THE VIOLENT KIND

A first time producer came to town and hired me out of the Hollywood Reporter to write a script that could be shot in about 10 days for $50,000.  And that it would be seen and sold.   That is pretty tough.  But I said we could do it if we took advantage of artsy, cutting edge developments in filmmaking.    This would get us into festivals.   I called them my Trick Moves.

Trick move #1 was to write a very wild, controversial script.  So I wrote a story about nuns who find out that the Bible is a fake and they freak out and go on a drug, sex, and killing spree.  Trick move #2 was the camera.  Back then, no one had used Hi-Definition – and I mean, NOBODY.   Not one film I knew of was shot yet in HD.  Experimental shorts were done by an HD company and by ShowScan.   We took a risk on the cameras, and they had almost no new lenses for them, and the focus was basically “the world is in focus so deal with it.”   But, we found an award-winning DP, Patty O’Brien, that loved the wild script.   And one reason why is because I came up with this vision in which we would cut to edgy ART, and use Pan-and-Scan to capture this, like Japanese Manga stop motion animated shorts.  A year later, Quentin Tarantino used this for Kill Bill and the scene where young _______ kills the Yakuza boss in bed.    That was his way to get around censorship, and show a lot of gore.   She loved it, so I put an ad in the comic book store on Melrose for artists that we could only pay about $300 for two weeks of drawings.  But this really made it fun because their art style was so different.   The producer decided I could direct it.   So we did a casting out of Backstage West.  We got hundreds of girls and they loved this weird, violent story.    The casting process was very grueling because I needed to see who had chemistry. But I ended up with a terrific cast.   Things were going well … really well actually.   But then one of the girls had this bad reaction to some medical treatment and gained 20 pounds.  She was freaking out because she could not even fit into her custom made killer Nun habit!   That was about our only drama though.  

On our first day, the sound team we picked couldn’t do it because their previous film went a few days over. So we rushed and got a total loser sound guy.  He forgot to tie into the HD cams, and his time code drifted, so we spent a fortune on synching sound.   I only had to learn that lesson once – pay for good sound. We had to fire him second day and all was good with sound from then on. 

Due to being very under-budgeted, we had to rush many scenes.  The producer later said if he knew then what he learned a year later, he would have said yes to some overtime to get coverage of the key scenes in the bar, house, and the church.   And the church was so cool. They desperately needed money, and agreed to let us shoot guns all over inside – blank guns, but still violence. His only freak out came when we had the sex scene set on the religious altar.   I bet almost 500 rounds were shot off.  We didn’t have a permit for that location or guns, and not one cop came by – thanks Elyssium Park for being such a gang-banger hood, the cops didn’t even care. 

What I did was I cut out the best of the coolest shots from the movie.   Too bad that we didn’t have three more days.   We shot in 11 days total.   No overtime.   We almost found a buyer at AFM, but then, that would require another 50k in post production, and the Producer didn’t want to spend it.   Not bad for shooting 10 pages a day with a minimal crew, every actor was brand new except Jorge Rivero, and no one knew really how to work these huge HD cameras.