Writing Upon The Walls

Literature to the masses.

Literature to the masses.

I’m not the kind of person who writes on bathroom walls. As a person who generally follows “The Rules” bathroom graffiti is a culture that I’ve only observed and never participated in. Well, until today, anyway, when I spent several hours dutifully copying down bathroom graffiti for tomorrow’s film shoot. I even did research. God, I love the internet.

The script that I’m currently directing calls for a bathroom covered in graffiti. You wouldn’t think that this would be a difficult location to find in a large urban environment like Los Angeles, but when you consider that it also needs to have at least three stalls, be big enough for a film crew to fit in, be able to be shut down for a day, and exist in a neighborhood safe enough for grad students to haul a lot of expensive equipment to it without being mugged then the location options narrow considerably. So instead we found a locker room on campus full of pristine white walls (ok, off-white) and instead needed to find a way to fake bathroom graffiti.

We decided to invest in many rolls of shelf liner- a thin sheet of vinyl with a gentle adhesive on the back designed to protect cabinetry from whatever bric-a-brac might spill or damage them. I bought as much as I could from the dollar store and spent the day with a fist full of markers trying to tap into my inner thirteen year old for the most immature and impulsive comments I could think of. It was surprisingly difficult. You spend enough time resisting the impulse to write on walls and when the time comes to act on it it is like staring at a blank sheet of paper knowing that you have to turn it into a midterm essay. Tagger’s block.

Thankfully,I had help. Yesterday during our first day of shooting I invited the cast and crew to begin writing on one of the false walls that we were going to be creating for tomorrow’s upcoming scene. The cast members were largely made up of older actors whom I cast because they all had a particularly conservative look, but hand them a pen and point them at a blank wall and the truth comes out.  If you ever want to know what is really on someone’s mind then have them try to come up with some bathroom graffiti.


~ by Gwydhar Gebien on March 1, 2014.

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