Rambo Day Part 1: Ideas
RAMBO DAY PART 1: IDEAS
It was the night before Rambo Day...maybe around 1am when we suddenly realized that we forgot to track down combat boots that would fit RAMBO. We had no boots. RAMBO needs boots! When this popped into our heads, we were standing in a dark parking lot, outside of Extreme Tan. We were peaking into the windows...running Ryan (our big shot Sheriff) through the logistics of how we were going to transform this tanning salon into a make-believe police station at 8am the next morning. Ryan and Todd had just arrived in RI a few hours earlier, and Rosso and I were doing our best to fill them in on their pivotal responsibilities. The whole plan --the arrest, the blindfold, the spray tan, and the Rambo transformation-- had to unfold in a couple hours…the town was sleeping...and we suddenly had a high alert boot crisis.
We called Colin. We had just parted ways with him at the bar. All of us had written down our last minute lists of things that needed to get done before 9am the next day. The neverending checklist. He was heading to Walmart in the morning...so, we added black combat boots to his list. Another wasteful $40 or so dollars...but we had come this far...why let Rambo wear the wrong boots?
As we babbled on about the random remaining details, giving Ryan his instructions for the morning (a complicated set of tasks for someone who had never been to Westerly, RI)...Rosso and I suddenly looked at each other and one of us asked a very valid question...
In Todd’s perfect way...he smiled and said, “I’ve been thinking the same thing.” We groggily laughed...and then we remembered...the tanning salon opened for real business at 10am….and we had to be out of there by then. The rest of the world had other plans...and we had ours. It was beyond midnight...Rambo day had officially begun.
Rambo Day actually began months earlier...maybe even years earlier. As each friend (in our close group of friends) got married, the bar of creativity and execution was raised for each bachelor party. It's our way of 'giving someone the roses while they can still smell them'...like Kanye says. Throwing over-the-top bachelor parties was never a life goal...it just sort of happened...and Dana has always been the centerpiece for every bachelor party. So, for him, we all knew that everything needed to get kicked up a couple notches.
Amongst friends, it's no secret that Dana is obsessed with Rambo, so without doing much thinking, the first spark of an idea was always the first scene of Rambo: First Blood.
We always knew that a fake arrest would be a great way to start it off...but we didn’t really have much of a plan beyond that. I was super stuck on the idea that we could get the real Brian Dennehy to reprise his role as Sherrif Will Teasle.
Just get Dennehy…and the rest of the pieces would fall into place for us...the boulder would start rolling down the hill.
Wikipedia informed us that he lived in Bridgeport, CT. Bridgeport is maybe 1 hour away…so, it didn’t seem completely out of the question that he would get involved...it's a small world. So, the plan was simple:
- Contact him through the aunt of a friend who's son or daughter went to school with Dennehy's son. (Katherine + Elizabeth Seltzer…THANK YOU!!!)
- If he said “Yes,” we didn’t have much of a plan…maybe we’d offer to put him up in a cool, coastal hotel as compensation
Whatever the outcome, it was worth a shot. Dumb confidence is sometimes the best confidence...and this very thin strand of a connection actually did get us all the way to Dennehy's teenage son. It was only a couple of texts (click to read)...but it seemed promising...kinda :)
Understandably, he was a little skeptical...so, we tried to boil down the plan for him...and in response, we got a whole lot of silence. For now, Brian Dennehy was out.
Sometimes it’s crazy how the universe aligns things. Early in 2014, we teabagged the Atlantic Ocean with our DJI Phantom 2 on a shoot in Miami. The drone still flew...but the gimbal and GoPro were fried. We had to figure out how we were going to fix everything, without paying for a new one. So, it sat on the shelf until March when, completely out-of-the-blue, a cousin-of-a-friend named Chris Walsh called our office explaining how he and his business partner were starting to build RC quadcopters (AKA: drones) in Cranston, RI…and they were interested in the potential of collaborating on some drone flights on our commercial gigs. Sounded pretty cool…plus, I was curious if they could help us repair our Phantom 2…and get it back up and running.
