Saturday, 23 March 2013

The Bone Traders - notes from a film set.

Notes from a film set:

Many, many full moons ago before the invention/ rude interruption of CGI, I was working as a Second Assistant Director on a sword and sandals, sort of Sci-Fi, sort of Medieval, straight to VHS film. (Long before DVD and iPhone). This cinematic masterpiece will remain nameless to protect the innocent. (For those that are not in the know, the 2nd AD is the fellow you see running amok with a walkie-talkie stuck to his ear and a schedule board glued to his armpit. Amongst his many functions is to co-ordinate cast, extras, never sleep and bare the brunt of all complaints.) 
The palatial(?) set was built on the top of a mine dump. A few hundred steps took you to the top, where the final shot of the day was about to be filmed. Except it was all going astray. The African sky was beyond being tempestuous. Forked lightening marched the horizon. The lighting team was ready to wave the red flag. Lightening doesn't marry well with cables and generators. And the bloody arrow wasn't working. The rig that was to propel the fake arrow (imported from the USA)into our protagonist's neck had the strength of a tired rubber band. The effects team were under the hammer and much verbal abuse to redesign the rig which was now starting to look like a trebuchet.(Nowadays the computer boys will simply animate the arrow but there's no fun in that, is there?) Sarcasm was as rife as the sound of thunder.But that was not the major problem.
Oliver Reed (an actor I will forever hold in high esteem)played the protagonist. He had been kept waiting in his trailer for hours. This you never do to Oliver. If you didn't work him, he sought solace in a bottle. And to top it all, this was to be his last shot of the film. Contractually he had thirty minutes left. Anything after that, he was into Golden Time which meant costing BIG money for the producers. 
Walkie-talkie was incessant.Why aren't you shooting? The arrow isn't working I tell the producers. Shoot without the &*%^(*& arrow. The director wants the arrow. More expletives and I'm told to go and fire the director. Pretend too much static and cannot hear. 
The arrow is tested. It works. Get Oliver. Now. Raindrops begin. Sky is black.
...the nameless film!
Knock on Oliver's trailer. F-off, I'm told. Usual. I can't F-off, Oliver; you have a plane to catch. Get your skinny arse in here. Where's Oliver, asks the W-T?Coming...expletives aimed at me now. Enter Oliver's trailer. Miniature bottles of whiskey lined up like an army. The arrow is ready - we are ready. F-off. My skinny arse is on the line here, Oliver! Good, then drink with me. It's 5 in the afternoon. Okay, then F-off. Where's Oliver? Why aren't you shooting? Expletives. Big grin from Oliver. I drink you climb the stairs? Yes. I drink. Fast. Ready? Have another. Big storm coming, Oliver...please?? DRINK! Golden Time looms...I drink. Fast. Head starts swimming on empty stomach. The F-ing arrow is ready...where is Oliver!? Grinning. Stairs, Oliver..up we go. Skinny arse...move.
Up the stairs I'm carrying the train of his now sodden,dumb costume as rain begins. He's staggering and I'm limping. Crew, camera awaits, arrow is poised. Set is swaying. Reach the pinnacle. Give me the F-ing hat, skinny arse. Hand over hat that looks like head of mutilated ox to Oliver. Hat on. Stand there. Rain. Five minutes till Golden time and Oliver is grinning...arrow ready. 
Roll camera...three,two, the F-ing arrow...

( be continued...)

The Bone Traders Hovel


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