Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Aug 17 2005


When TC and I first started thinking about doing a sequel to Lady X, we toyed with the idea of bringing back characters and actors from some of the other entries in the contest, not only for continuity�s sake, but as an experiment in �international amateur film collaboration,� if you can call it that. I really liked the idea: the Lady X series had created a whole new universe, and we wanted to explore that universe a bit more, and honor the hard work by all the other filmmakers.

In the end, we decided to abandon the idea, as it seemed too difficult a logistical task to enlist the aid of production companies around the world and coordinate their contributions to a cohesive story. As it is, our project is already a logistical Gordian knot, so reluctantly, I put the idea out of my mind. That�s why I was ecstatic when the opportunity arose to work with one of the other Lady X filmmakers, John Lee from Washington DC.

John�s episode, number 25, took place on the Hill and did a magnificent job of highlighting the locations. It also created a wonderful new character; a bad-ass assassin who always wears a USS Nimitz ball cap.

I had to be in Washington on a trip anyway, and decided to email John to see if he was amenable to helping us out on our project. I was overjoyed when he agreed, and doubly so when he told me that Mike Gorman, the actor who played Nimitz in the original, was likewise keen on the idea.

Over the next few weeks, I kept in contact with John via email and together we planned out our day of shooting. In the meantime, John was kind enough to get some test footage of the DC area, as well as footage we plan to use as establishing shots for scenes we filmed in Taipei that take place in DC.

After arriving stateside, I met John on Friday night and, along with my buddy Alex and his friend Geoff, got some nighttime establishing shots of the Capitol building, the Washington monument, the beautiful new World War II memorial and the Canadian Embassy, which we want to use as the exterior for our X-Directorate headquarters. Afterwards, we even had time to take in the Ballet.

John, Alex, Mike and I met up the following day and headed for the mall to film our scene. The movie gods were smiling on us, and gave us a gorgeous day on which to shoot. To warm up and ease us back into it, John decided to start off at a point halfway through the scene, as Nimitz follows Barnes into the courtyard of the Ronald Reagan building. We did several takes of this as Alex, who wasn�t in these shots, learned that when making movies, it�s often �stand by to stand by.�

Because tripods and sound equipment generally aren�t allowed around the DC monuments, I decided to do the scene without dialogue, to serve as a backdrop for some typical spy-movie music that we all love so much. We knew that Barnes, after receiving a handoff of a document from another secret agent (Alex) would be followed by Nimitz, but we didn�t know how to end the sequence in a way that the audience would find satisfying.

Fortunately, the movie gods made their presence known again and provided us with the perfect ending: As Nimitz follows the seemingly unsuspecting Barnes down an escalator into the Metro, Barnes, crouching on the �up� escalator, passes right by his stalker. Fortunately, we got it in one take: As soon as we�d done it, the �down� escalator mysteriously stopped running.

From here we went to the mall to film the beginning of the sequence, and Alex was finally in play. He just looks like a cop, so I was delighted he agreed to play our mysterious contact. After introducing his character and mine, we completed the handoff on a park bench. There was some sort of jamboree on, and the place was lousy with boy scouts, so no doubt there will be a few of them in our final edit.

After Barnes gets his hands on the document, he leaves the mall, passing an innocent-looking Nimitz as he does so. Naturally, Nimitz is in tow, and the hunt begins.

It won�t be the longest sequence in our film, and there are still compatibility problems to solve with the footage, but this was definitely one of the most enjoyable moviemaking experiences I�ve had so far. Not only did I get to do a scene with my old friend Alex, but working with John and Mike was a real delight, and their enthusiasm for helping us out reminded me what a special project we are all working on.

posted by Poagao at 6:41 pm  

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