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Tattoo Tantalizers! ... Part 10

... the most asked for gallery in our existence!
... the final wrap ...

Photos & text courtesy of Rick Martinko ... Tattoo Department, LOTM


As shooting continued into late September, we started to bounce around from location to location on a near-daily basis.  In addition to revisiting some of the old locations (the Fort & Linville Falls), we rushed through a lot of shooting in new locations such as the DuPont property, the top-of-the world from the final scene and the building housing the waterfall "interiors".

One of the new locations was on the DuPont property.  There was beautiful run of rapids that was used for the scene where Hawkeye, Uncas and Chingachgook escort the group to the fort.  We barely had time to do any touch-ups, so for the most part we sat in woods and watched the shooting.  If I remember correctly, we were only there for a day.

Because of the noise of the falling water, and the fact the crew was in a wooded area, a lot of crew members went nuts taking pictures of the walk up the falls. Ordinarily, the sound of a shutter click during shooting would bring the wrath of Michael Waxman down upon you.

A few shots of the canoe chase were shot at DuPont.  The canoes were pretty amazing.  Even though they were made of fiberglass, you could be standing only a few feet away and swear that they were made from birch-bark and sinew.
To shoot the first part of the canoe chase scene (where the survivors of Massacre Valley run to the water), we returned to the fort which was covered with vegetation by late September.

I'd heard that the locals has requested that the fort be made into a tourist attraction, but by the end of September it was literally falling in on itself.  After the final wrap, they burned it to the ground.

The French cannons after they were removed from the battlefield.

Because of the leaves changing colors, we had a commercial sprayer that was filled with water-soluble green paint to "spray paint" the trees.

This picture freaks everyone out, but it's just Russell airbrushing a bodysuit at the Fort.  Note the less-than-authentic footwear.

The scene where the attacking Indians drive the colonials toward the canoes was shot at the edge of Lake James, beside the fort. I always liked this picture because I caught a flash from one of the flintlocks.

A colonial victim.

I had 11x14s of this picture made and I gave them to cast and crew members.  I kept one for myself and had it signed by the heads of the make-up department, Daniel, Madeleine, Wes, Eric, Steve and Jodhi.

On this filming platform, you can see Michael Mann looking through his lens and Michael Waxman in the white baseball cap and rubber boots. It was right around this time that everyone on this platform wanted to kill Russell Means.  Dwaine and I always thought Waxman hated us, until we bumped into him in the Radisson lounge one Saturday night, and in a drunken state he confided that he really appreciated all the work we did.  We wanted to take it as a compliment, but we agreed that it was probably just the alcohol talking.

A bunch of the grips hijacked a canoe.  The majority of the crew (myself included) got hauled around the lake by a flotilla of pontoon boats.
For the later scenes where the canoe chase moves into the river rapids, we went back to Linville Falls.

Michael Mann sitting beside one the Fox execs who had been sent out to speed up the production.

The thing I remember best about the canoe scenes at Linville Falls was the change in the weather.  Prior to that day, the temperatures had always been in the 80s, and everyone was wearing t-shirts and shorts.  Coming from Ohio, I had fully expected the weather to get a lot cooler after Labor Day, but aside from some leaves changing colors it was the same as it had been in July and August.  We were sitting in the observation area by the falls, and I decided to run back to the trailer to get something.  By then the sun had gone down, so I thought that I might grab my jacket, too.  Well, I was very glad that I did because right as I was getting back to the set, a very cold wind started to blow through and the temperature dropped like a rock.  From that point on, I don't think the temperature got much above 70 degrees for the remainder of the shooting.  If was wild... one minute it was summer, then whoosh... it's fall.

These guys were probably freezing.

Another interesting event occurred at Linville Falls.  We had just finished lunch and were headed back to the base camp, when we heard a sound like gunshots followed by a bunch of people yelling.  We ran back to the dining tent and witnessed the scene pictured above.  The transpo guys did a fantastic job all summer setting up and tearing down the numerous tents, but this location was a bit more than they could handle.  The whole clearing was sloped downhill, so they built up one side of the ground with cinderblocks on top of which they placed the wooden platforms that the tables sat on.  Well, the blocks were stacked a little too high and eventually one platform shifted, and it set off a chain reaction.  Nobody was hurt, but a bunch of people ended up wearing their lunch.  The event got nicknamed "the Lunchquake".
Next was the top-of the-world location that was used for the final scene in the film.  I have no idea where it was on a map, but we had to hike a very long distance to the set, and once we got there, we had to sit on cold rocks for the rest of the day with a constant cold wind blowing through.  Thankfully, we were only there for one day.

