The CIVIL WRATH Diaries: Part 2
By Mother Brain
February 8, 2014
The day began dreary and wet. Not the best time to scout the trail location 24 hours before production. John met up with me at the hotel and we went to the Cinnamon Swirl Restaurant next door for breakfast. His excitement level had not changed since yesterday. He was determined to not let anything stop production…except the alternator of his 2001 Jeep Grand Cherokee failing on him.
Scared to drive any further, we took my Toyota rental car down to the Just Horsin’ Around Ranch on Route 44 east. The location looked perfect if it was only overcast and dry. It was damp and isolated, boulders riddled with moss and fungus, and enough trees to block out the sunlight. We went over all the blocking and placement of the potential campfire and graveyard sites. Afterwords, we met with the owner of the ranch to pay the rental fees for the horses. Interestingly enough, he’s a local Florida attorney who originated from Queens, NY.
John took his Jeep to the only mechanic open on a Saturday. The shop immediately tried to screw John over with the labor costs and he had to resort to calling any shop like AutoZone to buy the spare part cheaper than what was being asking for. John’s situation has not been the greatest financially in recent years and he would often receive financial support from a retired cop friend from Staten Island. He feared he would not have the money to get the Jeep fixed on time as he had already arranged transportation for the crew. Yet, as luck would have it, his friend sent him a $500 check that came in the mail at the right time. You seriously cannot write this shit.
While the Jeep situation was getting resolved, John showed me all the props and costumes at his house plus the cemetery signs being painted by his sweetheart spouse, Valerie, and his son, Joseph. Everything looked as authentic and worn out as possible. It was arguably more production design work done than any other movie I’ve made where I did very little rearranging of a location.
Later, the cast and crew arrived. Karl Anderson was the camera operator with a decent knowledge of operating, rigging, and using editing software. Simple-minded guy but seemed to have a grip on what we were doing. Darrell Faucette and Donald Epps were playing Roy and Ace, the Confederate bad guys. Darrell was quite the character. Never goes anywhere without his beer and his enormous beard made everyone believe he was the uncle on Duck Dynasty. Don was cool too. He gave me a tip about a local bar where I could go see bikini girls wrestling if I got bored. Had funds not been so limited, I would have considered going!
Other cast members included Marc Hannel and John’s neighbor, Ralph, playing extra Confederate soldiers. Ralph in particular was supplying his generator for the shoot. Charlie, our sound recordist, came in last. Everyone got to know and learn from each other fairly quickly. Seeing the visuals and the faces of these guys only got me hyped up that much more.