Sunday, May 17, 2009

Silence in the 48.


It's 4:00 on a beautiful summer day.

I'm barreling down the road in a car that isn't mine, adrenaline pumping, eyes rolling, searching frantically for perfect silence. It's hour 45 of the 48 hour film festival and I haven't really slept in 2 days. We've been filming an apocalyptic tragedy with a relentless, grimy edge, and my mind's a bit frayed.

Our crew of 20 or so has been non-stop, filming under ravaged freeways and in the back lots of our wasteland neighborhood. The shooting morning started with a giant graffiti mural after a sleepless night of writing, painted by bike, manically carefree. The team is well put-together with a clever and thoughtful backbone and the vibe has been positive. But hour 45 has taken its toll.


The warehouse is buzzing with energy and action, handfuls of specialized equipment zipping back and forth, each task executed with skill, from scoring the scene to doling out omelets to the fatigued all-night editors. Rolling into home after the second night at 6 am, I notice our similarity to an efficient drug-running operation and ponder our potential profits.

I don't have a real job, except to hold it all together, a less specialized manifestation of our director's will that gets things done and tries to be everywhere and of service to everybody (or, in Al's words in the red-eyed dawn the night before "the bitch." He won't be forgiven soon). I've hauled gear, people, props; welded, written, illegally painted, climbed, blocked, lit, gripped, edited; scouted for locations and hung lights off a 3-story scaffold.


Now I'm driving due west in the industrial landscape, peeling into the gravel, turning of the car, and pricking up my ears. A bird. Grass rustling. An airplane. No good. There are no birds in the Apocalypse, no cars on the freeway. Time to move on.

I find myself hurtling along the freeway towards Wendover, with only 3 hours until our film must be done. I pull off an exit at random, as the buildings thin and the landscape turns tan and white. I run into Ali, a biker friend, out in the middle of nowhere on a road ride, in a cluster of women on race bikes. "What are you doing here?" she asks. I lean out the window with a delirious smile, shaking my fearsome weapon, the camera, in the air. "45 hours down!" I shout, not bothering to clarify, and skitter off into the dust. While hurtling down a narrow frontage road at 80mph my mind crunches, thinking of the ways I react differently under sleep deprivation, and the value of a life lived in full insane pursuit of the things we assign meaning. I find a rough and jarring path perpendicular away from I-80, so knobby and misshapen that even the jeep has no fun clambering along it. I come to a knurled fence and a row of breaker rocks along the Great Salt Lake. Scraps of human debris and piled rocks over buried unpleasentries make the place feel like a movie set of a more grisly theme, with nobody to be seen.

My ears tune in. Met this time with silence. I clamber over the fence and thrust the camera between two rocks, shielding it from the breeze. I try hard not to breathe, and record 30 seconds of silence. Giggling at the absurdity of it all, I roar back towards the Dada Factory like a cart on a wooden roller coaster, cobbled together out of the illogic of will and fancy that creates a life worth living.



The Dada Factory said...

heh, yea sorry bout that :/

In my defense I have been, and been called the 'bitch' on countless shoot since I started at spyhop 7 years ago. It's just part of the process, I promise:)

Esther said...

You're so good at drawing us into the moment! haha I could feel your delirium. I'm super stoked to see the end result of your 48 hours of work.

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