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Thread started 12/24/06 5:53pm

BananaCologne

Behind The Scenes of 'The Second Coming' Concert Film...

Waaaaay back in 2001, I stumbled across a series of pretty amazing photos dating from 1981/82 with a fascinating story attached to them. Whilst searching through folders upon folders of backed-up photos and files a month or two ago I came across what I'd saved.

Last year's Org 'Christmas treat' was the interview with Alan Leeds - and, (not wanting to break with tradition), this year it was to be a Q&A with Ingrid Chavez. Although Ingrid has your questions and is working on this for us, the fact is that like many of us she too has family and we must respect that this is a time of year to be with family - so I've told her to simply take her time with her answers, and we'll go live with that when it's ready sometime in early 2007.

I've been waiting for an opportune moment to put this 'out there', so for now at least, in place of the pending Q&A, I present to you the recollections of a runner on Chuck Statler's small film crew who worked on the pseudo-concert film 'The Second Coming' - the Prince documentary film that never saw the light of day...


Merry Christmas from the Mod Squad to all Orgers. xmas
- Fruity Parfume.



9th December, 1981
The concert in Houston is filmed for a planned documentary, tentatively called 'The Second Coming'. Several concerts on the tour were filmed by rock video pioneer Chuck Statler, who had worked with Devo and Elvis Costello. His Minneapolis-based Location Services filmed Prince in concert and off-stage, but the resulting documentary was never released.
- Entry taken from Per Nilsen's 'Prince - A Documentary'



[Part I]
Hey, thanks RC! Gee, I'm probably gonna use up all my good stories within a week, but here goes...

I didn't work on Purple Rain, but in 1982 I did work on the unreleased film that preceeded it. This was originally just going to be a simple concert film and Chuck Statler was hired as the director. I had worked as a grip/gopher on a few of Chuck's shoots so I got this gig too.

We were filming Prince at (I think) the St Paul Civic Center. They were using multiple cameras and real film, not video, so that meant that every 10-15 minutes a fresh film magazine was needed for each camera. My job was to ferry an exposed magazine from a camera on the floor in the middle of the crowd, all the way to backstage. There a couple of guys did nothing but remove the exposed film from the magazines inside black bags, and put fresh film in. Then I would bring a fresh magazine back to the camera in the crowd. Fortunately one of the bouncers kind of adopted me, and blazed a trail thru the crowd each time.

So, then the concert's over and we're done, right? Wrong! A few weeks later, I hear from Chuck that Prince has now decided to film some scenes to "frame" the concert sequences. For one scene, he wants a roomfull of dolls. So Chuck and I go to this nutty old doll collector's house to rent a roomfull of dolls. She's got a lot of 'em, all right, although she also has a wildly inflated idea of what they're worth. I don't collect dolls, but I do collect other stuff, and these were mostly pretty cheesy dolls. But anyway, Chuck worked out a deal with her and we scored the dolls.

Then a couple of days later, the film crew heads out to Prince's house in Chanhassen, where the filming was going to take place. The house wasn't purple yet, it was just a fairly ordinary large suburban house, kind of sparsely furnished really -- but there was a grand piano in the living room in front of a mirrored wall.

So we spend a few hours getting the props and equipment set up. The gaffer (electrician) decides to tap into Prince's power line ahead of the meter and get some free power. Then we took a break to eat before we started filming. In the early evening we're just getting started, about 8000 watts of lights get fired up, and then all of a sudden, pweeeenngg! All the lights go out. The power load was too much for Prince's transformer and completely fried it.

We're way out in the sticks and it takes forever just to figure out who to contact, and by now it's getting a little late. We finally get a hold of the right guy and he says he'll send somebody out.

So we've got time to kill, and for a while we sit around in the living room while Prince plays that grand piano. Finally the power guys get there, and luckily the gaffer remembered to remove his line tap so they didn't see what he was up to. They replace the transformer and leave. It's kind of late, but we decide to keep going and get at least something done.

So we get started again, get stuff set up again, get those 8000 watts of lights fired up again, and then all of a sudden, pweeeenngg! All the lights go out AGAIN! The new transformer was fried too! So we have to go thru the whole mess again, and of course this time it's even later and the power company guys are not at all happy -- especially when they get to the house. This time the gaffer forgot to remove his line tap so they realized what he was doing. Boy were they pissed! Everything finally gets straightened out without too much bloodshed, but this time it's so late that we decide to bag it for the night and pull an all-nighter the next evening instead.

Did we ever get any filming done? If so, why didn't the film ever come out? And how does Vanity 6 fit into the picture? These questions and more will be answered in my next post -- suspenseful, huh? Meanwhile, here's a Polaroid of Prince that I fished out of the trash at the shoot . It was just taken to check the light so you can only see his silhouette -- but it's him. Take my word for it!


Prince - test shot to check light meter readings during the filming of scen...




[Part II]
OK, here's the second half of the story I'm calling "Purple Ruin."

