WHAT DO YOU GET WHEN YOU HAVE A MOTORCYCLE GANG, AN UN-PERMITTED SHOOT LOCATION, POLICE SHOWING UP AND A COUPLE IN LOVE? SOMETIMES YOU GET MAGIC.
Late afternoon downtown Reno, Jeff and I are waiting on the arrival of the client at the agreed shoot location, a supposedly deserted alley way. Here comes curveball number one. The alley is packed with cars and work trucks getting ready for an event that evening. This location is a official bust. Time to scramble and find new location the client will like. I head out on foot and start the search while Jeff stays and waits for the client to arrive and discuss their options.
Several alley ways and backstreets later I come up empty handed. Nothing I looked at will work for the client. Then we remember a photo we had done in the past for Reno Magazine. It had a great alley way. Jeff gives the client directions and we head to the location.
Meet ThreeBlock and Blu. ThreeBlock rolls up on his black Harley with 4 other bikers from The Mongols Motorcycle Club. All the guys have there official leather vests with the proper insignia and patches. ThreeBlock has his hat on backward. You can see it is worn low to eyebrows behind his thick black sunglasses. He gets off his bike and stands to an intimidating stature. We come to find out he is the president of the Mongols local Reno chapter. Right behind them is Blu pulls up in her blacked out Audi. She exits the car and towers over me and Jeff. Jeff and I give each other a quick glance and wonder what the hell we have gotten into.
After we we make introductions we get down to work and start blocking out the shot. Lights start to go up. Power cords get laid out. Jeff comes up to me and says “Hey Mike, we really need a light up on that fire escape landing.” I look up and the landing that is about 20 feet off the ground. I turn back to him and say “No problem” as walk away and thinking to myself, how I’m I going fly myself up that fire escape and place that light. Summoning all my ninja skills, I make a grappling hook and on the first toss hook the escape ladder and pull it to the ground. Grab the light, up the ladder, set it and ready for the first test. Like I said, no problem.
Things were looking good, until the police show up with a paddy wagon. I guess the people that lived above the alley were a little put off by the 5 loud Harleys in alley. They asked the fine folks of the RPD to come take a look at what was going on in the alley. You can’t really blame them, we had 2 car, 1 truck, a loud generator, 5 scary looking biker dudes and a scantly clad woman packed into this small alley. After Jeff had a brief discussion with the officers we were allowed to go on with the shoot.
The generator fired up and the lights started flashing. From then on out it was smooth sailing. We were capturing great shots and the client was very happy. I little perseverance and a little luck turned this ill fated shoot into a success.