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"Die For A Life"
Behind The Scenes
 


             









Reese, played by Dan Pinto, is holding a gun on his
x-partner played by Jean-Louis Pedat after his
betrayal in they're multi-million dollar coin scam.





Below is the actual 1895 Silver Piece that was used
in
 the movie. While pieces of this type can vary in
value,
 the 1895 is considered to be one of the more
rare of
all Morgan Dollar pieces known.
Values can range
from
8 thousand to 10s of thousands
of dollars for
specimens in similar condition.





Carl Cinardo(left) as the police officer who helped Steve(Right) recover his kidnapped sister, Deanna.





Both stills below show the arrest taking place of
Ray
Karros after he had no choice but to surrender
after
being surrounded by the police.





 


Below shown is one of Deanna's pet birds from
the
movie. This clever bird actually wound up
being a key
 eliment in saving her life.





Montana, the cat. This Angora feline played the
part
of the pet owned by the French connection
in the
scenes that took place in New York City.


 






 


 

                   
Film Sets & Locations:
        At the beginning, the choices for believable sets for this type of movie with such a low budget were limited but you would be suprised as to what you can put together with a little innovation, a few clever contacts and maybe a little luck over time. Many people and even organizations are very willing to give you they're time if you explain what your trying to do. Of course having the local police department behind you doesn't hurt when it comes to opening up a few additonal doors either. I got approval to film inside the local police station with actual officers and was also given the use of officers with police cars in other locations nearby, and even an ambulance for various scenes when needed. But then to get that type of approval, be prepared to get to know your board of directors. Of course if money is no object, then this is a non issue like most things. Keeping costs down was not a matter of a choice because there was none. So finding the right sets and utilizing every resource to come up with things needed to make the scenes realistic was ten times more difficult for this project. But with many of those things in place through a ton of research and leg work, it made all the difference and without them, some of the more important scenes could not have been accomplished.

       One of the sets turned out to be a dream come true. I achieved the accessability to a 5 or 6 acre plot of land that contained over 20 factory buildings from a chemical plant that had been shut down for several years. This place was better than a ready made hollywood set.(See photos to the left at the top) I couldn't have asked for a more perfect and fruitful location. And the whole thing came complete with my own security guards. :)

      Other locations included shooting in the streets of Manhatten and off the observation deck of the Empire State Building which is how the simulated helicopter arial effects of New York City in the opening credits of the movie were achieved. Several New York State locations were used as well. We did shooting at Liberty State Park in Jersey City and many other Jersey towns such as Vernon, Garrison, Lyndhurst, Paramus, Newark, Alpine, Hoboken and Guttenberg.

       For a special tribute to one of the more meaningful shoot locations for "Die For A Life", click HERE and read about how the video that was taken of the World Trade Center in New York turned out to be a whole lot more than just a scene for the movie.


Props:
       Several props were needed in the making of this film not the least of which were guns. It's a funny thing, but at the time the film was being shot(no pun intended), it was impossible to find a toy gun in a Toys R Us or any other store for that matter. They had just recently been banned. Today, they're acceptable again and actually almost revered. Go figure. Ultimately we wound up with BB guns and a few repainted and reworked authentic looking cap guns. Another important prop was the focal point item that being a coin die. This had to be specially made since access to an actual die was not possible. A special rubber mould was manufactured for the making of this most important prop.

      Then there was the fight scene between two of the characters, Reese & the French connection. In this scene, a glass table needed to be smashed and the glass had to look real. For this, we went back to the old time recipe of sugar glass. Cooked and poured onto sheets and cut to size. Once dried, it was clear and hard and when broken made an absolute mess! Catherine Molitor and Jean Louis Pedat will tell you with conviction since it took nearly two hours to clean up the pieces from Catherine's apartment floor in her New York flat where the scene was shot. Among some of the other props were various signs that needed to be made, an old Army compass and the coin for which the die was to be a counterfiet of. The coin was a real very rare 1895 Silver Dollar(see photo left) that was actually worth nearly 8,000 dollars on loan to me by a very trusting friend in the business.


