Improvise, Lesson 1

I was often a “one-man band.” Especially in the early days of Ponderous Productions.  Without a large crew to remind me that my glasses were on the top of my head, I’d often overlook some details.  Some large, some small. Throw in the fact that I enjoy acting and sometimes cast myself in roles, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Not that I’m a bad actor, I think I do pretty well, actually.  However, no matter how
much practice you have, when you try to light, direct, run camera, be PA Knight Watchmenand script supervisor, and a few other roles thrown in there, some things are destined to fall through the cracks.
One particular scene, in 2002’s The Knight Watchmen, I was playing Tom Ellis, a sort of gun-for-hire.  I wore a black shirt under a grey suit.  I rather liked the outfit.  But when I arrived on set and began to prepare the camera, the lights, and help choreograph the scene, I realized that I did not have the black shirt with me.  Crap.

Brett ShootingInstead I had a loud red, yellow, white and black striped shirt that stood out like a green thumb.  The location was rented and we had a small amount of time to shoot a major fight scene.  What was I supposed to do?  A quick survey of the set and I found a can of black spray paint.

I was in a hurry and couldn’t wait too long for it to dry, so I spray painted just the areas I knew would stick out from underneath the grey suit.  The shirt dried while I was choreographing and blocking the scene, and when it came time for me to step in front of the camera, I did so with a slightly wet spray-painted shirt.

When my scene was over, I continued to shoot in the fume-riddled button up monstrosity.  A quick decision was made, I dealt with the situation with the materials I had at hand, and I made it work.


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