FILMED APRIL 2013
If the opening of a show is of the utmost importance, it goes without saying that the closing has to be that “utmost” carried to the nth degree. Miss Mason in her script had provided me the blueprint for a whopper of a closing. It coincidentally occurred at the same location as the opening, presenting me as I compose this post with a problem. I want to tell how we spent the balance of our fourth day of filming in front of the Potigian house, but under no circumstances can I give away how our story ends. So sit back, relax and read on, view David Potigian’s great on-set photographs and watch the film clips, even as I warn you, you’re going to be more titillated than informed.
I’ve described in my post, THE RIGHT REGRETS: THE OPENING, the reason I was originally averse to filming at the Potigian house. Now in addition to the attractiveness of the structure, I have to admit, a major reason for wanting to film there was because of the balcony. I had an activity in the closing sequence that I wanted to film with a shot from above. Even as I envisioned the scene, I was remembering an incident many years ago, May of 1963 to be exact, when I was directing MY NAME IS MARTIN BURNHAM on ARREST AND TRIAL. I scouted a six-story building under construction in the Wilshire district. On the roof of the building where we would be doing our major filming, there was a large crane situated in the center with its long arm reaching out to extend over the edge of the building. Attached to the end of the long arm was a scoop that I figured could hold a cameraman with an Arriflex camera. What a dynamic shot that would be – shooting DOWN on James Whitmore scuffling with another actor and revealing the street six stories below. I told the assistant director who was accompanying me on the scouting what I wanted to do and asked him to make the necessary arrangements. Imagine my disappointment when I arrived at the location the morning we were to film to find absolutely nothing had been done, no arrangements had been made. There was to be no overhead crane shot. Fortunately the Potigian balcony did not present a similar problem. I would be able to get the shot I wanted by having the cameraman hand hold the camera and lean over the railing. But then I went onto the balcony, leaned over the railing and discovered there was a roof extension below the balcony that prevented my getting my planned shot. I described what I wanted to director of photography Brandon Fraley and gaffer-head grip Ryan Wood. Whereas the seasoned veteran assistant director backed by a studio with bucks galore had merely ignored me, these two kids, both a few years shy of thirty, went to work …
… brought the Jib we had used earlier down on the street up to the balcony, attached the camera to it and extended what looked like an enlarged tinker toy over the railing.
And that’s how I got my shot.
Now you didn’t think I was going to show you what I was filming. I warned you. You were going to be titillated, not informed.
David and Lilliana were absolutely wonderful hosts. They allowed us to use their second floor bedroom with its magnificent view of Monterey Bay (I am always amazed when David tells me he watches the sun RISE from this room) …
… for our actors to have their makeup applied.
That was another example of the remarkable candid shots David took with the participants (Jessica doing Marlyn’s hair, Shiloh holding the mirror and Hope Garza in the background admiring the view) totally unaware they were being photographed. He was shooting from a distance using a 200mm lens.
And the Potigian hospitality didn’t stop there. As plans were being made to film, Lilliana announced that she was going to serve lunch. I was concerned. In addition to our cast and crew, which numbered between 15 and 20 people, we were going to have possibly that many more that day as extras for our filming. I suggested she prepare lunch just for the cast and crew, and we would have sandwiches for the extras. Lilliana would not hear of that. She would feed everybody. And indeed she did.
And what a spread.
In addition to seating people at their dining room table and other areas of the living room, David and Lilliana had provided tables and umbrellas on their rear deck and back lawn.
Ryan Wood, our gaffer who donated the use of all of our electrical equipment, also provided the use of his dolly. He was meticulous. Although the dolly had heavy rubber wheels, Ryan insisted on laying track and replacing the rubber wheels with track adaptators.
That was a chore, but he insisted it resulted in a smoother shot. It also provided a unique scooter for my nephew, Julien.
Occasionally on long dolly shots, track could not be used, because it would show in the shot. And good fortune did eventually shine on us that day. By late afternoon the visitor had returned and removed her car from the space we needed.
We returned to the Potigian house a month after completing photography for five additional shots that I decided I needed. Since there was no dialogue involved, our crew was extremely skeletal – director of photography Brandon Fraley and me. The female contingent was slightly larger. In front of the camera was Marlyn Mason, backed up by hairdresser Jessica and makeup Shiloh. After we completed filming the five shots, we repaired to the Potigian living room where (due to the magic of digital photography) we could view our day’s work on a laptop computer. We could also view the sequence into which these new shots would be inserted. It was then that we were faced with the awful truth. There was a dreadful mismatch. Marlyn was wearing the wrong scarf. Why didn’t we just get the right scarf and reshoot the three shots in which the mismatch occurred? Because the needed scarf was 500 miles away in Medford, Oregon. And so as I write this three weeks later, we are scheduled to return to the Potigian house tomorrow for the third time, when we will hopefully finally conclude filming THE RIGHT REGRETS.