HORROR STORIES: On the Set of Bride of Violence
This series is a record of the wild events which took place during the filming of Bride of Violence in early 2017.
Story 2: Falling Rocks and Tight Spaces
We scouted the property where most of the filming for Bride of Violence was done twice before production started. Both times, we visited a specific area: a cut out of the mountain where miners presumably had lunch and slept seventy to eighty years ago.
The space seemed perfect for what was described in the script as a “cave” where the villain Berenger brings our young couple for… some serious torture. We try to adapt to our locations as much as we can. After the second scout, Jared Kovacs (the director of photography) and I started planning our blocking in shots around this space. We were aware from the beginning that we needed to be careful in this spot. The mines on the location are reportedly over seventy years old. I made the decision that no screaming (it’s a horror movie and there is a lots of screaming) could be done inside this space. We would bring a limited crew inside and use quite voices throughout filming. But we had no idea just how careful we needed to be…
To get there, we had to cross a creek in our vehicles (that is a story for another time) and haul up a mountain road. On the first day of production on Bride of Violence, we had one scene (the first of many) to complete here. I believe Jared and I reached the location first, already familiar with it. We hiked up a short steep slope and along a ridge with a rock canopy, squeezing past bushes to reach the mouth of our location. Then we waited for makeup to prepare talent and filled our time with important activities…
In all seriousness, we discussed the shots for the upcoming scene and I began to toss out some of the rocks on our location’s floor. Over the many years, these had fallen from the ceiling (yes, the one above our heads) and made a big pile on the ground where our actors would be playing out the scene. To clear some room for blocking, I threw a few of these out the opening in the boards, down the slope. On impact, the rocks crumbled to pieces. This shook me inside. I’d never seen rock (something I generally assume to be strong) break apart in such a fragile way and that very same material made up the walls around us and the hundreds of feet above our heads. Jared mentioned some had broken away beside him as we came along the ridge. The prospect of filming inside this perfect spot became more daunting.
Jared and I were first in, as should be the case. When the actors arrived, I explained again the dangers of the location. Each understood and followed inside. Mike Rea, doing double duty as gaffer and assistant director on this small crew, stayed outside to communicate between us and home base. Topher, our boom op and sound mixer, also remained outside. He’s a big strong man and there wasn’t much space to work with safely. That meant I needed to boom the scene, something I’ve done a few times in my film career. We hid a lav mic to pick up some extra lines and I got set with the pole and microphone to record the scene.
Without the grace and coordination of a professional sound man, I fumbled getting my headphones on and the boom mic tapped the ceiling. I do mean “tap” in terms of the amount of force exerted. The effect from this: a chunk of rock fell onto the floor, one large enough to hurt if anyone had been beneath it. As we began filming the first shot of that scene, my mind turned with the inevitable truth… it was impossible for us to use this location going forward. I felt we had to get this scene done and find some kind of creative alternative to move all the future action from the script to a different place.
We finished the few shots we had, staying cautious of our surroundings and crawled back through the boards, unharmed. Mike told me after we could feel the sun on our faces again that he and Topher had witnessed the rocks fall by them as well. I confessed we could not return to this place for more scenes and I could see relief in his eyes. Jared and I struggled since all our creative vision was based here, however we set to finding another option which led to filming deep in the old mining tunnels and more dark adventures on the set of Bride of Violence.