View Full Version : what are some of your worst moments

08-03-2004, 12:57 AM
lets hear the gory details...how badly the first days shooting went, losing an actor at the last minute....utter disasters...and how you overcame them eventually.

to learn from your mistakes is human...to learn from the mistakes of others is true wisdom
-ancient chinese proverb

08-03-2004, 04:26 AM
Wait 'till I post my last short... ;D

08-03-2004, 07:32 AM
I once had an actor that refused to say some of the lines and of course didn't tell me until the day of the shoot. Needless to say I fired him (he wasn't that good anyway) and got his understudy. Once he saw I was serious he said he would say the lines, but I still told him he was fired. Actors can be real assholes, especially ones who think they are much better than they actually are...

08-03-2004, 07:59 AM
Once I shot an interior car scene in a garage - a relatively complicated lighting set up...
It was in the winter time, and was very cold. We shot the entire scene in a 7 hour shoot, to find out that the tape was ridden with dropouts due to the temperature.

Easily should have forseen this, but I wasn't thinking...we re-shot the whole thing the next day, taking breaks to warm up the camera :-/

08-03-2004, 11:03 AM
I would say having to run for my life from muggers, while carrying bags of crew chow from KFC at 2:00 in the morning, would qualify...

08-03-2004, 11:57 AM

That's heavy Doc...

08-03-2004, 12:17 PM
I would say having to run for my life from muggers, while carrying bags of crew chow from KFC at 2:00 in the morning, would qualify...

Haha... That must have sucked really bad.... I hope they didn't catch you...

08-03-2004, 12:54 PM
It was really stupid... we were in the worst part of town (by the Stupak Stump) and my cohort and I split up, she went to Denny's to get soup for the sick cinematographer and so I was standing outside the KFC drive-up window (they shared a parking lot) waiting for the order. So I got the bags and started walking over to where the car was parked, and this thug standing by this motor home in the parking lot says "Hey, let me ask you something". Well, I was born in this town, and I know that you don't stop and chitchat with someone named "Snake" in a parking lot near the Stupak Stump at 2:00 in the morning. So I just said "No thanks" and kept walking. And he kept coming closer and saying "hold up, I just wanna ask you something". I was all "Not interested" but he kept angling closer... My spidey-sense was tingling so I picked up a bit of speed and beelined for the car, and fortunately she saw me coming and threw the door open and I dove in and was like "go go go go" and so she slammed on the gas and said "who were all those guys chasing you?" And I was like "guyS? Plural?" And she said "yeah, a bunch of 'em came out from behind that motor home..."

08-03-2004, 01:09 PM
Man I was picturing you running down dark alley ways in NY holding two bags of chicken in each hand while a group of guys were running after you. ...

08-03-2004, 01:31 PM
Worst days of shooting all involved a project I was asked to direct for a group of New York-based actors and writers. The project was originally written to serve as a stage play, constructed from a series of loosely connected scenes that would each showcase the particular performance strengths of specific actors. The project came to me with the script 95% finished and the roles 80% cast. The writer had his own equipment, and the actors were champing at the bit, all that was needed from me was a tiny bit of rewriting and a whole lot of "actor oriented directing". They'd singled me out both for my technical and photographic experience and because of my experience with "method" acting and directing.

The first vignette was supposed to be one of the most difficult. The writer and I argued over casting, but he eventually relented and allowed me to cast the role we disagreed on. But although the writer/producer assured me that he’d nailed down a crew, none of them ever seemed to materialize with the exception of a single untrained, yet enthusiastic person who wanted to run the boom.

Even though I was forced to do all the lighting on set in addition to my directing, things were running smoothly until the writer began to interject and suggest alternate directions between scenes. While I tried to explain to him several times that I had everything in hand, he still felt compelled to take the actors aside when I wasn’t looking and stress the points in the script he was confident that I’d missed.

This happened a couple of times before both actors took me aside and told me that they were uncomfortable listening to his directions, and that they’d prefer if he left the set entirely. They then went on to apologize to me for having to deal with him.

How loyal is that?!!

I had a talk with the writer, and although he assured me that he wasn’t intending to step on my toes, he proceeded to do just that for the duration of the shoot.

The second vignette had me walking on set in the midst of a severe flu. Still no crew, but I managed to direct for eleven hours straight with a 102 degree fever and finish the scene. I’d repeatedly argued against using SAG actors, as the producers didn’t want to go through the hassle of becoming signatories, but the producers insisted that I take certain actors as part of the project, and I was unable to recast. The one SAG actor had difficulties on set and wound up getting severely upstaged by an actor with only three months of experience.

