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Production Notes

There are some marriages that are made in heaven—creative ones, that is—and no star and director are more suited for each other than Jim Carrey and Tom Shadyac. Their first collaboration, Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, firmly established Carrey as a star of the first magnitude, and Shadyac as a freshman director with a promising career. The second time Carrey and Shadyac pooled their talents, the result was Universal’s Liar Liar, one of the biggest hits of 1997.

Thus, when Shadyac was first presented with the high and mighty concept for Bruce Almighty, it went the top of his development heap at Shady Acres Entertainment, his extremely busy production company. And Shadyac knew from the first who he wanted to make it with. Only one actor could play a man suddenly endowed with the powers of God, with all of the comedic mayhem and heartful drama that ensues…Jim Carrey. The fundamental themes of Bruce Almighty were familiar territory to the two friends, who had spent many hours debating the Big Questions. “Jim is kind of a brother to me,” notes Shadyac. “A little brother in some ways, and a big brother in other ways.

“We have a great friendship, and Bruce Almighty speaks to our concerns. What is this force called God? What is this force doing in our lives? How do we relate to it? Thematically, the film is ultimately a story about where true power comes from.”

Shadyac and Carrey were joined on their quest by Shady Acres partners and fellow producers Michael Bostick and James D. Brubaker, who had collaborated with both on Liar Liar, and were equally enthusiastic about the notion of bringing the story to cinematic life. “Tom so personally responded to its themes,” says Bostick, “and based on his track record, it represented a project that’s so far in the Tom Shadyac wheelhouse. It’s a star-driven, high-concept comedy that ultimately has a message about the human condition, which I think is a strand which runs through all his work.”

Bruce Almighty
© Universal Pictures

Adds Jim Brubaker, “Tom’s movies, whether comedies or dramas, are a little bit personal, a little bit spiritual and always about opening the heart.”

Bostick also notes that “both Tom and Jim were coming off dramas and keenly interested in getting back into the comedy genre. Jim not only signed on as the star of Bruce Almighty, but also as a producer, and he became intimately involved in the development of the script and then, creatively, every day on set.”

Assembling “The Family”

As they kicked off pre-production, Shadyac, Bostick and Brubaker began collecting a top-tier team of behind-the-scenes artists, most of them returning to the fold after having worked with the director and/or the producers on previous projects; this stalwart group included Oscar-winning director of photography Dean Semler, production designer Linda DeScenna, costume designer Judy Ruskin Howell, film editor Scott Hill, propmaster Brad Einhorn and many more to follow. “Basically, our team are those who can adjust as fast as Tom can,” states Brubaker. “You need that team together, because what you’re looking for are people who can reinforce, be positive and take on any challenge.”

Enthuses Shadyac about his team: “Dean Semler is a cinematographer who takes comedy seriously, but also has an incredible sense of humor. He’s a great painter with light. Linda DeScenna brings a warmth, richness and reality to her sets that allow your actors to live in a space. Judy Ruskin Howell thinks about character and symbolism while she designs the costumes, little things that you normally wouldn’t notice. On a Jim Carrey movie, the propmaster is at times just as important as the director, because Jim loves working with ‘toys,’ which give him ideas. I would delay a major decision in my life for Brad Einhorn, our propmaster. He’s that good. It became a game on the set to try and trip up Brad. Jim and I would ask him for all kinds of outrageous things, and he would just say ‘Okay, give me a couple of hours,’ and come up with it. Everything of mass and substance that exists in the world is in Brad Einhorn’s prop truck!”

Bruce Almighty
© Universal Pictures

And then there was the matter of who would join Jim Carrey in front of the camera, particularly for the crucial roles of Grace, Bruce’s devoted but strong-minded girlfriend, and the one who’s singlehandedly responsible for Bruce’s powers…the Big Man himself…God. “I hate to use the cliché,” says Shadyac, “but Jennifer Aniston is one of the hottest people in show business. You can count on one hand the number of people, male or female, who can give you beauty, strength, intelligence, vulnerability and a sense of humor in one package. Jen’s character, Grace, is not passive. She’s strong, and that’s why we wanted Jennifer.” Adds producer Michael Bostick, “Jennifer has been in America’s living rooms for nine years as Rachel on Friends, and I think that people will be thrilled to see her on the big screen with Jim. Jennifer’s comic timing is impeccable, and she also brings an emotional weight to her characters.”

