Monday, 25 February 2013

Location Scout/Assistant Director Jesse MacLean talks about his CHARLIE ZONE experience

As our Line Producer said, "Every production needs a Jesse MacLean on it". This week's guest blogger  started as a Location Scout and before the end of the shoot, every department was fighting over him. Why?  He's a hard worker, a thinker and a doer. Not to mention a talented theatre director, and a new dad as well! Here are some of Jesse's perspectives on the "Making Of Charlie Zone".  

JM:  It’s early morning, late January. Location scouting for Charlie Zone. Pick up the director Michael Melski to drive through a Halifax snowstorm, searching for the perfect beat-to-hell house to serve as the beat-to-hell drug den in the film.

He piles into the car. Melski has been up most of the night, cranking out a new rewrite of the script. He buys the Tim Horton’s. We slide through the streets of Halifax and Dartmouth, eyes peeling back as the coffee kicks in. He discusses new twists and turns in the plot, while everyone else was asleep, he was up typing, furiously it seems, by the sounds of the daily evolution the script is undergoing.

We don’t have a huge budget, but we call in as many favours as we can. Making a movie in your hometown reminds you of how many people you know. It’s no-holds barred. I scour classified ads, and drive slow down every street in the city. Melski is relentless in his pursuit of the right location for each shot. We gain access to some of the sketchiest properties in the city. We step carefully through abandoned warehouses, we learn the story of long-dead businesses and avoid the rusty remains. We talk our way toward the top, we take off our shoes and get grilled on our cinematic intentions in multi-million dollar homes with vast oceanside vistas.

We find the perfect movie crack house in a rather notorious area. It’s for sale. It’s been on the market for months. Our Real Estate agent connect tell us we may be able to offer the owners some money to rent the property for a few days of filming, as she thinks it won’t sell any time soon. Why? Because our perfect movie crack house, up until it’s recent tenants moved out... was a REAL crack house!

We drive on. More coffee, we find a view of the cityscape that needs to be in the movie. The omnipresent red light on the top of the director's phone flashes again. He responds to an email. Or three. The other producers have casting news. Or funding news. Or notes on the new draft. 

End of scouting day. Sifting through hundreds of pictures taken at the possible locations, searching for the perfect angle. Burning up the phone lines, lining up new leads. 

The feel of a movie depends so much on it’s locations. This one has got to feel like the Halifax we don’t know, the dark gritty one bubbling under a surface, the one most people probably prefer to have swept under the rug.  

MM: Thanks Jesse. It was hard work but fun. It was great to watch you grow into such an all around on-set presence. You and all the crew are heroes of CZ. Congrats on being a new father and for helping bring this film to life as well. Hope to do it again soon!

CHARLIE ZONE opens this Friday night in Halifax, Toronto, and Sydney. 

TO BUY TICKETS NOW in Halifax, please go to: 

Tickets onsale ONLY AT THE DOOR at the Royal Theatre in TO: 

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