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WORST SHOOT EVER


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#1 Zac Halberd

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 08:08 PM

Just wanted to know if anyone had any good stories about shoots from hell. I got some stories, but I'd like to hear others first.
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#2 Andrew Koch

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 09:50 PM

The worst shoot ever was a short I did just 3 months after finishing filmschool. I was hired as a last minute replacement because the Cinematographer had to drop out. The crew had already been hired before I arrived. On the day of the shoot the director told me, "oh by the way, some crew can't make it"
"which ones" I asked. "All of them," her replied. The day exteriors were in the desert with 114 degree heat with just two water bottles for the whole day. I set up the the overhead frames myself, secured and safetied them myself. Pulled my own focus. We had about 5 hour turnarounds. For the night exteriors, I hooked up the genny, ran the cable, placed and focused the lights, operated the camera, and pulled focus myself. I had to talk the director out of doing a dolly shot because I felt it was unreasonable for me to push the dolly, operate the camera and pull focus all at the same time by myself. The AD kept wondering why each setup took an hour or more.

The worst part was that we were never fed on the shoot. I was not sufficiently compensated for gas. The locations were so far, it cost me 120 in gas for one day. This is a problem considering that I was only making 100 a day. I was essentially paying to work on this film.

When I tell this story to people, they usually say "why didn't you walk. you would have had every right to." The answer is that yes I probably should have, but I was super naive and extra eager to work. I was afraid that I would be unprofessional for leaving, but you live and you learn.

Some people who have been in the business for a while like to tell newbies "you have to pay your dues. Shoots like these just come with the territory. You'll have to deal with these kind of shoots when starting out. Just suck it up and deal with it" I used to think that they were right, but then I realized something. These people who seem to know it all are on the same lousy shoots as me." They have done nothing to improve their situation. As I started to get better jobs and work with better people, I realized that even someone starting out needs to have standards of what is acceptable. In the very beginning, working for free can be a great way to get connections and experience, but that does not mean they should tolerate not getting fed, not having drinking water, not having a break on a 16+ hour day. No one should tolerate working on a set that is unsafe, period. Our life and health is worth something. As professionals, our work is worth something, and at a certain point, it deserves some monetary compensation.

Ok now I can get off my soapbox.
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#3 Zac Halberd

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 10:30 PM

fu**ing awesome story. I laughed about the AD asking why it was taking so long. lol. It's even got a moral at the end.
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#4 Brad Grimmett

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Posted 09 March 2008 - 07:19 AM

Andrew, what did you guys need an AD for when there was only one person on the crew?! Silliness.
I've been on my share of hellish jobs. I try my best to just think about what I gained from the experience (doesn't always work) and forget about all the bad parts of the job (doesn't always work). You can learn from every experience, even if it's just learning the signs of when you should just say no and walk away, which is important.
I like reading funny stories about hellish shoots, as most of us do, but writing about them brings back too many memories that I'd rather just forget.
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#5 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 10 March 2008 - 08:35 AM

My worst shoot was with a former friend of mine. Hired me to be DP, but had his former DP there with him. Basically, the former DP got int he way of everything I was trying to do and kept the director distracted while the crew was running 'round trying to rig lighting 2 people were saying. Whats worst is this was a friend of mine [note the past tense].
After awhile of that I just said screw it, and went over and basically gaffed. Nice to say the only shots that looked "good," were the ones I was left alone with.
What was worse was that, as it was a friend, I shelled out some $$ to help him with his project. . . I still haven't gotten it back, after 7 months.
Needless to say, I don't work with them anymore, nor associate. It's one of the few bridges I've tried my damnedest to burn.
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#6 Hal Smith

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Posted 10 March 2008 - 11:45 AM

.....What was worse was that, as it was a friend, I shelled out some $$ to help him with his project. . . I still haven't gotten it back, after 7 months........

At least they'll never ask you to work for them again. Sometimes money not collected is the best money you'll ever earn - it keeps the creeps at a distance - forever. ;)
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#7 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 10 March 2008 - 11:48 AM

Now if only my land-lord would agree with that ;-)
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#8 Daniel Smith

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Posted 10 March 2008 - 12:15 PM

I'm directing/DPing a bluescreen film on the 26th, in 3 hours.

This should be interesting.

I'm hoping whoevers using the studio before will bugger off a bit earlier, otherwise this could go really wrong.

Could end being a bluescream film... (oh dear..)
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#9 Vincent Sweeney

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Posted 10 March 2008 - 03:52 PM

Ok-

"If only I knew then what I know now"

Was hired to shoot a micro budget "period" feature. Bad idea to begin with.

Went to the main set location that was being built to look like a castle interior. Was going to shoot a couple of test shots. They hadn't even started building them yet, they were just talking about building it. Co-producer drove me back home. An hour each way.

Got there first day 7:00am. Set still wasn't finished. I sat in a 40 degree concrete room for 10 hours, waiting. Shot that night for 3 hours till midnight. No gaffer that day and none ever came.

