Saturday, May 8, 2010

Asparagus @ Midnight - Part I

It's not often that someone gets to check off three life-time goals in one night.

On Thursday May 6'th (and stretching into the infancy of Friday May 7'th) I accomplished the following:

(1) Gained legitimate access to a major motion picture being shot in our backyard without resorting to knocking out the key grip, stuffing his unconscious body in a "Port-A Potty" and stealing his hipster outfit to sneak onto the set.

(2) Potentially appear in a film as a background extra.

(3) Eat Lunch from a craft services truck.

After checking three of these biggies off the "Bucket List" I can say with all honesty that if I wasn't convinced before of what I was supposed to have been doing with the past fifteen years of my life, I certainly know now.

First, Gentle Reader, some back story.

If you don't know who Jason Eisener is, it's time you got educated. Here's link to a promotional website for his wildly successful short film "Treevenge" and you'll find a brief bio there:

After reading this I have to conclude that Jason is basically me if I'd been born in a place like Halifax and about ten years later. Growing up in small towns in Cape Breton and Newfoundland in the Seventies and Eighties if I'd told people I wanted to make movies for a living I'd likely have gotten more encouragement and direction if I'd expressed an interest in becoming a Sorcerer.

Anyway, it's quite clear that he and I share a lot of the inspirations that drove Jason to start actually making films. He's cited "The Thing", "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre", "The Road Warrior", "Aliens", "Halloween", and the "Evil Dead" trilogy all as major influences and frankly I'm right there with him.

Likely around the same age I expressed a desire to make a "Star Wars"-inspired movie on a cost-prohibitive, technologically crippled Super 8 camera, Jason gained access to a video camera and was off to the races. When the time came to pick a career path he had a feasible and attractive option: the labor-intensive but conveniently located Screen Arts program at the Nova Scotia Community College.  During and after he completed this he promptly began producing some stellar short films.

Things went into the stratosphere for him in 2007 when his fake trailer for “Hobo With a Shotgun” won the South By South West Trailer Competition. It gained the attention of indie cinema luminaries Robert Rodriquez and Quentin Tarantino and was attached to the release of their film "Grindhouse" in Canadian theaters that same year.

The mock trailer was so successful that Jason wisely opted to spin it off into a very real full-length film. When it was announced that lensing would begin in Dartmouth on April 19'th with cinema icon Rutger Hauer as the titular Hobo, I sent the following sad email to Jason via "Facebook":

"Hey, Jason.

Congrats on starting production on "HWAS".

I know this is likely a long shot, but hey, nothing ventured...

Are there any opportunities available to volunteer time and effort on your current production?
If so, can you let me know what channels I would need to follow in order to assist in any capacity.

Thanks in advance and all the best."

Not surprisingly, I didn't hear back. The dude's making a feature film, for f#@&'s sake and is likely busier than Obama. Also we live in a bizarre age where social networking has really skewed the tradition definition of what I'd consider to be a friend. The only time I'd ever met the dude is when he hosted the screening of "Pontypool" at the Oxford a year or so ago.

Now I didn't expect a personal response but I was hoping my offer might down to someone in the crew. "Hobo With A Shotgun" though a pretty major production, was still modestly budgeted and I'd hoped that the concept of free help is attractive to anyone.

I didn't hear back but I continued to remain vigilant for opportunities.

Anyway, on Wednesday I'd completed a blog entry mid-day, posted it to "Facebook" and then logged off to clean up my place and get dinner in order. Just minutes before company arrived at 7 pm for my weekly board game session I made the mistake of logging into "Facebook" and read the following alert posted at 3 pm, just a few hours after I'd left the site:

"Call for Extras is for tomorrow night asap:
We need volunteer extras for the big finale tomorrow (thursday) night
in Dartmouth (an all-night shoot). If you're down and want to lose your
mind on-camera please call ***-****, or email ****@*******.ca"

I followed the thread to the inevitable end and read in horror that all the slots had already been filled.

Desperate, I sent an email anyway, hoping against hope. Sure enough, after my guests had left at around 11 pm that night the following reply in my inbox was heart-crushingly certain: "Sorry, they've all been filled!"

Despondent, I went to bed, stunned that my unknown window of opportunity had passed by so quickly.

Well, next morning while working on this week's comic, I heard my email chime and went to have a look, expecting just a smack-talk filled post-game analysis for my mentally absent showing in last night's "Age of Mythology" match. Instead I sat blinking at this:

"Hi David,
If you'd like to come out tonight to volunteer, I can email you the info. Are you still interested?"

A fuse burnt out in my brain. How was this possible? What kind of moron would volunteer for this and then cancel?

