Expendables II

This was my first film with Director Simon West, who interviewed, and hired me, over the phone. I met him for the first time in Bulgaria, where we shot the film. We had our cast of Expendables, being mainly Stallone, Statham etc. And our full-time villain Jean Claude Van Damme. Others would come and go for a few days at a time, such as Schwarzenegger, Chuck Norris and Bruce Willis. Bruce was with us for about 5 days and on his final day, we shot a long 3-page monologue between he and Stallone in a tight airplane fuselage parked on the tarmac. This was his introduction in the film and we had him in very sketchy light… with very hot rim-light coming in through the windscreen and his face in a very faded pool of greenish light. The airplane was packed with our three cameras, actors, and sound. Our intent was to finish Bruce’s side by lunch, turn around on Sly then move to an adjoining stage for a quick 13/8 pages on another set. Upon completing Bruce’s side at 12:15, he announced he would be catching an afternoon flight that required him to leave us by 1PM. Yikes. We quickly moved everything to the next stage for our last scene. The only wrinkle was that I was going to spend lunch finishing the lighting and since lunch was now non-existent, I was in a pickle. Yasho, our hard working Bulgarian Gaffer helped plug lights in as I wheeled them into place and made gel calls… that were surprisingly understood by the non-English speaking Bulgarian electricians. At about 12:45, Stallone came up to me and asked, “Shelly, how much longer are you gonna be because he’s leaving at 1:00.” I told him and Simon to just start rolling and I’d complete the lighting while we shot take 1… and by no means should they cut the cameras. I had three fresh mags loaded and I advised they roll continuously until they had the scene… assuming Bruce would head for his car upon hearing the word “cut.” The lighting was completed and we got the scene by 1:01. On his way out Bruce shook my hand and leaned-in into my ear, “I thought for sure you weren’t going to get that… good job.” Then he left the set wearing the wardrobe department’s $3,000 Armani suit. It’s a beautiful business!


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