One of our pivotal scenes yesterday involved an actor using a bottle of wine to smash a watermelon (don’t ask).
It looked so good in the script – guy takes savage swing at melon with bottle of vino, melon goes splat, crowd goes wild (maybe), some point is proved.
Except that what really happens when you hit a full-sized watermelon with a bottle of wine is… nothing. No splat, no spray of goo, no satisfying dull ‘thock’ noise. If you really put your weight into it, you might dent the thing if you’ve been working out a lot lately.
This, of course, does not play well on film (although an actor smashing futilely at an uncooperative hunk of produce, ultimately bursting into tears of frustration and having no one care would be a fitting metaphor for so much of life), so the solution was to squib the watermelons so they’d make a Gallagher-esque splat when the actor hit them.
Except that then one has to co-ordinate between the effects people who are controlling the squibs and the actor’s arm so that the melon blows at exactly the right moment. Then, since the wires are hooked to the bottom of the melon (if you hook the squib wires to the top of the melon they’ll be visible on camera) it breaks on the bottom side even though it’s being hit by said wine bottle on the top side and emits puffs of smoke that are funny as hell, but probably not what the show was looking for.
After some trial and error, they finally got a version that looked acceptable, and then gave up on getting a close up of the melon breaking for obvious reasons.
Lucky for us the melon-related delays meant that we got some overtime – we ended up working a 13 hour day.