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Death Meets the Law

March 18, 2008 - Wes Burns
Its the morning after St. Patrick's day. Normally, and by normally I am referring to the last two blogs, I would write about some problem that I see fit to admonish. In honor of our Irish friends I have elected to tell you a story about the police. Why the police? Well...few things in this country are more Irish than our proud history of law enforcement. I'm not being sarcastic...look it up. A lot of them were Irish.

Our story begins in the summer of 2000. My friend Matt had decided that he was going to start making movies. Being recent high school graduates we all thought this was a capital idea. He had made all of the necessary arrangements: he had the camera, he had the script, he had the costumes and he had the location.

Its important to take a minute to understand our mindset at the time. The “our” to which I am referring is myself and my friend Alex, both of whom volunteered to help our friend out with his new project. It seemed like a fun way to spend some summer nights, not to mention that bordem is the leading cause of death amongst teenagers in Iowa (do not check that out)

With the preliminary work done Matt informed us that we were going to film the first scene of the movie this very night. He told us that he had found a perfect location on a gravel road east of town that would allow us to film uninterrupted. We packed up our three cars and followed Matt into the inky darkness of the back country roads.

After what seemed an eternity Matt pulls over on the side of a road that can only be described as the exact middle of nowhere. All three of us brought our cars because they would all be utilized in the shot. My car and Alex's car would be parked across the road at an angle so as to provide light while Matt's car would act as the camera car. Matt went back into his car to change into costume while Alex and I prepared the camera car.

A brief word on Matt's costume: the scene that Matt had written was Death, the popular grim reaper type, was to walk through the weeds next to the road. To this end Matt had purchased an impressive Death costume complete with over-sized cowl and long, black robes. And a sickle. An honest to God antique sickle like something taken off the wall of a kitsch barbecue restaurant.

Matt emerged from his car ready to film the scene. Clearly myself and Alex needed a minute to remind Matt that he was indeed wearing a Death costume and that we were indeed going to film him. Matt brushed off our insults and we readied the shot.

It was at this moment that the wheels started to come off. Each time Alex and myself pulled our cars across the dirt road a car would come down the road and we would have to move. It happened when we first tried and then again, and again and again and again. This dirt road in the middle of nowhere certainly did have quite a bit of traffic.

Each time a car would go by it was a disappointment to us as we would have to reset the shot. I should say that it was a disappointment to myself and Alex; Matt on the other hand viewed each passing car as a personal insult to his burgeoning film career. To this end as each car passed Matt, in full Death regalia, would hold one hand forward and point at each driver. A bit more ominous an image than people on a dirt country road would have expected.

Finally the roads had cleared. All we could see around us was darkness and starlight. We readied the lights, Matt got down into the weeds, Alex and myself entered the camera car. We started to roll out of park...and then we saw the lights. The unmistakable red and blue lights meaning that we were all going to be in trouble.

This post has gone longer than I expected and yet we've only now reached the police. Check back on Friday for the thrilling conclusion of “Death Meets the Law” or “My Life as a Teenage Cameraman”.


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