Sunday, October 08, 2006

Fire Island Tea Dance


Bruce Davison and Mark Lamos hamming it up in a scene filmed at The Botel, the original location of the infamous tea dances of the 1970s and 80s in the Fire Island Pines.

Working on Longtime Companion was a good experience overall. I don't think I ever had more people call me up and say, "hey I saw your name on that movie, well done..." than I did after this one.

The leadership of this project, however, left a lot to be desired. When you have producers who can't admit making a mistake and who needlessly and regularly put the crew in discomfort as well as danger...

There was a typhoon on Fire Island during filming, and one crew member literally had a "Vietnam flashback". The Botel was not actually ready for guests that season, which is why John Whyte gave it to us so cheap. Rain came through the roof and dripped onto my bed at night, so I had to keep moving the bed around the room to find a dry place to sleep. It was so cold I sent a PA to Sayville to rent sub-zero sleeping bags for everyone on the crew, and this was in April! The two brilliant producers slept instead at the main location house, which was once owned by Calvin Klein. Nobody was supposed to sleep at the location houses, but they of course did.

We had to import a deer for one scene, which is like bringing ice to Antarctica, but since we were told "all the deer had lyme" we had to bring one in. And in 1989, there were many visibly ill young men with KS in the Pines, being wheeled around in wheelchairs. But in 1989, if you were in the Pines, or in the East Village, you remember what that looked like.

We had a lot of day players on this film - people who were cast early on and then called to come in for just a day or two of work. Sadly, some of the day players cast were people with aids and by the time I called them for the shoot, they were no longer alive.

The film had a great writer, Craig Lucas, and great people in the cast: Dermot Mulroney, Campbell Scott, and the two above, among many others. Everyone had to put up with low-budget conditions, and yet none of them ever complained. After this, I got a job on The Young Riders TV series out west, and quite suddenly I was in a different world. Tons of money, big budget, and assholes like Stephen Baldwin who did nothing but complain.


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