Aniston herself had no doubts about wanting to play Grace when Tom Shadyac first approached her with the idea. “Tom pitched a fantastic story which I found very moving. I just thought it was great. It’s hard to infuse spirituality into a bold commercial movie, and that’s what Tom and the writers have done without hitting you over the head with it.” Shadyac and Carrey were also challenged with another Big Question. Who should…who could…play God? “When this script came to me,” recalls the director, “only one guy popped into my head. It was always Morgan Freeman. “There are a million ways to play God,” Shadyac continues. “You can talk from a burning bush, or a mountain, or a sunset. Our way was to find a consummate human who is full of dignity, power, a sense of humor and an edge. Morgan embodied humanity and divinity in a way that we felt was perfect for the movie, so we didn’t have a second choice.” Thankfully, Morgan Freeman felt the same way, and the Bruce Almighty company found God.

To circle around this talented triumverate of Carrey, Aniston and Freeman, Shadyac then cast a number of highly talented performers from every strata of film, television and theatre, including Lisa Ann Walter from The Parent Trap, JAG’s beauteous Catherine Bell, the distinguished character actor Philip Baker Hall, the deft comedian Steve Carell from The Daily Show, Nora Dunn of Saturday Night Live fame and Golden Globe Award winner Sally Kirkland, an all-media fixture. Ironically, for the role of the lonely diner waitress, the Bruce Almighty screenplay called for “a Sally Kirkland type,” a casting problem solved by Shadyac simply summoning forth the real article, with Kirkland only too happy to

Bruce Almighty
© Universal Pictures

“Jim and I have always felt that it’s really important to ground your comedy in credibility,” notes Shadyac. “Even though you may have a fanciful premise, when you have people like we do in the cast, you win your credibility factor.”

The Joy of Sets: Filming Bruce Almighty

When the Bruce Almighty cameras began to roll on a hot day in early August on a huge exterior set on the Universal backlot which had been converted into a huge chunk of Buffalo, New York by production designer Linda DeScenna and a small army of craftsmen and artists, so did the laughter. It’s not hard to chuckle at the sight of Jim Carrey, as Bruce Nolan, reporting on the baking of a chocolate chip cookie that’s the size of a small house. But interwoven into the fun of filming Bruce Almighty was enormously hard work by cast and crew to bring the fanciful script to full-blown cinematic life.

The diverse and difficult elements were pulled together in Herculean fashion by Jim Brubaker, one of film’s most experienced producers. “Just as Bruce Nolan is a glass half empty guy,” states Tom Shadyac, “Jim is a glass half full guy. On our films together, I’ve said ‘Bru, I need a mountain right here, I need the sun to go down behind it, I need a tribe of natives, aliens, an airplane…whatever it is, Bru will figure it out.”

Indeed, among his myriad accomplishments on previous projects over the course of several decades, Brubaker managed to secure an airplane for Jim Carrey to chase at the climax of Liar Liar, and secured an entire tribe of South American Yanomani natives and flew them to Hawaii, where a tribal village had been re-created for Dragonfly.

Bruce Almighty
© Universal Pictures

“Working with Tom is always challenging and rewarding because I never know where he’s going,” responds Brubaker. “I think that one of Tom’s biggest assets is that if he wakes up in the morning and has a better idea, we put that together and make it happen.”

Throughout the filming of Bruce Almighty, the daily flow of ideas from Carrey and Shadyac would result in Brubaker having to play conjurer once again, delivering nearly last-minute guest appearances by one of the world’s most famous crooners and, by far, the world’s most famous purveyor of coffee…but more on that later.

Challenge number one was to recreate Buffalo, New York on the West Coast, with an enormous assist from the real Buffalo. “I think everyone in Buffalo will be very proud of this movie,” says Brubaker. “We had so much support from everyone in Buffalo and the state of New York. Everyone went out of their way to make sure that we had everything we needed to make it real.”

A Bruce Almighty second unit traveled to Buffalo, shooting a copious number of establishing shots, aerial shots and visual effects plates of everything from cityscapes to Niagara Falls, all of which would be seamlessly interwoven into the film by the editors and visual effects supervisor Bill Taylor.

A great deal of the responsibility of creating a viable East Coast backdrop in Southern California fell to production designer Linda DeScenna, a crucial member of Tom Shadyac’s creative team who had collaborated with him on three previous films. Although DeScenna and the art department had to create some 100 environments on location, they completely “made over” a huge chunk of the Universal backlot, including Brownstone Street, New York Street and what’s known as Back to the Future Square. “Because this is my fourth time around Tom, he pretty much knows how I function,” notes DeScenna, “and vice versa. There was a lot of back-and-forth collaboration between myself, Tom and Jim Carrey, who as both star and producer had terrific input.”

