Published Jun 01, 2003Oh joy. Today I get to sleep in, since my call time isn't until noon, and boy do I need it. We're shooting a scene that is meant to take place in a smoky Berlin gay bar that is having a terrorist-themed party, so everyone has to be dressed as a terrorist to get in. It could happen. Klaus dutifully picks me up and we're off to snag drag queen Sherry Vine, who is currently living and working in Berlin. I had a meeting with her at Jurgen's the other night, the first time I'd ever seen her out of drag. Like virtually all DQ's, she looks almost plain dressed as a boy, but when she gets it up, the transformation is quite extraordinary. I want her to crack a couple of WTC jokes, but she won't do it, which is kind of a drag, so to speak. I convince her to sing the American national anthem, for which all the terrorists in the club will boo her, but she confesses that she will have to learn the lyrics. She ends up singing "God Bless America" by mistake, which I don't realise until the shoot is over, a song to which we'll probably never be able to get the rights. The cutting room floor looms. By the end of the shoot I've pumped the room so full of smoke from the smoke machine that she starts to get a little diva-ish, complaining that it's ruining her voice. I talk her into one more take.
Jurgen has invited 50 extras for the shoot, but of course as it is strictly on a volunteer basis only about 20 have bothered to show up. To present the illusion of a crowded bar we will have to shoot them all on one side of the space from one angle and then herd them all over to the other side for the opposite angle. Fortunately the bar we're using in Schoenberg, called the Midnight Sun, is quite small, so it's not too difficult to make it look packed. The extras are a rag-tag bunch of Berlin fisting faggots. I've never encountered a country in which so many people have the urge to stick an entire limb up someone else's ass, or have said limb shoved up their own ass. Foucault would have a field day.
Poor James, my DOP, is over-worked and definitely underpaid. He's virtually working by himself, except for Soren, who has his hands full doing all the gripping and gaffering, and Kiki, who is supposed to be his camera assistant but who is also shooting with a second camera himself. Maybe someday James and I will aspire to work together on a low budget film, because this no budget filmmaking is starting to get on our nerves.
I've come up with a brilliant solution for all the bad acting that is going on. From now on, I'm going to have the boys wear ski masks or stockings over their heads as much as possible. That way they'll be easier to dub in post. You see? There's an answer for everything. Dino, the hot guy playing Andreas whom everyone wants to fuck, is actually a good actor, but Helmut and Horst are hopeless. No matter how many times I try to correct them, they keep on doing it the same way. I think they're scared of me, because several times I catch them cowering. The cute Nazi boy at the end of the scene is just as endearing as can be, but the drag queen doorman, an old battleaxe who looks like Marlene Deitrich in Judgement at Nuremburg, is a nightmare to work with. I consider it an accomplishment to finish the scene without strangling her with my bare hands.
Thursday, October 3
I'm feeling kind of demoralised today. The loss of the location in the east kind of took away some of the momentum of the shoot, and now we have to trek all the way across the city for the rest of the week. This morning we are shooting Holger and Che kissing in public. It may seem a little Queer Nation, but the sad state of fagdom today almost makes me wax nostalgic for that brief historical moment of gay activist energy. We're having a bit of a problem, however, getting a reaction from the man or woman on the street, to the point where I have to have the boys half undressing and lying on the ground making out before anyone will stop and say anything. Where is good old-fashioned homophobia when you need it?
Back at the location we are shooting the bedroom scenes with Gudrun and Holger. I want Gudrun to have a real, un-simulated sex scene, but I'm a little reluctant to broach the subject with her. She is, after all, a respected member of the Berlin theatre scene. Just as I am about to raise the issue, she pulls me aside and asks if I want the scene to be explicit. I should have known. Not only is she a consummate professional, but also Europeans are way less hung up about sex than North Americans (excluding Mexico). Fortunately Daniel, who plays Holger, has been fucking the odd woman lately, so he's eager to get in some more practice. I leave the couple alone with my two cameramen with the single proviso that they must emerge with a cum shot, and miraculously it happens. It's just what gay porn needs more of: women! I think we just got our momentum back.
Later in the afternoon we're shooting Gudrun and Holger on the street with a baby carriage, the last scene of the movie. It's strange to be depicting them as a normal, bourgeois couple on the street after having just captured them in a hardcore sex scene against the backdrop of Black Panthers and RAF posters in an empty house only a few blocks away. Our new location is very close to Tegel airport, and on a direct flight path to it, so I insist on including a low-flying plane at the beginning of the shot. To this end we all have to stand in our positions and wait and wait until suddenly, without warning and as if out of nowhere, a huge jet appears over our heads. James points the camera straight up to catch the plane, then pans down to begin the tracking shot of our couple. Gudrun has her script hidden in the baby carriage so that she can read her complicated lines while she's supposed to be talking to her offspring. We even get a shot from the point of view of the baby. For a change shooting a scene is actually kind of fun.
Stefan has decorated the new location to my specifications: four huge blow-ups of the main members of the RAF: Baader, Meinhoff, Ensslin, and Raspe. The style I've adopted is a rather flat, quasi-Warholian look, with actors playing out scenes against single backdrops, a little like on stage. Susanne is hot and spot on in her interpretation of Gudrun; when she delivers her lines, stuffed with revolutionary rhetoric, her eyes actually well up with idealistic fervour. She's making working with real actors seem almost palatable to me for the first time in my so-called career. What next, rehearsals?