I worked as a “Safety Diver” for the American Film Institute’s student production of The Marrying God.
Instructor John asked if I wanted to work on a student film as a “safety diver.”
It paid $150 for the day and I would get experience working in movies; I agreed.
The movie was being filmed at this run down, tweaker and hooker motel off of Sunset Blvd. in Hollywood.
We were suppose to supervise the filming of a pool scene that was to be shot above the water and below.
Someone in the crew had the brilliant idea of throwing leaves and dirt in the pool to make the underwater scenes “seem murky and dark.”
That really screwed up their visibility.
Having taken pictures underwater myself, just the fact that you’re filming through water makes in “murkier.”
John later told me that there’s a powder that the movie studios use to throw in water to give the water a denser look, but it settles quickly and won’t ruin the visibility long term.
We had our doubts from the beginning that they would even get the shot that they wanted because the visibility in the pool was only one or two feet.
The Assistant camerawoman was “Natasha” who was a certified SCUBA diver and filmed the underwater portions; she was young and hot and a little bitchy towards us until she figured out we were there to help her and not give her advice or direct.
The Lighting Engineer had a rip in the butt of her pants which was added entertainment; as my brother later put it, “That’s how she’s going to keep her job.”
The Production Director was a busy man yelling all the time and trying to keep the filming on schedule.
There was always something to delay the filming in one way or another.
They started to film the pool scenes just before lunch.
John made sure the actresses and crew didn’t drowned, I made sure the tanks stayed filled with air and provided any other needed support, equipment placement in the pool, underwater equipment recovery, etc.
The pool was filthy and the water was cold.
I really felt sorry for the actresses who were very young and had no protective clothing – except one had a short wetsuit that was custom cut to fit under her costume.
We took a lunch break for an hour – catered with Mexican food.
“Wow!” I thought, “I get $150 and a free lunch. Isn’t Hollywood great?”
Me on Sunset Blvd in full SCUBA gear… nobody even looked.
After lunch, some of the crew that was working in the pool refused to go back into the water.
“Union rules state that we have to let our food digest for one hour after eating before touching water again,” one of the crew informed the Production Director.
John had to explain that the thing about eating, swimming within the hour, succumbing to cramps and dieing is all a wives’ tale.
The crew finished their smokes and it was back to work.
The youngest of the actresses wasn’t very cooperative.
She was cold, in dirty water and didn’t want to go very deep to hold her breath for the underwater scenes.
Most underwater scenes were filmed in four feet of water; she almost freaked out when she had to do a surface scene over the deep end.
“They should have heated the pool and not thrown all that dirt in,” John said.
They finished the pool scenes just as the sun was going down.
John and I packed up as the crew worked in to the night.
Great experience, but my brother’s stories of dealing with Hollywood have scared me away.
Here’s a write up on “The Marrying God” at the Internet Movie Database:
The movie website is here: