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Tom Savini Journal from Django Unchained #6

April 11th: This has been a fabulous day. We got rained out and had to quit early but before that we actually shot the dog attack on Otto, the guy playing D’artagnan. The first set up was the dogs really attacking Otto though his arms and legs were padded and the dogs attack the padding. As usual his performance was awesome. Screaming and crying and it built to a point and then took on another dimension when he no longer yelled for mercy but did a high pitched painful scream for his life. Yesterday his performance, crying and begging for mercy from Leonardo DiCaprio’s character, Calvin Candie, was also awesome and when he got in the van this morning with me and the trackers we all told him so and he was elated.

Then it came time for the effects guys to attach the false arm to him for the dogs to rip off. He had to tuck his real arm behind him so the false arm looked like his real arm. When he laid down on the ground you could pretty much see his real arm sticking out from under his back and it raised him slightly off the ground. They did a few takes and the dogs really dragged him all over the place and his real arm kept coming out from under him. It happened on every take.

I was getting frustrated watching this cause I was dying to make a suggestion but it’s not my place. I am an actor on this picture and not my place to suggest effects stuff.  Quentin looked a little frustrated but laughed a lot and told jokes as they set up again. He walked by me to tell me to mime the yelling when the dogs are attacking Otto as it might distract the dogs and turn them toward us trackers.

I reminded him that in Day of the Dead I had to cut off a characters arm, a fake arm, and we dug a hole under him for his real arm behind his back to rest into thus making him look level to the ground, and making the fake arm look more like his real one. He said but the dogs drag Otto so much you might see the hole. I said with his real arm inside the hole it could help anchor him there. He liked that idea and I told him not to say it came from me. He laughed an understanding “I get it” kind of laugh and walked back toward the action.

Ten minutes later he told them that they should dig a hole under Otto for his real arm behind his back, and once they did it looked more real and his the fake arm looked very much like his real arm. The dogs attacked and it worked and they were ready to move onto the next shot.

A few minutes later Quentin walked up to me and I felt him slip something into my hand. He then said “We have a tradition on my sets that when someone from another department helps out to solve a problem, they get five dollars. It’s called the five dollar shot” I said that was really cool and a cool thing to do. He said it’s not always the case that an expert on the problem of the other department steps up, and he just made my day. I’m going to frame that five dollars, but I have to get Quentin to sign it.

I have to say why this was such a thrilling experience for me. Quentin Tarantino, a long time ago before he did ANYTHING, came up to me at a horror convention in L.A., and said something like “Mr. Savini, I am such a big fan of yours, and I work in a video store in Manhatten Beach and I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind coming there to see what we have we have lots of your movies.”  And I went. I saw him there and he showed me my movies and I signed a few.  Then I would see him at a party at Greg Nicotero’s house out there when I would visit, and he was just this big quiet guy who sat in a corner and was kind of just…. there.

When he did Reservoir Dogs I was pissed off and envious of him because this was the kind of movie I would make, and that I wanted to make, with balls out action and bad ass dialogue, and it just pissed me off that he did it first. But then after Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill and Inglorious Basterds I came to be a big fan of his, and realized that he is a brilliant genius, and his talent is overwhelming, and I grew to respect and admire him, so…… to have him listen to me on HIS set and honor me like that was so thrilling and made me feel terrific.

We were supposed to leave the next day, Thursday, but because we were rained out today we were told we would have to come back tomorrow. It still means we can fly out Friday to get to Austin so I can play my part in the video game that will be called Loco-Cycle. I informed Bill Muehl, the game producer in Austin, that he should look for a back up in case the schedule changes again because of weather.

Check out Tom Savini’s Django Unchained Journal Entry #7!

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