Our set coverage wraps up
On the monitor rests a set of sumptuous, pert breasts clothed in dainty white lingerie. They’re fake. Really fake. It’s a dummy. Matt O’Leary is standing around by the Escalade in his coat with a tire iron. A bowl of prop blood is placed under a prosthetic torso. A wig is put on the head. Measuring tape is used to get the proper camera focus.
O’Leary plunges the tire iron into the chest but the blood doesn’t geyser the way they want it to, just a few pathetic squirts. They try it a second time. Someone says “are they gonna clean the tire iron?” Luckily take two was a gusher. Blood shoots up like the Bellagio fountain.
For take three they decide to add more life to the prosthetic by having a member of the crew stick his hand inside it and simply move it around to make the body twitch and convulse. A low-tech but effective trick which gets a definite reaction from onlookers.
“The idea with that character – and you guys see that she gets killed off very early – was to do something fun,” Stewart tells us. “Drew Barrymore in Scream was such fun casting. All of us liked the idea of pulling in a girl who had a lot of notoriety, good and bad, from her role on T.V. And the funny thing is, she’s the sweetest thing in person, sweet as pie.”
“You know, thank God it looks so believable,” says Pipes, “because it’s hard not to just absolutely break down and start bawling. She looks like she’s dead, really truly, and my character’s not supposed to be affected by it. So there’s this inner struggle of me wanting to break down in tears and not being able to show it which is very fascinating, it’s sort of reverse acting.”
A stuntwoman named Jody stands in for the murdered starlet as she is dragged across the gravel to the mineshaft. Offscreen, the man dragging her is stunt coordinator Brian Smyj, who this author recognized as “Man Glassed in Bar” from The Departed, notorious for asking a cranberry juice-drinking Leonardo DiCaprio if he’s having his period.
After they film the dragging shot tighter with a 40 lens, Stewart yells, “Cut, check the gate. Good shit. Thank you Jody!” Josh Stolberg stands on the sidelines, gleefully snapping pictures with his camera, watching his screenplay unfold before him.
“We’ve been lucky enough to have the writers on set,” says Willis. “I think that’s sometimes a little difficult because writers have their egos miffed if you change their writing, but Pete and Josh are so cool. They’ve done an amazing job of being able to get inside of a bunch of sorority girls’ heads.”
Stolberg is equally pleased and surprised by the access he’s been given. He’s also started a blog on his website to chronicle the experience and give fans a chance to interact.
“The studio has been really kind to have me out here for a month,” he said. “Stewart has been really open about input and ideas. Probably the most important thing was when Pete and I were out here together for the first week, for rehearsal before we actually started shooting. Having rehearsal for a movie, especially for a movie of this budget and of this kind of movie never happens. That week we were able to kind of come at the characters, hear the lines out loud, see what was working and what wasn’t working, see what lines were getting garbled in the actresses or actors mouths, be able to correct those things and I think that the movie is going to be stronger because of it.”
“A lot of the time it’s either the writer isn’t invited because they feel like they’re going to cause some havoc and I’m going to throw a tantrum, like, ‘F**k that! That’s not the way it’s supposed to be made!’,” Stolberg continues. “A lot of it is about knowing your place and realizing that you’re here to help and that it’s a group effort and that it’s Stewart’s movie at the end of the day, but that if I can help in any way I will. When I see things that are happening I’ll take Stewart aside and say, ‘Hey, I think this is possibly better…’ and then let him do it. I say it once and then go about my day.”
The company has moved on to the actual dropping of the body down the well. There’s a practical mineshaft out here in the quarry, as well as a fake one in a studio for shooting close ups, specifically when the body gets dropped.
Three cameras cover the scene. There is a giant light on a crane along with some strategically placed lights in the surrounding hills. In the scene the actresses pull the boards off the mineshaft. They are too far away to make out the dialogue, but at the end Leah is heard saying, like a latter day General Patton crossed with Lindsay Lohan: “Trust, respect, honor, secrecy, and solidarity. We’re Pheta Pi. Now lets go wash the blood off in the lake and get back to the party.”
As the story of Sorority Row continues, a year after this initial event, the remaining girls suddenly start getting picked off one-by-one. You wouldn’t want the deaths spoiled for you, but after hearing about them directly from the cast, rest assured they are gruesome. There are many suspects, and nearly everyone who was there in the quarry that night has a motive. From here on in the film will become a kind of Agatha Christie slasher story for the iPod generation.
“It’s definitely a whodunit,” says Stolberg. “We’ve provided probably ten different red herrings. Hopefully, if we’ve done our job right and Stewart has done his job right, which I know he will, they’ll be five or six reversals during the course of the film as to who you think it is and hopefully it won’t come out of really far left field. But the hope is that someone doesn’t know at the end of the movie. So we’ll see. But we’ve definitely laid the groundwork so that you could figure it out if you’re not going to the bathroom too often.”
As for whether it was worth it for these up-and-coming young actresses to suffer the bitter cold on these two nights will be evident on September 11 when the film opens.
According to Willis, “It’s part of the job. In the moment, you might be freezing but at the end, when everything comes together, it ends up being entirely worth it and that’s why you do it. Everybody else can watch it and say âThis is good’ or even if they’re watching it and say âThis sucks’, you still know you were out there in the freezing cold and you did it.”
Source: Max Evry