The SAG actor was severely miscast, and although the producers insisted on using him, he ended up looking really undisciplined because the role was a bad fit for him.

The third vignette was scheduled to shoot the next weekend, but because of rolling schedule problems, we had to drop that scene in favor of another where both actors were available. Assured that everyone could be there this time, we secured the equipment and locations. Just as we were doing equipment checks, one of the two actresses called to cancel because of a herpes outbreak.

As this was a “make-out” scene, there was little that we could do to force her to shoot.

As for how we overcame these hurdles eventually…We didn’t.

A well-meaning friend of the writer managed to tape over half the footage from the second shoot, ruining any chance of salvaging that day. Several of our actors ended up leaving the country because of unexpected visa problems, and our main location (a posh mid-town bar) was lost because the bartender who got us permission ended up getting fired for being slightly overweight!

The rest of the script was scrapped and the first scene sat on the back of my hard drive for a year before I finally even bothered to review the footage. While all I remembered was the awful experience of everything and the terrible writing that I was unable to change, I was surprised to find some very delicate performances captured on the footage.

Inspired by the acting, I spent three weeks in the editing room, polishing that turd until it gleamed. I gave a DVD to each of the two lead performers and they both responded with the same reaction.

“Wow, that wasn’t entirely terrible!”

Most of the people from that project proved to be flakey, unreliable, and untalented, but those two actors will forever be at the top of my list of people to work with.

Oh, and the moral to the story is:

Never have the writer on the set, even if the writer is you.

And ALWAYS do your own casting.

08-03-2004, 01:45 PM
Not my shoot, I was just helping out. But we needed to shoot on a beach. The nearest beach was 100 miles away.
Everyone got up super early. and travelled the 100 miles in 3 seperate cars.
We setup and and within 10 minutes discovered that there was sand in the camera and it no longer functioned.
12 people. Six actors in costumes and we all went home.

08-03-2004, 01:50 PM
No one even stayed to enjoy the beach?

08-03-2004, 01:59 PM
Cinema University.
Almost starting to shoot...
Misunderstood between photographer and sound guy...
All the crew watching that scene... Free actors from other town...
The sound guy left the stage... With all his friends (producer, 2nd director, camera assistent, one actor)

I needed to CANCEL the film...
Actually I made the film one month later!!!

08-03-2004, 02:12 PM
No one even stayed to enjoy the beach?

Lol. It was a beach in England. It was very cold.

08-03-2004, 02:13 PM
You should have filmed the fight.

08-03-2004, 02:53 PM
You should have filmed the fight.


08-08-2004, 07:24 PM

It was in 16mm...
Kind of expensive to spend on 2 assholes who almost ruined my film!!!
And I didn't know how to load the camera...

At least today I know...
I had to learn on the difficult way!!!

08-08-2004, 11:00 PM
I lost a tape once... had to reshoot a classroom scene with 20+ people... wasn't fun to have to get this number of people twice...

David Jimerson
08-09-2004, 09:56 AM
I had an actor flake out the day before the shoot.

I rewrote the script overnight eliminating the character.

08-09-2004, 11:49 AM
I rewrote the script overnight eliminating the character.

That's brutal, did the script turn out alright?

David Jimerson
08-09-2004, 11:57 AM
That's brutal, did the script turn out alright?

Pretty much everyone agrees that it’s better after the rewrite.

08-09-2004, 12:01 PM
It was fate then...!

David Jimerson
08-09-2004, 12:19 PM
Well, maybe. But any rewrite should make a script better, shouldn't it?

08-09-2004, 12:27 PM
Definitely...but under the circumstances, you wouldn't have re-written it overnight were it not for your actor screwing you over, no?

David Jimerson
08-09-2004, 12:42 PM
No. Not to that extent.

08-10-2004, 08:59 PM
On shooting day 3 (5 day shoot), my main actor showed up to the set 1 hour late and had the worst case of hiccups in the world.

He took some back-pain medication that gave him the violent side effects of hiccups....he had been hiccupping for 3 straight days prior to showing up on the set. The night before he went to the emergency room. He was in total pain.

Every other line he delievered that morning had hiccups in them. Editing around his performance was very interesting.....but he still gave an amazing performance. ;D

We were all scared he wouldn't show up that morning and starting freaking out b/c we would've had to add additional shooting days if he missed it. Whew!!

They don't teach this in film school. :P

08-14-2004, 10:17 PM
My worst moments are going on right now...

With a project I'm working on, I've had my main actor's:
1. Jaw break, wasted a 8 hour day of filming-he never called from the hospital.
2. He went on vacation-he planned this months ago.
3. His grandmother died-went to the funeral.
4. He went on vacation again- again he planned it months ago...


