Pig, a journey

Henry directs Rudolf

My involvement with “Pig” started in the spring of 2008. The project was classified as a “SAG Ulta Low Budget” production, which means that there is almost no pay involved. in cases like this the script has to be exciting enough for me to want to participate and potentially forgo better paying work. When I read the script I was quickly drawn to Henry Barrial’s writing. nothing was obvious or predictable and I never had any idea where the story was headed next. I also felt I would bring something to the character of “the man” that wasn’t in the pages. After meeting Henry in person it seemed to me that we had similar sensibilities and I was excited when he offered me the role.

Over the next few months I met regularly with Henry and the two lead actresses (Heather Ankeny and Ines Dali) to go through the script. this turned out to be an unusually collaborative process. Since Henry was searching for more texture and looking to make changes based on who his actors were, he asked us for a lot of input.

The first day of shooting is often difficult for me because it takes time to fully settle into a character but because of our many meetings throughout that year I felt relaxed and confident right away. After all, I had already lived with this character for many months!

Shooting in the desert

We began by shooting the first third of the film in the desert by Joshua Tree, California which is located about halfway between L.A and the Arizona border. Heather and I were able to live in the house that was the film’s main location for over a week (an unforeseen perk of low-budget filmmaking because this turned out to be the most comfortable setup I’ve ever had on a shoot!) Living in the house kept me in character and at the end of each day we watched spectacular meteor showers in the desert night sky.

Shooting days were increasingly spread out after the first part had been completed. Our challenges were now mostly about logistics and sometimes about logic. Some of the locations we shot in would have cost another production a lot of money but our incredibly resourceful producer Mark Stolaroff knows low budget guerilla filmmaking inside and out. On some of the public locations I felt more part of a heist than a film shoot! Filming in a public park we had to hide all the equipment and bring out frisbees and footballs every 20 minutes at the sound of our lookout man’s warning whistle.

Regarding the logic, the structure and content of “Pig” is quite challenging for an audience and required intense focus from all of us who worked on the film. Many details were especially crucial because they also serve as clues to a kind of memory puzzle within the film. We actually reshot a scene because we thought I had the wrong colored notebook in my back pocket. It later turned out that we had it right the first time.

We finished in the summer of 2010, completing an 18 month shoot. My most difficult day of work was shooting the last scene of the film. Throughout the day I felt emotionally exhausted and extremely unhappy with my work. It was the only time during the project where I felt disconnected from the character. In retrospect,  I think I sabotaged myself that day because I didn’t feel ready for the film to end and to shed this character that I had carried with me for over 2 years and grown attached to. Ultimately, that last scene never made it into the film.

Altogether “Pig” was a great experience for me. I loved working with Henry, Mark and the hard working team they brought on board.  I feel lucky to have worked with this group of actors and by the end it felt like working with family.  I finally saw the completed film’s premiere at the Nashville Film Festival and I’m very proud to be a part of it. I really hope you all get to see it soon!

Rudolf Martin, Actor

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