Temperature was 55 degrees F. Arrival early, to a great welcome back, hug from Elizabeth, Rebecca was working on another movie set in NM, holding the mic boom for the scenes dialog. I miss her, but Thomas, her significant other, was looking after us like a 'Wrangler' does. Elizabeth sent me to the 'Tree Hugger' catering trailer, to see if anything was left to eat. A fine breakfast burrito (soft four tortilla with egg, cheese, and sausage rolled up in it) was still in the window, extremely hot coffee was in the dispenser, all in all, good stuff... had another, thanks Dirk.
Signed in and walked over to Wardrobe where a few more early arrivals were already changed out. Tom 'sign painter' and Ed, 'the town doctor', were extremely early due to the pending excitement of the day. They and I think somewhat alike. Ed had an interesting life. A Texas church orphanage raised him and his siblings.
Ed dropped out of school, rode the bus to the Gulf of Mexico with his brother and hired onto a 'Shrimper' for 19 cents an hour. As the 60 foot 'Shrimper' pulled away from the dock, Ed sailed his Texas cowboy hat to his brother on shore and waved goodby. Ed did not see his brother for 14 years after that.
Ed weathered a hurricane at sea, just like in the movie 'Perfect Storm' He described the storm ravaged ocean as "Black as ink" while they were tied to the railings while working to batten down the rigging. He worked odd jobs, then joined the army. Did many other things. Became a pilot, a software engineer at Los Alamos, and now a fine background actor. The USA is the Greatest.
After the change, 'Da Geezer' walked past a tall attractive woman PA, kicking a soccer ball to a man with his back to me. As 'Da Geezer' turned to get into the van, the soccer ball sailed over to the man, Someone in the van said Look, Viggo Mortensen was that man. He quickly shot the ball back to the woman who missed the return kick. Good shot Viggo! He plays with the soccer ball often while waiting for his 'on set' time.
Margaret, our van driver, is from a famous family in Chicago industry history, also a catering chef at times, brought us to the APPAlOOSA set. After everyone else left the van, Margaret and 'Da Geez' talked while driving around behind the watering truck (keeps down the dust) The end of prohibition in Chicago was helped along by her great Grandfather. People are interesting when you just ask about their past.
Arrival at Extras Holding in the Hay Grain and Feed store, brought a few new faces but mostly friends from previous days. While talking to several that I had not formaly met, Ron (surveyor #2) wearing a brown 'American' brand hat that looks like a 'Hoss' Cartwright style, was from South Carolina and does re-enactments at special events, Confederate?
David (surveyor #2) is a retired, hospital toxicology dept mgr. forensics like in CSI. Unique looking David makes his own 'period' clothing. He was the only 'anglo Mexican' Trader looking guy in 3:10 To Yuma. David is also a re-enactment specialist. A restored Spanish Trail town, Los Golondrinas (the swallows) south of Santa Fe, features many re-enactors during the numerous festivals. He made his own unique hat out of an old brown felt, hat blank and weather'd it to look like a hundred years of hard trading.
Nick is an Optical Engineering student with a Bachelors degree, going for his Masters at Bethel univ. Hang in there Nick, the world always welcomes Engineering people. Background acting gives him some reprieve. Nick hails from Minnesota and is of Swedish descent. He even traveled there to see his 'roots'. Nick is taller, but looks and 'voices' just like a very young Sylvester Stalone. Nick is better known in his role as the 'naked guy' in the film 'In Plain sight'. He is 'the visiting cowboy #1 today. You will see him playing cards in the saloon and just hanging around town.
Cowboy on horseback #2, is Chuck. He owns 7 horses and has kids in rodeo and special events. His horse was in 'Swing Vote' (previous blog) with his daughter 'up'. 5' 8" (172cm) Michael 'building Supply helper' was raised in the family Ice Cream Restaurant business, then lost 60 pounds (27kg) after leaving the lifestyle. That is an amazing feat Michael. Tom (sign painter) showed me the finished house at the end of the street, that 'the Carpenter' and his helpers, built for Cole (Ed).
It now is robins egg blue with an off white trim and railing just like 'the Carpenter' planned, (he is good) with Tim the wrangler helping him cut the 2x4's on the 24th of Oct. The porch has two rock'n chairs and a four panel front door graces it's entrance. The house now has an off white picket fence around it and flower boxes on the sides. One lone tree is in the left yard. It's roof is brown shingles with a square brick chimney to the back right side of the roof. The lightning rod was removed.
'Neon Dash' Frank, the 'Assayer', is wearing the suit that Michael Landon wore in the last 'Little House on the Prarie' farewell episode on TV. It is a 3 piece brown herringbone pattern. Michael Landon's name is sewn into several places inside. Gives us a feeling of connection to the past film greats (Little Joe) from 'Bonanza' during the 1970 era of TV.
