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Confessions Of A Working Director: 12/19/2008

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Our shoot of RATLINE is coming to a close.  There are three more principal cinematography shooting days left.  I have already started easing into post-production.  A small handful of post-production shooting days (pickups, fx inserts, re-shoots) have already been scheduled...

On December 13th we shot in an old industrial laundry facility that was used to clean U.S. Military uniforms during World War 2.  The huge building is now primarily used for storage.  In the movie, this location will serve as a subterranean lab space beneath Castle Wewelsburg in Westphalia, Germany.

On December 14th, we went back to the high school in Alton, Illinois... the school with the asshole property owner... the school that was eventually condemned by the city, forcing us to scramble for replacement locations all over the St. Louis area... the school that generated the bulk of the stress we've endured on this production. 

We went back.  Because I absolutely needed to get a brief sequence of shots in front of the school.

We had called our old contact at this location, Adam, and explained to him how badly we needed to get these exterior shots.  And... if at all possible... we'd like to grab a few shots inside the condemned school building as well.  Basically, we were asking him if we could show up and steal all these shots.  Adam was happy to help us do this.

If Gary, the owner of the property (read about The Gary Situation a few blog entries ago), showed up while we were there, it would not be a total disaster because I was technically still functioning under the agreement I signed to rent the space for our shoot.  In fact, I was already paid up for this one more day of shooting there.  But would Gary be a huge pain in the ass and a massive distraction to me, my cast, and my crew?  Absolutely. 

Plus, remember, Gary is not just a jerk - he's an unbalanced loon.  If he showed up, he may start out being just a pain in the ass, and then move on to being a dangerous element to everyone there.  So, needless to say, we hoped we could get in, steal our shots, and get out before Gary came strolling in.

But a more serious issue was the fact that the building was still condemned.  Shooting the exterior shots I needed was perfectly legal, but venturing into the hallways, stairwells, and classrooms could get us arrested.  And I wanted shots in the hallways, stairwells, and classrooms.

We showed up to the location and met Adam in the parking lot behind the school building.  We quickly got our exterior shots in the can.  I could see Adam nervously scanning our surroundings, worried that Gary's car would come rollin' up at any time.  Gary did not materialize.

So, we got away with stealing our exterior shots.  Should we risk it and venture inside?  Of course we should.

We shot for another couple of hours inside the building.  Gary never showed up.  The police never showed up.  Shots successfully stolen, we thanked Adam for his assistance and got the hell out of there.

The crew caravanned back to St. Louis and we shot special effects pickups for the rest of the night.  After much stabbing, hacking, gouging, and smashing, the floor was 90 percent covered in fake blood.  I called wrap for the night.  Trevor Williams looked at his watch, noted that we'd only been shooting for 12 hours, and commented on it being a "short day" today.

After stealing our school shots and creating much carnage, it was a principal cinematography wrap for leading actor Jason Christ.  It was also the last day for the top-billed name on the cast list.  Check out the next blog to learn who RATLINE's leading lady is!

Thanks for reading.

Eric Stanze

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