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Rain drops keep falling...

May 04, 2020 7:40 PM | Mike Woodward (Administrator)

Rain drops keep falling…

Corona Competition entry, week 7

by Dave Renner

Back in the early 1990s, I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to work with my MG Car Club friend and cinematographer Gary Watson on creating a documentary film about the history of the MG Car Company, known as Inside the Octagon. I played several roles during that experience, but none more memorable than the time I drove with Linda in our 1974 MGB while Gary filmed us on our way into downtown Houston on I-45 from Houston Avenue to Pierce Street.

Gary intended this segment to describe the ongoing roadworthiness of the MGB in contemporary traffic of the time. While the oldest MGB was most of 30 years old by then, the final version was less than 15 years old. Our MGB was still a barely well broken in used car to us. Gary’s approach involved filming our car from multiple vantage points, which would be edited together to show a carefree drive into the city.

The plan was for Shot One to be created using a camera secured on our boot rack so he could film over our shoulders as we happily cruised down the freeway. Shot Two would be filmed driving the same stretch of road with Gary shooting beside us from the open door of a van. Shot Three would retrace the route one more time, with Gary shooting from an overpass looking down as we drove under. Melded together, the three views would portray a happy couple enjoying a delightful afternoon of open top motoring. We imagined shades of Cary Grant and Marilyn Monroe, cheerily driving an MGTD in the movie Monkey Business. What could possibly go wrong?

Linda and I met Gary and his wife Roz one overcast Saturday morning at the McDonald’s restaurant on Houston Ave, ready to make our movie debuts. He securely lashed his precious and valuable 16mm camera to the rack and explained that he would start the camera just before we left the parking lot; he would then follow us to another lot just off the exit ramp on Pierce St, where he would hop out of his car and turn off the camera. He did not have the luxury of a remote control for the camera— tight budget, you know.

On cue, Gary turned on the camera and we accelerated smoothly toward the entrance ramp for I-45. As we pulled into traffic on the highway, a fine mist began to fall. In the spirit of the scene, Linda and I chatted to each other as if we didn’t have a care in the world. As we drove along, however, the mist became a sprinkle, and the sprinkle a drizzle. Did I mention that there was no exit ramp until we got to the Pierce exit? No way out. We were committed.

We did our best to pretend to be having a wonderful time as the drizzle turned into a steady downpour. Caught on film was the rain running steadily down our noses and our hair becoming elegantly plastered to our heads. I finally gave up and turned on the windshield wipers when I could no longer see the road. All pretense was abandoned. By the time we got off of I-45 there was not a bit of film that could be used. When we came to a halt, Gary rushed up to turn off the camera and cover it from the rain. Linda and I leaped out of the MG, put the top up and stood dripping in the parking lot, too late to worry about being wet.

Not much was said as we parted company after the camera was removed from the car. We agreed that a reshoot was no doubt in order, once a weekend with a better forecast should arrive. That did happen and the shoot went without incident, but the best shots never made it into Inside the Octagon. Too bad really.

Getting ready for a dry run

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