All through this production, I've heard tales of our "seedy motel" location, a place so vile and disgusting, they couldn't even bring themselves to put me up there. (And I've slept in a few pretty questionable places so far)
Today, we film there.
On the way there, the first thing I notice is that the neighborhood seems to be getting nicer the closer we get to the motel. Could it be that they're fucking with me? That it's some elaborate joke? We're driving through Burbank, which is a pretty nice part of Los Angeles, past steak houses and rather upscale shopping places and some trees that were probably imported from somewhere else.
And then, we cross a line. The wrong side of the tracks, minus the tracks. The real estate is maybe 1/10 the value it was 2 blocks ago, maybe less. Pretty quickly after that, we find the motel. It ain't nice. But what's most perplexing is that there's a really expensive Corvette parked next to Paul's car. It doesn't belong to anyone in the production, which means that someone who can afford a sports car is staying here. Maybe it has something to do with the recession.
Maybe it's Frank McCourt.
The motel is bad, don't get me wrong, but I expected worse. From what people were saying, I fully expected to find a dead hooker between the mattresses. This is just…shitty. I've slept in dirtier places. Still, dirty is dirty. Katie and Tiffany replace the sheets.
It's a pretty easy setup. Put a china ball on a gobo arm. Set up the soft lights. Wait.
There's a sexy rendezvous to film, which means a closed set. Then we reset the lights and films some scenes with Blayne and Patrick. Really basic stuff. Let the location do a lot of the work. Paul takes the TV out of the room, which has the dual effect of making the room look shittier and eliminating the reflection issue. A craft move, if you ask me. There's a lot of waiting next door in the staging area. We watch TV. Get some work done. Play a little UNO.
Katie gets all dressed up to be a dead body stand-in, since the actress isn't here. This means she has to lay on the floor, which sucks, but she is allowed to sleep, so that's something.
In the original schedule, day 10 was supposed to be the last day of the shoot. Somewhere along the way that changed (which is really standard) and it become the second-to-last day of the shoot. The problem is that I have another commitment for the new last day, as I'm due at the Film Courage Future of Film Curation panel (and screening of my first feature BLANC DE BLANC). But Paul's got a minuscule crew, so this becomes my schedule for day 10 & 11 of FAVOR:
11am: Drive across town to LA Talk Radio.
Noon: Guest host (basically chime in every so often) and talk to this week's guest M.J. Slide.
2pm: Head over to Hot Pixel Studios to test everything for the panel/screening.
6pm: Screening of BLANC DE BLANC (also available on VOD).
Midnight: Drive back to set.
They're in full swing when I get there. We're shooting exteriors, which are pretty easy at the motel, but still they can use all the help they can get.
We get the shots and get out early. And that is a wrap on FAVOR.
Filmmaker Lucas McNelly is spending a year on the road, volunteering on indie film projects around the country, documenting the process and the exploring the idea of a mobile creative professional. You can see more from A Year Without Rent at the webpage. His feature-length debut is now available to rent on VOD. Follow him on Twitter: @lmcnelly.