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Shooting Through Huge F*** Ups, Mistakes and Disasters


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Hey guys!!

I was thinking it would be fun and even therapeutic to have a thread about production disasters – war stories about our own mistakes as well as those of others (feel free to omit names to protect the innocent) that have been embarrassing, tragic, etc.

It’s fun because we have such a limited camaraderie in our little filmmaking tribe and we can all relate to each other, and also, of course, this is how we learn~! 

I find that when these things happen, and I say, “I’ll laugh about this one day”, that’s usually the case, but it might literally take years for that day to come. Here’s an example…

Once upon a time I was doing a photo shoot with a midget wearing prosthetic makeup. I designed the makeup, built it, and worked for months on it with another artist. Some talent was flown in. Makeup, photographer, lighting, etc.

At the time I was living in a big loft/industrial space in downtown LA, so we did the shoot at my place. And of course, being a good producer and host, I had a plethora of snacks representing crafty.

Along with all the food, juice and sodas, I got a 12 pack of beer for my friends to enjoy if they wanted to hang around for a minute AFTER THE SHOOT. Naturally I put that beer in my fridge with everything else.

As things were getting set up and Bob* (*name changed to protect his precious professional reputation) the midget was getting his makeup applied, I noticed that the lil guy was sitting on his stool sipping a beer. “Ah, he’s having a beer,” I thought. “Long makeup process. Enjoy.”

Sometime later, after hours of makeup being applied, I noticed Bob going to the fridge for another beer. I said, “Hey Bob, I was saving those for later, but I can get some more, do you think I should?”

Bob slurred, “Yeah, this is almost gone,” and held up a box formerly containing 12 beers, a box that was nearly empty.

It was at this point my friends, that reality started to melt just a little bit. The calamity became apparent. I immediately started thinking, “I’ll just do it again, I’ll do this whole shoot again…” Things started getting a little visually trippy despite my sobriety, think Fear and Loathing.

Bob was completely, absolutely plastered. He was literally falling off his stool drunk. My friend the makeup artist persisted as Bob began fussing like a child. “MY WIFE…WHERE’S MY WIFE?” he howled.

“Your wife is in Chicago, Bob. That’s where you live.”

Then the pizza arrived. Bob was hungry. He sat down on my couch and proceeded to eat half a pizza AS WELL AS HALF THE PROSTHETIC MAKEUP FROM HIS FACE. I was in awe.

Things did not get any better from there, but everyone on my crew reacted to this hot mess like a champion, they all hung in there for me, and after a ton of work in Photoshop that I should’ve never had to do........ I got images that were pretty close to what I’d originally wanted.

I can laugh about this now, but this is the kind of shit that they don’t teach you in art school. Expect the unexpected. Be aware of variables you can’t control. Limit them. It’s become a mantra.

HERE’S ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF ME SCREWING UP:

One time earlier this year I was shooting some personal stills on my 5d3 with my sunglasses on, cuz I’m so good at photography that I can’t be bothered to take them off at 9am, and I completely fucked up the settings and a bunch of the exposures were ruined. I’ve never done that with a digital camera in my life and that happened this year, in 2017. Thank God this account is anonymous


Wow, that WAS therapeutic, I feel great now~!

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When I was 17 I was making a short film, but left the camera rolling after a take, and forgot I didn't actually hit the record button again to stop recording. So naturally I hit that record button at the beginning of the next shot. I ended up with a bunch of behind the scenes footage instead of actual movie footage. Luckily this was just a slapped together teenage movie and not something serious.

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The year was 1999. Under Sicilian mob threats because of the plot -- a true story to be told... a DAT tape lost. Hundreds of thousands lost. The major credit card had about 300 bucks of remaining limit. Flights to pay. Weeks of shooting to repeat for direct sound and dialogue. Script re-written with Marco Tullio Giordana on the purpose in order to fit the Portuguese actress (Ana Moreira) casted for the lead female character had to be reduced. And the character had to be cut off. The actress had no role anymore for her contribution and ours as co-producer despite the hard work and participation in the movie as such, after never ending hours of working time. I went to hospital with heart arrhythmia (my 1st experience with Inderal) following two nights and days with absolute no rest for the weary.