5. Hurricane Charley just hit-it's been raining every day almost.
6. The other actor moved and now lives 5 cities away, and we're too far into the project to start with a new actor.
7. I'm about to get fired for keep trying to take off work to film.

:) But I wouldn't want to be doing anything else!

08-15-2004, 08:57 AM
Wow Phil that does suck. I question the passion of the main actor. Is he doing this for fun? Sounds like he is. I would think that anyone who really wanted to be a professional actor someday and with hopes of being discovered would try and give his best performance on camera and would be passionate about doing the best film he can do. Which means, Don't leave the director hangin! I feel for you, because I can tell you are pouring your heart and soul into the film.

BTW Phil, where in Florida are you? I'm up in Jacksonville.

08-15-2004, 11:53 PM
At the academy we had our final project.

I called up around 7 actors and all were interested in meeting me for an interview. On the day of the interview, one by one they dropped like flies, calling me saying that "something" came up and couldnt do it. I ended getting some actors who were attending the academy.
On the day of the shoot, the actors came and said they didnt read the script at all. Man, was I fuming! So we let them read over a couple of lines or so, shot it and read over the next line then shot it and repeat. Also at the last minute, one of the actors refused to say some of the words in there, up to this point... I'm like whatever(its a school project anyway). And to make things worse, while my fellow students had 2 days in their schedule for their projects, I had a half a day with unprepared actors.
But in the end my friends,
My movie made it to the top at screening :)

08-16-2004, 09:54 AM
Hey Kidster, Thanks for saying I'm passionate! I soo am. We're down in Boca Raton FL. This project is soo huge, all I can do is keep fighting...but I guess this is true for most of us here?

Hey man, if you ever have something screen down here for a festival, let me know, and I'll go! Good luck man. :)

P.S. and if you think this is bad, you should hear what I'm going through for my 120 minute feature!!! :-X :D

08-16-2004, 04:16 PM
Maybe in a year or so I will have something ready to screen. I am still in the pre-production mode of my feature. I am taking my time, making sure I have my shit in one sock before I go into production. In fact, some might think I really am having it hard. I live in Florida, but am shooting on location in St. Louis for 14 days. The reason, for the logistics is I have a full (free) crew up there that will show up everyday. And a much larger talent pool to pull from (St. Louis -Chicago-Kansas City) versus Jacksonville. Looking through literally 1400+ head shots is no easy task.

Let me know when some of your shoots are, and maybe I can get away for a day or so and come hang out on the set.

08-16-2004, 08:08 PM
Will do man. Keep in touch and good luck! I'll see you in Sundance? ;D Peace.

08-19-2004, 02:25 PM
Worst thing for me...

We had been shooting scenes with a vehicle for several days. On the final day we needed the vehicle, it was taken out of town with no advanced notice.

The other producer was completely at fault for this mishap. I really gave him a hard time about it and he confidently declared "Don't worry. You will have your car by the first shot." I did not share his confidence. This looked as if it was going to be a huge disaster for our film as we were on an extremely tight schedule.

Thirty minutes later I arrive at the shooting location and there sits the vehicle. A straight on match, a 2001 Black Volvo Cross Country. A few yards away sat a pregnant woman in a lawn chair. The other producer had chased down a soccer mom and borrowed her car while she watched us shoot. She rather enjoyed it.

Hooray for Volvo driving soccer moms!!!!

08-19-2004, 02:28 PM

Who is your STL crew?

I just moved from St. Louis and I know or know of just about every working pro there...and a lot of non-working (and struggling) crew members.

Just curious.

08-23-2004, 05:51 AM
I was shooting at the Dallas Convention Center years ago. The talent was to be Bob Dole so a little more dress code than usual was required. One the way in, I grabbed a V8 for some early morning nourishment and headed into the men's room to ensure my full focus would be on the shoot. The inside of the convention center's bathroom was covered, ceiling, wall and floor with one inch tile which cleverly camouflaged the step up to the urinals. These we're no average urinals. They were as tall as me and each were a proud 2 feet wide. Anyway, I tripped on the unseen step, stumbled toward one of the monstrous urinals, paid way too much attention to my tomato juice, slipped on my never-worn church shoes and into a man-eating pisser. I spent the next five minutes bathing in the convention center sink, freaked out about what diseases I had to have just gotten. The irony of the whole ordeal?
Sen. Dole was speaking at a Urology convention.

Chris Messineo
08-25-2004, 12:32 PM
grinner - that is LOL funny.

