¡Fire in the Barn!

Our barn was beautiful. It had a good shape; it was nicely weathered. It perched on the edge of the level building site and loomed over the lower third of our land, which dropped quickly toward the White Salmon River. People took their pictures in front of it when they visited. A woman my spouse knew, named Alicia, even wanted to shoot a music video there in the summer of 2009 for a band called The Builders and the Butchers.

Picturesque barn in the morning sun!

Picturesque in the morning sun!

The sticky part was that we’d already accepted an offer on our place—we were moving out in just a couple of weeks. But we liked the band, so we agreed. Mike told them, “You can do anything you want; just don’t burn down the barn.” This was no idle proviso: summer’s crispy-dry conditions and strong winds necessitated an annual burn-ban in our county. This meant no open flame of any kind.

The shoot was a serious affair—costuming, props, food services and the whole shebang! Our urban guests were considerate but did not appreciate the gravity of the fire situation. One spark from those leaky, antique kerosene lanterns would have leveled the barn, the fields and possibly the entire valley in minutes. I liked the band’s music but had never met them personally. They were all dressed up like gothic gangsters and looked pretty formidable.

On a post-shoot walkabout on Saturday, Mike and I found cigarette butts in the field. I didn’t sleep very well that night, racked with anxiety. The next morning, there was a stern all-staff meeting before shooting could resume.

In the end, nothing burned down. During the scene in the barn in which they’re starting to fight and the lantern wobbles a bit on the table, I shudder, but it all worked out. Some behind-the-scenes side notes:

  • When the fellas are entering the barn, there are ten chickens roosting just off camera.
  • I have to hand it to the Vivian Girls (in the yellow dresses) for sprinting up the hill toward the barn—it was really steep!
  • The duckweed-encrusted pond near which that troll lives is the one I talk about a few times in Get Your Pitchfork On!—the one that once held trout and that was threatening to flood during our springtime “water events.”

I’m glad we invited them out, because it gave us a chance to get to know the members of the band and of the production crew, many of whom are still friends! I hope it doesn’t ruin The Builders’ reputation as badasses to say that they are super-nice guys. Here’s the video; enjoy a peek at our old barn!

“Golden and Green” http://vimeo.com/5647546

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