“We started the process by researching Buffalo,” says DeScenna. “We saw what it looks like, how it feels, what the challenges are with the seasons. We tried to incorporate Buffalo architecture, color, feeling and even street names, and we even got the permission to use the call letters for an actual Buffalo television station at which Bruce Nolan is a reporter.”

Regarding the backlot transformation, DeScenna admits, “It was a huge undertaking. I’ve used only sections of those streets for other films, for this time is was a complete fix.” The Buffalo downtown exterior set was amazingly detailed, with street after street made over by DeScenna, art director Jim Nedza, set decorator Ric McElvin and their crews. The art department decorated some 30 storefronts over a 10 block area, and dressed some 1200 windows with appropriate displays or lights and curtains. “The whole idea,” notes McElvin, “was not to make it look like a backlot.”

Bruce Almighty
© Universal Pictures

It looked like a nice place to visit, or even to live in. There were completely realistic storefronts for a pizzeria, cheese shop, vitamin store, furniture store, ice cream parlor, travel agency, newsstand, used book store, watch repair, dance school, Chinese herbalist, bakery, pet shop, dry cleaning, groceries and even an Indian Heritage Museum, alluding to Buffalo’s Native American past. The minute detail even extended to a Buffalo transportation route map inside of a bus shelter…and a real Buffalo city bus to go with it!

Director of Photography Dean Semler and his team devised unique methods to make the light consistent beneath the oft-changing L.A. skies, including a massive sun control system invented by key grip William “Bear” Paul. Referred to as “The Bear Cover,” this was a 40 by 60 foot piece of white material mounted on a 1000-pound metal frame, and then hoisted up to 100 feet in the air by a 135 ton crane with four chain motors.

Also in the vicinity was the façade of the television station, although DeScenna designed a vast interior set, authentic down to the last paper clip and video monitor, on a Universal soundstage, while a neighboring stage at the studio contained the entire interior (and some of the exterior) of Bruce and Grace’s Buffalo apartment. Away from the studio, a large number of environments were utilized, including the enormous estate where the stations party was held in Bruce’s honor, and both the façade and white-on-white interior of Omni Presents, Inc., where Bruce and the Almighty first come face-to-face.

Amending the “practical” environments were visual effects supervisor Bill Taylor and physical effects coordinator Dave Kelsey, who were called upon to create all manner of extraordinary events for the purposes of the story. “I was lucky enough to have the best effects team around me,” says Tom Shadyac, “so that when we needed an asteroid crashing to earth or have Bruce and Tom walking across Lake Erie or sitting on top of Mount Everest, they all just say ‘no problem.’”

“Tom wanted us not to cover ground that had already been covered,” confirms Taylor. “He wanted the visual effects to be funny, and to create impossible images that were as persuasive as possible. Tom also wanted us to be able to think on our feet and be able to improvise and roll with the creative process. The typical visual effects movie is laid out almost like an exercise in military geometry, but Tom Shadyac and Jim Carrey don’t work that way. It’s a fascinating working method and it keeps everybody on their toes.”

For the sequence in which Bruce Nolan undergoes his live on-air meltdown from the famed Maid of the Mist boat which carries passengers close to Niagara Falls, a tremendous green screen cyclorama was constructed on Universal Studios backlot, at “Psycho Flats” (in the very shadow of Norman Bates’ terrifying house, and just a stone’s throw from the remains of Whoville from How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which starred Jim Carrey). A nearly full-scale mockup of the Maid of the Mist was mounted on gimbals, and Taylor’s task would be to tie all of the elements together with visual effects plates actually shot at the Falls, creating an uncanny impression of full-scale realism.

Bruce Almighty
© Universal Pictures

Unusually, the majority of the visual effects shots—including those relying on green screen techniques—were shot out-of-doors rather than sound stages. “Tom and Dean Semler, our director of photography, were enthusiastic about the idea of shooting as much of this composite work outdoors in natural sunlight,” explains Taylor. “The scope of a scene such as the one in which Bruce and God walk on Lake Erie would be almost impossible to create on a sound stage, and it would certainly be nearly impossible to light with the beautiful soft ambience that Dean shot. It adds tremendously to the realism.”

Bill Taylor’s visual effects tasks also included the creation of a bowl of tomato soup that parts like the Red Sea in The Ten Commandments, and Bruce declaring his omnipotence from the top of a Buffalo skyscraper in stormy skies.

