Sunday, December 2, 2007

Drunk driver, or just shooting?

The number of film productions shooting in and around downtown LA, where I live, has been thin of late. And now with the season and the writers strike, things will slow pretty much to a graveyard-like atmosphere.

But there are still one or two pictures doing their thing. There's a production that's taken over a parking lot for use as a basecamp, complete with expensive Fleetwood motor homes. Nice budget.

But there are some productions on the other end of the spectrum, too.

For example... I just walked in the door after another great walk in downtown LA. I started at 5pm, so most of the walk was lit by streetlights. Up 1st Street from my loft, through Little Tokyo with its young, fashionable Japanese tourists and noodles & sushi shops, past The Beehive (LA City Hall), up Bunker Hill, turning left onto Grand and past the iconic Disney Concert Hall by Frank Gehry.

It was a beautiful fall-ish evening. Perfect for a walk... Cool, a wind in the trees, people going to the symphony...

And a guy in a black SUV, backing up at a fair rate of speed, with his lights off. But Grand is divided, and he was coming up the left side of the street, as if he'd just gone the wrong way and was trying to find his vehicle's Undo command.

He stopped backing, and I noticed that he was talking on his cell phone.

Then he started backing up some more. Then, suddenly, he threw it into forward, turned on his headlights and tore off down the street on the wrong side.

"Good gawd, he's gonna to kill somebody," says I.

I got out my cell phone and started to dial 9-1-1... But then he stopped, facing the wrong way, in an open spot at the curb. And as I got closer to his position, I noticed a dozen or so people there on the sidewalk. Then, closer, over a slight rise, there were two cops with red-tipped flashlights stopping traffic.

Naturally, someone was shooting something.

The driver had backed up fast, nearly a block, with no one to direct him from behind, no PA's with walkies, no one from the production at all. And the camera position was totally invisible from that distance, on the unlit part of the block.

All you could see was a guy on a cell phone driving like he'd just emptied a pony keg single-cuppedly.

So I walked up to the little crew -- me being the shy type when it comes to idiots endangering public safety. All they had was a still camera, and a small video camera.

I mentioned that the situation didn't look very safe, and that I thought the guy was drunk and had almost called 9-1-1.

The small clot of twentysomethings looked at me as though I was wearing some sort of live reptilian swamp creature for a hat.

"But we have police here."

I said, "But there's no one down the block. You need a PA or a cop or someone down there. It's not very safe, and someone's going to call the police."

There was a pause.

"But we have police here."

These twentysomethings were smartly dressed...

But not smartly-brained.

So, when you're in LA and you see someone who appears to be driving hammered, or who appears to be hip or intelligent... don't jump to conclusions.

And watch out for backup lights.

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