DAY SEVENTEEN – THE SALT MINE. Unsung Heroes of the Set Part 107: Video Assist. In the eyepiece of the modern film camera is a tiny colour video camera which sends a signal to the small High 8 video monitors through which I will watch the whole movie unfold. I’m always impatient to see the shot Joan is lining up and it is Pau and Roxanna’s job to get video village up and rolling for me. Whether we’re on the beach, in a hotel room or down in a mine I want that coax connected the minute the lens goes onto the camera body. They nurse the monitors and the wretched cables constantly. After years of technological breakthroughs the movie camera finally lost all the cables it had connected to it (apart from power) sometime in the late 70’s – then just a few years later video assist arrived and the cables came back. Pau and Roxanna probably have nightmares about those coax cables with their delicate junctions.
I’ve been dreading this day all shoot. We have placed Victor’s lab in the salt mine which is Cardonna’s other land-mark. Access is gained only by four wheel drive vehicles which descend into a quarry at the foot of which is the entrance to the mine. To shoot a number of scenes with actors playing two parts in a confined space on a low budget in a tight schedule is nothing short of suicidal. To do it in the rain the day after a torrential downpour is whatever comes next down the scale below that. 0915 – There’s a power problem as the cables from our generator are all soaked. The walls and ceilings are oozing water and as any schoolboy physicist will tell you electricity, water and salt is an ideal combination for spontaneous, free-form and uncontrolable high voltage experiments: during the course of the day Adria and his crew will be constantly swapping out sodden cables and lighting heads keeping us one step away from disaster. 1000 – The band arrive – they love the lab. 1020 – Pau and Roxanna have their little hair dryer out – my High 8 video recorders won’t run because the humidity is so high down here and the salty water drips on their gear constantly. 1050 The rain outside is now so bad that Cardonna has been cut off from the rest of the planet (at least by phone.) 1200 We hear the rain has stopped and the sun is shining – we all wish we could go outside as it’s still raining in here!
Today is also the big day for Victor who is being played by David Gant. He is an extra-ordinarily elegant man with a beard and a pony tail who appeared in Braveheart and he plays Victor with great gusto and cheeky malevolence explaining at last why SClub have been sent on such a fascinating quest. He wonders through his lab making strange gutteral sounds as he works on his character. The grips exchange curious glances.