They came down a few days later, and we chatted for a while at the Malted Barley about drones and their previous big-budget movie experience. Chris explained how he’s been a special fx coordinator on big movies like Fast and Furious 7. Paul Pedestrian (Walker) had just tragically died in a car wreck, and we chatted about his sad, untimely death. We drank a few beers, ate a few delicious pretzels, and at some point, he mentioned John Ruggieri. John was one of the most sought-after pyro technicians around, and Chris had worked with him on a bunch of movies. Then, it dawned on him that John lived about a mile from my house in Rockville, RI. He asked me if I knew him. I didn’t. But now, with the Rambo Day plans simmering in the back of my brain, I really needed to meet him!
Chris didn’t know anything about our secret Rambo Day plans, but he just offered a key piece to raising the level of absurdity to an all time high. We should blow shit up…like really blow shit up!
A few days later…Chris hooked me up with John’s phone number, and for a few weeks…I tried to figure out if this guy was real. He didn’t answer his phone…and he didn’t respond to texts or voicemails. I explained it to all to the guys…this mythical explosions expert that lives in the woods near my house...but it still seemed like a longshot that we would ever be able to convince him to get involved. More importantly, we didn’t even know what we wanted to blow up yet…
I remember the day that the mythical pyro expert called back. I was in my office…a few feet from Dana’s office…and I ran out onto the street so that I could tell him our very loose plan and try to sell him on getting involved. He laughed a lot when I ran through the ideas that we currently had….so, that was a good sign. He seemed to appreciate our sense of mischief, and respected our ambition…but it was also very apparent that he was a busy guy. He was back and forth to Boston working on Ted 2 throughout the spring/summer…and in the month of July (around the time that we wanted to do the bachelor party) he had a few hundred fireworks shows that he had to coordinate….and then there was the question of insurance…and how much we were willing to spend.
At the time…Rosso had discussed the possibility of blowing up the Sheriff’s cop car. As a final triumphant scene, Rambo would shoot an explosive-tip arrow (Dana loves those) at the cop car and it would blow up. The Sheriff would run around on fire for a bit….and Rambo would be victorious. Mission accomplished.
So, as a hail mary, I asked, “Could he do something like that?”
He laughed…and explained that he blew up the minivan in the climactic heist scene in The Town. He could basically do whatever we wanted to do…but there would have to be permits, insurance, and pretty hefty costs associated with something like safely blowing up a cop car (in the woods...in the middle of summer)…BUT…if we wanted to do it…he could blow the car 10 feet in the air…for around 10 grand. I laughed…wow, this could actually happen...not the exploding cop car (10k was a little out of our price range)…BUT...we could definitely blow up SOMETHING. My mind was racing. I thanked him for his time, and told him that I’d circle back with the guys...and then get back to him. I got off the phone…and I was pretty giddy thinking of the possibilities. He talked of squibs and propane poppers and cork bombs…now, we just had to figure out what those things were…and how they could play into our plan…and not get anybody killed (especially Dana).
THE SPRAY TAN
So, we (Rosso, Colin, Josh, Hubby, Ethan) got together one night in late March when Dana was away on a shoot...and we chased a few of the concepts that we were kicking around. We knew that we wanted to create a Rambo-like world where we could re-create some of the action from those movies...good guys and bad guys....weapons and physical challenges. So, we visited the old pine grove behind Dana’s house where we used to camp out...and we looked at another special spot called the 'Indian caves' that were down the road from his childhood home. Both were super nostalgic spots that we were hoping could revive that sense of adventure that we had when we were kids....but strangely, each spot had been overtaken by new houses. 20 years later, it wasn’t as secluded as we remembered. If we were going to be blowing things up a few hundred feet from some stranger’s kitchen window…that might cause some problems :)
So, we went about our night...the stress of figuring out what we were going to do was replaced by Chinese food and beers. Also, I had some big news to share with everybody. Kate, my wife, was pregnant, and we were expecting a baby boy…our first kid!...in mid-August. Crazy stuff! We celebrated, watched March madness, and it wasn’t until late, late night…when we started revisiting the plan that we were supposed to be hatching.
Thus far, we were kind of failing...no Dennehy, explosives were probably too expensive...and we didn't know where we were going to do this whole thing. So, we had a kind of stuck-at-a-crossroads conversation standing in Rosso’s kitchen. What the f*ck should we do...maybe we should keep it simple...I’m having a kid soon…everybody has a lot on their plates…simplify…a quick surf trip...a beach bbq...blah blah blah…and then Hubby said it…something that got the train right back on the tracks.
