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Geoffrey Gould
Reports from the set/s...
Jonah Hex
Reshoots, pick-up shots

Monday January 18, 2010
Late Monday afternoon my calling service notified me I was booked for some pick-up shots on the western feature Jonah Hex, the scheduled filming date being [Tuesday] February 2nd, and the next day Tuesday would be wardrobe fitting. I called the info recording on which Rich King clarified it would be some reshoots, but also special effects such as explosions and such (as well as some of us "getting killed," etc.). Glancing at the project's imdb entry, I found it's a horror western, though possible tongue-in-cheek so. I was a bit more interested in the probability of either hazard pay or managing to be upgraded to a stunt contract.
I got my 2pm calltime at Western Costume, dreading the probability of rain; we had had a major rough start to the full-week forecast of major flood-inducing rain...

Tuesday January 19th, 2010
Managing to leave home the bus information I needed, from my day-job I left a bit earlier and as it wasn't majorly raining, from the North Hollywood station (Lankershim just north of Magnolia), I walked north to Vineland and Vanowen to Western Costume. I was still twenty minutes early for my calltime, and the woman working to sign us in was At Lunch (sitting right there, but off the clock until 2pm), and around 1:50pm she signed me in after the woman who'd already arrived and was waiting.
Outside the heavens opened and rain pouring so hard it resembled studio backlot fake-rain pummeled down, smashing onto the warehouse like structure metal roof.
Friendly and helpful Dave Berrito[?] brought me to the back where I was fitted with black boots, dark grey striped pants, and a brown jacket over a grey vest and manilla shirt; a grey bowler hat and a little dangly tie completed the outfit. Photos were taken, as well as video.
I looked very "townsperson'y."
I was signed out, doing the mal-applied "I9" (even 100% invalid at that, having no OMB number), but I filled it out correctly, under coersion and under threat (to clarify I'm not a government employee, only for which such forms are required), as Human Resources and Payroll Companies are misinformed with disinformation that the private sector are government property, et al, and they won't provide lawfully owed private-sector compensation for labour if the paperwork doesn't imply the worker isn't the ward of the state. But once on set at least all we/I need do is to write On File with the fake I9.
I was told the filming would be at Melody Ranch, where they filmed Deadwood; I felt this could be awkward as MTA buses do not go that far up there. I lost numerous days of work on Amish Grace as they filmed the Amish sequences up in Moorpark, and I learned too late it is possible I might have been able to get there, falsely believing and declaring I could not make it there earlier than 9:30am any weekday.
I deduced at least I could find the San Fernando Valley bus that goes the farthest north (I know there is one that does), and bringing my big folding chair, hike the rest late February 1st and, very warmly dressed, find the place and wait until morning (most likely I can uncover someone who would be willing to drive me if not home, at least into the Valley far enough I can start catching MTA buses, etc.). My lovely and talented friend Leah worked on Deadwood, so I emailed her asking for directions, precise location, et al, so as to start such plans.

Wednesday January 20, 2010
Location, location, location
Leah provided me the info on Melody Ranch, so I started researching. I discovered that the Metrolink Newhall station is a 1.7 mile walk to Melody Ranch, and that a Santa Clarita Express bus leaves North Hollywood station, and on its way stops at the same Newhall station. I began weighing whether to take the train, the earliest of which will get me to Newhall station by 7:17am; the latest the night before would get me there by 9:42pm, if calltime was so early I'd have to wait it out overnight. The Santa Clarita Express bus 757 would get me there around 6:34am, the latest the night before: 9:34pm.
Ironically, the best scenario would be were this to be a night shoot...
My friend Sarah has a coworker who uses the Santa Clarita bus, so she told me she'd learn from him the fare, and see if he could get me a hardcopy schedule.

Friday January 22, 2010
Sarah's friend provided not only the 757 schedule, but it turned out Santa Clarita does the same hard copy type schedule as Foothill transit does: all routes listed within a single booklet (MTA does separate schedules per line, rendering most pointless as they become less available). So now I had all of the local bus listings for Santa Clarita which, after all these years, I learned much of Santa Clarita and area is more accessable (to me).
On one hand the schedule indicates the bus closest to Melody Ranch leaving Newhall Metrolink station at 7:17am, which is the exact scheduled arrival time of the Metrolink, implying the local bus merrily pulling away whilst the train pulls into the station, forcing commuters to wait another thirty minutes for the next bus. But the 757 bus leaves North Hollywood station around 5:57am, arriving at Newhall Metrolink station at 6:34am, allowing one to catch the 6:47 bus and arrive at Melody Ranch around 7:34am'ish. Either way, that's "late" morning for a probable day shoot. If I have to go the night before, I could take the last bus at 9:03pm, arriving at Newhall at 9:35pm and walk, or catch the 8:08pm, arriving at Newhall at 8:39pm, catching the local at 9:10pm, arriving near Melody Ranch at 10pm. Ack. As of this entry, I still hope on this being a night shoot, for which to and from transit will be far easier...

