16 Feb 2007
Do any of you remember the mixture of giddy excitement and utter bafflement that swirled around the production of the “pre-pilot” for the Aaron Spelling series “Savannah” back in 1995? The production seemed to swing from silver spoon to shoestring with wild abandon. We were in high cotton during the swank wedding exteriors that we shot at the house of that Atlanta Barbecue sauce magnate (with the really hot redheaded trophy wife). And it wasn’t too bad when we shot at the clubhouse at Eagle’s Landing. But the day that we rolled into the as-yet-unfinished Delta terminal at Hartsfield International Airport? That was pure guerrilla filmmaking. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were really lucky to have Richard Lang directing.
Richard was raised by Old Hollywood and knew everything there was to know about the business. He’d seen and done it all in his day and by the time we received him he’d kicked the party life and contented himself shooting episodic. Joe Connolly and I, his prop guys, were just a few of the Atlantans on the crew who would quickly become fans of the man.
Hardly into my fourth year of working in the business, I can look back and realize how utterly green I surely was and how patient and allowing Richard was with me during the times that he dropped into Atlanta to shoot an episode. Never more patient was Richard the day we arrived at the airport. My recollection is that we were running behind schedule that day, and getting a convoy of production vehicles onto the airport was never fast, even in the terror-free 20th century.
The scene featured the four girls (in the pre-pilot there were four girls) at an air terminal, waiting for their plane to New York. As it turns out all of our trucks were in Richard’s shot and even though they were going to be out of focus he wanted them to look like airline service trucks so he asked us to put some graphics on the outside of the truck. I can’t remember if we had pre-cut vinyl letters that were big enough to see from camera or if we had to make the letters out of paper tape, I just remember that I thought it would be funny to have the tagline be: “We Fly Real Fast”.
I don’t think we pitched it to Richard, and I’m not sure if Joe was there as we were putting it up, I just remember being back in the terminal when Richard saw it for the first time and for just a split second looked as if he’d swallowed a frog.
Somewhere in all my stuff I have a copy of that pre-pilot… hmmmm…..