But then I realized that most normal people (present company excluded) would probably find the following two truisms to be rather daunting:

(1) The shoot would be overnight, likely lasting between 6 or 7pm until 6 am I the morning. Remember that blog entry I did before about being awake during unnatural times of our twenty-four hour clock that I thought shouldn't even exist?  That's what I'm talkin' about.  
(2) It was an exterior shoot and the overnight forecast was rain and cold temps.

Trying to appear vaguely even-keeled I typed back a conservative "Very much so. Thanks!" and eagerly awaited my reply. Ten minutes later, this note came back. Bear with me, I've edited this considerably since I consider people who traffic in spoilers to suck harder than the average "Dyson":


Below is the information needed, standby for your calltime:

I have you booked to do volunteer background work tomorrow night (Thursday, May 6th) on the film Hobo With a Shotgun. All of the information below is very important, please read it through carefully.

Your Calltime is TO BE DETERMINED. I will be sending out an email around 11am telling you what time to be on set. Please be sure to check your email and reply to confirm.


Please Report to: ******************(Directions to follow)
There will be a tent on site where you should sign in, please follow yellow signs that say "Extras Holding".

Your Character: A civilian or homeless person in a corrupt town. You are in GROUP B which means that you are a volunteer.

The scene: The dramatic end of the film: ***********************.

Please dress in drab clothing. Everybody in this town is somewhat poor and down on their luck- don't try to look nice. Feel free to bring options of clothing that are worn, stained, or ripped. We love the look of old jean and leather. Please be aware that there will be fake blood on set- this is likely to get on your clothing- so wear clothes that you don't care very much about. If you are somebody with punk gear please go all out with that look.

This scene is Exterior: Please bring options of coats, hats, gloves and scarves in drab colours. If it rains, please bring an umbrella and rain gear. Dress for night in NS-we all know how cold it can get.

Colours we like: earth tones: grey, brown, charcoal, dark blue, dark green, tan, washed out & faded colours
Colours to avoid: anything bright, solid black, solid white, red, patterns, logos

Please make sure that all clothing is clean.

PROPS: Please bring garden tools if you have them. (There is a good & fun reason for this.) The props department would love to see: shovels, rakes, hoes, pruning shears, etc. Please be sure to label your tools so that they don't get mixed up with other people's. If you can, please bring one tool for yourself and an extra one just in case somebody else needs one.

HAIR: Men: Please do not shave.
Women: Please don't try to look nice. Arrive with a base coat of foundation if you usually wear it, but don't wear much make-up other than that. We want everybody to look kind of rugged.

PARKING: There will be parking at this location.

THINGS TO BRING: The wardrobe and props outlined above; SNACKS and DRINKS, a small lunch will be provided, but please be prepared with your own food and drinks, you'll be happier if you do; Warm gear: it gets cold in NS in the night; Books, cards, games, anything that will keep you entertained and happy without being disruptive.

- Please DO NOT take photos on set.
-Please DO NOT talk to the cast, they are there to do a job, please don't bug them.
-Please DO NOT ask "when will we be finished?", the crew doesn't know either.
-Please DO turn off your cellphone. If it must be on, turn it to silent.
-Please DO NOT leave any valuables in Extras Holding. There are going to be a lot of people on set, so although the area is secure, I would not take any risks. The Production company is not responsible for lost or stolen property.

What you are committing to:
-Being on set on time, and guaranteeing your presence there until they finish filming (probably a 12 hour night). Please do not confirm if you can't commit to being there for the full 12 hours.
-Maintaining a Professional Attitude throughout the shoot- No drinking, drugs, or disruptive behavior.
-Being on set around graphic content: swearing, violence, prop guns, lots of fake blood

If you are unable to make the shoot, please reply to this email with the subject line "CANCEL" immediately. Otherwise, please keep a close watch on your email tomorrow morning so that you can confirm promptly.

Thank you"

By noon I'd received an 8 pm call time and sent confirmation that I'd be there. In fact, nothing short of a friggin' zombie apocalypse would have kept from going. Apart from worrying if I had the proper wardrobe, if I'd get the car back in time for my wife to get to work the next morning and whether or not I'd actually find the location, I was in!

It had taken thirty-nine years, but I was finally going to realize a dream come true.


Here's this week's "Dave's World" comic, which I started before all this foolishness came up. Strangely, it turned out to be kinda relevant, as you'll see in Part II on Monday.

Today's  "WARNING: Exploit-Sensational Adult content" EPIC/FAILS...

EPIC:  Original "Hobo" trailer. 

BONUS EPIC:   Official site for the full-length film.

BONUS, BONUS EPIC:  Jason's bloody and brilliant "Treevenge" short

FAIL:    And what Exploitation Films look like on the south side of  "FAIL"...    


Anonymous said...

Very Very Jealous...

Anonymous said...

Sweet Sassy Molassy I'm in a comic.