Monday, September 5, 2011

Rug Burns: Vigilante Cop - Pre-Production

'Rug Burns' started off as my ode to blaxploitation films of days gone by.

Drug dealers, hitmen, gangstas and pimps...jump cuts, action montages, explosions, soul and funk soundtracks...blaxploitation films combine all the greatest things to known man...along with some great actors such as Fred Williamson, Pam Grier, Jim Kelly, Rudy Ray Moore, the list goes on...

If you're looking to bone up on your blaxploitation films, MGM re-released a number of blaxploitation films about ten years ago on VHS and DVD under the heading of 'Soul Cinema'...including 'Coffy', 'Across 110th Street', 'Foxy Brown', 'Blacula', and the all-but-forgotten 'Bucktown':

"Bucktown, where the chicks are on the make, the cops are on the take, and the welcoming committee is a sawed-off shotgun!"

Does shit get realer than this? One of the actual lines from this movie is "They don't give a damn who gets killed, just as long as the dice keep rollin', the hos keep ho'in', and the money keeps flowin'!"

It's fast and fun cinema for the masses.

Rug Burns: In the beginning...

I actually created 'Rug Burns' for my radio show (Moon Down Radio). Eventually I recorded 2-3 audio episodes which included Rug going to the barbershop, and Rug foiling a bank heist. Listening back to the old tapes, I realize 'Rug' is pretty much 'Dirty Harry'. Oh well...

In any case, I proposed to my pal 'P-Tricky' AKA 'P-Dub' in Toronto that he play the role of 'Rug Burns' (you don't technically need to be black to play the lead in a blaxploitation film). I'd seen him do a few top-notch viral videos before and thought I'd be better suited behind the camera and writing the script.

In the end we set a date of Aug 27 to begin shooting. That meant I had a couple months to write up the script.

But first, we needed to find places to shoot.

Location, Location, Location

Considering this was originally planned as a no-budget operation, with no crew, and little to no outside help, Toronto was the place we needed to be. We didn't have money for sets, or big special effects, so the better our real-life locales looked, the better the end product would be (hopefully).

With that in mind, I spent a couple days in Toronto looking for suitable shooting locations which would allow us both a) amazing scenery, and b) the least amount of outside interference.

Here are a few locations I came up with and visited:

Rooftop Parking Lot - Downtown Toronto
Polson Pier - Filming Strictly Prohibited
Cherry Street Bridge
Train tracks - Unwin Ave.
Westwood Theatre (Abandoned) - Etobicoke
We would go back a few days later, and discovered we could get rooftop access...
Park Lawn Cemetery
In the end I narrowed the field down to about 8 locations we could possibly use (having actual locations in mind and pictures to refer to would really help with the writing process later on).

Da Script! Da Fuck?

I've never written a script before, but I did read Robert Rodriguez's amazing little book, and he made it sound pointless to learn the actual formatting of scripts. After all, I'm the only guy who really needs to read and understand it.

All the ideas came together pretty fast...I drew inspiration (read: ripped off) Spike Jonze's 'Sabotage' music video, Lee Demarbe's film 'Harry Knuckles', and John Davies and Jason Eisener's 'Hobo With with a Shotgun'.

The actual writing was pretty slow though. I usually scribble ideas down on pieces of papers and post it notes...not to mention I'm a horrible procrastinator, so gathering everything into one neat tidy package was a bit of a pain in the ass.

Even though I had months to complete it, I only finished writing it the Tuesday before we got shooting.

At the end of the day, the 7-page script consisted only of about 25 spoken lines. Since we were shooting a trailer, and not an actual short film, most of the script detailed action shots and sequences.

Now, the only thing left to do, was secure some fake guns, prep some fake blood, get some extras, and hope for good weather.


Next time, Day 1 of shooting!


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