While Tim Burton’s film Batman may have been my first exposure to a big budget feature, Robocop 3 was the very first film I was paid to work on as a crewmember. Mind you, that pay came late in the day, as I’d been working for free as an intern before that. Being a intern to Props in the late 1980s entailed a lot of:
- getting blamed for missing props, even though you were blameless
- cleaning up the propmaster’s dog’s poop
- picking up beer for the crew
- looking goofy
- getting very little sleep
- videotaping crazy shit
And of course it was that last one that appealed to me most because it reminded me of the power I had as the Official In-School Photographer when I was on the Annual Staff in High School. As any “official photographer” can tell you, they’re given far-reaching powers that would not normally be afforded to regular mortals.
In the case of Robocop 3 it meant that the propguys and the effects guys would place me in great positions to video the crazy stunts and effects happening all around us. What I was doing on Robocop 3 was the forerunner to the documentary crews that infest most modern productions, except that our footage was personal and the producers didn’t give a fig about us doing it, as long as we kept our heads down and didn’t interfere with shots.
The video attached to this post documents a bit of the set-up that went into prepping an Effects controlled explosion of a “metal” fence which was actually constructed of soft wood (probably balsa). This scene was filmed near the Garnett Street Station in downtown Atlanta, just down from the African-American strip club Magic City. If you pay attention near the end you’ll see a MARTA train waiting to come into the station (left frame of shot).