A typical challenge of my first job in the video department of Rainier Bank involved bringing a sense of visual excitement to the Trust Department. There is only so much. When I got a chance to train tellers on robbery procedures I jumped at it.
Bill and Gil were immediately cast as the robbers since they were the only guys I knew with guns. The best way to explain their friendship is this; When Gil laughed at Bill for accidentally shooting himself in the butt, Bill shot Gil in the butt so he would know how it felt. They would eagerly drop their pants to prove the story true.
I had the budget for one professional actor, the rest were family, friends and volunteers from the bank. It was closed on Saturdays and we were careful to notify the local police of our production to avoid the demise of Gil and Bill. The police even offered to come by later in the afternoon for the “investigation” scene.
By the day of the shoot, I had planned every shot and pre-edited the entire program in my mind. We began with a few simple shots to warm up cast and crew then moved directly to the “takeover” scene. This called for ski-masked Gil and Bill to storm the lobby with sawed-off shotguns, shoving customers to the floor on their way in. My volunteer extras had no idea they signed up for stunt duty, but after a few takes they quickly learned how to take a fall. With no budget for walkie-talkies, Gil and Bill waited outside each time for me to yell, “Action!”
It was our fourth take, I crouched behind the counter with my monitor and yelled, “Action!” There was no response. I yelled again, “Gil, come on in, action!” Still no response. I stood up to find Gill and Bill with their hands in the air. Six state troopers had taken cover behind three patrol cars. “Everyone freeze!” I yelled, just like the movies. I raised my hands in the air although no one had asked me to.
It took several minutes for the police to approach and handcuff Gil and Bill. The two offered no explanation and almost seemed to enjoy it. One officer motioned for me to slowly approach the door. The local police pulled up about then and helped me explain our little production. The state troopers were not the least bit amused. They had been alerted by a frantic citizen while eating at a nearby Denny’s. They un-cuffed Gil and Bill but were slow in returning their weapons. “Nice sawed offs.” noted one officer, examining the apparently illegal weapons. “Just for the movies, Sir, they don’t fire.” offered Bill. “Yeah right.” the officer laughed back. “Don’t shoot yourself.”
We finished the day with just a few hours of overtime. Gil and Bill said it was the best day ever.