Secret Life, Secret Death

“Our Actress is a Dummy”

Anecdote by Director Genevieve Davis

Director Genevieve Davis, putting the final touches on the dummy with actors Sadie Beacham, Debra Lopez and Michael Denk [Photo by Colin Cameron]


            We had a problem one day when we were shooting green screen in the studio.  One of the actors didn't show up, the one that had to be thrown out of a window, during a brothel fight.  We had to pinch hit, so I asked some of the actors who were handy to stuff some costumes to make up a dummy, while I was shooting another scene.  

            They did a pretty great job, stuffing and pinning a skirt, blouse and stockings together.  For hair, they used a black shawl with fringe.  I put a few finishing touches on it and it turned out so well, we didn't really need a live Laura Johnson in the first place.  A dummy was perfect for throwing out of a window! 

            Later, I combined that footage in the editor, by keying the actors with a picture I had taken of some actual buildings that were still standing in Chicago, that had been part of the original Levee red light district.  In the end, what we had were our two brothel madams on a vintage fire escape, with a third being thrown out of the third story window! 


Chromakey sandwich, with Sadie Beacham, Debra Lopez, “Laura Johnson” and an actual building front from Clark Street in Chicago