The whole team could not could not fit the car, therefore, Atanas, our sound engineer, agreed to squeeze into the trunk. So we took everything out of the trunk first, even the items used for self-defence - I thought we wouldn’t need them anyway. Just when Atanas was about to get into the trunk, I realised that I had forgotten a little knife in there. But I just threw it into the corner of the trunk and Atanas got in. Robert had not arrived yet but we all wanted to get started and so we decided to take off. While we were shooting our first take, we passed a pick-up truck . Then, all of a sudden I heard tyres squeal. I turned around and saw that the pick-up had turned and was now following us. I got scared. Fuego remained cool and was gonna find out if the pick-up was really following us. So Fuego turned left. And the truck turned left, too. Then Fuego turned right. And the truck turned right, too. Fuego sped up, the guy behind us sped up, too. Fuego became nervous and I became nervous, too. There was no doubt that the truck was really following us. That’s when Fuego said, „We gotta get out of Cameron Park!“. Right then I remembered the knife in the trunk and told Atanas to grab it. Atanas tried everything but he was so squeezed in (in the trunk) that he could hardly move his arms. There was no way he could grab the knife. Fuego was driving out of Cameron Park and got onto the freeway. But the truck was still behind us and finally started to overtake us. Fuego was driving as hell but the truck got next to us. I saw the side windows of the truck going down and just thought, they’re gonna shoot now. Last thing I remember ist hat we were all ducking and I was just screaming „Oh my God! Oh my God! Oh my God!!!“.

…and then I heard Fuego laugh. I looked up and realized who was actually driving the truck: It was Robert from Cameron Park. He actually wanted to join us for the film shoot and wanted to help us out. In fact, he couldn’t figure out, why we were trying to get away from him. Well, Robert, your dark tinted car windows made it impossible to recognize it was you. You really scared the shit out of us.

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Day 44 - DOWNTOWN RUN AWAY

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008
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Fucking shit, I need sleep!!!! I don’t get more than 5 hours sleep a day. Sometimes even less. That’s pretty tough if you consider that we are working non-stop. And if problems appear, it’s just hard to cope with them when you’re tired and exhausted.

Speaking of problems: We shot downtown Brownsville today. Everything went smooth, which was kinda strange. Usually we’ve got unexpected problems every day or even every scene. But right when we moved from our first set (“Café Los Reyes”) to the “Bar La Movida”, everything changed. We just shot three takes there, because after that I had to run away with the camera in my hands to the Film Commission a block further down. You wanna know what happened? Well, RJ was about to get in a fight and some crack-head prostitutes with their pimps were about to kick our a**** if we didn’t give them money. Wow, what a day!

Zuly in Cafe Los Reyes Zuly and RJ downtown at the filmcommission 

Day 44 – 8th SHOOTING DAY: I’M ALREADY SO FUCKING TIRED…

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008
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I’m totally tired and done. While the others shoot downtown in various shops, I move to the filmcommission, eat a whole box of cookies and discuss our “problem” regarding the extras with Luis and David. In three days we’ll start to shoot at Homer Hanna Highschool, but still do not have any idea how many students will show up or how we could get into touch with them. Besides, we still miss a location for the day after tomorrow – a foster home…

But sometimes I don’t believe how much luck someone can have in life. 2 hours after David had left us, ’cause he had to help his dad delivering newspapers, he called me. He might have found a foster home. When he delivered the newspaper he thought the house would fit and just asked the owners… After finishing our shoot we went to the house to have a look at it. And what can I say? It’s just perfect!

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Day 43 – CRISSY, CRACK AND TEARS

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008
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1.) Crissy is warmhearted, sensitive, vulnerable.
2.) Crissy is a prostitute from downtown addicted to crack
3.) Crissy comes out in our movie as a crack addicted mother and acts very real.
4.) Crissy is unpredictable.

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Today’s scene: Crissy is being thrown out of the house by her son Manni.

The problem: Crissy is not there. Our set location (Triste’s house) is locked and Triste won’t pick up the phone.

Besides: Constanze is stuck in the mud with her car.

How does a director feel, being confronted with problems like this, knowing he is running out of time. I’d say, it’s time for heavy thinking. Therefore, we just get Constanze out of the mud, I adapt the scene to an outdoor scene and Constanze searches for Crissy and gets her on set (unbelievable story by the way/ check out Constanze’s blog entry).

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Crissy looks worn out and shakes when she shows up at the set. First thing she does, is telling me that she feels so down today. And yep, you can see it in her sad eyes. When she gets her clothes changed for the scene, she throws all her own clothes into the toilet and tries to flush it down. No good sign.

We start to shoot: Manni (RJ) chases Crissy down the stairs out on the street and throws stones after her in the end. Crissy acts so real and authenticly. It looks like she is performing her own life right now. Unbelievable shot. Haake makes fascinating moves with his camera. One take done. Still, we need another one to improve the difficult camera moves.

