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Fearless Intern Stops Traffic
July 10, 2000


Call time: 6 a.m.
Location:  Italian Market, Filming murals around Philadelphia

Cast: Mickey Gretto, Lou Lippa, Curt Kowalski, Bill Zielinski


Mickey and Curt at the Italian Market at the break of day. It's Saturday morning. Watching the Italian Market wake up is a riot. And the men -- and this morning it was all men - who we met as they prepared their stands for the day were so nonchalant about our cast and crew (including a steadicam). It was a short scene - in all about ten lines of dialogue -- a button for the end of the film. Mickey and Curt, now a bit friendlier than the day before, walk through the Italian market on their way to the Subway. . . The actors do a swell job, the steadicam whirls around them as they walk. We're all very happy about the camera move at the end of the scene that reveals the giant mural of Frank Rizzo, looming large over the Italian Market. When I did the initial interviews with Philadelphians for this project, I asked people about the heroes and villians they have known in their lifetime living in Philadelphia. Frank Rizzo was the only person whose name came up in both categories.

This morning we were supposed to have a police escort - we had arranged for traffic cops to be with us, to help block street traffic when needed. Unfortunately for us, the Republican National Convention planning committee was in town as well, and we learned late yesterday afternoon, that no traffic police would be available. The bravest intern, Ben Goldstein, volunteered to stop traffice at Ninth and Washington. He did a great job, and said that market vendors were all helping him at the intersection. They said things to him like "You've got to be tougher." I think he got the message. He stood in front of one car, which crept slowly towards him, until we finished the take. When I asked him how he was doing (via walkie talkie) I heard -- static - "things are a little hectic over here" -- more static - then silence. I was happy to see him walking up the street whole when we had finished.

The relationship between Curt and Mickey is fun one to watch. The actors seemed to have a good time, and gave this scene the bounce it deserves.

In the late morning and early afternoon we reconfigured the steadicam by mounting it on the back of a pick up truck. The goal was to drive around town and get fluid shots of the city's many murals. This kind of filming was slow, and sometimes tedious. We traveled in a convoy, a WHYY vehicle in front and behind the truck with the camera. It took about 5 hours to film a dozen murals. The steadicam is terrific. The trucking shots have a wonderful flowing feel. Quite different from the shots on the bus. Community reception to the camera was mixed - some people waved like mad, and want to know what channel to watch that night. Others hid. I can't blame either reaction. It's an unannounced intrusion. I've got to figure out how we can do a better job of letting people know who we are and what we're doing.

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