We're six days into the second round, today back at Matt Hemeyer's fabulous North Capitol Hill mansion for pickups on the funeral and dinner scenes and the tense lead up to the finish. Willy Greer our composer dropped in from Portland, having just completed and started to send around his book, Shadowplay: The Psychology and Mythology of the Modern Horror Film.
Last Sunday we cut off about a mile of Cougar Mountain Road where it winds between Issaquah city and King County land. The county has a film office of its own, and is used to this kind of thing, but Issaquah said they would have to have a BALLOT REFERENDUM. Are you kidding me? So we just put our roadblocks on county land on either side of our spectacular SUV crash sequence and on went the show. Standing in the woods up there we could hear the rush of I-90 traffic and I recalled my grandparents' friend Lynne living out there on the lake with her son twenty five years ago on an RN's salary. Then there were probably thirty houses on the ten-mile lake: now it is the ugliest stretch of suburbia in the county. They never put that up to a vote. An elderly couple came by from next door to watch my brother Ryan charge back and forth in his monster suit for hours: this is what little brothers are for. They'd moved up there in '62, his father-in-law having bought 100 acres in '48 and given a bunch of it to the county so they could build the road in '51. The afternoon scene featured my buddy Patrick McKnight, a 20-year old construction worker I met at a kegger two years ago whose party trick made me leap three feet back by sheer survival instinct, and will scare the crap out of you when you see this film, and probably lodge itself in the pop culture lingua franca.
Then Monday back to our very first location, the 9LB Hammer in Georgetown which should be patronized by all not just for owner/proprietor Scott's generous help with the film but because it is a fun, unpretentious and colorful hangout where you can observe the last interesting young locals outside of the Hill hereabouts. Lots of pickups on a long scene: boring for the writer, he went home.
Tuesday we were on Beacon Hill just south of the Amazon HQ on 15th South, an amazing old boxy cliffside house with walkways catscradling the gap to the sidewalk, a kind of house you see all over Astoria's Uniontown but never in the city. Reminded me of the houses in the old L.A. Beacon Hill demolished in the 50s and 60s which figure so large in the great, great doc Los Angeles Plays Itself. RENT THIS FILM IMMEDIATELY. Scott Green added a little extra emotion to his scene by putting Vaporub right in his eye, and our young star Kellan made his first appearance and like all our actors suffered the agony of springtime clothing in the coldest March on record. A hell of a performer. Things got a little sticky when the city showed up and made it clear that they would really like to work with us when we do things like close a street, but they would like us to TELL THEM FIRST. James Keblas at the mayor's office of music and film is the finest of public servants, making everybody color inside the lines so that the picture will shine most brightly - thank you James.
Wednesday was the hardest day of the whole shoot so far: 12 hours in a windy, rainy, hailing day out in the open in front of the beautiful Chen residence in Rainier Beach. The Chens put their house up in the state film office's location file several years ago, and when I stumbled on it last summer it was perfect for Dannie's exterior for a bunch of reasons, and the Chens were most generous and cooperative. We froze our asses off, but the wind and rain were great for atmosphere. A miserable, miserable day, held together by good spirits, the terrific work being done behind and in front of the lens, and Rachel from Craft Services' microwaved water bottles.
I can't even remember what happened after that every day is a universe unto itself - OK, I just went into the hall and asked Liz and she reminded me it was the day we shot the Sheriff's office scenes at Consolidated Works, a huge performance space / gallery in South Lake Union, where three years ago in the summer I attended both the Sean and Ariella Nelson wedding and that of my biographer Phil Campbell. There was a Gary Hill installation downstairs sending erratic booms into the mics - I said keep it, it's the sounds of the festival going on outside the office. Later there was Dixieland jazz from the Bread and Puppets performance in the theater in memory of Rachel Corrie. All fine, whatever. Had to offer to bribe the bartender downstairs and her customers to keep their yelling to a dull roar. Once all that was handled though, Greg Michaels as the sheriff gave the standout male supporting performance of the film. That man is a VIBE. Plus he quotes Yeats. How can this movie not be huge?
Tomorrow we head back to the studios for three days in the sets we built. One day we'll be putting our lead through a cistern and filming from the roof, then laying it on its side and doing some forced perspective. We have a truck to pour 500 gallons of water through a window, and a well-appointed room to splatter with blood. After that we'll be in Bill Speidel's Underground Tour in Pioneer Square two nights in a row from four 'til four. And the hideous salamander creatures came in the mail from Chris Baer today, and they're SCARY.....