Behind the scenes: When it rains we’re poorer

John Manulis, Producer of “Believe in Me”

Editor’s note: The producers of “Believe in Me,” a film about a 1960s Oklahoma girls basketball team’s run at the state title, will write a daily diary in the Clovis News Journal until filming ends in Clovis later this month.

After a week of smile-inducing, sunny-looking weather reports — during which we, as luck would have it, were committed to shooting a series of indoor scenes — we stepped out (Wednesday) morning fully prepped to stage a big rain scene outside the Driscoll house in Elida.

A lot of equipment comes together to stage rain scenes in films — a converted fireladder truck and “rain head,” a construction crane with over 100 feet of cantilevered rain tubing, a third rain tower, water trucks, etc., are all gathered to create the illusion of rain in the front yard, driveway and adjacent street of the house. And that doesn’t take into account all the gear needed to protect equipment and people from all the wet.

Rain in films is a tricky thing. The people in the shot and the ground underfoot may look wet, but it takes a pretty heavy downpour for the falling raindrops to actually show up on film. And since audiences tend to ask “If I can’t see the rain, is it raining?” film productions need to pour on the water.
All this equipment needs to be committed to in time to travel from its home, usually at steep hourly rates.

So you can probably imagine our distress when we walked onto the set to see a sky filled with dark rain clouds pushing stiff, cold winds.

It’s a double-whammy: Not only might we not be able to get our towers, cranes, ladders and condors into the air due to the wind and possible lightning, but we might not have had to hire all that gear in the first place!

LOOKING FORWARD: Our big basketball scenes continue this weekend (Friday and Saturday at Gattis Junior High School; 10 a.m. extras call) and next (Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Clovis High School). No matter how much fun people have had, or what prizes they’ve won, or how much they’ve learned being backstage, we know these have been long days for everyone who has participated and we are tremendously grateful for the support and interest.

Long days are part and parcel of filmmaking — it just takes a long time to put all the individual pieces of a scene together and it’s critical that we maintain continuity of the people in the background throughout the scene.

But if anyone has interest in being in the movie, just come out and spend as much time as you can with us … even if it’s only four or five hours. The turnover will keep our staff hopping, but as long as a bunch of people show up at 10 a.m. and another bunch of people show up at 1 p.m. and still others at 5 p.m., everything should work out fine.

These scenes and citizen participation are really important to us and to the success of the movie.