Catherine — DAY ONE
I arrived at the set of Ninn Worx’ Catherine, a movie loosely based on the life of Catherine The Great [well, that was the plan very early on in the process when Michael shot this part], soon after they began filming. Michael Ninn was shooting dialogue and cutaways in Los Angeles, with the “commercial” scenes, i.e. sex scenes, to be shot in Budapest the following month. The set was a huge, furnished, unoccupied mansion high in the Hollywood hills. And when I say high, I mean high. The road to the house was at about a 180-degree angle. I just kept thinking that if I were walking Lucky’s dogs there I’d have to pick up his “speed bump of a Maltese” Petulant and carry her to flat spots to pee. She’d never be able to walk up or down the hill. Heck, I barely could! [Truth be told, I’m fairly sure that Petulant thinks that through some quirk of nature, her legs magically disappear whenever DM is around. I’ve never actually seen both of them walking at the same time. Maybe they share a set of (appropriate) legs and it’s just that none of us knows it.]
The first person I encountered there was the lighting director. He jammed his “bleeding” hand in my face and asked worriedly, “Do you have a first aid kit in your car?” Then he laughed, “Don’t worry. It’s just stage blood!” (It’s not good to scare this minion first thing in the morning!) [It’s not? Oops.]
The next person I saw was Otto Bauer. (He was the one actually making use of the stage blood.) Otto was playing Catherine’s husband Justin. Lucky had gotten to set before me and had watched the first few hours of filming. “Otto’s been mostly dead all day,” he said. Otto was fine with it. Being paid to lie on the nice soft carpet and pretend to be dead is a fine way to make a living! [And being married to Audrey Hollander is probably a fine way to make a “homing” … or whatever.]
Lucky left to hang with the girlfriend of the owner of the house in the extremely groovy home theatre. R-I-G-H-T. Did I mention that I’d fired him because the day before (when he was supposed to be covering the movie) he’d taken only about 10 photos, most of them architectural, and had jotted down about two sentences of notes for the three scenes that were shot that day? That’s because he was hanging with the same owner’s (beautiful) girlfriend, then also. I went inside the mansion to watch the shoot. [I don’t remember this at all. It must not have happened. … Me? Flirt with a pretty girl, that happens to have nothing but time to kill and the key to an admirably stocked wine cellar? Naw. … Couldn’t have happened.]
Catherine is Michael Ninn’s big movie of the year, and he had spared no expense. Besides his usual crew, a mainstream crew had been hired to work the computer-controlled camera on a dolly track. There were several “passes” for each scene, and it was important to have each “pass” exactly the same for continuity. [Odd. That’s my philosophy of pretty girls with keys to the wine cellar too. Hmm.]
I’d been informed that if anyone asked, we were filming a “music video.” Apparently some mainstream folks have porn issues, and we didn’t want to offend any of the crew.
I peeked in and saw Audrey Hollander as her character, 20th Century Catherine The Great. She was wearing a white blouse and a tiny white g-string. A good look! My “girlfriend” Justine was standing at the window, dressed a la 18th Century Catherine The Great. Her tiny body was dwarfed by her gigantic hooped dress and her face was concealed by a veil. Since the 20th Century Catherine and the 18th Century Catherine appear together in many of the scenes, Justine was chosen to be Audrey’s body double. It’s not easy to see her under those clothes, but it’s her! [It was also fairly easy for some of us to see that these were 19th Century clothes, thus began the “maybe we should rethink this whole ‘Catherine the Great’ thing.”]