I sat down today and realized I had never written about the day the police showed up on set. I think I should write about it before it gets glossed over in the annals of time and forgotten. This was too scary and funny to be forgotten.
The day was August 23 and we were cooking through our schedule. I mean it, time was our friend. We were shooting a scene in the foyer/front porch of the house. The scene is pretty simple, the characters pound on the door and get let inside and the only real issue is how many characters have to be inside that foyer – 8-11 principal characters remember. No matter how you slice it that is a lot of people in one space and then factor in that there is always 5-9 crew people stumbling around as well. We got to know each other real well.
Despite our space issue everything was pretty good. Our only genuine difficulty seemed to be where we placed the light outside; the cord was right by the door frame and thought it was gaffed within an inch of its life more than once actors would snag the cord or the light and it kept trying to plummet to its doom.
Like I said, a group of actors were staged outside the house and pounding on the front door yelling to be let in. We had to do this quite a bit because the scene required a lot of coverage. After one take we opened the door after I yelled cut and I heard an actor laughing and saying the police are coming. I laughed too, it was funny – police interfering with the walkers. Funny ha ha. Then another actor said it again – the police are coming.
That’s when I realized they weren’t telling a joke. The police were coming up to the house.
My brain went into panic mode. Less panic than when we broke Susan’s wall, but still panic. I bolted out of my director’s chair and made a bee-line for the door shouting for Christopher – who couldn’t hear me because he was hooked to the boom with noise canceling headphones on. I think someone kicked him so he flew down the stairs and followed me out the door where we met about four uniformed officers with hands on their guns.
This is where it gets funny.
We had thought to warn all the neighbors on David & Susan’s cul-de-sac that we were filming and would have a fake rifle on the balcony, etc. – neighbors even asked us questions and wanted to be kept up to speed on the progress of the film once it’s done – but we forgot about the neighbor’s behind the house. These neighbors never even crossed our mind.
Evidently, a retired officer lives on the block behind David & Susan and when he heard all the screaming and pounding he assumed someone was breaking into the house and called the police. So the police came and barricaded the street and made their way down to our set because they thought we were doing something illegal. I can’t even imagine what they thought when they saw a bloody crow bar, shovel, etc. being wielded by the actors.
Luckily Chris and I have experience with law enforcement to cops don’t make us nervous like they do most people. The situation was easily diffused, but it was scary for a little while there. They totally could have been morons and tried to make us shut down for the day. The good thing for us is that the cops found the situation funny.