Chemistry 101

Equaling the cinematic magic was the on-screen chemistry that was evolving between Jim Carrey and the rest of the cast. The combination of Carrey’s comedic genius and Morgan Freeman’s vast experience and gravity created an offscreen relationship which echoed the film itself. “Morgan has this lifetime of human experience, with a smile over it all, and that’s what he brought to the set,” notes Shadyac. “Jim would sometimes ask Morgan about getting to a certain moment in the scene, and Morgan would tell him about his process and experience. And interestingly, Morgan would come to Jim for the comedic insight. It was really amazing to watch these two experts at their crafts come together and bounce off each other.”

“Getting to be in the presence of Morgan Freeman was pretty much one of those dreams come true,” confesses Jennifer Aniston. “And he was godlike, seeing that striking face in a white suit. He was phenomenal.”

So impressive was Freeman in his godly persona that at the end of one shooting day, Tom Shadyac humorously announced that “Morgan will be hearing confessions for a half-hour following wrap.”

At the center of the movie was Jim Carrey, a relentlessly creative perfectionist who strives by any means possible to arrive at the epiphanal on-camera moment, whether comedic or dramatic. “Joel Schumacher, who directed Jim in Batman Forever, called him the hardest worker in show business,” relates Shadyac. “Everybody who works with Jim knows that. He has an extraordinary ethic, and a constant striving to make things better. I love to see Jim let go and watch things hit him, like a gift. And when it comes, it’s a joy to watch.”

Bruce Almighty
© Universal Pictures

Aniston, no slouch at comedy herself (with nine seasons of Friends and a Golden Globe and Emmy Award to prove it), found that working with Carrey was “an amazing challenge for me. It’s pretty miraculous to watch him find his genius, and see how he gets there.”

“I admire Jim’s work very much,” says co-star Philip Baker Hall (who had previously appeared in The Truman Show, but never had scenes with Carrey in that film), “and working with him in this movie is kind of a dream come true. The way Jim works keeps everything free and open through improvisation, and his love of playing on the set. I think he’s a guy who’s just happy to come to work. He just exudes and radiates pleasure at being here. And that’s very powerful for the rest of us.

“Jim is also very generous as a performer,” continues Hall. “He’s very eager to get everybody’s input, and very willing to include it if he thinks it works in the context of the scene. That’s a remarkable quality for an actor in his position.”

Hall also enjoyed his work with Jennifer Aniston in the film. “She was great, as unassuming and delightful off camera as she is on camera.” Lisa Ann Walter, who plays Grace’s acerbic sister Debbie in Bruce Almighty, adds “My girlfriends and I in real life have a saying when we meet somebody who we like. We say ‘You’ll love her, she’s one of us.’ Jennifer is one of us. She gets down and dirty with girlfriend talk, and she’s sweet and loving too.” As for Jim Carrey, Walter says “It’s unfair to be that rich and powerful in the business, and still be such a great guy.”

All You Need is Love

With all of the hard work over the course of four months of filming, some days on the Bruce Almighty set were like fiestas. There was the morning following the presentation of the Emmy Awards, in which Jim Carrey and Tom Shadyac led the entire crew into congratulatory applause and hugs for a tearfully happy Jennifer Aniston, who had won the honor for her work on Friends. And the time when Carrey “stood in” for Buster—a one-year-old mutt rescued from the pound, who portrays Bruce and Grace’s potty-challenged pup Sam—by delivering off-screen barks to Jennifer Aniston.

Bruce Almighty
© Universal Pictures

Then there was the day when a certain international symbol for coffee descended from South America to make a surprise appearance in the film. Seasoned veterans on the crew (not to mention Jim Carrey) were in a state of caffeinated excitement over the coffeemeister’s presence (signature mule and all), to the point where nearly the entire group jockeyed to have their pictures taken with him after he completed his one-day cameo role.

Not to mention Tony Bennett Day, a joyous occasion in which the great crooner made his own special appearance in a restaurant scene. Grizzled veteran crewpeople turned to mush as Bennett sang “If I Ruled the World” for the Bruce Almighty cameras. After one rendition, Jim Carrey leaped on a chair and cried out “Tony, you DO rule the world!,” to massive applause from all in attendance.

In the end, it was all about love…the love of making the movie, and the love that the movie expresses between humans and each other, not to mention between humans and their creator. The atmosphere on the set was commensurate with the movie’s subject matter and tone. “Tom is an amazing captain of his ship,” says Jennifer Aniston. “There’s not one person in the company who doesn’t love him. Sometimes, making a movie can be tedious, but he makes it pleasurable and fun.”