After the disastrous first night of filming (or trying to), we all went home and slept thru the day and then regrouped again in the late afternoon and made another trek out to Prince's house in Chanhassen. This time the gaffer brought along a portable generator so we could avoid burning out Prince's transformer a 3rd time. Good idea!

And I should say that, although his patience was sorely tested by other people's screw-ups, director Chuck Statler never lost his cool. He was always totally professional, even under the most trying conditions. It was a privilege to work with him.

Anyway, we got out to the house and this time we actually did get some filming done! The main scene involved the aforementioned roomful of dolls and (surprise!) two women in lingerie. One of them, named Susan, shortly thereafter turned up in Vanity 6. I always thought this scene was the germ of Prince's whole Vanity 6 idea. I don't know who the other woman was -- as far as I know, she didn't show up in subsequent Prince projects, but I could be wrong about that.

Oddly enough, Prince never discussed his concept of the film with me, but here's what I was able to glean from working on the scene: two women clad in lingerie spend most of their time in a roomful of dolls, pining for their lover (Prince, duh!) and awaiting his return from his far-flung wanderings. When he does finally show, he's cloaked in fog and an aura of mystery. After that, I have no specific knowledge... but presumably there was sex.

So we're going to film the scene of Prince's return. Susan is supposed to crawl on her hands and knees over to the door, which then mysteriously opens as if by itself. An eerie fog wafts into the room and Prince is revealed standing in the doorway.

To create the effect, a wall of paper was put up about 2 or 3 feet back from the door. Then a huge bank of lights was set up on the other side of the paper. (The paper was to diffuse the light.) In effect, this created a small closet with one paper wall, which had the proverbial 8000 watts of light on the other side. The picture of Prince in my previous post shows him standing in the doorway, with light shining thru the paper wall behind him.

They wanted smoke drifting around when Prince walked in, and even curling out from under the closed door before it opened, so somebody had to get into that little closet and pump it full of smoke with a smoke machine. Now, even though it was supposed to be Prince on the other side of the door, for some reason he didn't care to get into this hot stuffy closet full of smoke. Guess what? I got the job.

So I'm standing in this blindingly bright and blazing hot little room, pumping it full of (cancer-causing, no doubt) smoke. And all I can think of is, "Wow! I'm really making movies now!"

I pump the closet full of smoke, Susan crawls over, the door slowly opens, and cut. We do that a half-dozen times or so, and finally Susan complains a little about having to crawl over to the door again and again. "Hey, baby, it's rock and roll," Prince says. I was really tempted to retort, "Well, why aren't YOU in here then?" -- but I restrained myself.

And really, that was one of the few times that Prince made any sort of audible comment. Usually, if he had anything to say he would just speak quietly to Chuck. And most of the time he just observed what was going on. Even when the whole electrical disaster of the first night was going on, I never heard him complain. (Not to say he never did, but if he did he was discreet about it.)
Prince was aloof, but not in an arrogant or mean-spirited way. He just seemed kind of self-involved and removed from the mundane details of what we were doing. He was no glad-hander, for sure, but I certainly didn't come away from the experience thinking he was a prick, either. (Unlike some others -- Steve Nieve comes immediately to mind).

We finally finished filming in the early morning, packed up, and headed home. Some time later, I was told that Warner Brothers had pulled the plug on the whole project -- supposedly because the concert footage wasn't that good. I heard that one problem was that Prince hadn't allowed the cameras out onstage, which limited the shots the camera operators could get. I also heard that supposedly one camera operator's footage was out of focus, but I don't know if that's true. In any case, the film was shelved.

But then, a year or two later, Prince gave the world "Purple Rain." And then he gave it "Under the Cherry Moon." Oh, well...

For your edification, I'm including a couple of Polaroids of Susan and the other lingerie-clad woman in the roomful of dolls. The pictures were taken just to check the lighting and they've deteriorated over the years, but I think you'll get the idea:


Vanity 6's Susan and Brenda - test shot #1 to check light meter readings du...



Vanity 6's Susan and Brenda - test shot #2 to check light meter readings du...

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Reply #1 posted 12/24/06 6:51pm

vinaysfunk

Thanks for the post, keep em coming, happy holidays! biggrin

First!
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Reply #2 posted 12/24/06 6:56pm

alwayslate

"...presumably there was sex"


Ha! dang, I wonder what the story woulda been about.
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Reply #3 posted 12/24/06 7:06pm

purplecam

avatar

That was a really cool read. Thanks BananaCologne and Merry Christmas to you!
I'm not a fan of "old Prince". I'm not a fan of "new Prince". I'm just a fan of Prince. Simple as that
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Reply #4 posted 12/24/06 7:20pm

luv4u

Moderator

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moderator

This is soooo awesome, thank you bow
Edmonton, AB - canada

Ohh purple joy oh purple bliss oh purple rapture!
REAL MUSIC by REAL MUSICIANS - Prince
"I kind of wish there was a reason for Prince to make the site crash more" ~~ Ben
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Reply #5 posted 12/24/06 7:36pm

P2daP

Thanks for posting, what a cool read. I hope one day that film will be released.
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Reply #6 posted 12/24/06 10:07pm

