Call time today was two hours ago. We've not yet gotten a shot, and we're holding for tape. Yes, tape. Blue painter's tape, to be specific. And how could a film of this size be brought to it's knees by something so small? Well…
There's blue painter's tape in pretty much every shot in this film. Problem is, the windows can't just be sealed in plastic. They exist in one of three stages: sealed tightly, ripped, and completely torn down. All three require tape. And since sealing the windows is easier and quicker than setting up a light, we're constantly having to re-tape the windows.
Basically, we're going through a lot of tape (and plastic).
It's no secret that we're going to run out, and the Art Director tells the producers that it probably won't last the day. It almost definitely won't.
There's a hardware store a mile away. We've walked past it after closing down the bar.
And there goes the last of the tape. Ahead of schedule, even. Since I'm the one who used the last of the tape, I go over to Brian, one of our producers who showed up that morning to tell him we need more tape, and soon. Keep in mind it's in virtually every interior shot of the film.
Brian tells me that he'll get it "first thing tomorrow". Again, this is a prop that's in every interior scene of the film. It costs, what, $3? We probably have another 6 hours of shooting tonight. But according to Brian we 1) won't need it until tomorrow, which Dane Williams and I find surprising because the schedule has changed every single day, 2) don't have a PA to go get it anyway (although there are 6 or 7 cars sitting outside that could easily drive a mile).
Dane and I just kind of look at each other in disbelief. I suggest that maybe, just maybe, we should send someone who isn't doing anything to go get it just in case, as I'd hate for production to be halted by something so stupid. He tells us it shouldn't be a problem.
No one on this shoot has seen a schedule in 3 days, so it's kind of hard to argue with him on that point. But we do know the schedule has changed at least once a day.
According to Brian, he made the schedule.
I walk through a crowded hallway with some grip equipment and have to step around Brian, who's sitting on the floor playing NBA Jam on his iPad.
Later, he stands in the middle of the smallest room we've shot in to-date and talks about how he's going to join the Producer's Guild.
The shoot goes 15 1/2 hours total. Amazingly, we don't need the tape again.
The van that's supposed to pick us up is 20 minutes late. Behind the wheel? Brian. Maybe he stopped to get the tape? We drive by a hardware store. I wonder aloud if they sell painter's tape there.
"Oh, there's the hardware store," Brian says.
Clearly we have different definitions of "first thing in the morning".
We eat breakfast. Then, at the scheduled start time, Brian and one of the other producers get in a car to theoretically go buy things. An hour and a half later, the lights are set. We're ready to shoot. We have no tape.
No one is surprised.
Finally, Christine and I start digging through the trash, trying to piece together old pieces of tape that are not completely fucked up. We do, sort of. It looks terrible. I have no doubt that you'll be able to see which scene it is when you watch the film.
Mostly, I feel bad for director Brian Kazmarck. He's got an impossible enough task without having to deal with this bullshit. No director should have to deal with this sort of bullshit. If a producer can't procure a $3 roll of tape from a store a mile away, why are they even there? If you can't fulfill the basic functions of a PA, you should not be on a film set.
From there, Brian the Producer proceeds to plant himself as close to the monitor as possible. Keith, the sound guy, has to reach over him to get the boom in. I have to step over him to slate the scene. He serves zero function behind the monitor. The AD and Script Supervisor are having a hard enough time seeing everything they need to see without him being there.
That afternoon, Christine gets sick from putting spoiled milk in her coffee. She throws it away. Brian sees her. His response?
One of my filmmaker friends on Facebook, a director you've heard of, probably summed it up best: "Sounds like they're playing a birthday prank on you."
Happy birthday to me.
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.