Adds Nora Dunn, “The best directors, in my experience, are the ones who create a space for you as an actor in which you feel comfortable. And that’s what he does. He creates a nice place for you, encourages you to improvise, gives you direction and likes to try things different ways. It’s a nice, intimate feeling even on a movie as big as Bruce Almighty.”

Says Michael Bostick of his partner, “Tom is affable, charitable, generous, funny and creates an amazing place to work. As a filmmaker, he has an uncanny finger on the pulse of what can connect to so many people, and that generosity of spirit is somewhere in every frame of all of his films.

Bruce Almighty
© Universal Pictures

“First and foremost, we’re making a comedy,” adds Bostick. “We’re here to do entertainment, but of course, we’re touching on God, prayer, the idea of free will. That’s what attracted Jim, Tom, Bru and myself to the project, and it’s the emotional underpinning to all of Tom’s movies. He’s ultimately saying something about the human condition. We’re not preaching, and I think that at the end of the day, if audiences have laughed—which we hope they will—I think there’s an opportunity for them to walk out of the movie reflecting on their place in the cosmos, and their own sense of faith in whatever may be out there.”

“This film has the opportunity to get people thinking about spirit,” notes Sally Kirkland. “Spirit exists in everybody no matter what race, creed, color, circumstance or lifestyle. The same humanity and spirit is in everybody, and we just have to love it all and pray for it all. Bruce Almighty, on a comedic level, opens you up to that.”

“There’s always going to be some group that’s going to have a problem with something if you’re dealing with God,” concedes Jennifer Aniston, “because if it’s not their way, then it’s the wrong way. But I think audiences will have fun with Bruce Almighty, and that what’s been achieved here is promoting nothing but love.”

The final shot of Bruce Almighty took place at 4:45 a.m. on a freezing early December morning on Harbor Drive in San Diego, in which Bruce Nolan emerges from his wrecked car and angrily challenges God. Addressing the shivering but proud company, Shadyac said “Jim Carrey and I are both seekers, and we’re constantly asking ‘Where is God?’ We hope that the movie says that God is right here…in each and every one of us.”

Concludes Shadyac, “The questions that we ask in the movie have been asked by mystics, sages, saints and the common man since the dawn of time. And frankly, we don’t have the answers. We’re not out there to make dogmatic statements, we’re out there to solicit questions, to give an entertaining experience. A modern day parable, if you will…with a sense of humor.”

Production Diary

By Juliette Tinelle a.k.a. J.T. Carrey
November/December, 2002

Every Jim Carrey fan's dream is to work with him on the set of a major motion picture.

I had the WONDERFUL opportunity of doing so.

BA Shoot Sign
Let me go back to November 22nd, 2002 and tell you how I got the information of the shoot. My mom was in Pasadena, CA and she saw signs on the off-ramp of Lake Ave. off the Ventura Freeway that said:

So she followed them and found the set. Later she picked me up and we went down and I asked one of the crew members, "Moose," how I could be on the set. I ran into someone, whom I will call Mr. B, who told me he would have put me on the set because he had a lot of difficult people that he wanted to replace. I didn't have my wardrobe with me that day otherwise he would have put me on that very minute. However I, my mother, along with 4 tourists, were able to watch Jim filming on Ridge St. He was saying something about "I'm the Alpha, I'm the Omega baby…" So Mr. B told me about Monday, and told me to give it a try and see if I can get past the gates, since he said only 1 out of a million get through, and that's where my story begins.

It's a cold November 25th, 2002 morning. I was instructed by Mr. B to arrive at the Universal Studios Backlot, Gate 3, in Universal City, before the 7am shoot call time. Of course, wanting to be punctual and courteous to the crew, I arrive at 6:30 am. Getting through the front gate was a tough course because I was not on the guest list, however, with my precise information and charm I pleasantly made my way in and the guards even apologized to me for their mistake. I entered the studio gates on the opposite side of the studio. I took my first step on the backlot and a friendly security guard greeted me and asked to see my pass.

BA Set Pass 1

Yes, I am enthralled to show him a simple slip of paper with MY name on it. The first hint of excitement of the day. I walked onto the set, eyes widened, nose freezing. My dream was to always work on the Universal backlot and this was my first time. I was completely in awe, I walked under a moving crane and past Courthouse Square as seen before in Back to the Future. I walked through New York Street and I finally get to my destination, the holding tent.

