We started principal photography in August of 95' and finished in December of 95'. We shot on weekends in and around Los Angeles. Production was filled with war stories, we never got any permits or insurance and people were constantly throwing us out of locations. A Police Ranger threatened to take us in when we climbed up to the Hollywood sign. A Santa Monica officer warned me to stay out of the street so cars wouldn't hit me, and a restaurant owner almost got physical when we refused to leave until we finished shooting. We dodged remote spy cameras to complete our coverage in the Century City mall. A homeless person wouldn't leave us alone during one day while shooting on Sunset and a Hollywood local almost ran off with one of the shooting scripts.
We used walkie/talkies to stage several car chases on the freeway and on city streets. Things got tricky cause we couldn't stop or control traffic. We didn't have stunt drivers or official car mounts. In fact, the actors were chasing each other and remembering their lines all at once. We came real close to a few car accidents and I just had to make sure to hide the camera when the police drove by. I almost fell out of a car on one shot and we even shot at the Los Angeles and Burbank Airports during peak hours. Thank God I shot in black and white because one of the picture cars was a rental car and every weekend we got a different colored Lebaron.
Everything from the Buick Skylark to the cast and crew members broke down during the shoot. I filmed part of the cave sequence without a light meter because it broke down. A camera filter fell 12 stories and survived during a high angle shot on the rooftop. But when the camera broke down a few times we had to stop for the day. We filmed a few takes without sound when the DAT player broke down during the limo scene. After that, our camera assistant
ran into a Thrifty store and bought a micro-cassette player and we used it for the rest of the day. Of course, this caused even more problems in post-production.
The war stories continued into postproduction. Because of limited resources, I shot Mr. Lucke with a noisy and non-sync camera and had to recreate most of the soundtrack from scratch. We were very fortunate to be able to use feature post-production facilities like Phoenix Soundworks and Weddington Productions for almost no money. Phoenix has since worked on the latest John Carpenter film, Ghosts of Mars and Weddington completed Lethal Weapon 4 just before we arrived.
James Morioka, my sound supervisor, and I worked many nights, weekends and holidays for 14 months building the sound. It took 9 months alone, just to add the additional ADR and fix the existing production audio. The rest of the time was spent cutting backgrounds, effects tracks, temp music and even doing our own
. We even mixed the film ourselves right there on our borrowed
station. Accomplishing this feat would be very impressive undertaking even with a major sound house with many editors working full time. However, it was James and I doing all of this ourselves and working full-time industry jobs at the same time. Many told us that we were crazy for doing it but we blindly went ahead and proved what independent filmmaking is all about.
My film was created in the true independent spirit. I didn't have a large crew of Hollywood professionals working on my film or a famous executive producer. I didn't have any sponsors or "friends of the family" helping to finance my film. When you don't have a lot of money then time becomes your only asset. This film took as long as it did because I had to wait for free equipment, free services, additional credit cards and free technical training. (I taught myself the Avid, once I had access to one). I saw this film as a way to learn filmmaking from start to finish and that also takes a while when you do a lot of the jobs yourself. In fact, many didn't believe that I could write, produce, direct, photograph and edit my own film. This was no easy task but I really wanted to learn as much as I could.
I made this no-budget film with a lot of hard work, six credit cards, loaned equipment and unknown actors and a small but eager crew all working for free. Four and a half years ago I was inspired by another filmmaker. Today, I hope Mr. Lucke inspires others to pursue their passions as I did.