Monday, May 7, 2007


Filming ended yesterday on the little indie that I've been shooting for the past three weeks.

Week One
The location was the California Cavern in San Andreas. The director had given me an address to look up on mapquest. The directions seemed straight-forward enough, and I took off on the evening of Saturday, April 21 without concern. Shooting would commence immediately upon my arrival, estimated at around 8:00pm. Well, I hadn't planned for the route to be entirely comprised of back roads: one-laners nearly the whole way. Since it was dark out, and raining, and I was driving through unfamiliar territory, I went very slowly. I didn't make it to the town of San Andreas til nearly 10:00.

Although the California Cavern claims to be in San Andreas, it isn't really. Not in the town. It's way, way outside of the town at the very end of a long and winding road. A long and winding wet road (it was still raining), without street lamps. As my Volvo crawled forward, I kept seeing little white sparks leaping from the road. I thought they must be splashes of raindrops in the puddles, glinting in my headlights.

Finally, I spotted a large lit sign that said, "California Cavern at Cave City." At this juncture, I knew I was in the right vicinity for the shoot, but I hadn't been told where the actual location was. It was dark and raining, and I was surrounded by wilderness in all directions. I decided to stay put under the big sign. That's when I noticed that the leaping sparks were tiny white frogs! They were all over the road, and I realized I must have flattened more than a few along the way.

After some time, 15 minutes perhaps, I saw headlights emerging from the darkness, and a van pulled up beside me. It was the director. He lead me down a dirt path and to the foot of a stairway. With flashlights in hand and the hoods of our jackets pulled over our heads, we climbed the stairs to the mouth of a cavern. I'm talking about a real cavern, complete with stalactites, stalagmites, crystal formations, chambers and alleys. It was eerily reminiscent of Indiana Jones.

We finished filming that night at 2:30a.m. and drove directly to the Black Bart Inn to get some rest. (The website says the hotel "offers a restaurant, pool, banquet facilities, first-rate hospitality, and competitive room rates." They also offer bed bugs and a cracked-out cleaning lady.)

The next morning (day, really - I didn't wake up till noon), I wandered around the main road to find a cafe or anywhere that I could get a cup of coffee (as far as I could surmise, the Black Bart Inn does not have a restaurant - one that's functioning, anyway). Along my stroll, I passed a mural with a portrait of Mark Twain and a frog. That's when it dawned on me - I must be in Calaveras County and the frogs I saw are the Celebrated Jumping Frogs of Calaveras County! I loved that story when I was a kid!

Just a few blocks away from the mural, I came across a historical museum on Main Street. After moseying through the rooms of antiques and trinkets (it wasn't much of a museum), I continued my search for coffee. I found a small diner called The Country Station with a menu item I couldn't resist: poached eggs over homemade biscuits and gravy. Just then I saw the rest of the cast walking toward me. We all settled down in a Country Station booth and chowed down, compliments of the director.

Shooting recommenced in the cavern at 6:00 p.m., and wrapped at 2:30 a.m. Again, I drove directly back to the Black Bart Inn to catch some shut-eye before heading back to San Francisco.

Week Two
The location was a ranch outside of Fairfax. It was 85 degrees out. My costume consisted of thick, heavy jeans, tall cowboy boots, a long-sleeved canvas work-shirt, a gun holster, and a cowboy hat. I was miserable. To make it worse, a massive allergy attack kicked in as soon as I got to set, and I didn't have any meds.

I brought meds on the second day, but they didn't help.

By the third day, I was a wreck. Luckily, that was the day that my character gets shot and nearly killed. My worthless state was rather appropriate.

Week Three
We shot in a green screen studio here in the city for the first two days. So easy in comparison to the previous weeks. After shooting, I could go run my errands and live life like normal. Sunday, however, we were back in Fairfax for the scenes with the horse. Yup, I got to ride a horse. Its name was Elche. Okay, I didn't actually get to ride it - they had a stunt person for that. But I did get to get up on it, and shoot a scene where I make like I'm about to start riding. Maybe next time I'll get cast in a film that has the funding train me, so that I can do my own stunts!

Unfortunately, I didn't get any pics of me on the horse. You'll just have to wait till I get a copy of the film!

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