Pablo Cerda, Marti King Young, Alberto Fuguet
Last night we wrapped on a five day shoot. It started as a short, it really did. However, director Alberto Fuguet stated, “I have well enough for a feature. I’ll do it and release it in Buenos Aires first.”
One week of non-stop shooting, sometimes 19-20 hours a day. Rough. Grueling. And SOOOOOOOOO much fun!
Yours truly started off as the production assistant on the movie, Musica Campesina. I got promoted to Line Producer! (The movie’s about a Chilean man with a recently broken heart who throws himself into the Nashville scene. The script is quite poignant and moving.)
(My car is in the movie, so all of you MUST see it at some point! When you see the obnoxious yellow car, you can say to yourself, “I know that car! It’s Screenwriter Chic’s!!!!”)
Day 1 on the set: Because of working another job, I come on two days into filming. Not too much has been done. Sarah Childress, the producer (whom I just meet) introduces me to Alberto Fuguet. She tells him I have “great street credit.” I learn there has not been another to assist Alberto and many locations have not been secure. Alberto is overjoyed at my arrival and gives me a list of things to do. Thankfully, I have a notepad and two pens with me and appear prepared and that I know what I’m doing. Alberto calls me his “glue” for the production. He declares that all of his emails should go though me and I will keep everyone in the loop. (I about pee myself…how did I get to wield such power?)
We film Pablo at dusk looking at the Nashville skyline. Very nice take.
Alberto tells me that he wants to film at a certain diner the next day, but the manager yelled at a student and refused. He begs me to try again. I’m told filming begins the next day at noon.
Day 2 on the set: Before the daily production meeting, I drive myself to the diner Alberto wants. I personally speak to the manager. He was quite nice, but worried that we would invade his customer’s privacy. I explained there were no lighting crews or huge cameras, and that we would come at his least busy time. I listened to his concerns and addressed them and secured permission to film in the diner. I call Alberto and he hails me as a miracle worker. In fact, the entire crew does. I do a happy dance (but on the inside).
We film Pablo doing research in the Vanderbilt library. I never knew the library was that big OR that creepy. If you ever go there, bring a friend.
2:30pm Producer Sarah Childress and I leave the crew. I leave for my class with Will Akers on screenwriting. Sarah leaves to teach her class at Vanderbilt. It was so hot out, I was thankful to spend a couple of hours in air conditioning, actually. Will was good enough to let me take a break during class and purchase two liters of bottled water, both of which I downed before I returned to class.
Sarah Childress, Producer and Sound Back Up
5:40pm Sarah and I go shopping for food and then rejoin the crew on location at a house. Sarah works sound, I work the slate and continuity. Ten people on set. Alberto gets antsy. Too many people on set for him. Pablo is happy he has food.
We move to a bar called Fiddle & Steel in Printer’s Alley. It’s amateur night. The bar graciously gives us permission to film. The patrons have no clue Pablo is an actor. He sings one song. The crowd cheers him on, “Uno mas! Uno mas!” Reluctantly, Pablo sings another song. The crowd cheers and congratulates him. It was perfect for the film and it was extremely fun to shoot. I get home around 1:30am.
Day 3 of shoot: Before heading to the production meeting, I swing by Jason’s Deli for menus for the cast and crew. Somehow this gives me more kudos since I thought to ASK what they wanted instead of choosing for them. I also bring my sixteen year old son, Michael, to the set with me. He’s the official runner of Musica Campesina. He’s a hard worker and almost gets adopted by Pablo and the director. Michael’s first time to help with a “real” movie. His life is changed forever. I could see it in his eyes.
Michael sits in for lighting as Alberto preps Pablo
At the production meeting the schedule changes, the script changes. No problem. Alberto is great at rolling with the punches and is ready to get filming done today. We are slated to work on production until Monday, but he’s adamant we will finish today. Pablo wants to sight see on Saturday and Alberto wants to make sure he gets to do that. The crew is on board. As we head up to a room in the Embassy Suites for a scene I call the three actors and give them times and locations to meet us. Pablo does a great job in his scene.
12:00pm We change locations for a scene involving day laborers. Pablo gets filmed walking down the street and then waiting for work. I almost was the one that would be in the movie “hiring him”, but a drug dealer came out with his posse and started asking questions, and in a not so pleasant manner. Pablo declares the set is unsafe and wants to leave. It was and we did.
We change locations and move to a rooftop pool, film a scene there. There is a bathing beauty who’s fallen asleep beside the pool and has no clue that she played an intricate part in the background.
Michael drives me to pick up the lunches and we return to the crew at their next location, which was the house from the day before. Everyone is thrilled to have real food in a sitting and not have to munch on granola bars and fruit in between takes.