As I entered, I looked around for Mr. B, but couldn't find him. I walked up to the sign in desk and told the lady that he told me to be there. She asked for me to wait for a while and see if she could find a spot for me, since I pretty much arrived as a "spec" (one who comes on a movie set in case they need extra people). I prayed and prayed that she would find me a spot. 10 minutes go by, nothing, then 30, then 45. Finally, after an hour of waiting she calls out… "Juliette! We have good news for you, we are going to give you the part of a Park Goer"

She handed me my voucher and told me to go to wardrobe. I dashed off to wardrobe and showed them my wide selection of clothes, obviously I was fully prepared. I ended up wearing my blue cotton short-sleeved shirt with leather cording through the front and my frayed blue jeans. Then I went to Hair and Makeup and talked to the hairdressers for a while about how awful I did my hair that morning. As soon as I was done with that, I went back to holding. I missed breakfast so I asked for a box of cereal from the caterers. I waited at a table alone until I was approached by a few of the other extras, they didn't seem as excited to be there as I was. We did however talk for a while and we shared stories of past filming experience. Then Mr. B came in, and told us to "go to set." I followed like a trained seal down New York Street to the set.

Finally, at around 9am we were ready to start! I was placed by one of the PA's at a table at the "park" in front of Courthouse Square. I looked around. Red and white balloons were attached to tables, posters were on the standing on the ground next to tables, many stickers and cards announcing a blood drive were placed around the park. There was a huge banner that said something about a 'Be The Miracle Blood Drive' sponsored by the American Red Cross. There were two blue tents with medical chairs and tables with syringes and bandages and in the middle of the whole set was a statue of a man, obviously someone of history to Buffalo, NY, and a large table with a huge cookie in the shape of a syringe surrounded by smaller similar cookies on glass plates.

© Universal Pictures
At the table stood an older lady with a younger man, playing the roles of Mrs. Kowalski and Vol Kowalski, owners of The Kowalski Bakery.

At my table, I met a girl named Harmony, another girl, whom I misplaced the name of, and the guy I was talking to before in the holding tent, named Joe I think it was. Our role was to basically pretend we were signing up for the blood drive. Behind my table was a man in disheveled clothing playing a homeless guy, and holding a sign that said "Armageddon Outta Here." I complimented him on his appearance and he thanked me.

Five minutes passed until one of the PA's, Jeff, walked by and I overheard him, in his walkie talkie, say "Jim is coming on the set." Some of the extras didn't even know who "Jim" was, so I had to explain to them that it was Jim Carrey. A few seconds later I heard "Hellooooooooooo…ahhhhh" in the megaphone and I knew I recognized the voice. I looked over to the tent where the directors chairs were set up and saw Jim sitting in one with his sunglasses on staring into nowhere. He was wearing a blue striped long sleeved business man shirt and khaki colored pants and brown shoes. No one responded to him, so I thought I'd wave at him. I sat on one of the prop benches and waved and he waved back with a smile!

Tom Shadyac, the director,
Tom Shadyac
came on the set and told us we were ready to shoot. He referred to us as the "Freaks of Nature." The wind was so strong that the crew could hardly focus. The crew was trying to set up the scene with the shades and the lighting and the cameras. I was standing in the way at one point and I felt someone behind me grab my hands really tight and wouldn't let go, and he said "excuse me honey, we need to get through here" and I'm like "who on earth is touching me?" and I turned around and it was Tom. Suddenly, a huge gust of wind blew and we all noticed a shadow on the floor that was moving. It was a huge shade (scrim) above us, possibly about 30x30 feet, blocking out the bright sun and we were all directed to move to the other side of the set. I saw Jim run so I followed him, as he knew where to go. He seemed to be reserved and quiet, slightly calm despite what was happening.

I watched the crew work on Jim for a while, attaching a large leg brace to his leg and handing him a cane. Then Jeff came over to Harmony and I and told us to stay where we were and stand next to the tent that was on the opposite side of where we were before and to cross behind Jim in front of the cookie table while he was doing his lines. Tom told everyone we were about to begin. Jim began to do his lines while Harmony and I watched to see how we could cross behind him, since it was just a take we were free to figure out our motives. We tried to cross behind him once but he almost ran into us. Harmony told Jeff that it was hard to do what he asked us to do because Jim moved too fast from point A to point B and we didn't want to trip over him. So Jeff told us to return to our table and see what we could do. After another take, Jeff came to me and told me to cross over to the tent on my side of the set and stand behind a chair under the tent and look over it in interest. So I did that. We did another take, I walked behind the chair, in which Jim was now seated, showing how to give blood. We did some rehearsing, not much though.

