Tuesday, August 16, 2005

MTV Day 3: Human Jousting, A God-Awful In N' Out Experience, and Mike Ransom

This is part 3 of my ongoing series about working with MTV for their show "High School Stories."

Since MTV wasn't paying me to get up early, I decided to avoid the 9:00 call for for the principal actors to be on-set. I strolled on set around 11 (the call for extras) and greeted the crew who were setting up a Jackass like shot in which Nick Lish sat in a shopping cart, Harry, Chavez, TG and to a lesser extent Pat (who ran along side the cart and nearly killed himself by running into a poll) pushed him down a hallway, nearly hitting extras as they scrambled past.

They did this set up a few times, Biz threw me in the shot and Steve predictably kicked me out, which is ironic in a sense because I got more screentime later in the day than the rest of the extras. My lone contribution to the overall story of the segment came, as we were in between shots and I suggested to Steve that he might film some "human jousting" if he got the chance. As is usual when the words "human" and "jousting" are combined, you are compelled to ask "What the hell is that?"

Human jousting involved our group of friends grabbing someone, hoisting them horizontally and running them into another group of friends who had their own man ready to charge. Chaos inevitably ensued. It was also damn funny to watch and be a part of. So Steve immediately liked this idea. I set up one side while Chavez readied the other. Of course it just so happened that the actor who was playing our principal arrived on set at the exact moment we were supposed to start filming, so "Craig" was once again kicked out of the shot to go fetch the actor.

I came back, saw a few takes. This is a good opportunity to talk about what a professional Biz was. Steve and Ryan had covered the action from the usual places (wide shot, close up). Steve yells "I think we got it." Biz stops him, he's got an idea. He has the extras put him in the place of a jouster, gets himself horizontal and holds the camera facing the other team of jousters. And then they run straight at eachother. That's the kind of cool angle that will add a little something to an otherwise standard piece. And it's why his name is Showbiz, he's very good at what he does.

After this sequence, a quick "planning" scene was improvised where the 5 main characters sat around a table and decided who was doing what. Mike Ransom and I are in the background. This scene isn't noteworthy except for what happened in between takes. One of the extras decided he felt like directing.

Extra: Hey! Hey! How about I jump in the scene and go "And then I can go and tell the Dean"...
Steve: (look of complete disbelief)
Extra: That'll be cool right?
Steve: Umm... no.
Keith: Everyone's a fuckin director.

After this everyone was stoked because today's lunch was In N' Out Burger day. Every extra/crew member was gonna get a burger. Mike Ransom rolled in just in time for the following scene. He absolutely STOLE the scene and when I say stole, I mean like jacked a lollipop right out of an infants mouth stole.

The reason we all were getting In N' Out was because someone had heard that we had received a ton of burgers from the Dean in exchange for his lugnuts back. Here MTV got half of the story right. The entire Senior class did get hamburgers, but it was from a classmate's family (it was also Wendy's). Here, MTV just combined the two events so to make it seem that one of our demands was that the Dean buy us all burgers.

So the following scene was born: the 5 heroes walk into the cafeteria where a number of students are seated enjoying their free burgers. We see them and start a mass celebration that ends with the Dean telling us "Ya got me!"

Imagine if you will, myself and Mike Ransom sitting across from eachother in this cafeteria, we each have a cold, not good tasting burger anymore sitting in front of us, that we desperately want to bite into, but we can't because we need it for the camera. We took this pent up angst and turned it into an absolutely chaotic scene that I won't soon forget.

ACTION! I turn around look at the five guys walking in the cafeteria, everyone waits in silence for me to start. I jump up and start screaming, the cafeteria erupts with everyone raising the burgers in the air and charging the guys. Mike Ransom starts jumping on top of his table. He bites viciously into his burger screaming shaking his head left to right violently. Once I see this I can barely contain myself. Mike has the entire crew in stitches. Hamburgers and fries go flying every which way. On every take Mike improvises. On one take he steals the ketchup bottle and starts chugging ketchup. On the next he tells Chavez to chug an entire bottle of Gatorade (my Gatorade dammit).

We ended not filming a lot after that sequence. There were a few sequences with the Principal and the Dean, but for one reason or another I didn't see them. Chavez, Brian (who also showed up just in time for the In N'Out scene) and I spent a lot of time stealing Gatorades from the cafeteria. Note to cafeteria workers: when locking refrigerators, do make sure you can't fit a hand inside.

Ransom's scene saved the day for me, I was tired from constantly yelling, the In N'Out was awful, and I didn't learn a whole lot. His hysterical performance made things go a lot faster.

However, this was not to be the only scene he stole lucky for us, he had another trick up his sleeve.

But once again, that's for next time.


Post a Comment

<< Home