How the police helped make the movie come together:
        There were many highlight scenes that made this movie interesting to watch. Some of those included an automobile chase, outdoor foot chase scenes shot in the wooded trails of Alpine & Vernon, New Jersey, a climactic fight scene in a New York City apartment ultimately ending up in one of the characters being killed off and a dramatic gun shooting scene at the abandaned factory warehouse. But one scene in particular that I will share the details of with you was the fast action police car bust that took place on the grounds of the factory complex.

       It was necessary to make this scene as believable as possible and under normal circumstances, most movie productions have terrific budgets which makes that absolutely no object. As mentioned before, that was not the case for this project. This project was to be nothing more than an experiment to create a platform for the writing of a music soundtrack. There was no initial intention to put overwhelming amounts of time into the scenes for this movie. But it became obvious over time that once the eliments were available, the tools were there to do a much better job than had first been anticipated. Such was the case with the police bust scene at the factory complex. In this scene, we needed 2 police cars headed by a detective's unmarked car to come barging into the complex just in the nick of time to catch Ray Karros, the main bad guy trying to escape in his Jaguar. While I would love to pretend that we had 40 thousand dollar automobiles to destroy for this film, I have to admit that the sports cars that were used were cherished possesions of the people closest to the making of the movie. Therefore, props were set up so that the Jag was forced to crash into a pile of what were harmless empty boxes stacked off to the side of the vehicle's path as he avoided the oncoming police vehicles with sirens & lights blazing. Still, the effect worked well enough. As Karros tried backing out of the forward assault he was again cornered by the second police car darting in from behind with wheels screeching. He was forced to surrender and was placed under arrest at gunpoint.

     The 2 characters that played the part of the cops were in fact real officers using real guns. Unloaded of course. :) As the Producer/Director for the scenes of this movie, I explained to the characters playing the parts of the policemen that I in fact wanted them to act as though it were a real live arrest. I knew that if I told them that, that they would make this scene turn out just the way it needed to. I was dead on. Several takes were done with 4 different camera angles including ground, arial, in car and rear. The result was enough video footage to edit a scene that worked beautifully. Very believable and exciting to watch.


Shooting outdoors was a challenge:
       Natural environments can be a problem to deal with for any making of a film. Delays are always coming up due to bad weather or good weather depending on what the scene called for. Much of "Die For A Life" was shot outdoors so this was amplified and in some cases it actually dictated the way a scene would be put together. A perfect example was for the opening scene of the movie. It was to be a clear calm night scene and I had the eliments I needed for the only evening that was available to do the shooting, but the weather wasn't cooperating. It was rainy and cold. So rather then cancel the shoot, I decided to let the weather run the show and filmed in the rain. Turns out that it actually helped the scene. It added more mystery and suspense to what was to be a very mysterious scene to begin with. Sometimes things work out that way and for this scene, it worked much better then I thought it would.

       The passing of two winters during shooting delayed the film for 2 years because of the winter months. Snow was definately not a part of the plot and was something that I had no control over. Most of the outdoor daylight scenes needed sun which was another problem. It was important to try to keep the consistency of the day scenes because the whole story took place over a short period of time. There were only so many hours in a day and only so many days available for filming in certain locations. So it can be said that weather was without a doubt one of the main reasons why the project took as long as it did to complete.


Animals in the film:
        The use of animals was something that I wanted for many reasons. They're interesting and unpredictable. And in "Die For A Life" they play a very key role. My character(Reese), owned a dog that played a part in tipping off that something was wrong to one of the other characters in one scene while the French connection character played by Jean Louis Pedat owned a Cat named "Montana" that played a key role in turning the tide for Reese in the movie's plot. Deanna played by Catherine Molitor was portrayed as a bird lover that owned Cockatoos. The birds played an important and very vital role as an aid in helping Deanna's brother save her life. Animals are very cool when it comes to film. They're characters can be as important and at times even more so than that of a human character. This is why they were an absolute must for inclusion in "Die For A Life".
  


                                                                                                                     





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