BEHIND THE MOVIE SCENES - "First Blood" cast and crew have been warmly welcomed to Hope, according to actor Brian Dennehy - Sheriff Teasle in the Hollywood production currently being filmed downtown. " It's very much appreciated!" Chatting with Fraser-Cheam Regional Directors last week, Dennehy described the behind the scenes action in putting together a major motion picture.
Film making remains one of the last professions in the world where a true entrepreneur can still exist, he said. You get an idea, find a producer and director, for an ad hoc production company for the project, hire a cast and make your movie. The average cost for a full length feature film these days is around $15 million, he added, personally estimating that "First Blood" would cost between $12 and $15 million to complete.
However, there are no secrets, said Dennehy, who owns a production company himself. Even though he's playing a character role here, it pays to be able to assess the way things are going. Publicist Bert Elias added that in this line of work, information come by osmosis. It is like a combination of politics, business and the arts, it's to your advantage to know more than just what you're paid to do.
You learn how it works agreed Dennehy. What about curfews asked one director. When the camera goes on, you have to be ready, replied Dennehy, It's a hard enough business to get anywhere in. Less than one percent of the screen actors guild make the money I make after 20 years. To take the chance of throwing it all away and be non-professional would be incredibly stupid! The people in Hollywood are among the most professional I have ever known. We play hard but we also work real hard.
As an aside, the American actor, who owns property in Atlin, B.C. noted that Canadian crews are the best he's ever worked with. They have the same sense of commitment to the project as the actors, producer and director do. In Hollywood, sometimes the guys seem to be going through the motions. What guarantee of success is there? asked another director. None, replied Dennehy, it's like drilling for oil, there are a lot of dry holes.
With TV and Cable sales sometimes business costs are taken care of upfront, he explained. This reduces the risk to the company. However, he was not sure what arrangements had been made for First Blood. Among the things going for the movie are its director Ted Kotcheff and star actors Sylvester Stallone and Kirk Douglas, he said.
Kotcheff is a great director: he puts together a fast paced action film, said Dennehy. He's the right guy for this movie. As for audience appeal, It's Sly and Kirk who sell the picture. People don't come to see me, I'm just a professional actor. Producing a movie remains a long time consuming process. There are 12,000 feet of film. Each shot takes 3 hours to set up, with about 700 hours of actual shooting. In total about 70 10-12 hrs days including editing and adding music are needed to finish the film.
With a cast and crew of 75 to 125 people, costs quickly add up. In Hope alone, Dennehy estimated that close to $1 million would be left in the local economy. Why Hope? asked a director. Apparently Mexico and Texas were looked at but Sylvester Stallone, who had a lot to say about location choice, felt Hope was more geographically and physically correct. The choice of location has not been without its problems though, particularly at the Othello Tunnels, he said. If they had known how difficult the terrain there would be to work in, another site would have been chosen.
For instance, lighting conditions could go only between 8am and 3:30pm before the sun was gone. This meant the production company was losing four to five working hours a day, he said. As a result the film fell behind schedule. Moreover, the site is very narrow and difficult to manoeuver in, making the already dangerous stunts even trickier. What that Canadian pilot did in the Coquihalla Canyon was extraordinary, said Dennehy
Among the stunts were a 150 foot drop from the helicopter to an air bag and jump off a cliff and down a fir tree. Stuntmen are the elite of Hollywood and without them there would be no movie "he praised".
From the Othello Tunnels, the production moved into Hope on Monday, "It's here we expected to test your patience," said Dennehy, with street closures and traffic stoppages. However, so far the friendliness and co-operation has been exceptional, he emphasised.
We've been charmed by your welcome and the beautiful attitude of the people he continued. It's always a pleasant surprise for me, coming to a small town from New York and finding people who are friendly, open, nice and concerned about you as an individual. Dennehy said he found a great dentist in town. Bob Erickson, he's great!
All of us are very grateful and apologize for all the American flags. Hope Mayor Keith Gergner inturn thanked Dennehy for extending himself to local people. Many people have seen you in the movies, but never thought they would see an actor of your calibre in Hope. I know it has meant a lot to people to have you just shake their hand or even smile at them on the streets.
Filming is expected to continue through December 17/1981
Wallace Street was lined with spectators this week as the filming of "First Blood" moved downtown Hope on Monday. Onlookers were eager for a glipse of Hollywood star Sylvester Stallone as he escaped from the jailhouse and hijacked a passing motorcycle. The scene was not without some unexpected action as the unmanned bike accidentally veered into the crowd, striking a boy. He wsa not seriously hurt; recovering quickly in fact when Stallone rushed over and scooped him up in his arms.
Crowd control posed a problem at times, not only for Hope Search and Rescue members supervising the barricades, but for director Ted Kotcheff, who had to keep ensuring spectators were not in camera range. He kept asking for crowd co-operation in not taking pictures and maintaining quiet during filming.
Street closures occurred during the first two days of shooting and can be expected at various times throughout the film's production. Streets closed this and next week include Wallace from Forth to Third and Commission.
