by Madeline Laughs
A long time ago, in a land far away, my friend Steve and I had a 3AM call time to be on set. The vehicle was made for television, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, and I was day playing as a master scenic.
That morning I spent on my knees on a cobblestone street painting the
reflective tape that marked parking spots. Since the shot was period, meaning it wasn’t modern day, but set in a time from the past where reflective tape would not have been present, the tape had to disappear.
I had to make the tape blend with the cobbles!
So no, it wasn’t easy at all.
Another dilemma was that once we had finished getting the street shot, this paint I was so painstakingly applying, had to all wash away with the squirt of a hose. Each bucket of paint I mixed had to contain soap, which watered down the paint so much that I had to apply several layers of color to get the effect I wanted.
The art department was behind in their schedule because many of the sets were this intensely detailed. Usually the art department starts building and decorating long before shooting actually starts.
That morning at Call Time the shooting crew was inside the house working, while we were outside still adding the final touches to the street. Every time the Assistant Director yelled “Rolling” to the shooting crew inside of the house, we had to stand still in the street and be very quiet.
It was like an instant freeze-frame on a huge level.
This was pre-everybody-has-a-cellphone and both Steve’s and my beepers started vibrating at the same time with a ‘911’, meaning Emergency!, so we rush to the only phone on set, and it’s inside of the house where the entire shooting crew is jammed in tight.
This one phone had been the source of many heated arguments. Everyone wanted to use the phone between takes and everyone had an emergency phone call to make. Usually the line was a long one. Since we had a 911 beep, we couldn’t afford to waste even a second finding out what the emergency was. Being first in line for that phone was crucial to our jobs!
Between takes we rushed in through the front door of the house and spotted the phone, an old black table top unit, sitting very close to the shot being filmed. The room has been partially blocked off with Duvatyne, a heavy black and dense fabric, so everything is in shadows.
We slowly started closing in on the phone right across from the camera rig as the AD yells “Rolling!” and “Cut!” over and over again.
Stop, start, stop, start.
Suddenly, moving in the same direction as us, is this other guy.
The AD yells “Ready?”, the lights go down again and everybody stops moving. Steve leans down and whispers in my ear “You rush the phone when they cut and I’ll rush the little guy”.
There was no way we were letting anyone beat us to that phone!
And so, like a well oiled and timed machine as the director yelled “Cut!”, we deployed. I long-stepped across the carpeted floor and Steve turned right and blocked the other guy.
I snatched the phone receiver up, grinning with triumph!
As the final piece de resistance, Steve and I turned, in unison, to glare at the interloper, shooting daggers of fire in his direction. How dare he try to use this telephone before someone in the crew! We had been up since 3AM, we were dirty, we were covered with paint, we were cranky, hungry and answering a 911 beep!
…and there in the shadows, emerging into the light, in between takes, to use the telephone and smiling back at us is the master himself, George Lucas. He grinned at the two cranky set dressers, held up his hand and shrugged, letting us know we had commandeered the phone fair and square. He wasn’t going to use his godlike status to usurp us.
The two set dressers, now humbled enough to start crying, held out the receiver to Mr. Lucas. We apologized and I think I even wet my pants a bit. And he just kept smiling and insisted we make our call.
What a great guy!
- George Lucas: Words of a Jedi in Education (brevispress.com)
- George Lucas Believes World Will End in 2012 (inquisitr.com)
- George Lucas is prepared, are you? (shortformblog.com)
- George Lucas Believes World Will End In 2012: This Explains So Much (cinemablend.com)