Mach

mr.green
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Reply #7 posted 12/25/06 3:46pm

wlcm2thdwn

Cool, thanks!
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Reply #8 posted 12/25/06 5:07pm

origmnd

P2daP said:

I hope one day that film will be released.



has been already
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Reply #9 posted 12/25/06 11:51pm

FruitToAttract
Bears

avatar

origmnd said:

P2daP said:

I hope one day that film will be released.



has been already


What? confused
"18 years old, and she knows her funk!!! headbang"
~ funkpill
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Reply #10 posted 12/26/06 4:05am

MikeMatronik

Prince, 2 sexy women and dolls! razz
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Reply #11 posted 12/26/06 1:42pm

purplerein

Prince - test shot to check light meter readings during the filming of scen...



Doesn't Purple Rain close with a similar shot?
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Reply #12 posted 12/26/06 6:11pm

Nothinbutjoy

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Thank you so much 'nana for putting this together!


hug rose
I'm firmly planted in denial
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Reply #13 posted 12/26/06 6:19pm

RUHip2TheJive

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That was an interesting story

Thanks ^_^
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Reply #14 posted 12/27/06 2:04pm

Ifsixwuz9

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Thanks, 'nana.

Who's Steve Nieve?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I'll play it first and tell you what it is later.
-Miles Davis-
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Reply #15 posted 12/27/06 5:35pm

BananaCologne

Ifsixwuz9 said:

Thanks, 'nana.

Who's Steve Nieve?


CLICK ME
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Reply #16 posted 12/27/06 8:13pm

SammiJ

thank you nana hug
can u confirm if it's actually been relased like origmnd said?
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Reply #17 posted 12/28/06 7:39am

robertes71

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Thanks, will read when I have the time, but what a sweet gift.
"Plaid shorts are completely over."
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Reply #18 posted 12/28/06 11:15am

carmand

Very interesting. Thanks!
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Reply #19 posted 12/28/06 5:28pm

BananaCologne

SammiJ said:

thank you nana hug
can u confirm if it's actually been relased like origmnd said?


'The Second Coming' has never seen the light of day - it was never completed as planned. Prince and Chuck Statler had a disagreement and fell out, Chuck then dumped the project and walked.

However, 75 minutes of 'professionally filmed' footage does exist of the 9th December '81 Houston show. It's nothing much to write home about, the quality is about 3rd generation video, the camera work is pretty sparce, filmed with 2 cameras - the editing even moreso.

Although there is every possibility that this is the footage that Chuck Statler shot, I'd say it's a safer bet that this was actually private video shot for Prince of the same show that leaked.

geek
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Reply #20 posted 12/29/06 9:18am

wavesofbliss

lovely, thanks. biggrin
Prince #MUSICIANICONLEGEND
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Reply #21 posted 12/29/06 11:49am

origmnd

Why do people think the HOUSTON 81 show is part of the Second Coming film?

Live footage was shot at SAINT PAUL CIVIC CENTER also.
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Reply #22 posted 12/29/06 12:15pm

BananaCologne

origmnd said:

Why do people think the HOUSTON 81 show is part of the Second Coming film?

Live footage was shot at SAINT PAUL CIVIC CENTER also.


Probably because it was.

Basically.
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Reply #23 posted 12/29/06 3:54pm

origmnd

BananaCologne said:

origmnd said:

Why do people think the HOUSTON 81 show is part of the Second Coming film?

Live footage was shot at SAINT PAUL CIVIC CENTER also.


Probably because it was.

Basically.



I dont think so...the Houston venue has loads video feeds besides the Prince 81 and 83 shows....aerosmith, kiss, queen, p-funk, cheap trick, the who etc
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Reply #24 posted 12/29/06 4:12pm

Ifsixwuz9

avatar

BananaCologne said:

Ifsixwuz9 said:

Thanks, 'nana.

Who's Steve Nieve?


CLICK ME



Thanks again. I thought the guy had some connection to P's "Second Coming" project. smile
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I'll play it first and tell you what it is later.
-Miles Davis-
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Reply #25 posted 12/30/06 4:48pm

BananaCologne

origmnd said:

BananaCologne said:



Probably because it was.

Basically.



I dont think so...the Houston venue has loads video feeds besides the Prince 81 and 83 shows....aerosmith, kiss, queen, p-funk, cheap trick, the who etc


Yeah, and your point is? Somewhat confusing - as ever.

Anyway, best tell Per Nilsen he's got his info wrong then eh? Just sayin'.

9th December, 1981
The concert in Houston is filmed for a planned documentary, tentatively called 'The Second Coming'. Several concerts on the tour were filmed by rock video pioneer Chuck Statler, who had worked with Devo and Elvis Costello. His Minneapolis-based Location Services filmed Prince in concert and off-stage, but the resulting documentary was never released.
- Entry taken from Per Nilsen's 'Prince - A Documentary'
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Reply #26 posted 12/30/06 4:50pm

malbena

Thank you Banana hug
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