My worst experience was directing a 9 year old boy in a scene. After several takes late at night he just burst into tears and wanted to go home.

Luckily his mom was there and was able to calm him down and we were able to finish the shoot, but for a minute or two it was looking like a disaster.


08-25-2004, 03:09 PM

Who is your STL crew?

I just moved from St. Louis and I know or know of just about every working pro there...and a lot of non-working (and struggling) crew members.

Just curious.

Charlie Ragle is my AD/Producer. Jamie Ryan DP. Joey Myers Sound. Adrea "Ace" Campbell Line Prod. April Howlett Make up & Hair. These guys are great and have worked on a few Indie's already. I'm the rookie in the scenario..first time directing a film.

But hey, if you know of any others that would like to help out..by all means let me know who they are. I am trying to shoot a 86 page script in just 18 days (last 2 weeks in May 2005) so the more help the better.

Send me a message if you can.

BTW where did you move to?

08-27-2004, 07:38 AM

I actually don't know nor know of any of your crew. That really surprises me.

If you are shooting in St. Louis take advantage of the St. Louis Film Wire, www.stlfilmwire.com. Its a listserve with 800+ members who are eager to be involved with St. Louis filmmaking. It is a phenomenal resource. And I welcome anyone else reading this to do the same! If you want to shoot in St. Louis that the wire is a tremendous starting point.

I moved to Chicago recently to produce for DDB Chicago.

If you want further info/advice on STL filmmaking feel free to contact me directly, nate@nathanpbrown.com, and you can see some of my St. Louis film experiences at http://www.nathanpbrown.com

08-27-2004, 05:20 PM

Charlie and Jamie are the only ones that live in the St. Louis area. (Illinois side of the river) Charlie has been in TV production since 1993 (Exclusively Charter Cable) and Jamie shoots freelance (Rams games for ESPN)

Congrats on the move to Chicago. Do you know of any good places to find talent in Chicago? Any sites or magazines I can put a ad in?

The wire looks like it will be a very helpful link thanks!

BTW. Loved the Fitz rootbeer commercial.

09-12-2004, 02:29 PM
An amazingly hirsute actress in a nude scene.
I will say no more except this: check the goods thoroughly during casting.

09-12-2004, 03:24 PM

09-30-2004, 07:21 PM
this one time i was doing location audio on a student film in saskatoon infront of city hall but we were getting a lot of noise cause airplanes were going overhead but i was hardpressed cause the director wouldnt listen to me when i gave him the heads up that our audio wouldnt be so great if we were to keep shooting while the planes... in any event we got in a huge fight me 66 got smashed.

10-04-2004, 05:49 PM
I've never had a bad experience with an actor (knock on wood), but I've had some rotten experiences with producers, always on for-hire stuff.

One was a music video for an upcoming artist who the producers were backing. It was, from day one of preproduction, the worst I have ever been treated as human being or as a director. The actual artist was cool; great to work with and he took direction extremely well. But the producers were awful. The crew stopped listening to them entirely after the first day, and that only upset them more. When it was over, I complained to a friend of mine who had directed a few videos, and he just told me, "welcome to the music business." I haven't done a video in a while.

The other was a small little movie that my partner and I were brought in to direct. I'm not one to bag on producers as a whole, but the producers on this project seemed to be trying to fit the definition of "suit" as closely as possible. Neither had any artistic background or any clue what made a good movie, yet each would constantly say "I'm good with story." Well, not only were they not good with story, but they were constantly wanting to hold emergency meetings, in which they would give suggestions that would not add anything to the movie and would in fact cripple the story completely. The words "we need to up the body count" were actually said. I swear. I found myself arguing, "the reason that guy can't die in the beginning is...he's the killer!" The project actually came out really great, though.

One last story. My partner and I were shooting a movie on location at an Inn, a real old-fashioned historic kind of place. Our Line Producer had talked to the owner, and he agreed, signed the papers, etc., but when we showed up, with three trucks and the crew and all, the guy freakout out! He was expecting a few people. Okay, so we started setting up (the guy was still wigging out), the setup took a couple hours, we got ready to shoot, went to flip on the fog machine, and...BOOM...somebody forgot to disable the smoke detector. And the alarm was deafening. So the owner's mood wasn't improving at that point. He had a wedding at five o'clock and we were behind, because it took half a freakin' hour to turn off the damn alarm. We got all our shots in the end, about fifteen minutes late. The lession was: if you're going to smoke a room, make real sure somebody turns off the smoke detector.

