Movie : Rumbo : First Pee
Director : Lauro Chartrand DelValle
Sir, first of all tell us about your love for movies. Do you remember the first movie you watched? What was your experience like?
My love for movies began at an early age as a way to escape into other worlds and journey to far off lands and magical places. The very first movie I remember as a child that resonated and stuck with me was “The Wizard of Ozz”. Of course as a child it scared me, but as I grew and thought back about it I also realised I was taking the journey with Dorothy. And in later years as I became a filmmaker it has always been something I wanted the audience to experience, the journey!
The next film I really credit for getting me involved in the industry is “The Octagon” starring Chuck Norris. I saw him kick someone through a wall and told my mother, “That’s what I want to be when I grow up!” My mother replied, “What? A movie star like Chuck Norris?” I said, “No, I want to be like the guy he just kicked through the wall!” My mother grew up in Los Angeles, so she knew what a stuntman was and later explained it to me. I devoured every bit of information I could find in books about stuntmen and chased that dream until it became a reality. I have been a stuntman for 32 years now and started Directing 13 years ago.
Tell us something about your love for parodies. What was your thought behind using the trope in your cinema?
I can’t say that I have a love for parodies, but if used properly I think it can be an amazing way to get a story or message across. In this instance the Rambo: First Blood story is hugely popular, and has a worldwide following and fan base. So what better way to garner attention and a built in audience for your story than already having a familiar theme with a built in audience. Then to put a humorous slant on the story to entertain people while they can still take in the message objectively and possibly see a situation from a different viewpoint than what they may have been led to believe.
Did John Rambo play a massive role in your life while you were growing up, as a prominent figure of the pop culture? What was the contribution of the character and the movie in your life? What made you think about making a movie about the celebrated character of John Rambo?
I definitely loved First Blood, the first in the Rambo franchise. I watched all the rest as they came out and like everyone else, liked some more than others. To me First Blood has always been the best with the 5th “Rambo” coming in 2nd as it got closer to the original than all the rest, in my opinion. The thing that clicked with me to use a similar character as John Rambo in our film was a true life situation that my girlfriend and I encountered while travelling during the original first few months of the whole Covid scare. We were driving across Canada from British Columbia to Quebec and as we got to Ontario, gas stations would no longer allow you to use the bathroom. Of course this made my girlfriend furious! For me it was no big deal as she put it because, “You can just whip it out and pee whenever you want!” (one of Justine’s lines in the short film). As it happened over and over again and she jumped back in the Jeep after being denied access to another bathroom, slammed the door shut and said, “I’m not going to pee in the fucking woods!” (another of Justin’s lines in the short film). I replied, “You’re gonna go Rambo on their ass one of these times!”
BING! A light went on in my head and the idea was born! I started formulating the story and script in my head over the next couple of weeks of driving and wrote the script when we got back home.
Sir please suggest us a few of your favourite movies. What would be the ten movies you believe everyone must watch?
- Man On Fire (Directed by Tony Scott, Starring Denzel Washington, Dakota Fanning and Christopher Walken)
- Scarface (Directed by Brian De Palma, Starring Al Pacino, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Steven Bauer)
- Green Book ( Directed by Peter Farrelly, Starring Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali)
- Hooper (Directed by Hal Needham, Starring Burt Reynolds, Jan-Michael Vincent and Sally Field)
- The Cowboys (Directed by Mark Rydell, Starring John Wayne, Bruce Dern and Roscoe Lee Browne)
- Hell or High Water (Directed by David Mackenzie, Starring Jeff Bridges, Gil Birmingham, Chris Pine and Ben Foster)
- First Blood (Directed by Ted Kotcheff, Starring Sylvestor Stallone, Brian Dennehy and Richard Crenna)
- The Last Samurai (Directed by Ed Zwick, Starring Tom Cruise, Ken Watanabe and Hiroyuki Sanada)
- Dances with Wolves (Directed by Kevin Costner, Starring Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell and Graham Greene)
- Unforgiven (Directed by Clint Eastwood, Starring Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman)
Sir tell us how you came up with such an intriguing plot. Tell us about your time devising the narrative.
I thought up the story from the real life situation, where my girlfriend & I were not allowed to use the bathroom at gas stations. We encountered this while driving across Canada during the initial Covid scare and related it to the First Blood story.
Tell us something about the performances in your movie, specifically the performance delivered by Justine Warrington.
Justine Warrington and I first met on the set of “Dragged Across Concrete”. I was the stunt coordinator and she was playing the role of Cheryl, a bank teller who was taken hostage and forced into the getaway van as the robbers escaped. She was forced to pee her pants in that film as well! That is not why I cast her though! She is an amazing actress and stand up comedian. After working with her on Dragged, I kept her in my mental rolodex of great actresses, as well as a very funny, grounded and great person. So when this came together, I offered the role to my girlfriend Sharlène Royer, she’s an actress and stunt woman, and after all it happened to her in real life! She declined and then I knew Justine had to be my first choice.
She was the perfect choice as she brought the perfect balance of humour, drama and realism to the role. We went off script when she discovered things through her character that would not only be more funny, but would also help define the message.