In the end, the movie is still considered one of the major hits of recent Italian cinema (won five awards in Venice BTW, nominated for the Golden Globes, USA and so on) and helped to launch both Marco Tullio and Lo Cascio careers in their next collaboration together La Meglio Gioventù / The Best of Youth, an epic of 2003 all Italians easily recognise as the History of the second half of their XX century.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0238891/

 

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1 hour ago, Emanuel said:

The year was 1999. Under Sicilian mob threats because of the plot -- a true story to be told... a DAT tape lost. Hundreds of thousands lost. The major credit card had about 300 bucks of remaining limit. Flights to pay. Weeks of shooting to repeat for direct sound and dialogue. Script re-written with Marco Tullio Giordana on the purpose in order to fit the Portuguese actress (Ana Moreira) casted for the lead female character had to be reduced. And the character had to be cut off. The actress had no role anymore for her contribution and ours as co-producer despite the hard work and participation in the movie as such, after never ending hours of working time. I went to hospital with heart arrhythmia (my 1st experience with Inderal) following two nights and days with absolute no rest for the weary.

In the end, the movie is still considered one of the major hits of recent Italian cinema (won five awards in Venice BTW, nominated for the Golden Globes, USA and so on) and helped to launch both Marco Tullio and Lo Cascio careers in their next collaboration together La Meglio Gioventù / The Best of Youth, an epic of 2003 all Italians easily recognise as the History of the second half of their XX century.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0238891/

 

I can't imagine anything much more harrowing than that.

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Not sure if this stands up to your guys's stories (those are hardcore) - but when I was shooting one of my first documentaries (camera and director), we spent a fair bit of time setting up for the biggest interview we had on the project (most famous name). All is going well, talent is responding perfectly to the questions and the shot looks lovely.

Anyway, it turns out that the lighting guy had, for some reason, skipped lunch that day, and since this was before LED lighting, the heat from the lamps got to him. He fainted taking out a red head, which then fell in super slow motion right towards the talent's face. Luckily, he dived out the way and the light barely missed him. Thank god there was no burns! There was a broken light, a hot bulb scattered across the floor though, not to mention the pile of human to my right wondering why he's on the floor and everyone's looking at him. - He was fine, didn't have any bruises or anything, and we got him a chocolate bar asap for those sugar levels.

Of course, we called it a wrap, even if we did set everything up again, the tone would have been completely different, and we'd been rolling for long enough for what we needed. 

That was about 7 years ago now. I still chow down on my way to any location to make sure I'm well fed. There's also always a fresh bottle of water and some chocolate in my bag for those emergencies.

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My most (very) recent one was shooting an entire goal celebration sequence on the 'grab camera' (basically a backup with a wide on it that we have on the floor in case of crowd/arty/players coming over the ad board shot opportunities) of probably 40 frames of the scorer deliriously celebrating a vital goal right into the lens and then discovering I had no memory card in it.

No, really.

I've had a few mishaps with long lenses in the heat of battle.

One being falling down a grass embankment at the Le Mans 24 hour race while carrying a Sigma 300-800 over my shoulder and tearing my shoulder ligaments. It was hour 1 of the race so I had another 23 of shooting to go in excruciating pain. The residual damage from that is the reason for my pro mirrorless experiments.

Another was spinning a Nikon 400mm f2.8 AF-I on a monopod from behind my shoulder (we have them pointing backwards rested into the shoulder for quick access) a little too fast and hitting myself on the side of the head with it. The reason I quote the full name of that lens is that its the heaviest 400 f2.8 that Nikon have ever made (just under 7kg) so it was quite a knock. 