Night shooting began last night and could happen any evening from now on according to a production company spokesman. Filming will continue either day or night for the next three weeks as weather conditions and script dictate.
Creative differences were cited as the reason for movie star Kirk Douglas leaving First Blood. The 65 year old actor, who celebrated his birthday last Wednesday, left Hope for California sometime last week. Insiders cited differences between Stallone and Douglas over the script. Douglas has been replaced by Richard Crenna, who will now play Trautman.
Crenna has performed in the Warner Bros. movie Body Heat and has also appeared in a number of television movies including "Fugitive Family", "The Day the bubble burst" and "Sweet Land of Liberty." He also starred in the Real McCoys and Centennial on NBC. First Blood's publicist said Douglas resignation has not set back the shooting schedule. They expect to be out of hope on Dec 23.
While behind the scenes fireworks were going off, there were a couple of real explosions last week and last night as the Hollywood production company blew up two of its local sets. A couple of balls of fire and bits of junk went flying during the explosion of the fake gas station last Thurs, Dec 10 at approximately 10:30pm. The fire snuffed itself out in a matter of minutes once spectator said. He added he had visualised a lot of flames but there were actually very few. The Hope volunteer Fire Department extinguished the small fires that remained.
There were several smaller explosions during the night, up to 4:00am on Friday. In one scene, several police cars caught fire and the gas tanks exploded, flipping them in the air. The film company had originally predicted the fire would last anywhere from one to two hours when it first approached council for approval to film in the town in October. 4
The station was located on the Hope-Princeton Hwy next to Ryan's Restaurant. On Friday morning, the rubble and charred cars and army truck were still smoking. Several motorists stopped to take pictures or just look at the destruction. Last night on Dec 15, the gun shop blocking Commision Street was set ablaze, exploding into flames around 11pm. It lasted about half an hour before being extinguished.
In other stunts, last Friday morning drivers were stopped for a scene involving a 60 mile an hour chase between Stallone's stunt double on a motorcycle and a police car on Third avenue from Wallace street to the railraod tracks. Ramps were used last Friday Dec 11, to propel the motorcycle and the police car over the four tracks. Stuntman Benny Dobbins was injured when the car landed heavily after it flew approximately 15 to 20 feet past the tracks. The vehicle was approximately 10 feet in the air. Dobbins was admitted to Fraser Canyon Hospital and remains there with a compressed vertebrae.
Special effects were also scheduled for later this week. However, they may be postponed due to the recent snowfall. A spokesman for the weather station said a New York company which has underwritten the operating and staff costs for the production during inclement weather, was calling the station constantly every two to three days.
However, he added the station has not heard from the company for the past week.
Senior citizens in Hope may have a new recreation centre if agreement can be reached between the town and movie company for acquiring the sheriff's office on Wallace & Third. The town will inspect the jailhouse once First Blood is finished with it. If it is not too badly damaged, the company will sign it over to Hope in exchange for clean up of the site. Filming is expected to be completed sometime today (Wednesday). However, the company could return next week or in the new year to pick up additional footage.
To clean up the town, First Blood will remove and dispose of the gunshop from the corner of Commission street and Third ave; the Tony Lama cowboy boots billboard next to the gunshop; the U.S. Army billboard behind the sheriff's office; the debris and billboards at the gas station on the Hope-Princeton Highway and clean up under and around the areas.
Mayor Keith Gardner and administrator Ray De Sorcy met Friday with First Blood production manager Paul Tucker and lawyer Peter Kennedy to discuss purchasing arrangements. If the town enters into an agreement with the company, the building will be moved to a suitable site for use as a recreation centre for local senior citizens. One possible site is next to the senior citizens home.
The specifics of a proposed agreement were ouitlind to council at its meeting Thursday night. The town has not signed a contract with the company and will not sign until First Blood is finished with the building, Gardner told The Standard. Council took exception to a clause which stated First Blood would not indemnify the purchaser (town) form any loss or damage suffered to the sheriff's office and does not warrant or guarantee the construction of same.
Ald. Doug Barker commented the claus was almost like buying a pig in a poke. Ald. Millie Ehlers suggested the clause be eliminated. Council members also agreed with Gardner's suggestions that a clause, giving council the right to renegotiate if there is more damage than the company indicated or to cancel the contact, he said.
At the meeting, Gardner suggested the council should sign the contract when First Blood is finishing filming. The town could then have a look at the building and proceed if it was still feasible. If not, then the company would have to pay for the work done by the town. He added Hope would not wait for three months before cleaning up.
The contract also pointed out the building was not constructed according to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation standards, the National Building Code, B.C. Building Code or Town Hope bylaws. Council calculated the cost of building a foundation, moving and repairing the builiding at approx $20,000.
The Golden Agers Club has agreed to take the responsibility of finishing the building if it is acquired. Ald. Buddy Umemura was appointed to the club's finance committee to discuss methods of reimbursing the town.
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