Friday, December 19, 2008

Back From the Border

Last night I returned from what was probably my last trip filming at South of the Border. The trip was a really successful. I put a to-do list of what we needed on my last blog and here's the follow-up:

1. More billboard shots. Check.
2. Kitsch b-roll. Check.
3. Dillon b-roll. Check.
4. Suzanne 2nd interview. Check.
5. Interview with Al Schafer's son. Yeah right.
6. The final shot. EXTRA CHECK
7. Miscellaneous... well that's a story on its own.

I came up to Dillon early Wednesday morning, stopping many times on the way to pick up shots of billboards. When I approached Dillon, which is a few miles south of SOB, I went for a back-road joyride looking for a road that had some billboards on it. While driving I saw two guys hanging outside a house. Now this is rural South Carolina so you can probably imagine that this residential neighborhood resembled a mix of a used car, scrap metal, and flea market lot more than the suburbia most blog followers are used to.

So I stopped and chatted with these friendly strangers for a while. And by chatting I mean I received a short sermon about faith in the lord before they referred me to a man named Bill Coward. Ah the irony! The only local that would talk is named Coward!

So I took a trip up the road to a convenience store that Bill owned and got a solid interview about Dillon and a local perspective on Al Schafer. After the interview I asked Bill and a few others at the convenience store where I could find some old timers that would be able to tell me some myths and legends about Al Schafer. They told me to go to Hardee's around 6am. A few hours of shooting, watching tv in my motel, and sleeping later and I was off for a wild goose chase of a morning.

I arrived at Hardee's around 6:30am. There were only two old timers there. When I approached them, one told me I needed to go to SOB and talk with the owner. He wasn't that friendly about it either. I don't really blame him because from what I can tell its not all that hard for people in small towns to hold grudges against each other.

I left Hardee's and went to Bojangles where a few more old timers were having their morning coffee and breakfast. They said they didn't know much about Al Schafer and directed me to, of all places Hardee's. But they said to go around 8:30.

So I filled up my gas tank, put some air in my tires, and wasted about an hour and a half worth of time before going back. This time Hardee's was jam packed with senior citizens. It was like walking into an American Legion. I approached one of their tables and although these guys were much nicer than the 6am crew, they didn't know much about Schafer either. They told me to talk with a Mr. Wiggins at the Herald down the street.

So I drove to the Dillon Herald, the local newspaper with high hopes of speaking with an old fashioned newspaper writer. But the Herald my pals at Hardee's were talking about was the Herald office supply store, which happens to be right next door to the newspaper office.

Mr. Wiggins was not at the Herald and the people working there did not know his number. More likely, they didn't want to give out his number to a stranger. Dead end galore.

I went back to my motel, watched some tv and checked out. At the desk I asked the twenty-something clerk if she had any leads for me. Before telling me to see a Mr. Watts at a car dealership she divulged that SOB facilitated drug trade and that her aunt was Al Schafer's "unclaimed" child. However she would never say this on camera, and I doubt either bit of information is true.

Mr. Watts, like Mr. Wiggins, was not at his dealership. But his secretary Sharon was nice enough to make a couple of phone calls for me. One was to a local Judge, but nothing panned out.

Finally, Nasty Nate arrived at SOB. After an SOL morning, we went to Mexico Shop East in search of a Miss Evelyn. The woman who wrote her masters about SOB quoted Evelyn several times and informed us that she was Al Schafer's half-sister. However she had no formal means of correspondence with Evelyn, and only knew that she "hung out" at Mexico Shop East quite often. I'd stopped in the day before looking for her and the employee told me she'd be working the next day.

I stopped by Mexico Shop East a few hours before Nate came and they told me Evelyn would be back later. A quick cig after Nate pulled up and we walked in to find Evelyn who happened to be there. Evelyn is a sweet 85 year old lady, and she agreed to do the interview as long as her "lines" didn't show up on camera. And her interview... couldn't have been better. Almost all of the scenes about Al Schafer were lack more sources, and she hit the nail on the head with great stories from the mouth of a relative. She gave us a perfect testimonial about Schafer's character, which is exactly what we needed.

Walking out of the interview I felt extremely relieved. While capturing the footage last night Nate called and I told him exactly what I think: we've finally got a documentary on our hands.

So my morning of dead ends aside, the (hopefully) final trip to SOB has left us with everything we need to put this film together. That is except for an interview with Dr. Walter Edgar...

I have a full 3 days to edit, hardly anybody left to distract me in Charleston, and high spirits going into the cutting room.

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