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Interviews > Mauritz Pavoni (Production Assistant: Escape From L.A.)
How did you end up being
a Production Assistant in the
My father married a Swedish-American woman
so he and my brother moved there. Then I got a green card because I was under
eighteen. Then I met a girl who had lived in Miami so we moved to Miami
together. Her friends there worked in the film industry so I started giving out
sodas you know, craft service. Then it was production assistant and then I also
continued working on props. I also worked on lighting and most stuff behind the
camera for commercials, music videos and movies. I moved to Miami ninety-two and
started almost immediately and got some work. I got work on a movie and one
thing led to another. I became a production assistant for a good while. It was a
good job. Well, it was funny. Having been a painter in Gothenburg you know, all
of a sudden I got to work with girls and celebrities. You worked all the time
but it was ok. The first movie was La Florida, a French-Canadian film.
Then I worked on Wrestling Ernest Hemingway. Then I worked on. Oh my God.
I can't remember all the movies. It's around a dozen movies. Then came Marty
(Martin Jedlicka) (Assistant Director) with True Lies, the Florida part.
How did you get the assignment to be a Production
Assistant for Escape From L.A.?
I came in good contact with Marty and
another guy in L.A. so I moved there. Then Marty fixed a job for me on Escape From L.A. I came to L.A. on Friday and
we partied on the weekend and on Monday I stepped into Paramount Pictures and
said, "I'm like gonna see Martin." Then I sat and talked to him and got the
script and call sheets and stuff like that. It was pretty cool actually. Marty
treated us with wine from Coppola's (Francis Ford) courtyard. He had worked on
Dracula. It was an experience.
How did you and the other Production Assistants collaborate and what tasks
did you do?
Our tasks were. Before filming start every
extra is going through hair, make-up and even the actors you know. Our task is
to get them where they are suppose to be, the set. It's a lot of people
wrangling and blocking during filming so people can't get in. The call sheet
should be done everyday. You're a delivery boy more or less so to speak. We
split up the duties. I was responsible for the walkie-talkies and extras. Some
took care of Kurt Russell and the main actors. It's the assistant directors job
and their assistants are we. All the production assistants were very ambitious.
They had done this in many movies so I had to step back and do these other jobs
that no other wanted to do. We and the assistant directors worked longer hours
than everybody. It was sixteen to eighteen hours everyday. The location managers
worked longer but they aren't on set as much.
How was the experience
working with the cast and crew?
You know, we worked nights. I think we
worked four hours in total in daytime. It wasn't that nice actually. Everyone
was mostly cranky. You didn't get to see the best side of anyone. It wore
everyone out. I didn't manage to sleep properly during the days in Los Angeles.
It was helicopters, police cars. You drove home every morning in shining
daylight to get to bed so that you had strength to work in the afternoon and
drive through rush hour traffic when everyone was on their way home stressed.
You stand in traffic jams all day in L.A. Everybody just did their job. It was
one of the absolute most boring movies I've worked on in that way. Having worked
in Florida it became more of a fabric. It was simply turn up for the job in time
and deliver. A couple of the Mescalitos breathed while playing dead under the
helicopter you know and got scolded. It was Marty who had to do it. They weren't
happy about it. There's high demands but they get well paid in Hollywood. They
were nice to us production assistants in that regard that one time we got to sit
with John Carpenter and watch the dailies. They were good in that way. They
wanted to develop people. They took care of us production assistants. It's a
shit job you know. I didn't get particularly close with anyone. It was just a
lot of hard work. I didn't work on the whole movie. Marty's other assistant was
on a movie in Chicago. We were in downtown somewhere and that was my last day.
The next day I flew to Chicago and started working on Chain Reaction with
Keanu Reeves then we continued with Speed 2 after that.
Valeria Golino (Taslima) was nice to work with and
professional. Steve Buscemi (Map to the Stars Eddie) was fantastic. He nailed his lines in the first
repetition you know. He wasn't really famous then but it was no surprise. He's a
really good actor.
Which scenes/locations/tasks were the most fun, hardest or problematic to work
When we worked on the day. Those four hours
you know, with the motorcycle skidding in front of the hotel there. That was an
incredible experience having worked so many nights. One scene was funny. There
was one who was gonna be shot and fly backwards you know (Robert Carradine:
Skinhead in Alley). There was a lot of talk about it before. They couldn't
figure it out. The machine didn't work properly. That wasn't in. They couldn't
do it. Driving to Carson City was just bothersome. The backlot with the
helicopter was easier to work at. (Note: While watching the movie with Mauritz the following
information was also revealed: He met and dated a Swedish girl who was an extra
at the Donald C. Tillman's Reclamation Plant set, Kurt Russell's assault rifle (Coreburner)
kept malfunctioning in the Reclamation Plant while filming the scene with
Plissken firing blanks at Malloy and Brazen, the
doll heads on Cuervo Jones Cadillac was John Carpenter's
idea, Kurt Russell made the full-court basketball shot earlier than expected
which surprised the crew, real shootings delayed the filming in Long Beach and
police cars showed up, Pam Grier's dress was bothersome...)
Was there any drama or tension on the set?
Not particular. Not in that way. It was
night work and everyone was just concentrated on their jobs.
What did you do in your
spare time during the making of the movie?
There was always things to do. The boring
thing, when you had set up for filming the production assistants job was to
stand away and keep people silent and from not walking into the set. Sometimes
you could stand far away and it's not that much you can do. Smoking cigarettes.
We had no cell phones back then. We had beepers and walkie-talkies.
What's your favorite memory or memories of working on the
One positive thing was the Mescalitos. They were real gang members that
we had for extras you know. We became pretty close. I got to take care of them
and they were pretty funny. I had some fun with them. They were nice guys. They
were just ordinary people you know. I thought it was cool of Kurt Russell in the
opening scenes where he comes with that jacket, the original jacket from
Escape From New York. That was the coolest thing with him more or less. It
was funny when one of the production assistants was told that it wasn't ok just
to say Snake when he walked in and that it should be the whole name. She said
she was sorry for that. That's a situation I remember.
I was there (Hollywood) almost six, seven years and it feels like one year. I can't remember all the movies. They
blend together. I remember some from Escape From L.A. because it was the
first movie I worked on after my move from Florida. It was a boring job actually
to shoot movies. There was so much wait. Sometimes it was exciting with
explosions but that got pretty regular. I didn't know many of the actors I
worked with. I had no knowledge of movies that way. Of course I've seen movies
but I'm not one of those guys that memorizes lines or names and such. I'm not a
film fanatic. It was just a lot of work and you were only as good as your
previous job. I had no life. I went home to sleep and then drove to work again.
Sometimes we went down on the weekends. Back then I was young. Then all of a
sudden you were out of a job so you had to look for jobs. There was very little
time to enjoy my stay there. Even during the nicer jobs in the Bahamas and around
Caribbean. Not much time to enjoy yourself. I actually had a breakdown and got
bipolar disorder. I've had it since nineteen ninety-nine. That killed my career.
I just couldn't do it anymore. I worked too much. That's why a lot of the things
I've told you isn't that positive. My life has been awesome regardless. It was
exactly what I wanted. I went for a career and just kept going. I've been asked
about these jobs during the years and people have always thought that it was a
very glamorous job. It's not. Not even the actors have it that glamorous.
Everyone just works hard. Sure, some diva behaviors was there you know, but that
wasn't the main thing. I never liked Los Angeles. I moved there because of my
career. Then I met a couple of Swedes in Los Angeles and decided to move to
Stockholm. My escape to L.A. made me come closer to Sweden simply put. There I
started working for advertising agencies.
What do you think of the movie personally?
I think it's shit actually. Well, it's boring to see it you know. I think
most movies are boring. Everything is fake. It's nothing against that movie.
Escape From L.A. isn't a bad movie but it isn't an Oscar winner. I just
think it's boring to watch movies and TV. I watch sports during EM (European
and OS (Olympic Games).
What are you currently doing and what do you enjoy
doing in your spare time?
I'm a painter. I fish. I pick mushrooms. I enjoy being outdoors. Those are my interests.
What went through your head when I found out that you were
a production assistant on Escape From L.A. and told you about my website
in the store where I work where we have met many, many times before?
If I could write down the things that's going on in my head I wouldn't
have to work as a painter.
Thank you for your time, Mauritz.