When we started writing Incident One, we had a few ideas churning and starting off points. We knew that our characters were Cricket, a scrappy B Boy with a high pitched, Martin Lawrence style neurosis, Cliquot, a self obsessed performance artist, and Charly Horse, a not-the-sharpest-tool-in-the-shed bike messenger. We, also, knew that we were three roommates living in a haunted space. At the time, we were all intrigued by the idea of cults. Namely Scientology. From there, we developed a loose narrative that involved a haunting of yoginis, Cuba Gooding Jr., angling for money from the Church of Scientology, a confused door-to-door knife salesman, and a cat doubling as a vacuum. You know, normal stuff.
We shot the first part of the incident on a rooftop with many of our friends acting as space age Yoginis, and several got their yoga mats dirty and possibly woke up very sore the next day due to all the sun salutations we filmed. Thanks guys, you were awesome. It had snowed earlier that week, but we got really lucky and the sun came out and gave us a glorious early spring day. We even had to run to the drug store for sunblock. We served a crockpot of steel cut oatmeal for breakfast, and it was our first offering in a long cookbook of future craft services.
We made the shower sequence by dangling John naked off the shorter roof of our loft. We poured water on him from a watering can and shot a strobe light up at him from underneath. It could have all gone horribly wrong.
In this section we meet Cricket, who is chatting up a lady octopus named Octopoon that’s been haunting his room with aquatic flirtation. The scene involves a multi-handed feeding frenzy that gives 9 ½ Weeks a run for its money. Barack Obama had just been elected for his first term, so we acquired a shed load of his campaign posters being sold for next to nothing. We covered Cricket’s room with them. Several of our friends served as Octopoon’s arms, and our pal Eric Kheunaman gave voice to her (to be modulated later). Cricket, also, got a bumpin’ theme song, written by our good friend and beat maker extraordinaire Dominic.
For this sequence, we introduced the character of our Super, a wildly psychedelic dude of dubious origin who goes by the name Asbestos. Ben Sinclair played this character, and decided he was part animal, so he kept shoving grapes into his mouth to give the look of a feline mouth. It was vaguely reminiscent of the 80’s show Beauty And The Beast (on acid). His riffing and improv skills were truly a marvel on that morning’s shoot. Our friend and art maker Jay Pluck painted the set, which was constructed of discarded refrigerator boxes and old yarn found in a hallway.
We meet Cliquot in this section, right after she’s had a run in with a Scientologist. To really bring home her character’s brazen ways, we shot the scene with her almost entirely on the toilet. Pants down. For the crude effect of the peeing sound, we poured nuts and bolts into a metal bucket. She even pees fiercely. The clip you see in the vortex is a colonoscopy we found online somewhere.
We shot this sequence in a theater that Ben Sinclair was managing at the time. We elicited the acting prowess of our college friend Nathan Crocker to play the part of Cuba Gooding Jr. We turned the set into a crayola surf scene with the help of green screens, with waves designed by our friend ChooChoo. Both John and Nathan were donning towels, and John affixed fake nipples to his chest made by suction cups and earplugs. In this scene, John acquires Cuba Gooding Jr’s teeth, which possess a hidden message from Scientology. To play a projected Scientologist spokesperson, we got our friend Jenny Greer to film the scene remotely at her school while she was attending grad school at Cal Arts.
This scene was caterwauling, careening punk rock. We were under pressure that day to film due to scheduling constraints, and the scene required blood, a stampede of yoginis into a bathroom, a house cat that was also a vacuum, and green screens. It was so loud the downstairs roommate thought the world was ending. Apocalypse now.