Blab April 2003
Published Apr 01, 2003The Raspberry Reich shooting diary continues
Thursday, October 24
In the afternoon James (my cameraman) and the Giant Peach (me) check out some more locations, this time in the vicinity of the Olympic Stadium all the way over in the west end of Berlin. Klaus drives us up and down the streets of quiet, affluent neighbourhoods, the wheels of the van made silent by a carpet of dead, wet leaves, looking for the perfect place where the son of the wealthy German industrialist/banker will be kidnapped. In the evening I finally get a chance to rehearse with the "actors," but despair immediately starts to set in. The script, which borrows complicated phrases and bits of manifestos from such revolutionary groups as the SLA, the RAF, and the Weathermen, would be difficult for trained English actors, so you can imagine how untrained German porn performers with scant English are managing. What was I thinking? I guess when I was writing it I was inhabiting in my mind, as I sometimes do, a utopia in which porn actors can also be members of Mensa and graduates of Rada. But alas, it isn't a perfect world. I'm starting to think I'm not going to be able to make this work.
Friday, October 25
As I lie awake, dying, the night before our little shoot is to begin, I commence to wonder if I can really go through with this. If casting is 90 percent of a movie, then I'm about 85 percent short. The crew is minimal and largely inexperienced, the budget is sketchy, and the weather forecast is calling for rain all week. I get up and open the huge door in my room that leads out to the balcony and step into the blustery night. Berlin looks so dramatic and forlorn, just the way I feel. Pathetic fallacy! I almost wish I could jump, but unfortunately my suicidal tendencies are woefully underdeveloped. I return to bed and spend the rest of the night tossing and turning without getting a wink of sleep, growing increasingly more panicked as morning encroaches. At 6:15 a.m. I call up Jurgen to tell him that I'm calling the whole thing off and catching the next plane back to Toronto, but he doesn't answer. I take it as a sign and vow to see the shoot through to the end, come what may.
Saturday, October 26
Making movies is so insane, it's hard to believe. It's such hard work; you have to make a thousand decisions a day; the hours are too long; so many things can go wrong; and on low budgets there's never enough pay. Hey, I rhymed. The first thing we shoot is Patrick, the son of the wealthy banker, riding on his skateboard before he gets kidnapped. In the script he's an expert, nimbly weaving between pedestrians, but as our Patrick, who is from Leipsig, can skate about as well as he speaks English, some adjustments will have to be made. Pragmatist that I am, presto, I quickly transform him into a klutzy kid who's just learning the art of boarding. After we have a few scenes "in the can" I feel a little better, but the cards are still stacked against me. We try to shoot the abduction scene, but the morning sunshine has been replaced by a nasty mid-afternoon rainstorm, which wouldn't match at all with the scenes we've already shot. When it starts to hail, I call Jurgen and ask him if we can postpone the abduction until tomorrow. The schedule is tight, but he reluctantly agrees. As it turns out, we should have stuck it out, because the sky clears in a couple of hours, and when we shoot tomorrow, it will rain all day long.
Back at the East Berlin location we shoot the two scenes with Patrick, the hostage, and Clyde, the member of the gang who falls for him. This includes a sex scene, which may be difficult since our Patrick has declared that he isn't sexually into Clyde, a fey Swedish ballet dancer with a thick accent. Despite his protestations, Patrick does manage to get hard and allows himself to be fucked up the ass by Clyde ad nauseum for about an hour and a half. So much for sexual chemistry.
I forgot how boring shooting sex scenes is. As the boys switch positions yet again, I find my mind drifting to thoughts of dinner. Fortunately Jurgen has shot scores of pornos, so he can direct sex scenes in his sleep. I let him give most of the directions, although occasionally I do throw in a "slap his ass" or "stick your tongue in his ear" or "say Viva la revolucion' while he's blowing you," just to keep my hand in.
Stephan has done a great job decorating the apartment. I had the idea of blowing up photos of revolutionaries and papering the walls with them, which he's done in the living room with images of Angela Davis and Gudrun Ensselin to spectacular effect. Che's room has been adorned with a huge black and white photo of Che Guevera on one wall and a bunch of smaller ones on another, which gives it the aspect of a shrine. In the evening we shoot the scene in which Che makes love to his guns and masturbates. The fellow who plays Che is also the caterer for the shoot, so I hope he'll remember to wash his hands before he prepares our food. He's really nice and hot in a weasly kind of way, and it looks amazing when he performs fellatio on a gun and jerks off with a giant Che Guevera looming over his shoulder very epic. As usual, during a sex scene everyone crowds around and wants to watch everything on the monitor, but I really don't see what the big deal is. Honestly, making porn can be so corny.
Sunday, October 27
I'm supposed to be picked up by two members of the crew, Kiki and Luis, at 8 a.m., but they're an hour late. I'm convinced something has gone terribly, terribly wrong. When they finally arrive I'm informed that the clocks went back an hour last night, a fact that no one deigned to inform me. I could have had an extra hour of sleep, dammit. In three vehicles the crew heads back to the Olympic Stadium on the west side to pick up the missing abduction scene from yesterday. It's pissing rain again, but the weather forecast calls for some sort of quasi-hurricane to hit Germany tonight, so we have no choice but to soldier forth. As I start to attempt to shoot Patrick in the deluge, walking along with his skateboard before he gets abducted, I realise that for a cast and crew numbering about 15, there are but exactly two umbrellas. What a way to run a railroad. Patrick is soaked, I'm soaked, and the ink of my script is running. I'm beginning to become very disturbed, but I'm resigned to finish the scene in spite of the rain, even though it's obscuring the camera lens. Just when it seems like an impossibility, the downpour miraculously stops for a couple of hours, as it often does on movie shoots, and we manage to capture the abduction.
The four boys looks so cute in their 70s-style Munich Olympics terrorist track suits and brown stockings over their heads, the latter which we had to buy at a lingerie shop en route since the wardrobe guy forgot to purchase them. I finally resign myself to bad performances from the male actors when I realise that they can't even say their lines while reading directly from the script, let alone trying to say them from memory. Oh well. I'll just have to dub their lines in post production. It is Europe, after all. So much for my avowed love of working with non-actors. Another reminder that we're in Europe and not in jumpy, paranoid North America occurs when I have the four very authentic-looking terrorists jump out of their car with their guns pulled and stockings over their heads and a police car drives right by without even bothering to stop. It's nice to be in a civilised country for a change. We do frighten some tourists, but they're probably Americans, so who cares? All I know is, my fucking feet are wet.