Right then, Crissy tells me that she can’t do it again. She breaks out in tears and runs into the bathroom of the apartment next to Triste’s . I follow her. The owners of the apartment are not really happy with the fact that a worn out girl is using their bathroom and want her out. I get in to talk to her. Crissy breaks down into my arms. She is crying heavily and can hardly talk. I try to calm her down. She tells me that last night was terrible. She was forced by her husband to go with a guy and to… well, I guess you know what. She didn’t have a good feeling about that guy, but her husband insisted to go with him. She then starts crying again. People from my team are knocking onto the bathroom door. Also, the owners of the apartment want us out. I really don’t know what to do anymore. I just think, I have to help Crissy. That’s priority nr. 1 now. And somehow I manage to calm her down pretty quickly. Then I explain to her that she can of course leave. But I need help as well: I have a film shoot and I’m running out of time and can’t afford any additional shooting days. I feel so much pressure and if she can somehow manage to do another take, it would be of great help for me. Of course, I would understand if she can’t do it. Crissy looks at me for a while and then agrees to do one more take before she leaves.

So we leave the bathroom. I tell Haake that we can only do one more take. Haake gets all mad, but I had no time to explain the whole situation to him, so I force him to concentrate and do that difficult shot as good as he can. So, we shoot the scene. Haake at his best. Wow, I can really count on him. And Crissy – wow. After that take we drive Crissy back downtown. I feel so sorry for her. I give her my phone number, so she can call me up if she feels like talking to someone.

We’re back in our hotel now. Crissy hasn’t called. I guess, she’s not gonna call anymore. And even if I don’t like it, I have to face it that Crissy is Brownsville, too.

Day 43 – 7th SHOOTING DAY: WHERE IS THE YELLOW HOUSE?

Tuesday, March 4th, 2008
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What a horror day today. And that thinking about the fact that this was only the 7th day of shooting, 36 more to come… Anyway, today we wanted to shoot in Triste’s house again, but when we arrived there in the morning the house was locked, no-one was there and Triste wasn’t answering his cell as well… So what to do now?

Suprisingly Barbara stays relatively calm and announces to adapt one scene so that we can shoot it without entering the house. We cannot afford not to shoot as our schedule is so tight. I don’t know how we will manage the whole thing anyway… Whatever - in the meantime I drive downtown to pick up Crissy who plays RJ’s mum. In real life she’s a prostitute on crack. Barbara found her downtown, the place where you can find prostitutes, drug addicts and people at the bottom of society. As Crissy doesn’t have a phone I’m supposed to pick her up at a special corner at a special time. After waiting for her for half an hour, I get nervous and call Barbara to ask her where exactly she found Crissy a couple of days ago. Now Barbara starts to get hysterical because she might have not only lost her location but also her actress. All she is constantly telling me is that Crissy lives in a yellow house in one of the alleys downtown and that I HAVE to find her… A fun task to fulfill, guess how many alleys there are downtown.

While I try to reach Triste over and over again I call Crissy’s mum somewhere in Texas in total desperation to find out more about Crissy’s address. But her mum isn’t of much help either. Supposedly the yellow house is in an alley between 14th street and Van Buren street, or something similar…

In such a situation you can only try out weard means of troubleshooting. Stop thinking about the danger, start walking through one alley after the other and look for yellow dilapitated houses. I can’t remember on how many doors I’ve knocked and how many people I’ve asked in Spanish for Crissy and her pimp-husband Alex. Even when someone opened the door and I saw a couple of guns lying behind him on a table I totally ignored that being completely overtired. After two hours of unsuccessful search I was close to give up. I decided to drive through some alley for the last time, when I suddenly see Alex on the street… He shows me the house they are living in – I never would have called this a house, it was more like some rotten wood pieces that looked like an hovel. Crissy looks totally dead beat but agrees to come with me to the set… Who now thinks we finally could have started shooting is wrong but that is a story Barbara should tell…

3 hours later I could finally reach Triste again. He got into a fight with his wife the night before and she locked him out of the house… but at least we finally could do some scenes the way we originally wanted.

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DAY 42 – WHERE IS THE GOLF COURSE?

Saturday, March 1st, 2008
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Today we had a calm day. Haake shot some streets in Brownsville before we moved to the golf course in the Country Club to shoot some scenes with Elsa, Zuly and Sergito, Zuly’s little brother. Whoever thinks a golf course is easy to find, is definitely wrong. It’s true that it is placed in the middle of the Country Club and that the main street is going around it, but I tell you: the entrance is hidden as fuck. I guess I was circling around it three times or more…
The shoot itself was pretty good, the best thing, though, was that we could drive with these little golf carts. Specially Sergito got totally crazy about those carts and couldn’t stop talking about it the whole day. When he grows up he even wants to buy one himself and drive around in Cameron Park with it…
On my way home (=Red Roof Inn) I stopped at Walmart to buy food for the team and to resupply myself with a stock of cookies. I have finally realized that I was sleeping too little for a too long period of time by now – yesterday I had a box of Macadamia Nuts Cookies just by myself… But, to defend myself, they were just too delicious…

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