I mentioned I’d worked on a movie to a RB friend. He wrote back immediately to ask me to tell about it, and, hopefully, find out which movie it was. I can’t remember the name of the movie or who starred in it— I’m not a movie buff, so it just never stuck with me.
I was still living in Nevada, in Henderson, out of Las Vegas. I had the Harley then, so it was probably about 1980 or 81— it was still brand-new. I bought the bike in 1980.
I can’t remember the name of the movie but it was a war movie, and my sister in law at the time was both a volunteer firefighter and a volunteer paramedic with a ticket like a field medic’s for the Marines— anything but cosmetic surgery allowed.
She, with other firefighters, were issued the first water-cooled dirt motorcycles (and last) to use to rush in and put out the fires that the Special Effects Team caused.
I drove Transportation for the Special Effects Team. They were shooting on a dry lake outside of Jean, NV, which is outside of Paradise, NV, which is a tad south of Las Vegas.
The movie company rented all the Amry tanks that the nearby National Guard Armory had— some had to be worked on prior to the arrival of the movie crew, and some the couldn’t get started up in time. So they decided to use the old fake tanks— inflatibles that were used in WWII to make it look like there were hundreds of tanks instead of maybe 3 or 4. The fake tanks had mouse bites and rat holes in them, and some just burst from being made of now-rotten fabric put under pressure, and all of them lost air almost faster than it was put in.
We worked under a California contract, which NV had to sign to attract movie makers to the state, and we were paid well! I brought out a book and sat in the van for sometimes 20 hour days. I think I only got to the catering tent once, but it was a great visit— they put on a spread! And I got paid extra for missing all 3 breaks, then if I didn’t get to go home to sleep so many hours I was paid as if I hadn’t gone off-shift at all. And it all compounded so that I was paid a total of $600/hr US pre-inflation Dollars for a 4-day shift more than once.
It was early summer, fine in the shade, hell in the sun. I’d leave my place at 2 a.m., get to work at 3, that is, I’d ride my Harley to the hotel/casino (Dunes?) where the crew was staying, lock up the bike and switch to the Special Effects van, then drive them and their explosives out the 30 miles to the site.
I packed lots of water with me on the bike to put in the van. They packed water, too. Water was very iimportant- dehydration would have set the movie backs days, and could set a person back so far as death.
At the end of the day, when there was no more ambient light and if there was no night-shooting, I took them home, traded vehicles, and rode on home, myself. There was a little stop-n-go type market just between Las Vegas and Paradise where I always bought a quart of Gatorade, and I drank it right on the spot in about 60 seconds.
While I got paid big bucks to read a book in the shade, my sister in law got paid zilch to race out to quench the fires in full fire-gear, sweating buckets, for free. We both loved what we were doing, so I guess it worked out. She can probably even remember the name of the movie, and who was in it. But I sure can’t. -=Dayonda
I can’t remember the name of the movie that I was working on, but I remember things about it. Like the type of motorcycle the fire team rode. All about the tanks. Where it was shot.