Russell Dodson... on top of the world!

The scenery was beautiful, but we were all glad to leave.
The last location we shot at was the warehouse that contained the waterfall set.  The whole falls was recreated inside the building and water was pumped in via fire hoses.  The waterfalls themselves were built on a wooden frame, then covered with wire mesh and coated with cement.  It was painted to look like natural rock, and made to look wet by coating it with glycerin.  There were spray bottles all around the set filled with glycerin to wet things down when needed, and Wes managed to get his hands on one.  He thought it was water, and the fact that he'd been drinking since his shooting had wrapped up made things even more interesting.  Basically, Wes was tanked.  So, he proceeded to hobble around squirting everyone he saw with the bottle, and since everyone thought it was just water, no one objected.  He shot me right in the face a couple times, and eventually I realized that it wasn't water when my hair didn't dry.  By that time, several on the crew members were totally slimed.

The word had been passed around that "the plug had been pulled" on the project and shooting would stop at 8am on the morning of Friday, October 11th.  With that in mind, it was decided that we would shoot around the clock.  There was no time for tattoo touch-ups, so I did my final applications then headed back to the trailer to pack everything up.  There was a lot a stuff that had accumulated in the trailer since June, so Dwaine and I set to the task of sorting, cleaning and packing.  It took most of the night to complete, so we hung around for the final hours until they called for a wrap at 8am.  By that time we were exhausted and headed back to the hotel to sleep.  We had concerns that the tattoos might have washed off during the final hours of shooting, but because we weren't allowed on the set to make any touch-ups we had to live with the outcome.  During the love scene between Eric and Alice, you can see that the tattoos on Eric's forearms are almost completely washed off, but I'm probably the only person who noticed.  It really alloyed me at the time and was a pretty bad way to wrap up the project for me. The wrap party started in the evening, so after getting some sleep I took a shower, packed my car and drove into downtown Asheville.  The wrap party was pretty much uneventful, with the exception of someone igniting a smoke bomb in the guys restroom.  So, I said my goodbyes, climbed into my car at midnight and drove straight through the night.  I got home to Cleveland at 10am, and that concluded my career in major motion pictures.
I took a bunch of pictures of the waterfall set, but because it was he last roll in my camera I didn't remove it until I got back to Ohio, and I accidentally opened the camera back without rewinding the film into the canister.  It's the only time in my life I've ever made that mistake and I lost all my picture of the waterfall location and the wrap party.

I went to the cast and crew screening in Hollywood, in September of 1992.  It was great to see some of the people after a year, but unfortunately most of the people I was closest to were unable to attend.  The first thing that really struck me about the film was the music.  We saw a VERY rough cut in Asheville during the last week of shooting, and we all walked out hoping that it might end up as a made for TV movie if we were lucky.  It looked terrible!  So, to see it on the big screen in such a polished state with the beautiful soundtrack really was a huge relief.  People always ask me about the story, and to be honest I don't really pay much attention to it.  In fact, it's almost impossible for me to watch as a normal narrative film.  Instead, it's like watching a long home-movie for me.  During every scene, I'm thinking about where I was and what I was doing and all the little things that happened behind the scenes.  I'm always glad to hear that people love the film, because I really can't get a sense of it from the viewpoint of an average movie-goer.  It's a little like trying to see your own child from a completely objective viewpoint.  Parents will know exactly what I mean.

Several months later, I was contacted to help out with some additional recoating, but nothing ever came of it.  I always thought that if another project came along, I'd take it but I've since gotten involved in computer graphics, started a family and moved to Charlotte, NC.  The idea of working on another film isn't nearing as inviting as it was 10 years ago.  How people can do it as a career is a mystery to me, but perhaps not all projects are as physically draining as 'The Last of the Mohicans' was.  It was a lot like high school:  there were distinct groups who stuck together and looked down on others, everyone was anxiously awaiting the chance to get out and move on, but when it was all over you tend to look back on all the positive things and wish that you'd spent move time enjoying the situation.  It was very easy to get bogged down in all the daily annoyances, and totally forget that you're involved in something that most people never get a chance to experience.  Even now, I really get a sense that I was involved in something that's destined to be considered a classic.  And even though I only made a small contribution to the final film, it was really worth it just to be there and witness the production from beginning to end.  I hope these pictures and stories give people a slightly better idea of what it's like to take part in such a project. BACK TO: INDEX OF TATTOO TANTALIZERS

... Rick Martinko, Aug.-Nov., 2003



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