The internet is a strange place. There's a lot of strange talk making the rounds, all of it with the details so mixed up that it's almost comical. But I figured it was just best to explain everything because everyone on our shoot who was involved now seems upset that they are being misrepresented by strangers who have no clue what's going on. So here's everything I know.
There were three scenarios that happened during the shoot, none of which resulted in serious injury.
The first happened to me. During a fight scene, I got bashed on the head with a wooden scabbard. It was unintentional on the producer's part -- whom shall remain nameless -- and I don't hold it against them in any way. It was simply an accident, and I take it as an occupational hazard of a bunch of people getting together and having fun shooting a movie. I was fine, but I had a nice big bump on the head and a good migraine for a couple days.
The second involved one of Doug's friends, who plays a major role. He did a back flip. Far from asking him to do it (or not caring about his personal safety), he volunteered. And Doug made it clear he didn't have to do it. Doug would never ask a person to do a back flip. The person in question has a long, very dedicated martial arts background and insisted. The shot was practiced without a hitch, and when it came time to do it, he landed just short on his shoulder. We were not on concrete. We were in a soft field after it had rained. We all had our cell phones on and we were 5 minutes away from the nearest hospital. When the flip didn't work, we were on the case, but the person in question stood up and insisted he was fine (jumping up and down and shaking it off for added effect). I went to great pains to tell him to sit down and scrap the shot, but he insisted otherwise. He then adamantly insisted we do another take. I told him point blank not to do it, that the company doesn't NEED him to do it, that the company doesn't WANT him to do it, and that we are officially telling him NOT to do it. He then replied to me that he would do it anyway, regardless of whether or not we were filming, because he wanted to get it right. Our regard for his personal safety was our top priority, but we are also not his parents. He is a grown adult and if he insists on doing it, regardless if we're rolling or not, there is nothing we can do. He executed it a second time of his own volition and it worked.
The third situation involved T NChick member Elisa. In a later scene, we had a character duct taped to a wall -- wacky plastered style. No one was crucified and no one was upside down and it wasn't a man (Lindsay and Elisa thought that rumor was as hilarious as I did). As a shot, it's the sort of thing that didn't go beyond anything you'd see in a Youtube high school video where students tape each other to the wall. The scene was played strictly for laughs. She was laughing and communicative the whole time. Unfortunately, as is often the case in movies, the shoot was going long and Elisa started to get tired. She said she felt light headed and needed to sit down and I and a couple other producers helped her as quickly as possible. Far from being in any real danger, she was able to simply step forward to get out. She was woozy, but never unconscious. We helped down, let her lay on the floor, and gave her Gatorade. Again, far from not caring about her personal safety, we insisted on scrapping the shot. It was Elisa who insisted on continuing the shot, telling us again and again that she could do it this time. We totally appreciated her hard core work ethic, but there was no way we were going to let that happen. Unlike the back-flip, we had to manually put her up against the wall, which means she'd need our help, which means we could put an easy stop to it. We told her no, and came up with an alternate shot that was less strenuous and let her sit. We did that shot instead, and she was able to deliver her lines -- awesomely, I might add! The scene worked, she delivered a great performance, and as far as I knew, everyone was fine.
We would never willingly endanger any of our producers. The shot with Elisa was actually intended for my best friend, who couldn't do it due to a schedule change. I would not put my best friend in a shot that I thought was dangerous. When Elisa volunteered -- keep in mind, we never asked her to do it -- I didn't think anything of it. As far as I know, Elisa and Lindsay had a great time and just wrapped filming a review with us last week. So if there's drama there, I know nothing of it. The same goes with Doug's other friend, who we just saw a couple week's back and is begging to see the finished clip and how "badass" it looks.
Apart from that, we had the occasional bruise or scrape or con-plague that comes with any event. I can only shrug and say that a bumped foot or some dirt on our clothes is not a whole lot. I certainly wasn't an upside down crucifixion.
As for the "forms" that people want answers about. Well, Doug and Mike had to sign a similar form just to shoot a commercial for PBS -- and that thing was indoors. The ironic thing about the forms is that I had never personally intended them for serious injuries. Does it cover that? Yes. But I was confident that we wouldn't have any because we were filming in the suburbs, on well marked asphalt bike paths in parks, and in a flat field in a sleepy neighborhood. The reason I championed the forms more than anybody was because of my experience in Reno -- and I'm not talking about my own leg injury. No, I'm talking about the prep speeches I made that were largely ignored.
I love our producers. I respect them. But it was made very clear to me during Reno that my advice went unheeded. I won't name names, particularly because there were a lot of them, but there was a lot of preparation on the company's part that our producers simply didn't take advantage of. Proper attire wasn't worn, suntan lotion wasn't applied, people wouldn't tell us if they were suffering from any condition or over exhaustion. Film Brain recorded my speech, and I think behind the scenes footage shows that a lot of what I said didn't sink in.
For this shoot, we oversupplied ourselves to the teeth because we cared about our producer's personal safety. There were first aid kits, all sorts of OTC medication, cases upon cases of water, bug spray, suntan lotion. But again, I can't force anyone to wear or use anything. As a company, we need to cover all bases. I honestly don't think our producers would ever try to come back to us and say, "I got skin cancer or West Nile Virus -- why did you let that happen?" But as a company, we need to protect ourselves just like PBS would. When the company goes out of its way to supply lotion, water, bug spray, and warn of the dangers of filming outside, and that's ignored, then I want it made clear that the producer's are assuming responsibility for themselves.
And again, while incidents were less, we still had cases of sunburn, or bites, or people not bringing the right clothing on a day where it's only 40 degrees outside. Our supplies were always in the vehicles. Some took advantage of it. Some did not.
On top of that, our producers have told us some pretty frightening stories about what has happened with other media people at cons and hotel get-togethers -- stories of stunts and cops nearly being called. None of them involved our producers, but knowing this, we figured it was best to remind our crew that they're responsible for their own behavior (just in case). As it stands, though, we have a very well behaved bunch. And I salute them all for their dedication.
If I felt that signing such a form was a problem, I wouldn't sign the thing myself. And I did sign it. And keep in mind, if anyone seems accident prone -- it's ME.
As for non-disclosure, the only thing I'm aware of is that we asked people not to talk about the project because we didn't want any spoilers. Yes, we have some surprises planned. We may even have a story arc that will stretch till next year if it works out. We knew this film would take longer to edit, and we didn't want that ruined.
Elisa and Doug's friends are welcome to talk to whoever they want. There's no legal gag order that I'm aware of. My major concern was for Elisa, and I asked her permission to talk about this before ever replying to this thread. She gave me her blessing and I did. That's been my M.O. since the shoot. I haven't felt the need to talk about it because it's their business.
So there it is. That's everything I'm aware of.
A bump on my head. A sore shoulder for Doug's friend. No crucifixion. Elisa is a great actress, but she did not die for our sins. And everyone involved says they're not harboring any sort of ill will towards us. And I talked with some of them as recently as last night (hell, they called ME!), so I should know.
I hope that answers everybody's questions.
Robert Walker, CCO Channel Awesome
"No, you're right. I'm not That Guy's brother. Silly me." ~ Myself, After Being Corrected in a Chat Room