Nine Great Lines Heard While Working on Low Budget Movies

Guest columnist Scott Spears

This list is written by a special guest, my Foreign Correspondents cinematographer Scott Spears, who has contributed to this list before. He's shot dozens of features and shorts over the past two decades, and like many indie film veterans has lots of great stories to tell. Keep in mind as you read his list that Scott is not at all bitter; he loves what he does. But he is a very funny man and I personally found this list hilarious, and an accurate reflection of life on some less-than-savory low budget shoots. The following words are all Scott's:

  1. "I ain't paying nobody nothing not to get naked!" I heard this line uttered on the set of a low budget movie I was shooting when I first moved to LA. I was the shooter, but had to direct this scene because the director had a fever of 103 and the producer wanted this woman he brought to the set to get naked, but she wanted to get paid to get naked. In the end, after much ranting and raving, the actor and producer came to an agreement and the woman got topless. Not one of the better movies I ever shot, but I will never forget that line.
  2. "I don't hate people. I hate the stupid things they do." This was said by Dyrk Ashton while producing Beyond Dream's Door, the first feature I shot. I don't remember what caused him to say this. I do know it was a long day.
  3. "Blanks are too expensive." This was said by a producer who wanted gunfire in his movie and didn't want to pay for blanks so he used real bullets. Needless to say, that was my last day on that movie. The director was a total ass.
  4. "Do we get to see her bush?" This was said by a producer after he read the re-writes for a horror film I shot early in my career. We were doing additional scenes for this movie because he had hired a scream queen to up our star power. In the scene in question, the script described the character dropping her robe to reveal her naked body. I swear the producer's voice quavered when he said this.
  5. "We're moving on because the DP says the light's not right." This was issued by the AD on a feature I was shooting not because the light wasn't right, but because the lead actress was so sloshed from drinking the night before that she could not stand up the next morning. Everybody on set knew she was drunk except the director.
  6. "Thank you for letting me ____ in your mouth." Sorry, but I can't write that phrase out because I'd like to think this is a PG rated website. This happened on the same movie mentioned in item 5. We had our big name talent, an unnamed former "A" lister who has gone out of control and has tried to destroy his career. Anyway, we were shooting on this real location and this nice little woman was assigned by the owner to watch us as we shot there. This nice little lady was starstruck by this big name star, and at the end of the day she asked for an autograph, so he gave her a photo with that line attached to the signature. I must say it's one of the most cruel things I've ever seen an actor do.
  7. "I can't cut my poetry." This was said by a writer/director when I said he should cut 15 pages out of his 138 page script. The first cut was 3 hours long, but when the final version was done, it ran a lean, mean 90 minutes. Thus he ended up cutting away a whole movie from that cut. Much of the poetry remained, just with brevity.
  8. "Can I see the nipples?" I got drafted through the back door to shoot this erotic/horror film. (I called a friend - who was the original DP - to recommend an assistant camera person, and by the end of the conversation he said I had better gear and would be better to shoot the movie, and I really didn't have anything else going, so I said what the hell.) It's the second day of the production, and the executive producer arrives on set for the first time and he doesn't say, "Hi Scott, how are you?" or "How goes the shoot?" No, he blurts out this soul-killing line. He might as well have gone back in time and put a bullet in the head of the 14-year-old-with-a-Super-8-camera-in-hand version of me that was dreaming of making it in Hollywood.
  9. "Don't worry, that's covered." OK, that's a paraphrase because it's been uttered in different forms on many sets I've worked. A producer who says the money is in bank. A producer who says all the locations are locked on day one and you find out that the only set locked is the one you are shooting on on day one. The producer who says, yes the name star is locked and will be showing up later in the week and you end up with some grade "Z" name. The producer who says lunch is on the way. The producer who says....