Epic Success, Epic Fail…
Sometimes you eat the bear, sometimes the bear eats you.
We’ve had two amazing days of filming on Cowboys & Engines, and one day that will live in infamy for years to come. As has been said before, and better, filmmaking is an inherently chaotic process; a constant battle against forces that threaten to bring the whole enterprise crashing down in pieces around your head. I’ve always likened it to a snowball rolling downhill. Sometimes, that snowball gains unstoppable momentum and simply gets bigger and bigger, smashing all the obstacles in its path. Other times, you have to constantly pack the snow together as it rolls, keeping it from falling apart.
Often, you think you have one, and realize you have the other. C&E is the first snowball, but for a brief moment on Sunday, it was masquerading as the second.
We started shooting Friday. We got amazing footage with Richard Hatch, Libby Letlow, Walter Koenig, Kaila Freas and Stasya Knight. Each actor surpassed my expectations for them, out sets were gorgeous, and everything looks amazing.
Saturday was devoted to our scenes on the bridge of the Karlova, Dr. Clay’s dirigible, with the legendary Malcolm McDowell joining us to play Clay. Malcolm was charming, funny, a joy to work with, and I think we made a good impression on him as well. Kerri and Andy Appleton surpassed themselves with the Karlova bridge set, and again, my amazing cast – now including Chase McKenna, Tye Lombardi & Jenifer Ellis as well – blew everyone away. Libby, Kaila & Chase particularly each did a fantastic job of standing up to the challenge of acting opposite a star like McDowell.
Sunday was to be the start of our exteriors. It promised to be a hot, grueling day, but it was cut short when issues with the location and the base camp owner shut us down and left us without any options to shoot out that day. Given that everything was connected to the next day’s location as well, we simply pulled the plug and decided to re-group and attack with a new plan. I went home feeling like I’d been kicked in the gut, but four hours later, we had the beginnings of a plan. Now, two days later, it’s starting to solidify, and we’re all pretty well convinced that it’s going to work out to the benefit of the movie.
I was speaking to a friend on Monday who said, “Everything happens for a reason.” I replied, “Yeah. Usually my own incompetence.” However, sometimes I’m a genius at making exactly the right mistake at exactly the right time.
So shooting is on hiatus until the end of May when we will all re-group in the desert, and see if we do, indeed, have a snowball’s chance in hell.
— Bryn Pryor