December 7, 2016

11 Horrifying Production Tales from Deep Within the Catacombs of Reddit

Anonymous filmmakers share production stories both terrifying and entertaining.

Some angry Redditors took to the r/Filmmakers subreddit yesterday to share some of their worst production stories, and it will sure make you feel better about any problems you may have had on set. We've parsed the wildly entertaining stories and selected some highlights from the thread "What's the worst film set you have been on?" (We've opted to keep the posts anonymous, in case any of you ever work with anyone involved.) Enjoy.

Porn star problems

"I got a battlefield promotion when the line producer walked on a VERY poorly run pilot I worked on. All of a sudden I was the poor sap trying to hold this production together as it exploded at every seam. I have a hundred bizarre stories from that set. The craft services guy they hired was a junkie who fed us cheap food and put the rest of his budget in his arm. He called me screaming in the middle of the night multiple times, claimed we withheld his pay, and took a bunch of our rental equipment hostage.

The director had also just fallen off the wagon. His work was brilliant, but he was a hot mess. He cast a porn star to do a cameo and ended up staggering around pimping her out to the crew at the wrap party. The final scene was shot in a mansion and the owner of the location walked around in a thong, exposing himself to all the female crew members. There was a fire. There were several fist fights. A limo was stolen. A neighbor of the thong guy, some millionaire lawyer, threatened to smash my head open with a bat (I'm female and was in my mid-20s at the time)."

Podunk hootenanny

"I was shooting a horror flick at some podunk town off Route 66 a few hours north of LA. We had this amazing bar/lounge location where a majority of the film took place, and the bar owner was nice enough to close it off for the weekend for us 'Hollywood hotshots' -- her words. Mind you, this town has like 60 total people living there. 

Anyway, going into the last night of the shoot the director pulls me and the producer aside and says that there's a big problem and he isn't really sure how to go forward. He says there's a major script problem, he's working through it on the fly, but either way we are in for a REALLY long night. Like, think the whole cast and crew shooting for 12-14 hours longer than we expected. He said there's no way around it because our time at the location was expiring, and he just needed us to be really positive and supportive because the rest of the crew and cast was going to be a wreck. I've never been more tired and delirious in my whole life. I shot for 28 hours straight. We powered through, and most people slept in their cars before driving back to LA." 

"Makeup for an apocalypse scene was basically, 'Just roll around in the dirt a while.' ​"

Thanks for nothing

"Checked the call sheet before bed, then got up at 6am and drove 2.5 hrs north to set. Arrive at the house, call for somebody to open the driveway gate, and get informed that the shoot had been moved to somewhere about 3 hrs south of where I was, or 30 mins from my home. It was on the updated call sheet that he didn't send me."

Super rich kids

"This rich kid hired me to be his AD... turns out he wanted me to basically do everything except call 'Action' and 'Cut,' which he was excited to do, while the rest of the day was spent getting high with the crew and making lewd comments about the actresses on set. The whole experience felt a lot like babysitting.

'Craft services' was a local restaurant we had to walk a good ways to [sic], and we did not find out til lunchtime they did not open til 4pm.

It was on-location in a high-altitude remote area with no cell service at all. 'Makeup' for an apocalypse scene was basically, 'Just roll around in the dirt a while.' Of course someone fell, which is as good a time as any to find out you have no first aid kit, nor any plan for emergencies. That was the day I quit.

The best part was that this kid had spent quite a bit of his budget on a "premiere" with a banquet hall, catering, limousines, and an actual fucking red carpet. Before even filming anything. He had invited everyone he knew. He only had FOUR MINUTES of footage to show that crowd. His parents, who had shelled out close to a million $$ for their son's 'business,' looked pissed as hell."

"The main character was called Oliver Stone. Not the film director Oliver Stone, he just seemed to think he could use that name and nobody would notice."

Watch your feet

"We were in an alley behind a gay spa/bar that had hundreds of used condoms on the ground scattered everywhere. I was one of the people that had to run power 300ft through all of them. It was over multiple days, all overnight shoots."

Watch your feet pt. II

"Had a standing set for the duration of a show that was basically an empty lot, one block long in a really shitty area. We had to cover the lot with about 40 trucks full of rubble, beater cars, junk metal, etc. and when we first showed up the place was covered in used needles and dead dogs. Once we started filming we had a fence put up that was covered with tarps so you couldn't get into or see into the set. One night a rape/murder occurred in one of the junk cars we had in the lot. When the show was over we cleared the whole thing out and now it's a flat empty lot again. So yeah probably that one."

