Friday, March 2, 2007

Day for Night


Earlier in the year, I hooked up with production company that makes low budget films. Let's rephrase that: it makes ultra low budget films. Let's rephrase that again: it makes ultra ultra low budget films that aren't even films because they're videos.

I found the company on Craig's List. "PA's needed for low budget meteor film." Waging so much of my war on Hollywood from home, I figured this was a good chance to send one of my peasants on a recon mission to check on the state of things in the hinterlands. Nevermind the peasant is 36-years-old and being a PA is the most inglorious job on a film set, he'll be making movies on Thursday while the rest of America is stuffing their fat asses with Doritos and Desperate Housewives.

Plus, what's wrong with a little shit work? It builds character -- and you can't expect to get final cut on your first day on the job, right?

My peasant soon found himself in Topanga Canyon, standing outside a spooky house, watching the sun go down. You see, the company shoots mostly at night, between the hours of 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. -- or 6 p.m. and 7 a.m., or 6 p.m. and 8 a.m., or... you get the idea. It's funny, even though I went to film school, since my focus was writing (film criticism) and not production, I never quite realized how many films are shot at night.

Why shoot at night? Well, think for a moment about your average film and how many scenes in that film take place at night. Generally, there's at least a dozen -- so of course, these scenes are going to be shot at night.

Now think about horror movies, and how many scenes in horror movies take place at night. Now you get the idea? You can't have girls running from guys with chainsaws when there are bluebirds and rainbows in the sky.

Well, come to think of it, that's not a half-bad idea...

This was a horror movie -- or at least I thought it was -- so the camera started rolling when the sun went down. The first scene involved campers sitting around a lantern (fire was too tricky to shoot, I assume, and would require the purchase of matches), bullshitting and drinking beer and philosophizing about a shooting star they see in the sky. Then the shooting star hits them and they explode.

I later found out the shooting star was sent to earth by none other than Jesus. In fact, the movie was a Christian thriller about what befalls those who don't pray to the right God.

Christian horror. It warms the heart.

My exhausted peasant stumbled into the door the next day and gave me his report. I sent him on several more midnight missions just to make sure his information was correct. I quickly gained new respect for every movie I've even seen that takes place at night.