When you show up for the final couple of days of a feature film, you run into one of two situations. Either the production owes 10 pages and is in an absolute state of panic, or they’re on schedule and pretty much stuff is just winding down. The former is pretty damned entertaining, but the latter is a lot less stressful.
THIS IS OURS is the latter. Bad for page views. Good for the final product.
Spend enough time on film sets and you can pretty quickly figure out the chaotic ones from the organized. People know where they should be. There’s a sense of calm, of serenity (if that’s possible), that infuses everything. Everything just sort of clips along at a steady pace.
Today’s the final day for THIS IS OURS, and the bulk of it revolves around a scene next to the RV parked in the driveway. Plus, there’s a stunt.
The scene is primarily between our two male leads, an argument that turns violent. For obvious reasons, I won’t get into specifics, but basically it involves one character getting the shit beat out of him with the cricket bat we used the day before on the golf course. Sure, you can try and use the same cricket bat to hit golf balls and beat up an actor, but actors tend to be fussy about such things, no matter how many times you assure them that Brando totally would have done it. And clearly, you can’t hit golf balls very far with a bat soft enough to hit anyone, although considering how far they actual did fly, that probably wasn’t something to worry about.
Basically, you have to have two cricket bats–a real one and a foam one. That way you can accomplish both objectives. But where does one even get a cricket bat, much less a foam one? I haven’t a clue. I’m guessing the internet? Which is probably why they only sort of match. The foam bat is at least 4 inches longer than the wooden one and the painting isn’t the same. But that’s kind of one of the great secrets about film props–it won’t matter. They’re in different scenes. The mind of an audience, having seen a cricket bat established earlier in the film, will pretty much fill in the gaps of any subsequent cricket bat they see later in the film and assume it to be the same one, assuming it’s even remotely close. Think of it like a type of optical illusion. The mind, in a lot of ways, sees what it wants to see, assuming you let it. Switch something out mid-scene and you have to be damned close. Do it a couple of scenes later and the audience will make the connection without even realize they’re doing it.
So we beat the shit out of Ernie. But even a foam bat has some weight to it. After a couple of takes, he’s sufficiently bruised and in a little bit of pain. So for the reverse, Kris steps in to take the punishment. We shoot it, then Mark and Wonder jump in the RV, gun it up the hill and onto the road.
And that’s a wrap on THIS IS OURS.
But that’s not everything. The cast and crew has been living in this house for two weeks, so the next day, some of us (including a very hung over Marco Scaringi) have the task of cleaning out the house. It’s just mountains of garbage, as this house doesn’t do garbage pickup. So we empty the AYWR vehicle and use that to ferry garbage from the house to a nearby dumpster. We then clean the house, pack as much gear as humanly possible into the RV, and hit the road back to Seattle.
Filmmaker Lucas McNelly is spending a year on the road, volunteering on indie film projects around the country, documenting the process and the exploring the idea of a mobile creative professional. You can see more from A Year Without Rent at the webpage. His feature-length debut is now available to rent on VOD. Follow him on Twitter: @lmcnelly.