So the movie Need for Speed began filming this week in downtown Detroit, taking most people by surprise. Those who keep an eye on the Michigan Film Office might have noticed they were coming, but everyone else was too pre-occupied with Ryan Gosling and his How to Catch a Monster, which wrapped a couple of weeks ago, and of course the arrival of the huge Transformers 4 (Untitled Transformers Sequel), to notice the smaller budget video-game spin-off! Starring Aaron Paul (Breaking Bad), Imogen Poots, Dominic Cooper and Michael Keaton, and a lot of car chases, it’s interesting enough to attract attention. Especially when they are filming fast cars and helicopters right in downtown Detroit. Let’s not talk about the Total Chaos caused by the road closures! In the last few days there have been a lot of pictures of the cars and a few of the stars around the business district.
Also when you build a stunt ramp off a major highway right in the middle of the city and plan to do some major stunt driving on a sunny Saturday evening — you are going to attract some attention! And here is where my little movie blog takes a small detour into a rant. When you film in a major city, on public streets, you cannot bully the public. If you are in charge of this production you educate your security staff and particularly your crew, not to bully the public! You tell them clearly what they can and can’t do. I don’t know if the young crew member who screamed and waved and jumped in front of me last night was new, but they should fire that guy’s ass. Basic rules of movie sets on public property — the crew and security staff cannot make you stop taking pictures. They cannot be abusive. They cannot threaten or harass you. They cannot take your camera or memory card. They absolutely cannot lay a hand on you or your property. But honestly, bottom line, if you are filming in a freaking city, people are going to take pictures. Get over yourselves. Enjoy the free publicity, and engender some goodwill with the people whose lives you are disrupting, and whose tax dollars are helping pay for your movie! Lines like, “We’re making a movie,” don’t impress people. They piss them off. Telling them it’s about safety when the shoot won’t take place for several hours yet, is plain stupid. Believe me, I will be standing well clear when you plan to flip a car across that ramp, but right now, when there is NOTHING happening, it doesn’t hurt one bit to allow someone to look across the freeway.
Take a tip from the real classy guys like George Clooney. When he was in town, his crew were not screaming at people and threatening them with the police for standing on a public street. He gave plenty of photo ops and made people happy.
My favorite line, of course, is always “Do you want me to call the police?” Yes, I totally do! Because I am a reasonably behaving citizen, doing nothing wrong, and you are the idiot screaming and threatening me. So I would like to thank the Detroit police officer who came over to understand why this young man was screaming at me. He seemed to think that wasn’t reasonable behavior.
And I got the shot I wanted.