Part 10, The day from hell

buzz_mclaughlin_producerLet me give you a taste of what I mean by that.

During the morning of the second day, the shoot was scheduled for outdoors. But about 9 a.m. a steady sleet suddenly began falling, so we decided to turn to our contingency plan and shoot inside the bed & breakfast.

This also happened to be the day that most of the crew was grumbling nearly to the point of mutiny because the hot water wasn’t working that morning at the Maplehurst Inn in nearby Antrim, where most of them were staying, and they came to work feeling miserable to begin with.

Then, about 10 a.m., our one gigantic generator stopped working–no small problem in that all our power for lighting equipment and everything else needed for the shoot came from this source. There’s no way the Peterborough Manor could come close to supplying us with the amount of power we needed, so we called for help and had no choice but to put everything on hold until the generator could be fixed.

In the meantime, our lighting designer Jonathan Lumley and director of photography Christophe Lanzenberg decided they wanted to use the huge extended crane-like piece of equipment called a condor that we’d used the day before for a scene downtown. So this 70-foot-long monstrosity was painstakingly brought up to the B & B from downtown and immediately proceeded to get totally and hopelessly up-to-the-axels stuck in the mud in the middle of the long B & B driveway.

We’re talking five-foot-high tires mired down a good three feet. Now we had this 10-ton piece of equpment sprawled across the roadway of the B & B so no vehicles could get in or out of the Manor. At that point, I remember standing in the freezing rain watching all this and thinking for a moment that we might be sinking along with the condor.

But then, within the hour, a mechanic showed up and fixed the generator, a huge tow truck arrived (the kind that move immense tractor trailer rigs) and managed to get the condor out of the way and back on the main road, the sleet stopped, the Maplehurst Inn called to say the hot water was working again, and suddenly spirits rose. In the end, the day’s work got done with only one hour of overtime.

I’m happy to report that was our only really difficult day. After nearly six weeks of floods and constant rain in New Hampshire, the weather cleared up and, aside from our one infamous morning, we experienced a beautiful fall for the remainder of the shoot. The town never looked better and it appears even prettier in the film itself.

So the lesson learned? Never say never. Keep thinking happy thoughts. Don’t ever give up. Keep taking deep breaths when things look bleak. Remember the sun’s still there even if it’s cloudy. ¬†And generally and always keep the faith. That has to be the mantra of all indie filmmakers (I tell myself daily), right? How else can these projects ever get made?

(Next: From shoot to wrap...)

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  1. John Bosley said,
    October 19, 2009 @ 11:11 pm

    Your worse day reminds me of my worse day with AMNESIA, both dealt with rainy weather. Difference was that I had decided to shoot in the rain anyways. LOL crazy. But it actually worked. Free special effects! Except part way into the scene we realized in our frenzy to try to protect the camera and do stunts with knives (do try this at home LOL) we forgot to plug in the mic.

    At the end, in post we had to replace all the audio for the first half of the scene anyways so it didn’t matter.

    Guess every set has it’s horror story of some sort. But if a filmmaker perseverce they will find the end of the tunnel.

    Thanks for sharing this story. That would have been a very uncomfortable position to be in with the crew wondering if the film was going to get done.

    Look forward to next post.

  2. Cate said,
    October 21, 2009 @ 5:51 pm


  3. Buzz McLaughlin said,
    October 24, 2009 @ 1:39 pm

    As I’ve said many times in this series on producing the film, preparation was the key for us. And even when we had this bad day (a couple hours really), it became clear very quickly that carefully assembling an excellent and experienced crew and group of committed producers was a huge part of that prep. It was great to see these folks immediately go to work to solve our compounding problems that morning. A lot of cool heads taking appropriate action very quickly saved the day.