Wednesday, May 9, 2018

The Norse Gods VS The Film Gods

“Father of Lies” was hands-down the most brutal shoot I’ve ever been the director on. Don’t get me wrong, we had a lot of fun while filming and the footage I’ve seen is amazing, but like every project it had its problems.

Lowrie (Producer) and I have a superstition that actually seems to work. If we mention something out loud that could happen to mess up a shoot, it doesn’t happen. We joke that the Film Gods either answer our “prayers” or just decide that we know to expect it and come up with something new to throw at us. This ever-growing list includes everything we can think of from A to Z , although we have learned that sometimes you have to be very specific for the prayer to work. (We’ve been joking that next time we are going to hire someone whose only job is to continuously call out everything that could possibly happen on the set.)

We were already prepared to face the heat and bugs while living on the location in primitive cabins, but nothing could have prepared us for some of the other obstacles we had to overcome over the four-day shoot.

Here are a few highlights:

The morning of the first day a cast member found a squirrel that had managed to get inside a box of pastries on the craft services table and the little bugger refused to leave. After that, every morning that squirrel would show up and steal a danish from the table before we could get everything back into a cabin after breakfast.

On the third day of shooting, many of the actors were unable to get to the set on time due to a brush fire that broke out in the wilderness park where we were filming. Meanwhile the majority of the cast and crew were already inside the park and weren’t being told exactly where the fire was! At the same time, we learned that the actor playing Thor would not be arriving at all, which threatened to derail the whole project. Fortunately, we were able to replace him at the last minute with a crew member who had stage fighting experience and we were able to get caught up with the schedule.

We had several drone-related mishaps while filming, including finding out that the spot we picked for filming a few scenes was located near a field where drone races were being held. Our own drone behaved perfectly for the one planned shot we had for it, but refused to take direction for most of the on-the-fly shots we came up with while filming.

Our set designers insisted that we have a cook-fire pit in one of the interior sets which proved to be quite painful. While setting it up, the heavy cast-iron cauldron fell on one person’s head. Later, during a fight scene on that set, another person literally landed into the mock fire pit while performing a stunt. (Fortunately the iron cauldron didn’t fall that time!)

On paper, the set for Odin’s Throne Room looked amazing with ice-like walls and eerie lighting. In reality, once all the fabric was hung and the lights were put up it looked we were inside a psychedelic curtained shower stall. The decision was quickly made to move Odin to an exterior location instead.

After finding the perfect spot to relocate Odin’s set, we had a problem with the fog machines only being able to keep the eerie atmosphere for about 30 seconds at a time. While on a break to figure out what to do, one crew member noticed that his cigarette smoke drifting in front of the camera created the effect that we were looking for. So for the rest of the filming on that set, we went through several packs of cigarettes with everyone smoking while standing in various places out of frame.

Everything on the dining table on the Loki’s Home set had been previously frozen so it would withstand the heat of lights. During a fight scene an actor got the idea to throw a plate of prop food at his opponent after being pushed back to the dining table. While demonstrating the idea he threw the plate at the wall and a frozen chicken breast flew across the room and hit his opponent directly in the crotch. We had to take a fifteen minute break after that.

I played one of the fighting characters myself and we intentionally scheduled all the fight scenes on the last day because we knew there was a risk of injury on a set that had a concrete floor. Sure enough, I managed to miscalculate during a stunt and landed hard on my left elbow. Knowing that I wouldn’t be able to perform for much longer, we rolled the cameras and I got through the scene one more time giving it everything I had while in an enormous amount of pain. Afterward I took off the Viking-style ring belt I was wearing and fashioned it into a sling for my arm before moving on to the next scene.

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