Jerrall 'Assayer' is wearing a watch worn by Charlton Heston in filming history. It is a 'New Era' with exposed hands under a flip lid with a 3 row chain and slider. the little square box on the button hole end flips open and has red and green stones inset on each side. It is European and of 1800's origin.
My friend PJ (a Santa Fe photo artist) that fell from the train (cut) while helping Allie (Renee) unload her luggage, is today the 'new lawyer'. On the 23rd of Oct, he was the helper to Bob, the building supply owner. today he is dressed in very fine black clothing with a fine bowler hat and long tailed coat, Tall distinguished looking, Perry 'PJ', is seen in the classy hotel scenes. The prostitutes are held in seclusion to keep warm until needed 'on set'. They also have very tight corsets. Perry told me that 'Brothers' is holding another casting call on Saturday in the Holiday Inn, in Santa Fe. Our networking system works great in 'holding'.
Now for the scenes that the fans like. Ed Harris was directing today and will not be acting in anything 'the Carpenter' is involved in. Ed Harris has been working 20 hour days and the toll is starting to show. The Carpenter walked up to the newly re-modeled Boston House. The red brick first story, with green clapboard, second story, now has R B engraved into the frosted glass front doors. Randall Bragg (Jeremy Irons) bought it. A few scenes were being shot inside for some of the daylight hours as well. This set is very busy at all times. No time is wasted.
As the temperature dropped to 40 degrees F, the wind started to pick up. The scene opens. Hitch (Viggo) was standing ouside the swinging saloon doors, intently watching from around the right side door frame, the goings on inside. The long double barreled, 8 ga shotgun was locked out of it's 'break' position and cradled in his left arm.
After a few seconds he turned and walked briskly to the right, stopped at the center window. Holding his right hand up to the glass to shield the outside glare, Hitch peared inside to be prepared for his entrance. Many enemies (Bragg's men) could be lurking in there. The piano was playing. Scanning the interior within a couple of seconds, Hitch walked confidently to the front door and entered the Hotel doors at the top of the corner steps. The 12ft by 12ft, (3.6m) square 'Ultra bounce' silvered light reflector, covered the front entrance at a 45 degree angle, held in place by it's intricate aluminum framework.
After several 'cut's and 'reset's, the scene became accepted by Ed Harris. Viggo Mortensen walked across the street to locate a PA, she pulled out her small camera and showed him her vid aquired during the filming. The actual filming was done from the top platform, 25 feet (7.6m) high in the air, on a self propelled, Genie GS-5390 scissor lift, positioned in the side street. The wind rocked it incessantly. The partially lowered window protector canvas on the hotel kept the lighting somewhat under control. The black fabric vertical covers hanging around the entrance, further kept any glare in perspective. "Checking the Gate". "Good Gate". The sun was lowering now so we went for supper.
The crew line had us as guests. 'Tree Hugger Catering', Deidre and the others, helped provide us with the Shrimp gumbo, potato patties, green beans, steak, pork strips crab salad and many other side dishes. They do eat well, great feast, then return to the set in the darkness.
A trip to the outdoor toilets in a back alley, in the darkness, was needed for the 'carpenter'. As soon as I got within touching distance of the portables, a movement loomed to my right accompanied by a heavy breath. Stoppping in my tracks and refocusing my eyes in the darkness, a very big black horse started to build along side me. My further prowling around, feeling my way through the darkness revealed a total of 9 horses munching their hay and resting after the days 'shooting'. Fun to find them all together in the night, just standing around enjoying life. I was raised on a small farm and owned horses. I love the smell and feel of them.
Later the next day, I asked Kevin, a ruddy faced 'cowboy' and wrangler wearing 'chaps', seen in many scenes riding different horses, also in the bar throwing down 'shots', about the Big Black. 'Spider' is seen tied to hitching posts throughout 'APPALOOSA'. He is a Gelding but hard to handle nonetheless. Unpredictable horses are rarely used in action scenes. The biggest horse, slightly bigger than 'Spider', is ridden by 'Rex' the 'cowboy' and wrangler. A large copper colored sorrel, and more predictable than 'Spider', he looks impressive trotting past the cameras.
All background is called out of 'holding' to the new 'Bragg's Boston House. All were positioned around the bar and dining room with the raised and railed, sitting area. Allie, 'Allison' Renee Zellweger, was playing the piano at times during this scene, as in the previous. Bragg 'Jeremy Irons', was now her employer. Hitch walks in to the scene. Scene 108 and 109 are the numbers we are doing. Allie explains to Hitch that Randall Bragg is now her boss. She asks if Cole will be coming in. Hitch explains that Cole would never come into Bragg's hotel.
The Sign Painter and the Carpenter are now in position outside the front doors near the the torch and ladder used to put up the new Bragg's Hotel sign. We can see Jeremy Irons through the partially frosted glass doors, that's about as close as Tom and I got to him. We are discussing how well the town will do, now that Bragg 'Jeremy Irons' is spending his money to renovate it. Times were hard in the past 7 years. At this time, according to our script, we are all thinking that this new change is good for 'Appaloosa'.