10-21-2004, 09:48 AM
I was in the middle of a shoot for a recent 48 hour film project when my two actresses (the only two characters in the film) got into a HUGE catfight. One of them got so mad that she got in her car and left. The other one just sobbed. Unfortunately, I didn't get the fight on film because we were breaking for food. After the dust settled, my crew and I simply shrugged our shoulders and headed off to lunch. There wasn't much we could do. Later on that evening, our actresses decided they wanted to finish the film despite their issues. We quickly rounded up the crew and filmed their "friends in the bar" scene. Watching it now is funny because the tension between the two in that scene is ridiculous! We did manage to finish the film, but it sucked ::)

10-21-2004, 11:01 AM
A short film in NY Chinatown, actor had driven 3 hours to get to our location, then in the alleyway, there wasn't enough light, and it started to rain...I had to tell my cast and crew to go home

10-26-2004, 11:00 AM
I ve been shooting indoor scenes for 4 hours.
After shot I realized I cant find ... the tape.
I did not find it till today.
Everybody say they saw me putting the tape to my drawer (where I always put my tapes after shooting).
Nobody knows how come there is no tape in there.

;D I dont know either.

10-26-2004, 11:02 AM
....i was shooting only one actor in my own apartment so if I had to reshoot it - it wouldnt be such a tragedy but I dont have to reshoot it cos my lead star left the project when we had 10% of the footage to go ..... :'(

i love this siht!

enjoy the filmmaking!

10-27-2004, 10:19 AM
well lets see,
about 6 months ago i was directiing a movie we were workin on for about 2 months, a 20 minute short. Its senior year in high school so it put a lotta stress into makin this film with projects and all. anywho, we filmed all of spring break, everyday. so we have about 60% of the film shot. the last day of break, our man actor who is hanging out with this girl he likes and she tells him that he would look hott if he shaved his head, so ... yea he shaved it. i gotta phone call from him right after it happened, i couldnt believe what i was hearing, so i went over there and saw it. i was so pissed i threw my cell phone on the street and it shattered into peices. my friends came out, the ones helpin makin the film, came out teary eyed because they felt guilty in letting it happen, but it was too late, they couldnt stop him. any ways, we shot all over again, and the film was due in two weeks and we had up to 80% of the film done and shot. we had so many complaints from the main actors parents inusing there home, so we basically got kicked out because we were so sick of dealing with it. so we had to pull the plug on the film. but i promise you this, this film will be made :)

11-01-2004, 08:10 AM
My personal worst... back when i was 1st AD on a feature film.
I did fire a trainee grip because he agressed my 2nd Assistant, he almotst broke his jaw . He was obviously on drug but the producer convinced me not to call the police (i think because he knew his father well) i was pissed an i warned the producer that he was doing a mistake.

3 days after that, we where shooting a 4 cameras sequence at night in a warehoouse... when the trainee attacked me from behind in a middle of a take (thank you security men...) we went into a fight that ended up by having the fully loaded Arri535 + lens broken down and me with a broken nose...


11-09-2004, 08:25 AM
I started my first feature this past weekend. My lead actor is my 1/2 brother and he's an obnoxious loudmouth type-perfect for the role and he's really hammig it up. However, the second male lead, a backwoods redneck/hunter type, whose very cold and collective in his personality(which is eactly why I chose him), we shot him the first time on sunday and he was so completely awful. I'd given him the lines to his dialog 3 weeks in advance but he couldnt do em. I made these guys do the same scene over and over again so I had lots of coverage. The sad(yet extremely funny) thing was he screwed up every time.

Suddenly, a major role has become a very minor role.

Oh well, adapt and move on.....onward and UPWARD!+

11-09-2004, 01:36 PM
We were shooting your typical film noir starting show down with guns and everything college style on top of a parking deck without permission, forgetting that the parking deck was right across from the city police station. Needless to say, running around with guns (even fake ones) screaming at each other gathers attention. We had a cop pull up, watch us for 5 min. without us even realizing, then said, hey what the heck, your in college and making a movie, go for it. Gotta love possibly sticky situations working out!

11-15-2004, 05:38 AM
actually, for get what i previously said.

Yesterday was day 4 of the shoot. Day 3 had gone nice, lots of exttras and some bigger scenes than previously done. worked out fairly well. Yesterday, I had to step in front oif the camera and between framing the shots, setting up the scenes, getting th props, etc, all that stuff, I wrote the dialog but in front of the camera it was pretty limp. I cast mysefl as just me. however, with my involvement in this film taking over so much of myself, there is no 'me' to give to the role.

It wasn'tr such a bad thing, just made me realize that I can't be in front of the camera and running it also.

I think casting is now the hardest part of this for me. I need to work on that.