Category Archives: Production

Scenery, Scorpions and Crabs, Oh My!

Sean Martin as EDDIE Emily Andrews as ZOE
Click to expand!
I have not been able to get to the net in the last 6 days, though I’ve kept my notes offline.

We truly spent every minute pushing to get scenes done, including a re-shoot of a scene with Juan and picking up B roll of scenery, scorpions, crabs, etc….

The two actors from New York and Texas were shooting up until right before they caught morning flights home! Well, one thing that’s true about us is that we do NOT stop until we are done. (I urge all indie and or guerilla filmmakers to have the same attitude. Too easy for the work to not get done or to fall apart if you don’t have that attitude.)

I was pushing to change our return tickets so we we could head to Xalapa Mexico for our friends’ anniversary party… but we can’t get a flight change. Just now, sitting here, I do not even see how we can manage a day trip in a car to see them tomorrow.
I’m having trouble accepting that I might not see Luis and Antonio before leaving, so tomorrow I want to see if it’s still possible and perhaps we can talk through computer later…

Oh. Suddenly very aware I really do NOT want to leave. Yep. No desire whatsoever.
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Last Day shoot

Pete and Kate embrace after the ruins
Click to see full size!
The last scene in the film was also shot on our last day with the Canadian actors and our last full day at the Casa.

Although not completely true, it is almost true that we shot in sequence… very helpful in the playing out of the story.

My last scenes on this last day were with Rob as Pete and Oliver as Enrique, and are in fact the last scenes of the film.

Here is a production still of Pete and Kate’s embrace.
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I love that still and the whole look of the scene.  The no-budget filmmaking gods were really pulling for us on this day.  When I arrived at the location around 5 pm to shoot this, the penultimate scene of the movie (put another way, when I walked from the deck of our casa to the front step of our casita), the 3 square feet I wanted to shoot in were unusually charged with energy.

I called Rob over to stand in for himself as I set up the shots.  Rob is an excellent stand-in, and never fails to look almost exactly like himself.  The scene is the culmination of Pete and Kate and Eddie’s story, and is fraught with desperate passion, and while some truths are spoken plainly, much darker realities remain just below the surface yet in plain view for the audience.  I felt the scene was very well written, and required only simplicity and truth in the shooting and performance.  I suppose if I’d had millions of dollars to spend instead of the $500 I had left in the budget to get home, I might have used a crane shot to establish, and, oh, circled the actors on a dolly a la Vertigo, and had big dark special effects clouds rolling in from the ocean.  Yeah, that would have been great.

What was provided for me was much more subtle and interesting.  I moved Rob into a very specific spot under some palms.  The knife-like shadows of the palms slithered frantically over his face and body in the insistent wind, and rustled audibly in the mic under the dialogue.  The sun was low and made half of Rob golden and threw the other half in shadow.  I blocked Katie’s entrance into the closeup so that as they kissed their faces were alternately suffused with light then swallowed in shadow.  I deliberately crossed the axis several times because of the chaotic emotions in the scene.  Then as their faces finally part in a storm of light, and Kate delivers a single word offscreen which destroys Pete, I let the camera iris Pete into darkness again, except for two points of sunset light in his eyes.  As God is my Gaffer, it was perfect. 

I caught Pete’s final walk away into a frozen isolated position on the beach in the last rays of dusk.  And that was a wrap for Rob on the picture.

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New scene to translate, First scene with Yasir, Cuzama cenotes

Changes to the script have been made within the shoot as well as adding a final overt scene of racism between the Eddie and Enrique characters that was not in the last version… but this is basically it. But more on that scene later.

Getting to the internet’s a bit of a hassle as we couldn’t get it at the house, but if possible, I’d like to be able to get a final translation of the van scene from Luis for tomorrow at some point (shooting Saturday)… mainly eager to have it from Luis in order to work the material with Oliver as well, because of the value I place on the different translations.
The van scene is actually broken into different parts; a lengthier part with the Eddie, Deysi, Asunción and Alejandro characters with dialogue — and a part without dialogue in which the driver of the van passes out at the wheel and the van drives out of control.
Comrie, Rodarte share a laugh

The speediness of production must seem pushy to those not right inside it.
Laughing between takes
Yasir Rodarte shot a funny scene with us the other day and he was very good, charming and funny. This is a scene set off hours at the palapa bar with Asunción, Alejandro and Enrique. They talk trash about their boss — the formidable Concepción León Mora, as Señora Bustamante — that she wants to be the only Mexicana in Tourism with a gringo caretaker, and each reveal something in their feelings for Eddie and Kate whom they work with as well.

I wasn’t actually needed on set — no last minute revisions required of me as a writer and I was not in the scene as an actor — but went to watch because I wanted to see Yasir in action, as it was his first day with us as Alejandro. At one point I seemed to make him nervous of all things because he kept looking at me and flubbing his line — so I quickly left so as not to distract him.

We shot at the Cuzama cenotes the other day. Interesting, as we tried to get the above ground and below ground footage shot in this incredible location, as well as give every one a chance to swim in the beautiful sweet water.

We shot horses that took us between cenotes in carts along the old hennequen trails, a ground level skirmish between the Torontonian and the Texan, and a 50 foot jump from into a hole in the ground to the underground river below. (Yes it was a 50 foot jump, but we cheated it so the actor only had to jump about 25 feet.)

He lost his wardrobe mirrored Aviator shades underground.

Damn it. Now production has to spring for a new pair.
(Postscript: found a pair at the market in Progreso for 50 pesos.)
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Today's your birthday Peter Swan

The first time I ever came to Mexico was on a Tristar movie shoot when I was a kid. It was my introduction to this beautiful country and its people and when the place first got under my skin. The movie was written by truly the great screenwriter Alan Sharp (Rob Roy) and he was the reason we were there, but more on that another time.

That first trip to Mexico was with my father and its his birthday today. He was — and still is for that matter — my best friend, my hero as well as my dad. He was a great artist as a painter and my inspiration to this day. Today especially I wish he was here to see the incredible journey of making this independent feature. I wish, in fact, that he was anywhere, because apart from anything else he was the coolest guy I’ve ever known, and the world was just a more interesting place with him in it.

Going to raise a glass to you tonight da.
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(Postscript: it turned into another very long day. By the time we were able to sit down for a drink, most everybody had gone to bed or just fell asleep. Robbie and Phil and Emma, eyes falling out of their heads with exhaustion, had a shot with me in his honour anyway. Very sweet and much appreciated.