Being hit with long lenses is quite an occupational hazard though in big games when we are so bunched together but thankfully most people have got the more modern sub 4kg varieties!

I could write a good few thousand words recounting my mishaps while shooting the Tour de France, which would include but not be limited to, a head on collision in a motorhome on a mountain, being punched by a police officer, being hit by collapsing metalwork when a team coach crashed into the finish line, having a fight with a farmer who was trying to steal my tripod and the time I was running really late and was waved through a checkpoint by a steward only to see the entire field bearing down on me in my rear view mirror as we hurtled towards the finish line.

I have also routinely forgot things.

Like batteries, monopods, remote triggers, memory cards.

And that I'd taken two lenses up to the very back row of the Nou Camp to do a wide stadium shot, meaning that someone got a very nice gift of a fisheye when they took their seat for the game a few hours later.

In my defence for all these mishaps, it is a very frantic and pressured working environment and things like this are inevitable.

Especially when you are as incompetent and accident prone as me ;)

 

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On 8/30/2017 at 2:34 AM, Anaconda_ said:

He fainted taking out a red head, which then fell in super slow motion right towards the talent's face

omg im gonna have bad dreams about a red head burning my face off

23 hours ago, BTM_Pix said:

[a great post]

amazing. stuff like this honestly makes me feel better about myself bc youre sooo smart. btw just wondering – when were you shooting the tour de france? i read tyler hamiltons book about lance lol

 

>>> OOOO! I thought of ANOTHER refrigerator related incident: one time an actor was getting some ice out of the freezer above a fridge at the studio we were shooting at and the freezer was stuck a little bit and when she gave it a pull she managed to hit herself in the face with the freezer door causing immediate swelling and what turned into a black eye

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On 8/30/2017 at 10:45 PM, BTM_Pix said:

I could write a good few thousand words recounting my mishaps while shooting the Tour de France, which would include but not be limited to, a head on collision in a motorhome on a mountain, being punched by a police officer, being hit by collapsing metalwork when a team coach crashed into the finish line, having a fight with a farmer who was trying to steal my tripod and the time I was running really late and was waved through a checkpoint by a steward only to see the entire field bearing down on me in my rear view mirror as we hurtled towards the finish line.

 

I read that, and I'm very jealous of you! I'm a big fan of the TdF

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1 hour ago, kaylee said:

 

amazing. stuff like this honestly makes me feel better about myself bc youre sooo smart. btw just wondering – when were you shooting the tour de france? i read tyler hamiltons book about lance lol

Haha.....if I was that smart I would've accepted that my Mr. Bean demeanour wasn't conducive to being out and about in public wielding heavy equipment !

At least I and the newspaper buying public get to have souvenirs of the mishaps though such as (top left to bottom right) - Apologies for the low res but they're just grabs off the agencies preview page.

incidents.thumb.jpg.fffa761c1ca96b9557ce9cd19620173b.jpg

  • "The road I crashed the motorhome on"
  • "The last shot the camera on the tripod took before the farmer tried to steal the tripod"
  • "The last shot taken with my Samyang 8mm fisheye before I gifted it to a fan"
  • "The shot taken with my remote camera actually in motion, spinning backwards after being kicked by a police motorcyclist"

I did a few stages of Lance's ill advised comeback Tour but only started covering it more comprehensively from 2012 onwards as there became a market for it in the UK when all of our curiously asthmatic British riders started to win it.

10 minutes ago, IronFilm said:

I read that, and I'm very jealous of you! I'm a big fan of the TdF

So am I.

Unfortunately, its not a very big fan of me ;)

 

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dropped a medium format camera off the top of some step ladders as I fell off on my first major ad campaign for a big london agency - was proud as i got up off the floor still holding the grip - thinking I;d saved the day - except there was no Pentax 6X7 attached. It had snapped off and fallen into a crowd ! Luckily the camera missed the people !

