Saturday, May 21, 2011


i finally got around to watching 127 hours.
i liked it.
more emotionally than artistically, although i think it deserved its best picture nomination.

barely a year ago, i was on the production for just a few days shy of half the shoot.  like watching anything that i've worked on, it's always a bit jarring, seeing the finished product, since one shot of james/aron running across the canyon land is cut with the next shot, one that that we filmed a week later and two hundred miles away.  i found myself trying to guess which of the two canyon sets was used for the different shots, or which were the rare ones that were done on location (at least, i think so; i was only there for the last day of that location.  although i did ride the helicopter home that night sitting next to danny, thank you.)

i remembered the day that i slept only an hour the night before, the 100-mile drive from the hotel to set so that we could be there in time to have breakfast before the sun started to rise on the desert, the extremely heavy backpack i carried a mile into the location, so that i would have all the gear i would need in case danny needed to see any previously shot footage.  i recognize the shots from the day that we didn't get lunch, because the caterer put the food out early and, in the hot sun, it was all ruined by lunch time.  i remembered days of shooting, even some very complicated, expensive, and dangerous shots that weren't in the final cut of the movie.  or the grueling ordeal of filming the rescue helicopter landing, over and over, all of us being blasted with sand and dust repeatedly, and how it got into every part of my electronic equipment (and how happy i was when i got it working again a week later.)  i remember feeling lucky that i got to be there for actual "arm cutting off" scene, and that i spent two days watching the monitors as james agonizingly cut through seven prosthetic arms, and that even though i knew they were fake, i couldn't help but cringe when he cut the nerve.

i remembered my very first day, being so nervous about getting tossed into a job i knew nothing about (this was one of the two movies i did that i wasn't on the camera crew--and i was actually grateful for that this time....) and how yelena came in three hours ahead of her call time to help me get set up and make sure everything was working properly.  i remembered the shots we were setting up when word reached the set that dave had passed away the night before, and how everything was quiet and somber for the rest of the day (and i was grateful that i the week i had off was the week of his funeral.)
i remembered the blueberries the craft services lady put out and how i would load up a cup full of them, and my irritation when the guy with the lizard wouldn't leave me alone when i was trying to talk with that pretty girl.

it was my last feature film that i really worked on (my name might be on john carter next summer, but that was only two days) and i went through the credits with the pause button, stopping to remember so many different names.

when the film was coming out last fall, i read an interview where danny (boyle, the director) was talking about the theme of the movie.  it was about humanity, he said, and the need for connection.  that while we talk about the joy of leaving cities and society and getting away to the wilderness, he said that ultimately we need each other.  that is what keeps us going, keeps us strong, keeps us alive: people.

i don't think i would have made that clear of an association without his description, but with that in mind,  the opening title sequences of the crowds and masses of people definitely reinforced that.
what i did think about was how much fun aron was having, biking and hiking through southern utah all by himself.

i couldn't really relate.
no, not because i'm not really an outdoors guy.  i've got plenty of pictures of me in southern utah having fun.  but i'm having fun because there are other people in those pictures with me.
so, maybe i'm not an outdoors guy.  maybe i'm a people guy.
which is funny, because when i hear that term, i think of those friends of mine who love meeting new people and seem to know a dozen people wherever they are (you know who you are.)

i don't see myself like that.  
on the plane, i've usually got my book out before the person next to me has even sat down.  but i do see myself as someone who loves the people in my life.  i like having someone around who really knows me.  i love it.
heck, i thrive on it.
we all do, probably.
i think danny would be very happy, then, that i have so many memories from his film shoot because of the people that were with me.

i care less about what i'm doing and more about who i'm with.
that's what it's all about: having a companion.


The Former 786 said...

Ok, first of all, THIS is why we should have watched this movie together. I would have LOVED to have a question session afterwards and discussed the film as it was going. Here are some of my thoughts:

1. On IMDb it says, "The amputation scene was done in one take with multiple cameras because only one prosthetic arm was created." and on Wikipedia it says, "Danny Boyle shot the entire scene in one take (with multiple cameras) and every aspect of the scene needed to be functional as well as realistic." Yet you say "i spent two days watching the monitors as james agonizingly cut through seven prosthetic arms." I think you need to do some correcting in both areas.

2. I loved hearing about the shoot. I am fascinated with "making of" videos and so your entry was the closest thing I had to that. Thanks!

3. Sorry about the girl, man. Lizard people suck!

4. Who's that other guy in the picture with you and Danny?

5. I'm a people guy, too. So I can relate to this post.

--jeff * said...

1. interesting....
to be completely honest, i don't remember that we spent two days shooting the arm scene, but i remember talking about how it took us two days jus to do the arm scene. i'm not going to go change imbd or wikipedia, but i trust myself.

i can say that we did do multiple takes with multiple arms, because i saw them hanging a room and i remember the guy saying that we were out of arms.
it's possible that the citations are referring to all of the shots being from the same take/arm.
but trust me, we did it several times.
and danny would just let the cameras run and james would just go at it. one take lasted for 20 minutes (i was recording them on my deck for backup.)

2. it would be fun to watch it together. hopefully we can one day. it's fun to share those kinds of stories.
my friends here wanted to have a night where i'd give a live commentary on "napoleon dynamite," but the semester then got really busy.

3. thanks.

4. the other guy is anthony, the d.p. he also shot slumdog and milllions, as well as a bunch of other crazy stuff. a wild guy, but i quite liked him.

5. one more reason why we're friends.