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Tom Savini Journal from Django Unchained #7

April 12th: Our call was 5 a.m. this morning to get an early start on our last day here on the swamp set. At our trailer base camp and in costume, we were taken to breakfast and I have to say, for being out here in the middle of nowhere flanking a swamp, they are really taking care of us. Breakfast is whatever you want from a portable cooking trailer, and inside the building next door, that is normally a tourist attraction called Swamp Tours, a pancake and waffle bar. Farther inside were rows of tables and chairs and a healthy breakfast buffet of fruits and yogurts and biscuits for “shit on a shingle” as we called it in the Army, and the biggest juicer I’ve ever seen and next to it, laid out in neat bins, were carrots, apples, and an assortment of vegetables you can use to make your own healthy smoothie and next to that a huge orange juice squeezer and vat of fresh oranges. I made, as usual, the biggest glass of fresh squeezed orange juice, then back in the van to the base camp trailers to grab my raccoon vest, and off to the set.

Today was mostly standing on the set, off camera, to watch Leonardo DiCaprio and Christoph Waltz, and Jamie Foxx do their particular dialogue that leads up to us releasing the dogs onto Otto, or rather the runaway slave D’artagnan. We, the Trackers, had no dialogue, except for Dave and his “Stonecipehereeze” exchange with Leonardo who tells him to “Shut those goddamn dogs up…I can’t hear myself think!”

Dave slurs the command to the dogs, one dog in particular, named Marsha, and Leonardo comes out of his carriage and says to D’artagnan that he paid five hundred dollars and he expects five fights.  He asks if the slave is going to reimburse him and if he even knows what “reimburse” means.  Jamie Fox says no one is paying him anything and he’s tired of this banter.  Leonardo says he’s never seen a “nigger” quite like Jamie and asks if he minds if he handles the situation in his own way.  Jamie says that he doesn’t mind, and Leonardo says to Dave in a low voice to “send D’artagnan to Nigger heaven.”

The next shot is on James Parks holding his dog, as the trainers make the dog go berserk, and he releases the dog toward the camera…then he does some kind of hillbilly dance of glee toward the camera and off. We all applauded. After more angles of slaves and overseers and other trackers reacting to the attack, and the camera high in the trees on a crane looking down on all of us reacting to the dog attack, it was time to point the camera toward me and Ted Neely as I held onto two dogs, Bullet and Hank, before releasing them toward the camera and the Tom Roach, the trainer.  I worked out with Ted that after I released the dogs I would turn to him and in sign language hold my crotch and do the cut symbol indicating the dogs will tear off D’artagnan’s balls.  The camera was on us now and the dogs attacked each other first.  Then they pulled me to my knees, and on the third take I held them fast and did kind of a hands carelessly in the air release and did my bit with Ted.  Quentin shot two takes of that, and then a take where he overcranked the camera so the dogs would be running toward in slow motion.  And that was a wrap on us and the scene.

Leonardo came over dressed partly in his costume and in his own green and orange summery plaid shirt and said he wanted to get a shot “with his Trackers.”  It’s amazing but in that outfit he looked as young as he did in Titanic.  Fresh faced and his hair hanging down over his face.   We all lined up with him for the still camera guy and then one of the dog trainers came over to hand him a dog.  He looked right at me and we exchanged a wide eyed look of “Uh Oh!” but all went well and when the shot was over he looked at me again and said…”I’m not moving” and he was frozen still until the trainer came over and took the dog.

The next morning we flew to Austin Texas where I was to play a character in a video game called LocoCycle…but that’s another story.

Check out Tom Savini’s Django Unchained Journal Entry #8!

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