Well the wind kept blowing so there was a lot of down time, meaning we weren't filming or rehearsing

I was watching Jim and the other people talk until the wind hit really hard again and a prop tree fell down onto two people, a young man and a small child, as well as the banner falling on two women who jumped from their seats in laughed in fear. Jim was very helpful as he rushed over and helped the two from under the tree. The little girl was crying and the man was so traumatized he didn't know what to say. As soon as that happened, Tom threw his hands up and said "Forget this, we're doing this another day," and Jeff the PA rushed us off to holding.

We went back to holding for lunchtime, it was around 2pm maybe, and I started to feel sick. Not because of the food but because of my nerves! I figured if I ate something I might feel better, I was wrong, but I did eat a bite of a chicken enchilada, some rice, and about 50 pieces of asparagus because that was all my stomach could handle. The food was all provided by Jim Carrey and I can tell you one thing, it was MUCH better than what they serve on other sets sometimes! I also felt faint so I drank a lot of water.

I went back to holding and I started talking to someone I met earlier, an older lady and she was telling me how she overheard that Tom was going to pick about 12 people out of the 150 or more of us that were on the set, for a small scene in a diner. After lunch was over, Tom told a PA to call us all back out because he wanted to look over us and pick the 12 people for the diner scene. I laid on the floor because I felt awful and I figured he wouldn't pick me anyway, but he did! And he picked my older lady friend and Harmony too! Everyone else was "atmosphere." They were to be outside of the diner, walking like pedestrians or driving cars, just incase the camera glanced in the windows. Tom treated us 12 to whatever we wanted to eat from Craft Services, which is mainly for the stars and the crew.

Then Tom brought all of us into the diner and told us to just sit in a booth and pretend to eat. Easy enough. The scene was of Jennifer coming in, seeing Jim on TV doing a news report, asking for a cup of coffee, then storming out. We did a few takes and then Tom came over to us and told us we were doing a good job of looking real and asked if we were the college table because we were all young and told us we were cool and hip.

Besides Tom's goofing off, he was very professional and very punctual on how the scenes were to be done. We did many many takes throughout the day in both the diner scene and the blood drive scene. We went back to holding and they told us to wait for a while incase he needed us again (the 12 of us), but after an hour of waiting, they said we could go home. The lady who signed me in couldn't believe I got the extra role and she laughed and told me to come in the next week to film the blood drive scene. So I thanked her and signed out.

A week went by and December 2nd came, again a cold morning. I went through the same deal again, this time, not sure why, but I wasn't on their list at the front gate, same as before Universal Studios, Gate 3. I was there at 6:00 am again. The guards apologized again for their mistake and I got my pass, and drove back to Lakeside Dr. on the opposite side of the studio.

BA Set Pass 2

I walked back to holding and got some breakfast: watermelon, cantaloupe, French toast, hash browns and two cups of water. As soon as I finished my last bite, Jeff came in and told us it would be 15 minutes until we go to set! I walked outside to warm up in the sun because it was very cold. Then they told us to go to set. Finally after a while, Jim came on the set and we were ready to begin.

As we were rehearsing a few scenes, I was talking to some of the other extras and actors, one was Nick who plays Filbert Davis in the movie, he's about 13 I think he said. He was telling me about how he was filming a scene a few weeks before where they would suspend him on the "Peter Pan" ropes to make him look as though he was flying in the air.

I was told by a PA, to instead of standing behind Jim, to stand next to him! So I did my usual stand at the table, pretend to get info about the blood drive and then move to the tent next to Jim about 6 inches away.

Then we started filming, I noticed Jim sitting in the grass trying to put on a large gray leg brace with Velcro straps and was struggling with it, but no one was around to help him. After he finally got it on, Jim did his lines, adding lines here and there like "Thank you, Mrs. Kowalski.. and Vol..finger..nose" (you'll see why in the movie) then he stopped and stared in my direction and said "You know Tom, there's not much action going on around here…" He then talked to us and said, "When I say something funny or something, yell and laugh and go wild…" We're like OK! Then he made up some line like, "There's so much ENERGY here! Right?" which was our cue to yell and laugh and scream and kill each other pretty much over the exciting blood drive. We went through the scene about 30 times and Jim kept yelling that our direction. Jim wanted to get the scene perfect so that's why we kept going over it. Anyway, we filmed the scene again over and over and over, same stuff. We started to shoot different angles, at one point Jim was just sitting in the grass next to the camera men and saying his lines while the camera men shot the background.

