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BK Blog Post
Posted by Wade Rathke.
Wade Rathke is the founder of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) – a nationwide activist network engaged in community organizing.
New Orleans The filming inside our house ended after three days of chaos when the company and crew finished after two nights of shooting until 4 and 5 AM in the morning. The dressing crew returned to put Humpty-Dumpty back together again, and, surprisingly, seemed to be doing a solid, competent job of it, leading us to hope we will all survive this experience intact, which would be nice.
Part of life is learning, and I have to say that one thing I’ve learned is that these movie shoots are models in careful, organization with exacting, almost military precision. I would have liked to have had their software program to use before some of our conventions or large actions.
Often, as we picked up clothes or took a shower, we would see a one-sided 8” by 11” sheet which signaled the “crew call.” The title of the film ruled the page, but as central to the message was the time of the “call.” The banner would helpfully remind the crew of the weather conditions for the day, the time that “breakfast” would be ready, which meant 3pm for a night shoot and 9:30 PM for “lunch” on their day-night reversal. There were special warnings about rain gear and bans on social media. A section laid out all of the scenes that would be shot by number with descriptions, the cast or actors by number in the scene, whether it was day or night, and the page of the script they were following. Another box would note the location, which was obviously our house. Leaving nothing for chance or memory, another box on the page would identify the cast by name and number, when they were being picked up and needed to be ready to shoot, and who was doing the picking up. Additional sections of the call would detail the atmosphere, elements, advanced schedule for future days, including the days off for the entire company in mid-week, and what they could expect for later.
We’re probably already way too far into the weeds for most of you dear readers and listeners, so I’ll spare you the further detailed page laying out the entire crew of 40 and cast of 4 and all of their individualized instructions on reporting, duty call, and specific assignments. Suffice it to say, this was a small army that moved with precision at least on paper. Luckily for us, as participatory-observers after a fashion, the discipline of the organization carried into the numerous pictures of how and where the furniture would be replaced including the bookshelves. They fretted over where to place some items that we had hidden by a door in the living room here and there. The surviving remnant of the experience will be a yellow-gold color in the dining room once they are done, where we have decided to thank them and embrace a burst of color. We will also fix the garage door in their honor.
Would we do it again? Doubtful. Was it worth it? We think so.
The movie will be in Malayalam, though I’m betting there will be English and Hindi subtitles. It’s an offbeat comedy, but the seriousness and professionalism of the director and the crew makes me think well of their enterprise and its prospects. We ended up as bit players in the enterprise but came away sharing their optimism and wishing them nothing but good fortune. We would love to see the movie end up in a theater near you, but luckily an amendment we added to our contract guarantees us a copy when all is said and done to share with family and friends, and that’s something we look forward to in the future. Meanwhile the company has another 24 days or so of shooting in New Orleans, as we jump off the bus, none the worse for wear.
Chris Thomas King “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues”