Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

May 09 2005


We started filming the laboratory attack scene on Sunday. On Saturday night I had rented a grey VW “urban assault” van from a man on a street corner in one of the shadier parts of the city and drove back to Xindian, spending the better part of an hour trying to fit the behemoth into a tiny parking space near Taiping Temple.

It took far less time the next morning to get out of the space than it took to get into it, and I was able to meet Darrell near his place in Jingmei before driving into the city to the gun shop where we met our commando team, including James. We did some helicopter gunship shots, and Rowan showed up for his first shoot on this project, stealing the show with his maniacal laugh.

After some anxiety over whether Paul’s car would start or not, we loaded up the van, formed a convoy and made our way out to Muzha to Dean’s university, where we hoped to gain entrance to a parking garage for an important scene. We were turned back from the side gate where we’d originally planned to slip past security, and were directed to the main gate, where we were stopped and interrogated. “We just need to drop some things off,” I explained to the guard with an innocent and trustworthy expression on my face to counter the fact that we had several heavily armed, uniformed persons in the vehicle with us. The guard looked a bit confused, but evidently decided asking questions would be more trouble than it was worth and let us through. The commandos in the back hooted in triumph as we drove onto campus.

The first thing we did was to shoot Darrell being shot at the gate. After I rolled camera the first time he removed his glasses, went over and made a little pile of foliage to fall on after being shot. Then the gun of the driver didn’t work, a problem he compounded by leaning his head out of the window and saying “Sorry!” Eventually we got a couple of good takes, though. Darrell fell so convincingly that I thought he’d fallen for real.

The next thing was to gain access to the parkade. Dean and I went to the security booth on the first floor and got the guy to let us in “for an hour or two”. Inside, James and the other commandos set up what they were going to do and went through it several times, while I got shots on our home-made glidecam.

The guys were fantastic. They took it as a real exercise, doing it the way they would for real. After I knew what they were doing I could get the angles I wanted and stay out of their way. Other cast members, including Graham, Jerome, Shirzi and his friend Joey, began to show up as we practiced.

Finally, when we were ready to do the entire, long shot. Jerome drove the van to a mark, commandos poured out, reconned the area, accompanying Dean to his spot in front of the door. It looks great. Well, except for that one time when the back door got stuck, trapping half of the guys inside while Dean looks incredulously at the camera.

After nearly tripping while walking backwards down the adjacent hallway, where we filmed the group walking, etc., we filmed the door-breaking, which involved Dean’s space-age mini jet-engine lighter and a sparkler for the effect of a tiny blow torch.

That done, we proceeded upstairs to the 12th floor, where we did more sneaking, recon, alarm, attacking, shooting and stealth shots. I shot James and Joey as X Directorate guards doing their thing while Dean went on a McDonald’s run. The place was deserted. Dean had just gotten back when I heard Shirzi saying, “Who did that think he was? He was all like, ‘this is a campus, not a film studio’…”

Uh-oh. I didn’t know who Shirzi had been talking to, but it sounded like the guy might become a problem. We kept filming the commandos, trying to get all their stuff done at least so they could go home. They did, and we started with the other actors. At one point a woman who looked like a cleaning lady walked by. “Ni hao?” said Jerome as he rehearsed some lines. But the woman only made a “pshhhh” sound and shook her head in obvious disgust.

We’d gotten about three quarters of the stuff we needed done when the original security guy from downstairs came up and said we’d have to stop. We’d been reported by the indignant guy and/or the lady. They were threatening to call the cops. We tried to explain, but it was no use. After the guy went away we got a couple of quick action shots, but that was it.

Jerome, Graham, Dean and I took James back to the gun shop, and then went to Paul’s building at NTU to see if we could match the set with Graham and Jerome. We tried, but I’m still not sure if it will work. We got good stuff, good enough for now anyway.

The van had to be back in its owner’s hands by nine, so Dean and I drove it back up as it started to rain again. Dean cleaned up everything in the back so that the guy wouldn’t freak out to see us hauling weapons out of his vehicle. After returning to me the NT$500,000 check he made me sign as collateral, he took off, leaving us fending off rats from our luggage next to the corner convenience store.

It was a long, hard day, and my arms ache from all the glidecam work, but we got some really good stuff. Next weekend: the lab itself. That should be a doozy.

posted by Poagao at 4:40 am  

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