Monday, December 1, 2014

40 gallons of Elephant Pee



 I was working in the Art Department of Neil Jordan's film "The Miracle" with Top Production Designer, Gemma Jackson.
       On the list of things to do was "Bring Elephant into St. John's Church, Sandymount for interior scene".
       With a note attached reminding us and the Elephant handler and the property department to "make sure the Elephant has performed any and all loo business beforehand".
       We showed up at the Church in good time. I checked and checked again to make sure Nepal (for it was she) had done her business early. All was well.
        I should mention at this point St. John's Church, Sandymount is a lovely example of neo-Norman Architecture and has a typical early example of underfloor heating, ie. a set of heating pipes set below the floor and covered in an ornate cast iron grille the whole length of the aisle.
        I should also mention, and we did not previously know this, if you have one Elephant in a place, and it happens to be a Mother Elephant,  you also have to have their child within eyesight, at all times, no matter what.  Otherwise Mother Elephant goes berserk. We found that out fairly early on while filming on Bray promenade a few days earlier. So the brief now was "Bring two Elephants into St. John's Church, Sandymount".
       As is the norm with film production, there were a few delays before we got the proverbial show on the road. The Elephant handler finally got both Elephants into the Church without much drama. It was a bit of a squeeze but after a bit of squirming and shoving everyone got into position.

       After about twenty minutes I slipped outside as I was no longer required and it was getting fairly warm.
        I was outside chatting to the neighbours when the doors opened and the entire cast and crew emerged gasping and roaring and laughing and pointing. At me.
       Five minutes after that I and every member of the production office were on the phone to every  contract cleaner in south Dublin. Finally I managed to find one still open at 5.55 pm.
       "What is the nature of your accident?" says he.
        "Hello. An Elephant has peed in St. John's Church Sandymount and all the pee has gone down through the lovely ornate cast iron grilles into the underfloor heating system"
        "Really", says he. "How much pee?"
        "About forty gallons".
         They laughed and hung up.

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