2/26/2011 - From Russell: Hey,
Thought I'd send you one last missive.
I wrapped on the Tuesday. It was intended that I stay around a day or two but as it was the Shanghai/Sydney flights were all booked for the next few fays so I chose not to re-route through Singapore but to stay with the direct flight and I was home in a blink.
Perfect blues skies warm sun on the skin. This is summers last weekend though but it was a nice welcome after the temperatures and the fog of Shanghai.
So the horse did ok. He was losing it a little bit, but he got the job done. We did four takes of a big wide shot, no spinning around but a trot and a canter and then a few close-ups.He was shaking in the flanks and darting his head at every noise but for a first timer you have to give him credit. He had one days preparation.
Had a moment at the starting point on one take, the carriages in front of me that were supposed to go forward,inexplicitly started to back up. Those behind on horses turned to make way, the soldiers on foot scattered, at the end of the alley way was a canal. Wide and full of unspeakably dirty water. It was one of those moments when time slows down and your really start doing the maths of survival, I was about 3 metres to the water, I saw a pedestrian laneway across the alley, there was a bunch of people between the horse and I and it, but I was going to squirt that horse down the laneway and hope for no low hanging washing.It meant crossing the path of the reversing wagon, but to stay where I was would be to get cut of from any solution but the water. In the millisecond before activation the wagons went forward, cavalry and soldiers fell back into line and off we went.
That movie will be crazy. Stylish and ambitious as well, but from my perspective mostly crazy. - RC
2/21/2011 - From Russell: -- So tomorrow is my last shooting day though I don't get to fly home straight away.
Using a non film horse for shooting a sequence tomorrow, we'll see how crazy that gets. they just don't seem to have a horse culture in these parts. The producers have looked around and come up with a very antsy so-called "show jumping" horse, but it would be the skinniest chested jumping horse in history.
Anyway, one of the horsemen off RH is here with me, Alesh. He is a great horseman, soft hands, strong and kind at the same time, he's rolling his eyes a bit over the mount but I'll have to make do.
The horse responds to my voice when I chat with it so that's a start. It's only a trot, a chat,a twirl and a canter, so in theory it should be easy as pie. However I have been on sets with non movie horses before and it can turn to shit pretty quick.
Anne Turner insisted on a full blooded Stallion for a covering ( mating ) scene in Hammers Over the Anvil,before take one he went apeshit and kicked down the whole corral. I thought it was funny at the time, but I wasn't required to be on him. Tomorrow it's me.That horse that I rode on Hammers was a race horse without any film experience, suffice it to say that I know the difference. A Horse like Rusty from RH is a special beast, and you really appreciate it when you have a good mount. Ribbon from 3:10 and Echo from Silver Brumby were beautiful horses. As was George the black horse at the beginning of Gladiator.
Did I tell you George was on RH? King John rode him. The first day at Steve Dents place ( Horsemaster on Glad and RH ) he pointed over to a group of horses and said "there's an old mate of yours over there".
I looked, walked straight up to George, put my hand on him and whispered "Hey George, did anyone tell you we won an Oscar together?" Steve loved the fact I knew who he meant.
There's lots of moving parts on a film set, horses don't like that much if they aren't used to it.
Shod horse on cement, crowd scene,villagers and soldiers,probably a 3 camera set up. Sounds like a recipe for chaos to me. I'll let you know how I go...
Did a crazy fight scene over the last 2 days, bit sore from rolling around on the ground,getting chains wrapped around my neck and other things. I incorporated one of the Opium Wars quotes you found. Showed it to Eli Roth ,and he and Quentin Tarantino saw the benefit and helped me convince RZA that my character should use it. It keeps him in the time and place, so thanks for that uncredited research assistance. The appalling line is from the Jardine Matheson press release.
So strike Gabby Hayes as we have gone a bit more serious. More latter career Orson Welles.
2/15/2011 - From Russell: Hey,
So today marks past the halfway point in my shooting days. Another 5 shooting days in the next 7 and then home.
Traffic has returned to normal after the New Year and the 38 minute drive to set is now double that.
There should be a video game called Shanghai Driver where random stuff just keeps coming at you.
We have had so many close calls but it seems so does everybody. Every day.
Saw one bloke on his bike today with a load of something spongy and bouncy that was 6 foot wide and at least that tall, the rider was completely engulfed by his load. There is no way he could see to the sides or behind him.
Quite a sight.
Still cold but not always very cold. Had a couple of half hearted snow sprinkles, the kind where you can see the flakes fall but they are gone the moment they hit the ground.