Saturday January 23, 2010
The long short walk
As I boarded the 757 bus to Santa Clarita Saturday morning, I realized I'd neglected to bring with me the walking directions. I knew the "general area" where would be Melody Ranch from its whimsical (if unhelpful) hand drawn "map" on its website. As their "map" gives really no directions whatsoever, I obtained the walking directions from Google, so lacking having the written directions with me, I knew generally where it was, if not specifically.
I learned that the 757 does not make its normal weekday route on weekends, but that from the McBean bus depot pretty much all the Santa Clarita buses stop there if only midway through their route/s.
I eventually discovered the only pracictal reason to take the 757 bus would be either to go to Magic Mountain (a major plus to learn), or if a Melody Ranch gig calltime is very late morning, in the afternoon, or if it's a night shoot. Otherwise, the Metrolink train from Union Station to Newhall is the very real, practical way to Melody Ranch. With my brother Alan long-distance directing me (relaying to me the iPhone-obtained direction), I aborted my mistaken route detour back towards the correct street/s I wanted until I came to the Melody Ranch Studios entrance.
It took thirty minutes to hike back to Newhall Station where I caught the early afternoon train back to Union Station.

Tuesday February 02, 2010
With a relief-providing calltime of 11am, I was in no desperate rush regarding transport. Leaving North Hollywood at 8:55am would get me there in time to hike in and arrive just after 10am.
"Unfortunately," on shoot days I tend to get wound up; not wanting to miss a bus or have a missed connection, I tend to leave even earlier, and even willfully taking my time, I got to NoHo station just before 8am. No problem, I thought. I can take the slightly earlier one at 8:30'ish and take my time once I'm up there.
Suddenly the Santa Clarita but arrived, at about 8:05. Fine, I thought. I'll just take this then...
I arrived at Newhall Station around the time I should have been leaving North Hollywood.
Despite taking my time on my hike, I arrived at Melody Ranch Studio before 9:30am for my 11am calltime. I was almost first; main aspects of production had not even arrived. I eventually was directed to Christian, the [AD or PA] who would be background-wrangling for the day. I was early enough that breakfast was just being put out, so I had some nice hot food, considering I'd chosen not to wear my back-east winter coveralls I had ready. I foolishly thought it would warm up... not so much, it turned out. It wasn't blisteringly cold but it was brisk. The old-west costuming helped, once obtained and into which changed.
I came across Wayne Lieberman who recognized me from our working on an episode of Cold Case, apparently (I actually do not recall working that series, but it sounded familiar, so I figured I worked and somehow I'd neglected to write up a report on it for some reason; we'd definitely worked together on that or something, as he knew of and had seen Strictly Background since together we'd worked). Once we were done up, some quick photos of my outfit were taken. As Wayne lived albeit north of the Valley, he offered to drive me back into the main MTA bus lines, and at the end of the day dropped me at the Woodley Orange Line station from which I took the 233 south on Van Nuys Boulevard to Ventura Boulevard to home.
Throughout the day as we waited, he and I discussed various aspects of science fiction and such. It was a goodly turnout call for background, maybe about thirty of us, and maybe ten or so children. Eventually we were brought over to the main street and from our number those in the Most Sunday Best clothes were chosen for a segment which in the sequence would be the second angle.
The 2nd AD explained to us what the sequence entailed and what was to happen, detail into which I won't go here (I do not believe in providing storyline spoilers myself [such generally currently and/or eventually being readily available Elsewhere notwithstanding], I only convey indications of where I can be seen).
Our "holding" was behind one of the main street building facades; a few air-cannons were set off with their quite-loud "puff" blasts. As we were too close to "the sets," Christian was directed to warn the background not to take photos there (about which he'd just been notified), as they were simply getting shots of themselves in their outfits. It was a good thing photos of my outfit had already been taken several hours earlier (as it was, nowhere near the actual sets being used).
After a while we were brought out onto the main street where AD/s (and most likely the director), were to select some people for the next segment (which would be the first part of the bit).
Considering many of us were given props, most of us thought we'd be doing street crossings and/or sidewalk walks, but we went back to sitting and waiting. While on the main street sidewalk, look down the wide, vacant street the camera was still facing, Wayne and I noted the obvious lack of as much as a single horse. I knew even if it was a Sunday on which the scene was set, there would be substantial activity in an Old West town main street. "Maybe they'll all be CGI'd in later," I joked. I also consider/ed the possibility that the angle/lens/focus could be tight enough on those on the street as to render anything beyond them as distracting within the frame.
The main street shot angle was done, and we went to the church nearby. This would be from which those (in the street angle) would initially emerge, along with the congregation. Nothing (of/with us) was filmed within the church, just our coming out. The props that would have worked for street pedestrians were taken back (carpendry materials, etc.). The Best Dressed were out the door first, as it is they in the reverse angle shot of the street. I emerge just behind them; it is possible I will be visible.
After numerous takes, with crane shot and a static shot, we began running late, the 5pm lunch was about to strike, and grace was called (a somewhat dishonourable way around a meal penalty; it's done all the time so I'm not faulting the production, just pointing out that the practice in general is rather unethical on the part of SAG for allowing it to exist). We were done, but timewise it was so tight that instead of letting wardrobe photograph us so we could change out and be wrapped (yet still stick around for the meal, or choose to depart), we were "forced" to stay to have lunch, and eat still wearing our outfits, having been given hastily made plastic bibs.
A few of the background were selected to remain (there was some night shooting to be done with principals); those remaining were being bumped to Stand In status (and pay... and the overtime therewith), whilst the rest of us were wrapped for the day.
The meal was very good, after which wardrobe lined us up for continuity photos, and we hastened to change.
Christian was being quite equitable, signing out first the children before the adults. One of the adult background pointed out to Christian that he "could not work 'non-union'," apparently not recognizing at the start of the day that he had been given a non-SAG voucher. Christian politely pointed out to him that the man was not listed on the casting list as being SAG (and/or to get a SAG voucher). Christian accurately pointed out that this was an issue with Rich King who booked the background, whom the man began loudly calling an @sshole, and yet still giving Christian major attitude about it, even though Christian had no authority to handle it, particularly so late in the day. Had the guy paid attention when he got his voucher, he could have called Rich King at that time to clarify things. It would not have been the only hiccough; during sign-in one booked woman was not on the list: a quick call to Rich King clarified she was booked, somehow her name just missed the final list. (The last of the children not back from changing and thereby not signed out yet), the growing-irate man all but demanded "at least" being signed out, which Christian mock-happily obliged, obviously to get the problem guy out of there. Even I know that one does not blame the guy who validates the vouchers for a problem caused by someone else (I don't blame production for its payroll company practicing the criminal act of conversion: taking my property [compensation for private-sector labour], and giving it to a third party with which I have no nexus: it is not the payroll company's property to give to anyone but me).
With the guy gone, Christian left intact on the guy's voucher the Out Time as the actual time he was signed out, as a flag with which to remind Christian later as to Who Was The Problem Guy, to make sure production/s knew/know not to hire one who clearly can give such attitude. I doubt any AD with whom I've previously worked would disagree.
For the rest of us, considering how late it was getting, the Out Time was moved back to accomodate accurately the rest of us being signed out; while no real overtime, we did get sixty-five miles for the mileage bump.
On learning on what project I was working, my comic-book author/artist friend Ted Slampyak conveyed very much looking forward to it, the graphic novel series being one of his favourites (certainly earliest on in its series). Considering what was filmed, I really don't think it was reshoots as much as simply Second Unit stuff. It should be interesting to see how it all looks.

