Not that my skills improved much in two semesters, but the ambition certainly grew knowing that this is going to be my last short shot at USC. Thus, the result is this awkward little opus of mine. Not allowed to use “sinc” sound and shot on video, I had a half of semester to prepare. In retrospect, spontaneity, pressure and deadlines worked better for me by far.
There is a funny story that happened during production. As my primary shooting location I rented from the city an old, out of service jail. As a student I got a considerable break on location fee. Even so, it was some exuberant charge per hour, and all I could afford was about half a day of work.
A few weeks down the line, when we arrived early morning to actually shoot there no one was there to let us in. Calling the film-permit office or the City Hall on Saturday is as useful as milking a bull. Pushed against the deadlines, knowing this would be the only weekend to get this shoot done, my crew and I reserved to last measures. Cut to the chase: we picked a lock on the gate, broke into the courtyard, and then found our way inside the building. Now on inside, we could begin our day -- better late then never.
The guard on duty appeared a few hours later, apparently he was sleeping in the basement and naturally overslept. None-apologetic, he couldn’t care less that he made us late by several expensive hours, all he knew it was a Saturday and he wanted us out of there as soon as my contract expired.
Not making my day, and feeling quite cheated, we came up with the next great idea. At the end of our shift, when time came, we “borrowed” an old commode and an original iron bunk that weighted a bit less then a ton and carried these articles off to my car trunk. A few days later I recreated the interior of the cell as a set, which I build in my mom’s backyard (she was trilled about it at the time), and finished shooting the few scenes I didn’t get to do in actual jail.
So, yes, I actually broke into jail to get my day done, “borrowed” a bunk and stole a toilet -- all for the sake of art. Gosh, sometimes we just forget ourselves in the process...
Last note: If you won’t blink you might catch my Hitchcockian moment of taking a cameo -- I’m one of the gang members in the very last stand off. It’s fun to see a bunch of my friends pretending to be gang toughs, even more, pretending to be actors. Thank you all again, in case I didn’t embarrass you enough first time around for making this sacrifice for this high video art. You may sleep well now, knowing you are forever immortalized as fine thespians on this web page... at least as long as I pay for this service.