John Sayles' AMIGO and A Moment in the Sun out at last.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

From John Sayles to the US cast

Hi everybody-

It will be a while before you’re here but I have time to write now and thought I’d give you a heads-up on some things.

As far as being prepared for the acting- as I said before, no buzzcuts, hair was short then but leave us something to work with. It would be good if you’re not dead pale- soldiers didn’t sunbath but had farmer tans or burns- color on their faces and hands (possibly forearms). If you can get out under the rays it will save some bronzing time every day (you can burn yourself quick here but it’s not healthy). Col. Hardacre, Capt. Creighton and Lt. Compton will have sidearms (Army Colts) while Sgt. Runnels and the rest will carry Krag rifles. The Krag was relatively long-barreled with a bolt action described as ‘butter-smooth’, but if authentic your rifle will be over 100 years old and if a copy or a dummy I can’t guarantee the action. Check the script and if you’re likely to have to fire on-screen it would be good to get somewhere (shooting club, someone with an old hunting rifle) where you can fire any bolt-action, open-sight rifle- if you’ve never shot before the rifle will tell you where you should or shouldn’t be resting the butt on your shoulder. The Krag had a five round magazine, very easy to load, and if we get one where the innards work we’ll give you some practice with that for the ambush scene. None of the firefights in the story will require using the sight ladders, but there was no ‘spray and pray’ in those days, so if you practice, aim at something.

Col. Hardacre will have a big American-style horse, while Capt. Creighton will ride a Filipino pony- you’ll never have to get them past a fast walk.

It’s already hot here by 8am and our uniforms are period material, so expect to be sweaty most of the shooting day- it will help you stay in character. We’ll be leaving the hotel in the dark and returning in the same as the equator day is about 5 to 6 all year. You’ll be out of your time zone anyway. Living quarters are on the top of Panglao Island, just across a narrow channel from Bohol. I’ve been walking out in the flat for five minutes till it’s deep enough to swim (no jet skis or speedboats here) but if you have a full day off there is good swimming/snorkeling/diving at the beaches 20 minutes away on the other side of Panglao. Food is very good and very fresh in the genres that they do here- some beef or carabao, lots of chicken, fish, pork. They have goats tethered all over the place but I’ve never seen one on the menu. San Miguel beer, Coke (sorry, no Pepsi), Sprite and lots of good juices and fruit shakes. They’re not much on lettuce salads, but there’s local vegetables and some seaweed dishes. They don’t eat the duck embryos (balut) on this island, so cross that off your list. If you’re into the water I suggest bringing some reef-walkers (needed for diving on the coral or just crossing rocky patches) and snorkel stuff if you have your own, though you can always rent.

You can call a cab from the hotel for groups or ride single in a tuk-tuk (motorcycle with a too-small-for-me passenger compartment attached) to the beach or to beautiful downtown Tagbilaran, Bohol’s capital, just 10 min (depending on bridge construction) across the causeway. Immediately in town there is an old church with park plaza and on one end there is, for those with the Starbucks habit, a Bo’s coffee outlet, same kind of stuff offered. Another block up Carlos Garcia (4th President of the Philippines and from Bohol) Avenue you’ll see a McDonalds on the left for anybody desperate enough, which is in the corner of the BQ (Bohol Quality) Mall, which has the usual mall stuff and a multi-screen theater (now with digital 3-D thanks to AVATAR) and a very good restaurant, Jerry’s, on the top floor. Good Chinese food in town, a cool seafood joint on the pier and many good fruit stands on the street. Bananas, lanzones (you’ll have to try them), oranges, watermelon and THE BEST MANGOES IN THE WORLD (really). If you avoid the shameless tourist traps nothing is very expensive. We’ll have water jugs at the hotels so you can resupply- nobody drinks from the taps but the water is fine for showers, baths, washing clothes and dishes.

It looks like we will have projected dailies in a small conference room at one of our adjoining hotels, and everybody is invited. If you don’t like to look at yourself but don’t want to miss the gathering you can ask co-producer/associate editor Mario Ontal what’s on the card for the night and catch other people’s scenes.

Most of our crew will speak at least some English and most Boholanos who run shops can do their business in it. Money is still in Spanish words- uno, dos, tres, etc. People are very religious, mostly Catholic and evangelical Christian here, and never is heard a discouraging word, at least not in English. The other Westerners on the island are mostly on the far side of Panglao diving (g’day, mate) so people here may find your presence unusual, but they are really friendly- lots of ‘good morning’ and ‘good afternoon’. Do be careful crossing streets, as everybody- cars, vans, tuk-tuks- is allowed to pass wherever the opportunity arises and they take advantage of it. Vehicles dart around but with all the roadside pedestrians and feathered livestock to avoid they’ve gotten good at it.

Our baryo is taking shape, rice planted for the shoot (three month variety) and our church and huts going up. We have some beautiful mucky paddies for you to get ambushed in. The older people in Toril still aren’t sure it’s not all a joke, but as our numbers increase they are getting used to it. Quite a few very vocal fighting cocks will be relocated during our shooting days to keep them off the soundtrack. We’ll have tents to keep you out of the sun when you’re not shooting and plenty of water. Filipinos take a real lunch hour, and this, with the shortness of daylight, shooting days and budget means we really have to have our game together to get everything shot and keep the quality high. At times we may have rehearsals for the next day’s first shot during dusk wrap, and you should be prepared to shoot anything in the script on fairly short notice if we have to suddenly bump to an interior (short rain showers may leave the baryo ground too wet for continuity with an outdoor scene we’ve started). This is really a terrific group of actors from both sides of the ocean, so it should be very satisfying work.
Hope you like rice.

1 comment:

  1. None of the firefights in the story will require using the sight ladders, but there was no ‘spray and pray’ in those days, so if you practice, aim at something.

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