Wednesday February 17, 2010
Payroll makes good, mostly
As previously mentioned, the payroll company was misled into falsely believing a third party had some actual claim against my property (my compensation for private-sector labour), and the payment for my wardrobe fitting was unlawfully given to this third party (I literally received a check for zero dollars and zero cents, the "pay stub" declaring future intent to steal no less than thirty three hundred dollars that would be owed to me, unlawfully handed over to this third party without merit of law, under colour of law ). I sent payroll a polite if firm certified mailing laying out the facts at how this third party (to which no lawful exists with me), has tricked the payroll company and leaving open the payroll company to both civil and criminal liability and culpability. While stressing the payroll company had to provide a copy of the hand-signed court order which is the only proof that demonstrates the legality of the false claim, absent of which the third party leaves the payroll company out to dry, as it were, I even strongly urged them to contact the third party to request the status of the court order and/or whether the third party would handle any legal fees involved due to their now civil and criminal liability and culpability to which their complying with the third party creates.
Based on results, the payroll company learned the third party have no legal claim on my property... and my payment for the day work arrived unscathed, and on the "pay stub" the previous reference to future theft was gone. So impressed with the payroll company's redemption and newly-found integrity, I chose to "eat" the wardrobe payment.

Friday June 04, 2010
One of the previews before the opening day's showings of Splice (which obviously I went to see), was the Jonah Hex trailer...

Jonah Hex trailer

Click on a Thumbnail for Full View
''Jonah Hex'' at Melody Ranch
Melody Ranch
''Jonah Hex'' at Melody Ranch
My full outfit
''Jonah Hex'' at Melody Ranch
A bit more detail

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