10 January 2012

Day 0 of Brea Grant's BEST FRIENDS FOREVER

I've never really heard of Marfa, Texas until a couple of weeks ago, but apparently the place is mythical. Everywhere I've been--Wisconsin, Kansas, Arkansas, Dallas, Austin--I keep hearing the same thing: "Oh, you'll love Marfa."

I'm not really sure why.

Marfa is this tiny, tiny town in West Texas. The census bureau has the population at 1,900 people, which seems high. Real cowboy country. They shot THERE WILL BE BLOOD here, as well as NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, and the one thing 1st AC Brian Nelligan (who I picked up in Austin) try and figure out as we drive into town is, where the hell did they put everyone? They shot two decently big movies in the same town at the same time and there aren't exactly a bunch of hotels all over the place. Our theory is that Daniel Day Lewis just camped out near set in a tent that he made himself.

The first thing we notice as we drive through town is that the roads don't match up with my GPS, so it takes a bit of driving around to find the house we're looking for. I call the producer, Stacey Storey, but she's not in town yet, after some sort of issue with the grip truck breaking down on the way from LA. Apparently they're still in Arizona. We start shooting tomorrow.

We find some other crew people, and we all head to a bar to find everyone else. Introductions all around. Brea's there, along with AD John-Michael Thomas and DP Michelle Lawler, trying to figure out how to shoot the first day with a grip truck that may or may not show up on time.

Your first thought is that you'll have to cancel the day, or at least part of it, and no one wants to do that. You put yourself in the hole on day 1 and run the risk of spending the entire shoot trying to catch up. On the other hand, if the truck shows up late, you've got some real chaos on your hands, and that's not the best way to start a shoot either.

Eventually, the decision is made to turn day 1 into a prep day, which feels like the right call. The truck shows up with Stacey and gaffer Phil Matarese already exhausted from driving all night. And the prep time is helpful. Things need to be unloaded and sorted. Plus, it gives the various crew members time to get to know each other a little bit before the actual work starts. An opportunity to ease into things, if you will.

After an hour, we've completely taken over the yard and part of the street, which attracts the attention of a neighborhood cat. He starts looking around for food and before anyone realizes it, he's ripped into a bag of bagels and eaten part of one. I didn't even know a cat would eat a bagel.

No one knows where he came from exactly, but he's apparently been inside the house 3 times already.

Before long, he even has a name: Lonestar Bagels Sebastian III.

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.