We went back to holding for maybe 5 minutes, then they called us back saying we were going to do a "turn around," which is where they shoot from the opposite direction. So we basically did the same scene only from a different direction. Oh and for a review of the Blood Drive scene, basically the camera shoots Jim reporting then he moves to the large table with the cookie, then under the tent, gives blood, yells, "Ouch," and the nurse says "But I didn't do anything," and he says, "I know I was kidding you," then he stands back up, reports some more, points to Jennifer with his cane, then we all say at the end "Be The Miracle!" and cheer and scream as the camera moves toward the homeless guy with the sign and he tells the camera to cut. So anyway, this time we were all squished up together to make room for the cameras. They gave me a mark, which is a piece of tape or fabric thingy that they give to actors so they know where to stand. This time I had to stand about 3 inches from Jim, because of the cameras. Practically leaning on him, while two police men were leaning on me.

We filmed a little bit more, then they wanted to do a "Hot Track" I think it was called, where the actors say lines to be used in other parts of the movie, basically off camera lines. Jennifer was saying her line, "I'm in the shower now," and I was standing a little bit close to Jim and I heard him say, "Wow that is hot," and laugh. Then he walked away and went to his chair and did his lines. Then this helicopter flew over us and Tom was yelling saying, "GET LOST! AAAHH!" We waited for it to fly by while Jim was singing 'Coming to America' by Neil Diamond. At this point, we were like, "Why is he singing that?" and he pointed to an American flag on the top of a crane on the set and we're like "Okay. That was weird!"

Then he was doing his lines again and some guy in a car blasted this acid rock music and Jim was like, "WOOO! YEAH!" and then looked at me and made like this "rock on" motion with his arm in a fist, so I made one back and he smiled again. I looked ahead of me and Jim starts walking towards me and I'm like freaking out, nervous as heck, sweating like a pig, and as he's about three inches in front of me I said, "hh-h-he-e-e-e-y-y-y," that was all I could mutter out, and he smiled really big and said, "Hi there!! How are ya doing?" and touched my shoulder really lightly with his left hand as he walked up to me and then walked over to the huge table. Then he was pacing around the table and Tom told him to go back and film more. So we filmed more and Jim kept stumbling on his lines "blood bank" instead of "blood drive" and "eyewitness nose" instead of "eyewitness news" (this line was REALLY embarrassing for him) and he started getting embarrassed in front of the whole set.

After a few more takes, we were finished filming. Then Tom called us: "Come to me my Children of the Corn," and told us it was the last day of filming and we were all wrapped up for the whole movie and we all did a great job and he congratulated the main actors, some of the minor actors, including Nick, and gave out some presents. An older guy got a paycheck to pay for his medical bills, which were probably in the thousands, for his dog that got hit by a car and a crew jacket. Another guy, his father died on 9-11 and he was playing a cop in the movie, whom I'm standing next to in the scene, so he got a crew jacket from Jim, although Jim ran off with it but came back and gave him a hug. Tom forgot to thank Jim, so we all did for him and Tom was like, "Oh yea, thanks Jim!"

Jim Carrey
Overall, Jim Carrey was very professional, he wasn't goofing off much, although he did walk up to crowds sometimes and get them riled up. He seemed to want to get every shot perfect by retaking scenes over and over and trying to perfect the ways he would say his lines, especially the "Eyewitness Nose!" line. He was also very easy to be around, probably too easy, because he was incredibly approachable! He also seemed very shy. Between takes he was down to earth and reserved. He kept messing with his hair so the hair dresser kept putting hair spray in it.

Tom Shadyac was also professional but extremely cool to work with, he's very personable and open to ideas, even from the extras. He also didn't mind taking his time with things like filming a specific line and getting it right. I also noticed that he would talk to the other extras and he treated us like people, not like props that eat, like some directors do. I felt very comfortable being on the set and approaching him without feeling like I would be thrown off the set.

Jennifer Aniston was quiet most of the time, but she was sweet and seemed to enjoy her work. However, I didn't see much of her since she didn't have as much to do in the scenes.

Morgan Freeman wasn't on the set those days.

The camera crew was also very friendly, I made friends with pretty much all of them and they all told me to follow my dreams and to keep being persistent. Moose gave me a big hug and introduced me to his friend during the filming of the second day and told me he knew he would see me on the set, and told me to keep pushing and never give in to doubt. Fred and Frank were always looking out for me too, and they often talked to me between takes. The rest of the crew would tell me how cameras worked and what their jobs were.

Working on a Jim Carrey movie was the best experience I've ever had on a movie set, no one seemed to have an ego and everyone was extremely friendly and caring for each other. If anyone ever gets a chance to be in a film with him, definitely go for it!

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