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Holding For Sound: Field Notes From the Making of “Zeus” – Part II

The following is a continuing account from last week’s filming of “Zeus”, an independent screenplay written by Jeremy H. and me. It being my first foray into DIY filmmaking, I was proud to have been apart of the process, to incorporate aspects of home into the story and to do so with a number of great friends and family.

Crosby's Mini Mart in Hinsdale was our first shot of the morning on Day 3.

At this point, Emily's house was noxiously vaporized with Dude Scent.

Forty-eight hours into “Zeus” and the production schedule wasn’t much more than a loose reference point. The hour-by-hour schedule was laughably unrealistic. Yet, to our credit, we proved far more productive on Tuesday, nailing all of our scheduled scenes minus the Olympics. Monday, though, was still a mess. Chock it up to working out the kinks. We’d have to shove those scenes down later in the week. For today, for Wednesday, we were solely focused on Crosby’s Mini Mart, and good news was about to arrive.

Apparently, even on vacation, HCS’s superintendent checks her e-mail regularly because a reply to the previous night’s plea came: We were given the OK to film in the school on Friday. This news saved us. No on-the-fly rewrites. No compromises. No flying Hunter the Camera Guy back into Western New York. Money.

It was 9 a.m. and Marc parked his truck at the diesel pumps for our first exterior shots at Crosby’s. Inside, I was prepping for my only scene in the movie, playing a store clerk with an unhealthy obsession for BMX riding and oversized clothes. Basically, my actual teenage years. The fine folks at Crosby’s issued me a store sweatshirt, hat and nametag and didn’t seem to mind as we lugged our equipment around their store, causing something of a scene in quiet Hinsdale. Worker Tina inquired as to the type of movie we were making, “Action? Thriller?” If only she snuck a glance at our dog-tired crew of scruffy haired 20-somethings in desperate need of clean clothes and 20 pounds of muscle. There certainly wasn’t a Hero on set.

Outside, a man poked his head out of his rusted Explorer.

“You guys gonna blow anything up? … Man, if you were, maybe I’d stick around.”

(This was but one of the clutch comments from locals who stumbled onto locations throughout the week.)

Crosby’s was a success, and we topped off the afternoon with milkshakes and bad pizza before heading up the street to film the bike-riding scene. By evening, we were getting the hang of things, setting up quicker and avoiding the urge to perfect each and every scene. Next stop was Jeremy’s sister’s house in Olean. Emily was nice enough to let us take over her home for the movie, move furniture around and mostly stink up her flowery home with dude farts and radioactive socks.

Hunter, as Dennis The Long Snapper

The HCS equipment room, right before Senneca destroys it.

The big scene of the night involved Jeremy and the only legit actor in the movie, Justyn, who would spurn Actor Jeremy’s advances after a seriously long bit of dialogue. It turned out great. We were soaring. Tired as hell, but soaring.

Following shots in Senneca’s room, we were all but done for the day. I just had to check on one “actor” who I hadn’t spoken with the entire week. Gary, the bartender at AJ’s, had agreed to play himself in a crucial scene. His lines were no cakewalk either. His dialogue with Jeremy was by far the longest, with big chunks of back story. Basically, Gary’s character steers the entire story, so this was a big deal. And who knew if Gary was still in? So, I took a ride down the road to AJ’s to see how Gary was coming along, if he remembered that we would be arriving in his bar the following day to shoot his scenes and prep another. I arrived back at Emily’s with my mind blown.

As Hour 72 approached, our ten-person crew settled into whatever chair, couch or floor space available and hoped that a few hours of rest would suffice.