 And then there was the time I had a winebago burn down to the ground on a re-shoot day ie a weather day that had to be paid out of our pockets. Mmmmmm then there was a time my camera shutter failed - and only new until getting the film back from the lab. I re shot the whole job again without the agency knowing it..... which involved models - h&m - styling and a huge fake Henry Moore Sculpture !!

 

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Great thread idea

A few years back we had a shoot where the drone got stuck in a tree. After a few seconds of thrashing it, the drone slipped out and fell hard 20 feet to the pavement, slicing someone trying to catch it. He was bandaged and luckily we had parts on hand to repair and get it back up in the air.

This all happened right in front of the paying client as he had happened to be on the shoot that day to see the drone. Pretty awkward.

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This is a "Shit happens & Bad Luck Comes in Threes" story:

So it's my 2nd day working on a big external production at the BBC (we're filming in the Ballroom of a hotel - lovely wooden floor etc..) & the Director is going through the Health & Safety speech. Just as she is getting to "What to do in case of a fire..." someone shouts FIRE! Everyone laughs, but the guy who shouted isn't & is wildly pointing to an alcove where a light transformer is actually on fire & has started to set the curtains a blaze. He proceeds to run around like a headless chicken - looking for a fire extinguisher, which has been carefully placed behind the transformer that has gone up in flames. Everyone is rooted to the spot - well we hadn't been told what to do in case of a fire yet! The fire alarm goes off, the hotel's fuses blow & someone does arrive with an extinguisher to put the transformer out of it's misery.

It's 7:30 am on a Sunday morning & the whole hotel has to be evacuated - none of the paying guests are too pleased! Well the damage is minimal, we get back in & filming is delayed.

The production is one where people bring their treasures in to be valued (not the Antiques Roadshow) & we are expecting about 1000+ people to turn up during the day (final figure was just over 1600). Normally, we'd get them to queue up in the road & into the venue. Well the heavens open up & it's starts to rain like its the monsoon season! We get people indoors & snake them aroung every available inch of the hotel - they're soaked (to the skin), not happy at all but we get them teas/coffees & that helps a little (well more like applying a plaster to a gapping wound).

Well, bad luck comes in threes & about halfway through the day a riot breaks out! People are wet, cold & not really happy that they have to wait for 3hrs in a queue - so about 300 people decide to charge up the main stairs, in an attempt to get seen quicker. All I remember is standing at the top of the stairs with my arm stretched out - in the universal language of a portable stop sign. I close my eyes & expect to get trampled under foot. When I reopen my eyes, I'm alive & surveying the angry hoard in front of me - they aren't happy, not one little bit. Some quick talking & the offer of free Teas/Coffees & Cake seems to do the trick - British people really are a sucker for Tea/Coffee & cake, especially if it's free!

There's something about mentioning Tea that changes things in people, like it's a magical healing potion. Well it's not really - they're still cold, wet through & will have to wait 3hrs. But hey! They're here & might get on TV - well maybe...probably not...& if they do it'll be very brief!

The day started at 6am & filming didn't finish until 8pm....

Anyway, shit happens & all you need to survive is to keep a cool head and have lots of tea on hand, maybe!

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On 8/31/2017 at 11:32 PM, BTM_Pix said:

I did a few stages of Lance's ill advised comeback Tour but only started covering it more comprehensively from 2012 onwards as there became a market for it in the UK when all of our curiously asthmatic British riders started to win it.

Haha! I feel you want to say more on this....

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3 hours ago, IronFilm said:

Haha! I feel you want to say more on this....

There is an expose on French TV this evening regarding wheels, magnets, batteries and the less than accurate device the UCI use to detect motor doping that might make a few people twitchy.....

 

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That is some pretty neat construction. The iPad is probably just using compass to detect magnetic field of the permanent magnets in the motor, and as it's a very strong field you don't really need an accurate tool anyway, you can see it saturate the sensor almost instantly. The twichy part is they don't seem to know where the sensor is located or what it does.

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