Missed opportunities

"I was almost on the set of one that would have been absolutely mental. I had two meeting with the director who was a legit crazy person. He'd already spent a year preparing before the shoot, which apparently involved recording dozens of hours of bird sounds on an old reel-to-reel tape recorder to find the perfect bird sound for the opening shot. He played me the highlights while we had the first meeting, which went on for about 40 minutes.

During the second meeting he told me about the plot, which basically sounded like an incomprehensible time travel porno starring himself, and the main character was called Oliver Stone. Not the film director Oliver Stone, he just seemed to think he could use that name and nobody would notice. Anyway, I went to the second meeting because I was trying to get out of working on the actual film, but I really wanted to shoot a behind-the-scenes 'making of' thing. He was super paranoid about people stealing his ideas though, so that didn't get far. That's probably the project I've most wanted to make that I never got to do."

"Hundreds of used condoms on the ground scattered everywhere."

Too hot

"There was a music video on the roof of a 10 story building. No elevator. No lights in the staircase. Middle of summer in the south. We had to carry a dolly, a crane, and probably 20 pelican cases of equipment up those stairs. One person almost had a heat stroke and I spent more time than I care to admit staring off the edge of the building."

Too cold

"The worst I'd ever been on was at Warner Bros, it was a background gig for some alien invasion show with Bill Fichtner; I think it was called Invasion? Or THE Invasion? It was a night shoot, but they neglected to tell us on the casting line that it was raining in the scene, and that ice cold water would be pouring on us all night. It was December and freezing out, we were all soaked. Half way through we threatened to walk off because our socks and shoes were soaked. So they sent PA's to Wal-Mart to buy dozens of pairs of thermal socks and round up as many dry sneakers/shoes as they could find. It was miserable fucking night, had outdoor holding so we were just sitting out on a sidewalk with a couple portable heaters, and there were 50 people on the call. Fichtner wasn't even there."

"The final scene was shot in a mansion and the owner of the location walked around in a thong, exposing himself to all the female crew members."

Just plain stupid

"I just did a shoot where we snuck into the Amtrak tunnels in 30-degree weather and my job on the set was to lay down low 8blocks from where we were shooting and to call for a train so the crew didn't get run over. Very Midnight Rider if I do say so. Luckily nobody got run over on this one."

Mugged

"Actress brings junkie boyfriend to set, who literally falls over a railing from second level onto video village during a shot.
Actress is playing a prostitute. We use a real $100 bill for a prop. After the first take we ask for the bill back, 'what bill?' Ok, fine, get new bill finish the scene.
Afterward, 'No really, give us the $100 back.'
'I gave it to him.' (Points at me). The AD and I are old, good friends. He knows she's lying.
AD, myself and actress go down in elevator when she is leaving. We call the cops and block her access to her vehicle.
Later, $100 is found crumpled up in the elevator.
Not the worst set I've been on, but a story."      

Your Comment

4 Comments

Is there more of this stuff? I absolutely love it.

December 7, 2016 at 10:23AM

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David Zu Elfe
Jack Of All Trades
30

Years ago I'm on a shoot in the hills of Scotland. I'm the 3rd AD and we have dug plague pits for a medieval burning of bodies and a church during which there's a monologue. We're shooting sync sound and the 1st Ad tells me there's a scrambler motorbike about a mile up the mountain that's destroying the sound recording. He tells me if I can convince him to stop and catch him...on foot! Well actually I do without a heart attack. The rider tells me it's lambing season and he needs to help them give birth. I tell him we have permission from the land owner/farmer and he agrees to stop. They lost three lambs that day. Talk about feeling guilty.

December 7, 2016 at 12:06PM

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Jonathon Sendall
Stories
1780

I saw Invasion. It was actually really good.
But, yeah, I can see how the whole production would have been potentially loaded with issues. Lots of water location shooting.

December 7, 2016 at 2:16PM, Edited December 7, 2:16PM

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Matthew Stephens
storyboards
303

Was working on a short film with 3 of my little cousins. Literally no crew, just the 4 of us and I'm "directing" filming, running audio, and managing lights all at the same time. We've been filming for 3 weeks and we're running 12-16 hour days, it's now 3am and we have one last scene to shoot. I have to play a cop and we're set up on the side of the road underneath an overpass. We have rotating lights for our police car lights and I'm set up in a uniform that would be too cheesy even for a stripper. Suddenly a cop pulls up, asks what we're doing. I tell him about our movie and he immediately asks to see our permits. Our collective battered look of tired, defeated horror must have made him feel bad because he was very quick to explain that he was just kidding about seeing any permits. Was still better than the time another officer pulled us out of a location at gun point though.

December 8, 2016 at 5:32AM

2
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Nolan
8