Tony Scott remembered

The news of director Tony Scott’s death was sad and unexpected.  It got me thinking, or more accurately reflecting back on one of his films that I had the pleasure to work on many years ago – True Romance.
















True Romance was an ode to Los Angeles in the early 1990’s.  The one scene I best remember from  the set was a major shootout that was shot on the grounds of the (now demolished) Ambassador Hotel on Wilshire Boulevard.  The setup I remember had multiple Panavision cameras aimed in the direction of the onrushing bandits who were all unloading various caliber weapons as they advanced.  This was a time when HMI daylight lights had pretty much replaced the old carbon arc lamps of earlier days.  However for this scene Tony was setting all of the film cameras at various shutter speeds for slow and fast motion, so the HMI’s couldn’t be used because they would flicker at any shutter speed other than the normal 24fps – something that the older arc lights weren’t susceptible to doing.   So the lighting crew had to locate some arcs to rent and find a specialist who knew how to “trim” the arc – which was by then an almost lost art.

With the cameras all set in various positions and in appropriate “Dutch” angles,  the talent blocked and rehearsed for their movements and positions, Tony sat down at his multiple monitors to call action and watch the scene being filmed.

I was shooting the film’s featurette so I decided to position myself near the monitors to pan from the action to Tony watching and back again.  “Action!” was shouted out by him and as the scene began he started chewing on his finger, and cursing the f-word continuously as things got louder and more intense with gunfire.  “FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!  he shouted throughout the take – but in saying this he was getting more engrossed in how much he liked what he was watching, not disliking any part of it.  “CUT!”  he yelled and looked over at the DP who gave him a thumb’s up and after just one take we were moving on.

It was all I could do not to break out laughing during that take for watching and hearing Tony go ape-shit over this scene was really quite funny – although I knew that my footage would never make air anywhere except HBO.

I’ll always remember Tony wearing the most beat up pink baseball cap I ever saw, on this and several movies after it.  As Ron Howard said after hearing the news of Tony’s death, “No more Tony Scott movies, that’s a real tragedy”

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