Friday, June 03, 2005

More From The Front

MONDAY MAY 23: Today we hauled equipment under two barbed-wire fences to state land behind the Polonia Brothers ancestral home in Ansonia, Pennsylvania. Mark Polonia insisted it was okay but seemed to be keeping his eyes peeled for rangers anyway. This was my first glimpse of D.P. Matt Smith and his low-riding purple van laden with dolly tracks, a jib, and every kind of light setup imaginable, including the low-budget filmmaker's friend the Chinese lantern. People who might scornfully say that the Polonia's movies were all shot with handheld camcorders would come to a reckoning on this day. The authentic costumes and weapons add much, though everyone's shoulders are hunched against the eventual FBI raid, or the appearance of nervous hunters. John Polonia voices his fears that he might have gotten on some unwanted lists by buying Nazi armbands and costumes from casually-perused websites.

Lots of tramping in the woods, with a fog machine providing some spookiness. Mark gives the actors a faceful of leafblower to simulate a "cloud of souls" passing over the troops, and it is amusing to watch people's skin flapping back against their skulls. You sort of come to realize that World War II filmmaking is a lot like the various descriptions of actual battle--long periods of boredom and inactivity spiked with sudden bursts of madness and desperation.

Later we retire to a gravel pit, where I stand down at the bottom and allow Brian Berry and Bob Dennis to lob mock grenades down on me, and I retrieve them take after take. Angling for that "Grenade Wrangler" credit.

Even later we go to John Polonia's basement for some underground stuff, a location seen in more features than any Hollywood backlot. Mark and John decide to scrub a scene where the soldiers accidentally shoot a cat who jumps out in one of those patented scares oft seen in such films. John voices his concern for showing cruelty to animals. Meanwhile, behind him, Jon McBride is pointing out to curious castmembers where he was standing where he was whipped with hooked chains in HOUSE THAT SCREAMED 2, and where Ken VanSant took the machete to the skull in PETER ROTTENTAIL.

Our ragged band returns home late, after about a 14 hour day. Tomorrow, the haunted church.

2 comments:

Dr. Squid said...

"long periods of boredom and inactivity spiked with sudden bursts of madness and desperation."

That is, unless you are in charge. Then your mind is constantly trying to keep track of 100 things, think about what's going on right now and what will be happening next, and tomorrow.

Gary Lumpp said...

"Mark and John decide to scrub a scene where the soldiers accidentally shoot a cat who jumps out in one of those patented scares oft seen in such films."

But what if it was a Nazi cat?