Did a scene today where my character,high on opium,alcohol and nookie gets his tackle squeezed by the Madam of the brothel. Was fine while we were shooting but a bit bruised now that I'm trying to sit at a computer. She got a bit ferocious on the close up.
The crew here are really good, the DP particularly. Great work ethic, everyone mucks in and gets things done.The stunt team are just ace.
Bobby Diggs is doing great as a Director. This is a crazy ass idea that is all his. You can't get it by just reading the script, I'm starting to see it a little clearer now that I'm here and involved. he is a beautiful man my friend the RZA, I am watching him deal with cultural differences,language differences and he is doing great. More than that, he is excelling.
Hope you are well.
2/11/2011 - From Russell today: "It's coming on to 6.30am, got to get to set. The wind outside is howling. It'll be between -1 and 4 degrees today. Everything is going fine. Hope you are well.
So finished my first full shooting day. Got up at 4am out the door just after 6.
I'm home now and it's 8.47pm.
As I have said before the sets are crazy beautiful. This film will definitely not be everyone's cup of tea but I'm having a laugh.
Cut a chap from navel to neck today, that's the kind of thing Jack Knife does, he doesn't go in for your kung fu. I look somewhat like a prussian calvary officer with a touch of dirty harry and a smidge of gabby hayes delivered in a snotty uppercrust English accent. I'm addicted to opium and sex and ultra violence.
There will be quite a few reviewers that will accuse me of losing my marbles altogether after they see this.
F**k 'em if they can't take a joke. RC
2/7/2011 - Started jamming on dialogue with Eli Roth yesterday.
Had to move from the bar we were in because we were cracking up and making the people around us a little uncomfortable.
I'd never met him before, cool guy. We'll do some more today.
Jack knife ( that's the character I'm playing) is starting to take shape in my mind. He's an odd one, that's for sure.
I've been reading about the Opium Wars, another harsh episode from Britain's colonial past.
2/7/2011 - I love a championship game that comes down to one play, don't you? God bless Wisconsin, on the day, you were deserved winners
2/6/2011 - Hey,
Well the fireworks went from continuous to absolutely nuts. It must have been another significant date on the New Year calendar here as by midnight the town was literally going off. You could see hundreds of fireworks from one side to the other,exploding,careening off buildings. For the second time since I've been here the air was laden with gunpowder and cordite. There is still the occasional explosion even now at 6am.
The Daily Mail report is made up, I haven't been doing any music with Sting. He came to the N3D premiere because ,obviously, Trudie is in the movie and he's cool like that. Dani and I went to his performance at the Opera House "Symphonicity" a couple of nights later. Great fun. He was in excellent voice and the orchestral arrangements were special. I particularly liked the treatment of "I Hung my Head". He finished the gig with a version of "Walking on the Moon" just him and an acoustic guitar. Very cool.
There is still a strong chance Alan and I will be doing a show in America in May, we are both itching to play the new songs we have been writing live. We had a hiccup in the original plans and we unfortunately won't be mounting a full tour but, we are still working on doing a show in LA . I know that west coast only will bug some people but its' the best we can do at this stage . If I was to point a finger at a date I'd say May 27 . I hope that is helpful to those who are interested. We won't be releasing a new record before the show, though we may preview some of the new songs in someway.
The sky is full of kites this morning, not lit ones like yesterday morning, today it's sea creatures and birds.
Well, the atmosphere here is something that I guess you've just got to acclimatize too. It is pretty foggy a lot of the time, though last night the air cleared and the cityscape of Pudong is beautiful.
There are still sporadic fireworks going off however many days it is now into the new year.
I just counted 60 seconds and 9 close explosions, there are other muffled ones in the distance, so I suppose "sporadic" is an understatement, more like continuous.
This morning I got up around 5am and there were gigantic kites being flown in the dark over the Yangtze River lit with LED lights underneath, making all sorts of patterns. I don't know if it was anything special or just some guys who like flying kites in the dark. Whichever, It looked great.
Still under the weather, but what can you do?
Ventured out to Songjiang today where we are shooting, the set is simply amazing.
This is only a tiny budget by American standards but you get a big bang for your buck here.
I have a couple more days before I start, I'm hoping that I'll shake whatever this is by then.
Hope you are well,
2/5/2011 - From Russell: "Went to bed sick last night,woke up worse this morning. It is in my stomach,chest,throat and head all at the same time. I wonder if I can use it to enhance the character? --- I've added the shakes and sweats today as well.
I'm ok with you posting this."
2/2/2011 -- From Russell today:
More on his breakfast - I had asked him what the food was like:
Vegetable spring roll - tiny, triangula
Arrived in Shanghai a couple of hours ago. Fireworks going off all over town.
Hope you are well