AITH spooks 100 Feet #2

PART 2 – By Eric Walkuski

INTRO: Almost immediately after I arrive on the set for Day 2 of shooting, Eric Red tells me that they’re just about to drive along the Brooklyn Queens Expressway, filming the scene where Cannavale’s detective drives Janssen home from prison. I’m pissed because I have arrived later than the previous day, and figure I’ve missed the pick-up shots from yesterday’s aborted final scenes, and now I’m to spend most of the afternoon sitting alone in my patented notebook-in-hand pose. Luckily, the world isn’t as glum as all that, and Red politely asks if I’d like to ride along with them. In the camera car. In front of the monitor. Why, yes I would!


Myself on the camera car

Next thing you know, I’m sitting next to the script supervisor, who’s sitting next to Red, who’s sitting next to D.P. Kelsch, and soon we’re off (I must add that the driver of this monstrous vehicle, Gabe, wanted a shout-out in the article – and since I’m still alive, I’m happy to oblige.) There are two cameras going: one is hanging on the edge of the actor’s vehicle (which of course if being towed by the camera car), trained on Famke’s face; the other is mounted on our car, capturing the scenery as we zip passed it – acting as Famke’s character’s p.o.v. of the city she’s been absent from for so long. (this will also liley serve as the film’s opening credit sequence.)

Red and Kelsch and where we all might end up… 

I must say that this experience is utter madness. Since I’m teetering on the edge of this contraption – and since everyone else is perfectly concentrated on the work at hand – I’m able to ponder my mortality every time a gigantic semi flies passed us at 60 m.p.h. Needless to say, it’s absolutely thrilling, as well. We pull over after about a half an hour and the team switches things around: the outside camera previously pointed at Famke is rearranged to point at Cannavale; and a new camera is positioned inside the car, which will double for Famke’s p.o.v as she looks at Cannavale. It’s frankly amazing how quickly this turnaround is accomplished. (Fun fact: Cannavale talks over his walkie-talkie to the character of Jimmy, to be played by our own John Fallon!)

Unfortunately, this change necessitates that an extra crew member board the camera-car, so I’m relegated to a “background” car. This is not even as fun as it doesn’t sound. (Although a cool photo is at least produced) After returning to the main set, lunch is called, and most trudge off to a nearby church where the crew eats. I hang back and wait for another Famke sighting – and get one. She’s standing outside of the building that acts as her trailer – where her wardrobe and makeup is done. She toying with her Blackberry, and I figure I’ve got to man up and be a pushy reporter, damnit. I walk up to her and she clocks me instantly. “Oh you’re the reporter,” she says.

Red and Cannavale in between set-ups.

I meekly answer yes and wonder if she’s available to talk for a spell, informing her how nearly impossible it’s been to find a free moment with her. “Well I’m very busy,” she says with a smile, and then lets me know she’s only outside right now because there’s no reception available in her makeshift trailer. I tell her it’s my intention to steal her for two minutes, and it seems like she’s open to it, but then she spots something – and says “Ah shit.” As is summoned by a cruel God, a crewmember is hustling over to where we stand. “I’m supposed to be getting dressed.”

Indeed, the crewmember has the next scene in mind, and his mere presence is enough to send Famke hurrying down to change clothes. “Well,” I sigh, “I’ll be around, so if you get another free second-““Okay!” she says, and then her door slams. Folks, you can’t make this stuff up.

The oh-so-precious scene in question is actually a fun one: Famke is running through a narrow alley (followed by a lithe steadicam operator) with bags of garbage, hoping to catch a sanitation truck before it drives off. She runs into a problem when it turns out her rubbish isn’t “tied” correctly, and the garbageman isn’t making any concessions. The take-no-shit city employee is played by none other than take-no-shit D.P. Ken Kelsch, who delivers his lines (“Twist ties! Twist ties, twist ties!!”) with enthusiastic bluster. “Marnie” drops the trash at his feet and runs back to her apartment, and with every take Ken manages to yell a different string of filthy obscenities. I know which was my favorite – but I can’t even bring myself to reproduce it here. I hope you get to hear it in the film.

Famke and her scariest nemesis yet… 

The next, and final, sequence of the day involves a group of approx. seven onlookers rushing down the street (toward the camera) and gaping at some unseen occurrence. I ask Red what’s going on in the scene, and right as he’s about to explain it to me (with the understanding that I don’t spoil it in my report), he wonders if I’d like to be one of the gawking extras. Now, I haven’t been boning up on my Stanislavsky as of late, but I feel confidant that I can appear shocked and confounded as good as anyone. So, all of a sudden, it’s down the block with me and the other “background artists.” I kick ass in each and every take (what are the chances I’m delusional about this?), and we quickly wrap. So when you see the flick and this scene arrives, I’m the dude in the “Brooklyn Fliers” t-shirt who looks even MORE amazed than everybody else.

So while I did not get my true one-on-one with Famke (aren’t my tales of striking-out more amusing than a boring old interview anyway?), I was lucky enough to have a few experiences I did not at all see coming. I got to ride on a camera-car, and I acted the hell out of a scene in a major motion picture (again, I doubt I have a skewed memory of this).

I would like to thank Eric Red, the fantastic cast and crew of 100 FEET, and John Fallon especially for providing this terrific opportunity. Can’t wait for the next one.

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