Many of you may know I have been working as an “Associate Producer” on a short film, “Tender as Hellfire” that is being made by USC Film School grad student Jason Stone in Porterville, CA.
Well, now all of you do 🙂
Principal photography was back in April and lasted about a week. This past weekend week, the crew returned for some extra shots, closeups, a new scene to tie the story together, and some landscape and general “scene setting” shots. “Pickups” in industry parlance.
More after the jump….
My role has been to identify and manage vehicles and extras, plus assist with locations as well. In the spring I found about 20 or so old beat up pick up trucks, and extras, which were key in a staged dog fight scene – the trucks are seen coming and going, and in some outdoor shots at the barn where the fight is.
The extras were brought in to be the guys at the secret dog fight at a barn, cheering on the dogs. Don’t worry, we had specially trained dogs from Hollywood, you may have even seen them before in various movies. When they were here, we were told they were in “No Country” – I am sure all of you are familiar with that one.
Aside: While these dogs were superbly trained, it was pretty scary how fast they turned on (“violent”) and off (“like a puppy”). I will be making an even bigger circle then in the past around pit bulls, I recommend you do too!
Also, I was responsible for finding 2 “hero cars” – the vehicles that the main character drives – one was a pickup truck also, the other, the director had a very specific car in mind. This town not being that big, and the car being 20 years old or so, that was not easy, but just before we shot I did find the perfect car, the owner had just moved to town a week before.
I had been searching for the car for about 6 weeks and had only found one guy who had two of the right model, but wrong color. He was disappointed at the last minute that his car would not be in the film, but such is life. He is one of the extras, so even though his car didn’t make it even to the cutting room floor, he probably will make it past himself.
This past week’s pickup shoot was interesting – it probably should have been relatively straightforward, but nothing ever goes that way.
The family in the film lives in a trailer in a local trailer park, but a few weeks prior to the crew returning, that particular trailer had burned down to the ground. So the set crew had to reconstruct the bedroom that the director wanted to shoot this week.
Fortunately, they had saved all the interior stuff, furniture, window shades, stuff on the wall and basic crap the teen boys had strewn about.
I will be in the film almost certainly as an extra too, maybe in many scenes. At the dog fight, I help drive the pickups around to make them look like they are leaving. You probably won’t see me though, it was dark.
Later, also at night, there is a scene at a gas station where, well, I can’t say but something dramatic happens in the parking lot. I am in the background as “the guy pumping gas”. Honestly I don’t know how much or even if any of that is visible….
Then this week I drove vehicles again at the barn at night, more “truck leaving in the background” shots as the new scene was filmed. That was kind of interesting for me, because I didn’t know there was a scene with the actors – the Assistant Director asked me to drive the truck up and down the hill by the barn, and I thought it was just that – me and another truck and it would take a few minutes.
The scene was scheduled to take up to 3 hours to film, and multi-tasking is par for the course for me. Between takes I was simultaneously trying to fulfill another request – not long before the director asked me to find a German Shepard that we could use for a close up to put in the dog fight scene.
I was calling every police force in the area, trying to explain myself and see if they had a canine unit we could borrow a dog for. I found out that the dogs in this area are not German Shephards at all, they are Belgian Malmutes or something like that. Eventually I got one to come to the set, and the Director thought it looked close enough for whatever he needed, the officer was willing to come back later, but we just flat ran out of time and in the end didn’t get that shot at all.
All that earned me an “Associate Producer” title, and sometime after the film is completed I was told I will have my very own entry in IMDB.com
Right now, the film is a short, planned to be about 18-20 minutes in length. The goal/plan is to finish it this month, in time to submit to Sundance.
Then the short will be used to raise money to shoot a feature length film – this is really only one part of the book “Tender as Hellfire”. My feeling is that there is a good chance that as this is a quality production. Kyle Mann, one of the producers on the film Capote, has already attached himself to producing the feature
The mother and her boyfriend are character actors you may have seen in other tv shows or films: Bellamy Young is the mother, and John Hawkes is the boyfriend. The two sons in the film are local actors making their debut appearance.
Here are a couple of links to see more:
film trailer: http://www.tenderashellfire.com
local new report on this week’s shoot (yours truly around 1:20 in…):