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Filming of The Majestic

Journal 8 – May 7 (Day 42) Cameraman Emmerichs has another trying day on the set, as Frank has storyboarded Sc. 133 (Ext. Train Depot: Doc gives something to Pete from Adele) as a Steadicam shot. The entire 1 1/4 page scene will be done from varying angles with Emmerichs’ 70-lb. rig. point cabrillo lighthouse We have but two more days here in Ft. Bragg before heading back to Los Angeles and home for virtually every member of the crew (not including yours truly, who hails from Chicago). Frank and the two Davids (David T., our cinematographer, along with colleague David E., the camera operator, as Frank distinguishes between the pair) all huddle on the train platform to discuss the scene. By 9:00 a.m., the five actors required for today’s first sequence (Messrs. Carrey, Stiers, Allen Garfield returning for the first time since a brief appearance in Ferndale; and the F.B.I. agents Doyle and Von Bargen) report for a “first team” (as the cast is always labeled by the assistant directors’ crew) rehearsal. Frank puts the cast through their paces while cameraman Emmerichs views the action through his trusty viewfinder, allowing him to select the appropriate lens while getting a sense of how to maneuver his Steadicam. Actor Garfield is also a legend of sorts, having appeared in some of the most memorable films of the 1970s like Robert Altman’s “Nashville” and Francis Ford Coppola’s classic, “The Conversation,” both Oscar contenders in their respective years (1975 and ‘74). He chats briefly with Frank on how he sees playing the scene from the perspective of his character, screenwriter Peter Appleton’s Hollywood agent, Leo Kubelsky Sc. 133 calls for Appleton to board the train back to Los Angeles to answer the call to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee. Before boarding the train (he is hours late, giving his agent and the two F.B.I. agents hot on his trail, a moment of anxiety), Doc Stanton gives him something to read on the train (check in tomorrow for the train sequence). point cabrillo 2 Once filming commences at 11:00 a.m., Emmerichs adroitly dances around his actors while manning his cumbersome Steadicam, take after take (he definitely earns his salary on days like these). Frank wraps the scene at 3:00 p.m. before heading back to the Point Cabrillo lighthouse for a majestic sunset shot of stars Carrey and Holden atop the lighthouse platform overlooking the Pacific. Once again, dolly grip Jamie Young (working with key grip Mall’s crew) assembles the Lenny Arm III crane, adding several joints to build it to a length of about fifty feet. The shot Frank has designed for just one shot today is a beauty — Luke and Adele walk onto the lighthouse platform just as the sun descends over the horizon. Young commandeers the movement of the crane upwards toward the lighthouse platform while cameraman Emmerichs drives the wheels at the Hothead controls that spin the camera into position. point cabrillo 3 The sweeping camera move, which captures the setting sun and lands just as Carrey and Holden stop to chat while looking out to sea, is breathtaking. Such crane choreography (and the proficiency of professionals Emmerichs and Young) always lends majesty to a movie. While Frank calls for several takes due to the tricky camerawork involved, still photographer Nelson stands by (out of camera range on the narrow stairwell) awaiting approval to get atop the lighthouse to shoot sixteen plate shots of the setting sun and the green and purple shades of light that bathe the sky at dusk. Nelson’s special photography will allow Frank to complete close-ups of his two stars back on a Hollywood sound stage (if necessary) using a replica of the lighthouse (designed by Greg Melton) against a huge photo backdrop called a “translight.” To wind down our day, Nelson and I dine at another acclaimed Mendocino eatery, Stevenswood Lodge, where we bump into Jim Carrey. We chat briefly with him at an adjoining table, and are surprised to find the actor has generously picked up our check as well. No wonder Carry sampled some of my delectable dessert (chocolate soufflé cake under a bed of rum ice cream on a plate drizzled with chocolate and caramel sauces). Had I known he was buying tonight, I would have saved him more of my dessert. However, after sampling my dish, he turns to see who else is still dining in the restaurant, and jokes that maybe he will taste everybody else’s dessert.
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