Viggo (Hitch)is entering the front doors. Viggo notices that we are now in 27 degree cold with a westerly wind. our hands are getting cold holding the paint cups and brushes. He motions us to step inside the frosted doors with him for a bit of warmth while we wait for the camera crew to complete set up. He tells us, we need to take advantage of the inside warmth when we can.
The set is ready, Hitch stands at the door to enter just at the top steps on the corner porch, four steps up from the sign painter and carpenter. (Tom and I) Viggo Mortensen is wearing his "long dark green coat", apparently he likes a "long Dark Green Coat" (Lord of the Rings? thanks to Viggo-Works.com), dark brown pants tucked into his tall muddy boots with spurs. The long barreled 8ga is sometimes 'broken', sometimes 'locked', on his right or left arm cradle style, that thing is heavy.
Viggo's flat topped, light brown hat with the wide brim, slightly rolled edge, is trailing it's 24 inch (60cm) 'Stampede String' down his back from the slider positioned at the base of his neck. Viggo's large silver star over his heart on his light brown vest, is partially covered under the dark green long coat, with it's well worn leather shotgun 'recoil' patch, positioned to his right shoulder. Viggo's wide mustache and goatee, sets off his sharply chiseled features. The 8ga is now 'locked' and swung to the left side. The coyotes just outside the town, howl in the dark of the cold night air. This scene, like many others, is shot using very bright '5k's (sometimes even brighter) to illuminate it. The big energy hungry lights, turn night into day and send a bright glow seen for miles over the horizon.
As viggo enters the door, we can see the bar maid serving the tables. Gamblers are sitting at tables. The new 'dark' bar has patrons working their positions. Now that's the scene 'the Carpenter' wanted to be in. Hitch and Allie 'Allison' (Renee Zellweger), have their discussion, while she seductively tries to get Hitch to switch sides. Bragg 'Jeremy Irons' walks across the room.
We do this extremely complex scene over and over for hours. The long days and seemingly endless hours and the stress of meeting deadline, is taking it's toll on Ed Harris, as he seeks perfection in all of his duties, he apparently slams a somewhat fragile, back 'set door' in frustration over a scene, glass breaks. The sound comes to mind in the silent night air, as that of a body falling at a velocity of 250 feet per second, through the glass ceiling of an atrium over a hotel lobby. After two long seconds frozen in time, the entire outside crew rushes around to the rear of 'The Boston House' to the scene of the crash. Ed returns to the inside set and apologises profusely. "Reset"!
Tom and I stand at the bottom of the wooden steps, outside the frosted glass entrance doors with Viggo Mortensen prepared to enter, silently pantomining about 'the painters' latest work of art and working our position in the cold, near the tall wooden ladder and the flaming torch, which can be seen through the frosted glass door as Viggo enters. The 'torch' is a tall tube wrapped on the end with burlap and parafin.
It had to be moved over, 4 inches and remounted to get the desired visual effect on film. 'Special effects' relights it just for the action each time to save the fuel for each following shot. This scene is repeated many times until all is perfect. Walt, our PA (production assistant) rolls a propane heater to us, as we continue repeating this multiple camera angle scene with many 'principles', 'dialog' and 'background actors'.
"lock it up" (secure all of the surrounding area of motion and sound) "Pictures up"! (Cameras are now live and the portable little hand held 'clapboards' with digital, red LED, downcounter is 'clapped' in front of the cameras, rapidly, sequentially one at a time as each camera comes on line) "Action" (start acting) "Cut" (cease filming) 'resetting' (start at position 1 sometimes position 2), 'cutting' and further 'resetting' until finally "Cut"!..."Checking the Gate"...."Good Gate"! "It's a Wrap"! Just thought that I would add in these little details for those not familiar with our basic daily ritual. 'Blogengeezer' tends to also add details to these posts daily as he rereads his endless little brown pads of notes and recalls fun stuff. Also friends respond with additional tid-bits. Keep returning to catch the latest inserts, sort of like a republishing you might say, it tends to drive the people that 'copy and paste' the first versions to their own sites, crazy. Have fun guys, 'Da Geezer' is old but not quite senile...yet!
Load into the vans. Back to Base Camp Wardrobe, change clothes in the 27 degree cold tent. After turning in wardrobe, Elizabeth signs us out. Another long day. It's now 20 minutes after 1 am, cold, dark, dirty. Lets all go home over an hour away. The Carpenter as well as many others will be back early tomorrow for the last big scene that includes lots of 'Extras', the town meeting in the church, at the beginning of the movie. The scenes shooting's are not in chronological order. Posting will be forthcoming, on a date following work of the 15th of Nov. Life is great in the USA, "One Nation Under God"