Next day arrived same time. Some of the props we needed were, for some reason, in a city that was 3 hours away. Plenty of time for me to build up two china balls and sit. 8 hours later we started shooting till about 2am.

Back at 8am next day. Got 3 hours of sleep which is common on these types of gigs but, we didnt shoot this day for 7 more hours. I could have slept the whole time. Wasn't happy.

Next day the location was another hour and a half further. Was suppose to shoot a horse with actor riding through fields and hills, etc. Got there and saw a farmhouse with a one acre yard with other houses next door. I said "where are the fields"? I was told "this is it". I said "Uhh". So of course I angled up on the horse and put tree tops behind him. So the horse acted up and they had to get another one. I think we sat around for 5 hours till the first actual shot. Director showed up an hour late by the way. Again, I could have slept more. Later that horse got upset so I changed the last shot to a close up of the actor and told him to stand on a foot stool and shake a little and lean out of the shot like he was on a horse that was turning away from the camera.

Was told after the horse shot that we needed to do the Knight's fight scene really quickly. I had about 1 hour of light left. In the middle of shooting that, the director started dealing with some girl that he was sleeping around with. He put her in costume and had her in the background and she kept looking at the camera. I told him "she keeps looking into the lens". He said "oh.. ok". (??)

Next day was suppose to shoot in a big nature park for another fight scene. Turns out they didn't actually get permission to shoot there. Ended up in the director's back yard, doing the same thing I did for the horse shots but having to add French Reversals to the fight scene because there were houses on a hill to one side of us. Try keeping that straight in your head!

Next several days were like this. At least the co-producer was taking care of me with food.

One day came where I was told that the (real) castle we were to shoot in wasn't actually secured yet. Someone was supposed to have done something called "paperwork" and were to pay them so we could shoot there. As you can guess, they never even turned in the paperwork or money.

After this the co-producer that bought me into it said "we are going to turn this into a trailer instead of the feature itself". So we quit any further shooting.

Far behind me now. Never again.
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#10 Zac Halberd

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Posted 11 March 2008 - 10:44 AM

Filmed in a church once on the really rough side of Glasgow. We had druggies stealing our poop out of the kit vans in broad daylight. They also stole a bit of the barbeque that we were using to prep the grub. You can steal my follow focus and I can pull off the barrel, but if you steal my fu**ing lunch, I'll kill you.

Our producer gave the church's groundskeeper a bottle of scotch in return for his letting us in the place for a few hours. By 11am, he had downed the whole bottle and passed out, cracking his head on the church pew, and shitting his trousers. The whole place reeked of faeces.

One of the flats on an indoor set collapsed on me once whilst filming with a glidecam. Injury wasn't too bad. We just had to keep the camera pointed in one direction the rest of the shoot. lol

Shot a western once, and one of the actors in a scene got excited and shoved the six shooter into the mouth of another actor. Director yelled 'CUT! Brilliant take guys. Lets move on...' I asked to see the pistol after the take, and it still had blanks in it. Very awkward moment. That was the same shoot where the actor was thrown off the horse, and the horse then proceeded to kareen off the side of a hill nose first plowing a ditch into the ground with it's head, bleeding profusely.

The worst ever though, was a short I worked for in London with an Nigerian director. It was her first time directing, AND she was the lead role. S16mm. She didn't speak English very well.The 1st AD was from Hong Kong, and didn't speak English either. Noone knew what the hell was going on. The last night of production, we were supposed to film in a public park in Hackney (kinda rough area of London), but the producer hadn't squared away the location yet. We arrived, and were told we had to climb a fence in pitch black darkness. Half the crew called it a day, but being a dumb-ass, I carried on just wanting to finish with these people. The Director and the Cinematographer (who was a great guy) ended up having a MASSIVE fight in front of the crew, and he said he was ashamed of himself letting his crew hop the fence in the first place. Big bust up, people didn't show up for pickups, and I don't know if it was ever finished as I got the hell out of there.
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#11 giap vu

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Posted 16 June 2008 - 08:51 AM

Filmed in a church once on the really rough side of Glasgow. We had druggies stealing our poop out of the kit vans in broad daylight. They also stole a bit of the barbeque that we were using to prep the grub. You can steal my follow focus and I can pull off the barrel, but if you steal my fu**ing lunch, I'll kill you.

Our producer gave the church's groundskeeper a bottle of scotch in return for his letting us in the place for a few hours. By 11am, he had downed the whole bottle and passed out, cracking his head on the church pew, and shitting his trousers. The whole place reeked of faeces.

One of the flats on an indoor set collapsed on me once whilst filming with a glidecam. Injury wasn't too bad. We just had to keep the camera pointed in one direction the rest of the shoot. lol

Shot a western once, and one of the actors in a scene got excited and shoved the six shooter into the mouth of another actor. Director yelled 'CUT! Brilliant take guys. Lets move on...' I asked to see the pistol after the take, and it still had blanks in it. Very awkward moment. That was the same shoot where the actor was thrown off the horse, and the horse then proceeded to kareen off the side of a hill nose first plowing a ditch into the ground with it's head, bleeding profusely.

