Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Oct 18 2005


Update: Paul’s done another photo essay/commentary page about this shoot.

Due to last-minute script and story discussions, as well as a bout of stomach-related ickiness, I didn’t get the storyboards for the jungle jeep scenes done until Saturday, the day before we shot. I had a couple of performances the night before, so when I got up at 6 a.m. on Sunday morning after only a few hours’ sleep and a slightly queasy stomach, I wasn’t exactly chomping at the bit.

Still, the shoot must go on, so I loaded up my gear and set out to meet the gang in front of Taipei Station, where we sat in stolen chairs at a coffee shop waiting for the others to show up, me trying not to fall asleep. We got seven train tickets to Yangmei, where we would meet Doug, the guy with the jeep, and a friend of his with a car to take us out to the four-wheel-drive-only hills of Guanxi.

The train ride was pleasant but too short for a proper nap as I had to keep an eye out for our station. A couple of people who inexplicably didn’t have seated tickets (we’d bought ours only minutes before the train left) stood over us as we looked through the storyboards, but didn’t have much criticism to offer, instead preferring to bonk us on our heads with the books they were reading. The tuna snacks I’d gotten from 7-Eleven weren’t causing any trouble, which improved my spirits, as well as travelling to a place I’d never been before, which tends to put me in a good mood as well.

The sun was shining when we pulled into Yangmei Station, a good sign. Doug showed up in his black Wrangler and introduced his friend Bob, who was to act in a scene, though I seriously doubted we’d get around to it that day. As usual, we had massively underestimated the time it would take to get everything done.

We piled into the jeep and Bob’s car and set off though the little city, which seemed rather pleasant in the cool, breezy weather. At the edge of town we passed a huge factory that could have been making Saturn V rockets on an assembly line. Pretty soon we were out in the countryside, and Bob had to park his car, while we piled all the equipment in the jeep. We then walked up the hill to where we’d be filming.

The area was grassy and supposedly full of snakes, but it was pretty enough and wild enough to be a good stand in for our location in North Korea. I did the sniper’s-view shots from up on a little hillock first before going down and getting ambush shots around the jeep. Josh did a nice little jump out of the jeep that’s going to look good on film, and Maurice did the getting-shot-shooting-shot several times. The squib, as usual, didn’t quite work, and we ended up getting more than a little fake blood on the jeep seats by the time we got the shots.

Josh was learning how to drive the jeep on relatively smooth surfaces, which helped a lot. Maurice was apparently quite attached to his pith helmet, on loan from Rowan, as it did an excellent job of keeping the sun out. Dean had made sandwiches for lunch, and he, Bob and Doug sat on Doug’s collapsibly chairs and chatted while we shot. We’re going to be looping everything anyway, so the sound wasn’t really a priority. I got some handheld shots, and then we headed up the mountain for another location.

We hadn’t seen a soul all day, but in the afternoon a bunch of four-wheel-drives began to grind past in both directions, making shooting difficult, especially when one of them began to teeter, stuck on a precupice while the cast and crew stared. Most of the vehicles were guys with families inside, most likely trying to justify their purchases of the cars.

The sun was approaching the horizon when we filmed the last scene we could film, which takes place earlier, but the timing and lighting are going to be tricky in editing, and dusk could stand in for dawn in some cases. I bolted the camera to the jeep’s window and stood on the running board as Josh drove back and forth for interior dialogue between Josh and April and sometimes Maurice.

At last the light failed. I’d used up all my batteries in any case, so we couldn’t have done too much more filming even if we’d wanted to. We packed up and went back down the mountain, Doug showing us a few interesting cliffs and rocks on the way down in the jeep. Doug is not the kind of guy you dare to do things, because he’ll do anything, I think. At one point Paul had his camera out as we were approaching a cliff, and Doug said, “Here, take a picture of this!” Darrell and I, both in the jeep, glared at Paul as we plunged down the cliff, the jeep going alarmingly sideways at times. We also ran over a snake that may or may not have died earlier.

On the way back to the train station we stopped by Doug’s quiet suburban house to put the roof back on the jeep and wash it off a little. It was a little disconcerting, because although the houses were more or less laid out in an American fashion, they were all tiled concrete monstrosities done with purely Taiwanese aesthetics in mind.

It was rather late by the time we got back to Taipei, and having skipped dinner Dean, Paul, Darrell, Maurice and I went to Alleycat’s for dinner. It was good, but I kept dozing off, so we didn’t stay too long. Bed sure felt good that night.

Next weekend we have castle catacomb shooting scheduled. Looking forward to discovering all the things that can go wrong with that.

posted by Poagao at 3:25 pm  


  1. It was a great day of shooting and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Sad we did not get my scenes done though. It was nice meeting all. Everyone is very nice and my kids are telling everyone now about “the guy who got shot”, Maurice. Here’s how they describe you all. The REAL tall(even taller than dad) guy, the cool guy(with no hair), the pretty lady, the guy like uncle Bob, the other cool guy with a “something” on his head, and the guy with the beard. I think you all can figure out who is whom. It is cool to see my jeep up in lights. Thanks for a very interesting day and I am looking forward to do it again.

    Comment by Doug — October 19, 2005 @ 5:45 pm

  2. Thanks for your comments, Doug. We all really appreciate your help and enjoy your company. I look forward to next time.

    -The Guy With Something On His Head

    Comment by TC — October 20, 2005 @ 2:53 am

  3. Crap. I live next door in Longtan. Sold my jeep for a 800cc 4×4 van.. :(. Doug if you ever want to head back up there to fart around hit me at turkey_dinner@hotmail

    Sounds like a great time, guys.


    Comment by Anonymous — November 16, 2006 @ 3:04 am

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