Perspectives: Sam Hawley on the Production Design of Frame 137

» Posted by on Dec 16, 2012 in Mainframe, Perspectives | 0 comments

For sure, it wasn’t the first time Judd had come to me with such an absurd idea.

“See this?” He said to me, handing over six comic-book pages of black ink splashed across paper. “We need to do this…” I took the pages and began ruffling through. Then he reached into his pocket with his other hand and produced a piece of shoestring, a pile of dirt, and the cheat codes to Mortal Kombat and finished his sentence, “With this.”

“We’ll probably need more dirt.”

That’s not even a joke. Because none of us had any money we had to rely on skill. When that hallucination quickly faded we realised the only thing that would get us over the line would be a LOT of hard yakka. To add to it, this was our goal: Stay as true to the original graphic novel as possible. No money. No experience. No backing out.

This is what it’s like, when you have an idea.

Okay so building the bar. We had to make the whole damn thing, now I’m thinking of it – Judd – What the hell were we thinking? We had No business doing what we did! I borrowed an old station wagon off my buddy Scott, and drove around raiding skip bins and construction sites. Filling up the thing till the mud guards rested on the wheels, making a whistling noise the whole way home, or until we hit a speed bump and stopped altogether.

The bar took the three of us a month to build. Not like your regular 9-5-Hey-did-you-see-the-new-chick-in-Copying? Judd, and Tom and I. Tom worked at Bunnings, so would often leave Judd and I to finish up by ourselves. The only guy who might have known what we were doing left us. Sometimes for days at a time. Unsupervised. Powertools at 4am. Starting again at 8. I’m sure there were more building violations, but we just didn’t know about. If it wasn’t for the cold winter night we probably would have just slept there, except I had to save that for the drive home. Thanks to my buddy Davud for tailing me home one night, and keeping me in the middle of my lane with his high-beams on.

 We ended up going with a bar so short that if you wanted to do shots off it, you’d have to get down on your knees. this was less about the fact that in the story the Bar’s owner, Mac was a dwarf, and more about the size of the wood we found. We spent hours trying to work outhow big we could actually get away with building it. The only way we had enough wood to finish the top of the bar was because Judd did some math-triangulation calculation, which gave us JUST ENOUGH to cover the top of the bar. We laughed about how much easier it would have been if we just had the money for it! We cut up two bed frames for the headboard behind the bar.

For mostly everything else, The sofas and curtains in the back room – if we didn’t steal it from the side of the road, we got it from The Dump Shop. Only because we got caught raiding the actual Dump & Judd had to buy the guys Burger King for lunch just so we could keep our load. That stuff took us hours to find! P.S. Did you know you have to have a license to be a “Dump Raider”?

Given that the bar was a very dark place we still needed to make sure there would be enough light to film with, and add atmosphere. This meant many smaller sources of lights. They were probably my favourite part. All these rustic looking mismatched piles of rust from years gone by. I don’t know if Andrew was actually qualified, but he made them work just fine! The wall of TV’s we faked with a few pieces of shower screen and black rubber screwed across the front, while projecting the images from behind and the fake bricks were drawn in an dug out of the plaster board. (Which also was just thrown up wherever it could fill a hole).

During filming Davud picked up the juke box from a crazy guy in Southport while I stayed on set filing down wood on the circular saw for some prop knives Judd and I had forgotten all about making beforehand. Then finding something that could pass as future-money-coins. Then more things we had forgotten in the midst of our journey to get to this point.

So you see, the only thing we really had going for us was an idea. No money. No car. No experience. That this would look pretty cool if we could pull it off. The handful of helpers that showed up along the way were such a massive help, they are now some of my best friends. This is what independent film-making is all about.

 …It wasn’t the last time he’d come to me with such an absurd idea either. Just the other day Judd held up A paperclip, a waffling iron and an authentic 1979 Chewbacca costume. “We’re doing this!”

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