I have to mention the great performances by all my cast is what made this little short work so well. Paul Lazenby played the perfect over-bearing Sheriff, Bruce Crawford nailed the role that Richard Crenna portrayed, and Michael Adamthwaite, although a brief role not only helped outline the message of the film, but also introduced our lead character in a hilarious fashion all in one scene. Malcolm Sparrow-Crawford was absolutely hilarious as our over cautious, scared gas attendant. The list goes on as all my deputies nailed the comedic aspects of their roles as well as the rest of the cast. Even the dogs!
What were the things the actors had to be aware of keeping in the mind the structure and type of your story , specifically when they were delivering the dialogues?
What I specifically asked of them was to keep it serious and real, definitely not goofy! I felt the absurd situation that we in reality, found ourselves in , as well as the story we were portraying, played much funnier if they were all serious and real about the situation. Then, to me, and they agreed, that the dialogue would be much funnier played straight and come across much more silly and funny.
Did you face a number of impediments as you had to shoot the entire film with an iPhone 11?
Yes and No.
For filming it was great because using a small device makes it super easy to operate handheld and you can get into smaller places and manoeuvre much better and faster than a conventional film camera. I bought the iPhone 11 Pro Max specifically for this project because of the lenses and the ability to rack focus, etc.
For sound, it was a nightmare and mostly my fault because of budgetary constraints. I couldn’t afford a sound mixer and boom operator or the equipment at the time, so I bought some small lavs that connected to a transmitter that I could plug into my iPhone. The bugs were not worked out in the product and I ended up having to ADR almost every line of dialogue in the film as well as have my sound designer do a lot of extra work syncing everything up and fixing the sound. In the end I ended up paying considerably more in post expenses than I would have if I’d paid for the sound tech and his equipment for the shoot days. Live and learn as a producer.
Tell us about the ingenious ploy of extracting comedy out of the pandemic. The witty humour gyrating around the pandemic make the interactions and the confrontations more fun to watch.
This was just a small exaggeration on what we were witnessing in real life! Everyone had their own way of reacting to the Covid scare. I have my opinions and you have yours, and that’s fine. But some people took it to the extreme and we found it hard not to laugh.
For example, one day I saw a guy driving around in his Jeep, with the top off, windows down and alone, but still wearing his mask. Why? I’m sorry, but I found that funny, and felt others might too!
So I wanted to exaggerate, but I didn’t have to do much to show how silly some people get when they believe in only one source of information.
For instance, in the film, the Sheriff and his deputies don’t follow the rules of masks and such that they are trying to enforce, but yet the one deputy who is by himself, wears a mask and uses hand sanitiser constantly. These are absurd measures that I saw in everyday life that I felt we could laugh at in the film. It wasn’t much of a stretch. When you sit back and just watch how people act, it can be really good for a laugh! I think we all need to learn how to laugh more, especially at ourselves!
You have addressed a very serious issue in a humorous way. The conflict between an individual and the state, between the powerful and the powerless. This enhanced the profundity of your tale. Would you say something about this?
It just came from a place of honesty and truth in the way I feel about the situation. I gauge life by what I see and feel around me. The whole Covid scare is something I had a problem with right from the start. It was obviously something I couldn’t change personally. Some people got depressed, I chose to see how ridiculous it was and still is and to show the humour and absurdity in it. Not to mention the hypocrisy and double standards that have been imposed on the citizens of the world by the very leaders they put in place, supposedly.
The other thing as a filmmaker that made this even better was the team work involved. Sure you can write a script, make a schedule, produce your shot lists, etc. But you have to trust the people you hire and truly collaborate with them.
You have to leave room for creativity and changes that make the film better, tell the story better or make it funnier. This can come from or be inspired by anyone in front of or behind the camera!
If Justine came up with a better line we went with it if it served the film in either being funnier or clarifying something about her character or the story.
Paul did the same thing as the Sheriff. He’d ask if I wanted him meaner or more hateful by saying something different or harder.
Sometimes you have what I call “happy accidents” on set. For instance, in First Blood, all the deputies had M16 Rifles, so I asked a props friend if I could borrow 6 for the two days of filming that I would need them for. He said sure! The day came and he said, “Oh, sorry, they weren’t finished with them on the other show”. The show that was paying to use them. Beggars can’t be choosers, right? So, I could have been upset and said, damn, this isn’t going to work. But I love to make lemonade out of lemons. So I said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if this little police force from Hope didn’t have the budget for 6 rifles, they could only afford one! Then they have to share it and they can fight over who’s turn it is to carry the gun! Great, let’s do that! I had never written that into the script or the dialogue that Wyatt, Paul, Danny and Sam had during the sharing and taking of the one M16 rifle.
It made me laugh, so I thought it would make the audience laugh too.
My goal was to make people laugh in a time when so many were crying, and open them up to see the world around them. I think we all know someone like the characters in this little film. Laughter is the key and heals all.
But all in all, I believe if you tell a story from your heart and use real life experiences as your guide, you’ll turn out an entertaining product that just might have a message that rings true to your audience.