Making the Nightmares Reality, Again
Updated: Sep 14, 2018
An actor from Colorado and a Hollywood actress re-create the childhood of Brandy Pitcher, producer for
"A Seat For Everyone." It didn't go well...
We think that this shoot became the most traumatic for us all. With the inclusion of five little girls aged 18 months to 12 years, we recreated the night that Brandy's father came home heavily drunk and in a violent rage beat her mother beyond recognition.
We cast Monica Moore Smith to play Brandy Pitcher's mother. Mel Ramirez, an incredibly sweet and gentile man, joined the cast to play Brandy's abusive father.
For a director, this kind of drama is a dream come true. Being able to re-create a story that rips at our hearts-strings and changes us is why I make movies.
But the father in me has to worry about a grown man "pretending" to beat up a grown woman while yelling at her at the top of his lungs while five little girls pretend to watch "The Wizard of Oz" and barely noticing their "parents" fighting and NOT be actually traumatized by the whole ordeal.
The first few takes of this choreographed fight scene went like clockwork. Everyone went through their lines and their actions as directed. Even the cameramen were on point.
The punches thrown looked smooth, the yelling and begging were sufficient and the little girls did really well to ignore the fighting going on in the kitchen of our set location.
So, this becomes a problem for me. If the scene is choreographed...then it's also going to look choreographed.
Without telling anyone else, I quietly walked into the kitchen and pulled Mel aside and asked him to really let go, to hold nothing back. I then asked Monica if she was up for a little more physicality. Her face had been made up so well by our gifted make up artist, Eve Keener MUA, that it was hard to tell whether or not she was actually cut up. Through the split lip and broken nose Monica beamed her trademark smile and said "bring it on!"
I told Mel to forget all of my choreography and really fight with Monica, taking care not to hurt her. I told Monica to really watch for the punches this time because she isn't going to know where they are coming from.
Then I told Dario, one of our cameramen, that I had just changed everything we'd talked about and that he was just going to have to keep up with them.
There was instant tension. Nobody knew what was going to happen. PERFECT!
I yelled ACTION and Mel took me literally. Instantly we were all frightened. I had little time to reflect in that nightmarish moment about Brandy being there, watching us recreate her childhood reality as Mel threw Monica all around the kitchen, punching her, dragging her up off the ground to punch her some more.
Then, completely unscripted, Mel landed a punch so real that I actually thought he'd hit Monica. Monica fell away, stumbling into the hallway, yelling for the girls to get out now. Her face was bloodied and cut and wrenched with terror.
And then he threw five little girls and a mother out of their home into the cold November night.
“I remember my father coming home drunk, again. It was a common occurrence. He was a good dad, until he was drunk.”
We then turned a hot August night into a freezing Utah November winter's night. We sprayed snow everywhere up the street and sprayed 4000 gallons of water on the roads to make them look icy and cold.
The damage of addiction can never be fully healed.
As we watched a beaten and dejected mother walk her 5 little girls out into the cold winter's night, I looked to Brandy. The little girl we cast to play six year old Brandy was a perfect match. She WAS Brandy at that age.
As I looked from the "frozen" scene being filmed back to Brandy I watched tears flow from her eyes. Her wounds may have healed, but the scars were plain and visible on Brandy that night that Eve had no part in.
"A Seat For Everyone" Coming Soon
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