The worst ever though, was a short I worked for in London with an Nigerian director. It was her first time directing, AND she was the lead role. S16mm. She didn't speak English very well.The 1st AD was from Hong Kong, and didn't speak English either. Noone knew what the hell was going on. The last night of production, we were supposed to film in a public park in Hackney (kinda rough area of London), but the producer hadn't squared away the location yet. We arrived, and were told we had to climb a fence in pitch black darkness. Half the crew called it a day, but being a dumb-ass, I carried on just wanting to finish with these people. The Director and the Cinematographer (who was a great guy) ended up having a MASSIVE fight in front of the crew, and he said he was ashamed of himself letting his crew hop the fence in the first place. Big bust up, people didn't show up for pickups, and I don't know if it was ever finished as I got the hell out of there.


interesting...Nigeria was colonized by the United Kingdom but she coud'nt speak English although the official language is English?
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#12 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 16 June 2008 - 09:32 PM

I've made a couple of pretty bad mistakes which I have chosen to bury deep in my subconscious. The only thing that can coax them out would probably either be a heavy dose of some sort of narcotic, or perhaps good old-fashioned torture.

That being said, I always think of the basic human needs that I learned about in my required Psychology class at school. And I think of the moments in which all of them were violated, all at once. And when I think of those moments, I would have to say that the worst experience I ever had on set, was in some obscure location in New Jersey, at 3 in the morning, in the dead of winter, in the snow. So we're all tired, cold, and hungry...that's a given. Hour 14, of course. The camera was chillin on the ground on a high-hat. A Panaflex Gold fully souped with 1000' in the trunk and a 4:1 on the front.

I went to pick it up and then suddenly, gravity betrayed me...or perhaps worked too well...and I fell, flat on my back, on a patch of ice, with 75 pounds of Panalove right on top of me.

Fun times. ;)
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#13 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 16 June 2008 - 11:00 PM

I went to pick it up and then suddenly, gravity betrayed me...or perhaps worked too well...and I fell, flat on my back, on a patch of ice, with 75 pounds of Panalove right on top of me.


How long did you lay there to take in the "Oh f***" moment?
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#14 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 16 June 2008 - 11:47 PM

Here's the cute part, the gaffer came along and picked me up...I guess chivalry's not dead because we started dating shortly after that.

Awwww.

Then we broke up after a few months because we were both working too much.

Wah wah wah....

So anyway, I lay there for about a minute. I had some interesting bruises. The camera was fine, go figure....
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#15 Jonathan Bowerbank

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 02:26 AM

Here's the cute part, the gaffer came along and picked me up...I guess chivalry's not dead because we started dating shortly after that.


Ha ha, it's rare that we have "cute moments" on this forum.

I would have lied there as well, knowing the cam was safe in my arms.
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#16 Johnathan Holmes

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Posted 17 June 2008 - 02:57 AM

Here's the cute part, the gaffer came along and picked me up...I guess chivalry's not dead because we started dating shortly after that.


Roddewig?!?
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#17 Annie Wengenroth

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Posted 19 June 2008 - 10:19 PM

No, Andrew Roddewig and I have a completely platonic relationship in which I make fun of his bright yellow raincoat.
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#18 Johnathan Holmes

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Posted 21 June 2008 - 11:23 PM

Yes, I remember him wearing that during his last 4th of July BBQ. I think you were there too.
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#19 Jamie Metzger

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Posted 22 June 2008 - 12:53 AM

just got off a $5 million feature (my biggest...). I help a friend a few days later on a student short (I do not do these anymore). Middle of nowhere. Freezing cold, windy as hell and in a dried up crop field. Didn't get a chance to prep camera (I was 1sting), so I had to build on set with dirt blowing into every hole the camera had. Crew was me, DP, and my 2nd. Director expected us to set up shiny boards and negative fill after we got camera setup. First shot of the day, the director complains that I am taking too long (bear in mind I just finished building the camera) and said that "if I can't handle pressure, I shouldn't be in this business!"

I should have strangled him, and made every shot soft. He didn't know that I had worked on over 140 productions prior to his. I wanted to leave so bad, the shoot got worse. Lunch sucked. Someone lost $500 in cash....??? Sand was blown in everyone's eyes. Every comment he made was ignorant and very telling of his inexperience.

I stayed because I didn't drive to the 2 hour away location, and because I was there to help my friend (DP). I didn't speak to the director the rest of the 2 days. Everything he said was contradictory and condescending....I kick myself for staying and helping him make a movie that he didn't deserve.

I'm sure some people on this forum know this story; don't comment ;)
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#20 Max Jacoby

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Posted 22 June 2008 - 03:14 AM

I've been on some shoots that were not very nice while on them, but in retrospect proved to be quite funny. Like that film with Dolph Lundgren...

Worked once with an idiotic Italian steadicam operator who didn't like me (I didn't kiss his ass which he expected everyone to do), that wasn't too pleasant, although what hurts more is that the production company went bankrupt and still owe me and a lot of people money, money which we'll never see.
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