We film at the house, and James and Jeffrey create an impromptu song from three words that Pablo gives them. It’s in the film. Great stuff.
We change locations to get a scene outside a pawn shop. This was an interesting shoot. As Pablo walks down the street, the owner runs out screaming at us. Something about privacy laws. Michael is inside the pawn shop and reports that she went back inside afterwards and was swearing about “Latinos in this country.” As we’re packing up, she returns outside and screams more not nice things. I personally was embarrassed. Not that we were filming there, but because of her attitude toward Alberto and Pablo, visitors in our country. It was shameful. She said that it was illegal to use the name of their business in the movie. Well, she didn't say anything about my blog.
And the name is SO terribly creative, too!
We move to a billiards hall and I learn that it hasn’t been secured with approval to shoot. I run inside and speak to a skittish bartender. Another miracle worked and we’re good to go. Michael is in the background of the scenes playing pool along with Will, a student in Sarah’s class. They both loved it.
I’ve become a timekeeping Nazi by this point and announce we need to get to the next location. We hurry off to the Greyhound bus station in Clarksville, TN. The crew, an actor named Ty, and Pablo will film the bus ride from there to Nashville. It’s my job to drive them there and drive the car back. Because of all the people needed, it takes two cars to get everyone there. Michael drives my car, and I drive Ashley’s. (Ashley is our camera operator. She is one of the hardest workers I have ever seen and has an upbeat and sweet disposition.) We leave before the buses to get gas for the vehicles. The arrival time back in Nashville should be 9:30pm and no one has eaten dinner. We pull in at the gas station to grab some food for everyone. A man has a seizure and our vehicles are blocked in by an ambulance for thirty minutes. We’re late and I’m freaking out. I hate being late. HATE it. I drive like a bat out of Hades and get to the bus station ten minutes after they’ve arrived. Luckily, I have food as an offering and the cast and crew are THRILLED to eat.
We head to a laundry mat for a scene with Pablo and Karin. I take Ty home and meet the crew. The doors are locked and a redneck sixteen year old girl comes to the door. She’s obviously working there. She refuses to let me in stating, “We close in ten minutes.” I have the suitcase of props with me and point to it. “It’s laundry,” I say. “We close in ten minutes.” She has an attitude and my blood immediately boils. She won’t let me in. Finally, I yell over her head to Alberto, “She won’t let me in!” He runs over and says, “She has my clothes.” The girl curses and throws open the door. May I also point out that there is a cell phone glued to her ear which she never removes? I grab some props and give them to the actors. I make sure I keep away from the Redneck Queen of Dirty Laundry for fear of having such lack of sleep that I could deck her. Ashley begins to film Pablo and Karin talking. Russell (sound guy) has his boom and records room tone. Redneck Queen starts screaming to screw up our shot. She says that we can’t film and no one told her we had permission. (Even though we did. She didn’t want to hear it. The entire deal was a control issue for her.) Russell says that he’s recording sound and there’s no law that says he can’t record sound. The trailer park in her really comes out now, and she threatens to call the police. “I find that unlikely as you never remove the phone from your ear.” She starts cussing all of us out. A sixteen year old girl. Poor thing. She’s so lost. By this time, Pablo has had enough. “Let’s go.” He leaves. The girl says, “I’m just doing my (#*%&(#&(# job you %!@&@%#@ wetbacks!” Alberto: “It’s one thing to do your job, and another thing to be rude.” She starts cussing again and he slams the door in her face. Russell peeks back in and announces that her dryers are broken and laughs. I’m glad I’ve taught my children better than her. What a horrific person. And so young. I pity her children. Again, I was ashamed by the representation of my country to visitors.
We move to another laundry mat at the Americana. The landlord stops by and she is thrilled that a movie is being filmed at her place. She gives us free parking passes so we don’t get towed. The scene is a success.
Change of locations to a motel. Awesome murals in the room. (Just don’t sit on the bed). Pablo earns his money for these shoots. The pool is closed. Ashley sets up a camera in the bushes. He jumps over the fence to the pool in his underwear. He jumps in (and it was COLD last night) and comes out, takes a drink. Looks amazing. He hops back over and we go back to the room. We all take pix together.
And it’s a wrap!!!!
Alberto & Pablo (that's my writing on the slate!)
Last night was the wrap party. Perhaps I’ll post pix.
I had a wonderful time, met some wonderful people and hope to do more of this in the future. Just one more step for me to take over Hollywood!
How 'bout you? Got any good stories?
Wrap Party: Me, Sarah Childress (producer) and Ashley Zeiger (Director of Photography)