We laughed so hard just thinking of Dana getting spray tanned--real dark--and then, having to go out in public...and in a weirdly genius way...if we combined the Teasle arrest + spray tan...it kind of fit with the First Blood arrest + police station spray-down scene. So, even though we didn’t have all the rest of the pieces to the puzzle yet...we knew that the boulder was budging...and soon it would roll down the hill.
That night was in late March…we had almost 4 more months to pull this off...
THE GUEST LIST + THE WUNDERLIST
Weeks and months went by. We were trying to be super secretive, so we couldn’t talk about it too much because Dana was always around (which is a weird feeling to keep such a big secret from such a close friend)…but ideas started bubbling under the surface.
Some big additions had been decided:
1. THE BATTLEFIELD. Reluctantly, we decided to move the battlefield from the pine grove that was Dana’s childhood playground to the woods behind my house in Rockville, RI. The huge benefit being that there was a pond that we could add into the equation…and my neighbor’s allowed us access to their 60+ acres of cool paths, and random fields (THANKS SARAH CONNYNGHAM + DAVE MARSHALL!)
2. THE SHERIFF. Our friend Ryan (from South Dakota) had just moved to NYC, and if Brian Dennehy never surfaced…he was considering coming down to play the sheriff. If anybody could pull it off, while staying completely in character…it was him.
3. THE ESCAPE. We decided that Dana needed to escape the tanning-salon-police-precinct on a dirtbike or motorcycle…or at the very least, a moped. We just needed to covertly figure out if he could confidently start + safely ride a street legal dirt bike...and then we needed someone to agree to letting us borrow it. He needed to travel 20 miles to get to the next stage...so, that was a bit of a concern, but we figured it would be OK...hopefully we wouldn't get arrested (for real) along the way.
4. THE ENEMY. We were going to have it be good guys vs. bad guys, and the older brothers and their friends were going to dress up in burlap + Asian hats….and one of the most important details…Colin was going to be the leader of the bad guys. He was super familiar with every detail…so it would ensure that everyone knew what to do, where to go, and got into their places on time.
5. SAVE THE DATE. Rosso reached out to everyone to try to set aside July 26th. Given everybody’s busy schedules…we needed to pick a date as soon as possible to maximize the amount of people that could make it. That weekend was perfect because it was 3 weeks before the wedding, and Dana and Nina were going to the Newport Folk Festival on July 25th…so, it gave us a full super-scramble day to maneuver without him suspecting anything.
Every time we met at Rosso’s and had a chance to discuss the plan’s progress…we would start listing things that we needed to do. This was the start of the never-ending checklist. We got everybody on Wunderlist, which is a nerdy BUT absolutely amazing way to organize a team effort. Everybody assigned themselves tasks…or took responsibility for items that we needed to buy or borrow.
Also, we created a guest list, and through Rosso’s amazing excel skills…we organized everybody’s roles in the action movie. He separated Bad Guys and Good Guys…and separated the necessary props that we would need at each stage.
In early July, we got a 30-day Amazon Prime trial…and shit started getting real. I remember a meeting that involved clipboards and lots of focus in Rosso’s kitchen as we decided which props we needed/could afford.
At this stage, the remaining big missing pieces were:
1. How were we going to acquire a cop car + dirtbike?
2. Will John, the pyro dude, actually be able to get involved? It was getting down to the wire, and due to his busy schedule it seemed like his interest was waning. To his credit, we never really convinced him that sending a completely oblivious “action hero” through a series of explosions and filming it without any stopping or retakes was a sane + safe idea. Beyond that, we hadn’t nailed down exactly what we wanted to blow up. We were still stuck on exploding hay bale barricades and ground hits that looked like enemy fire…we definitely didn’t have a solid plan….and the possibility of explosions was slowly slipping away.
3. What the f*ck are we going to do when he gets in the woods?
We were 3 weeks away…and it was starting to really creep up on us…and there were still so many unknowns....but here’s a glimpse at what we were working with:
Adding the pond into the equation instantly seemed like a brilliant idea…we just needed to figure out how we could possibly cover 1.5 miles through the woods with engaging antics. We started throwing ideas around and we quickly decided that different groups of friends should be sprinkled at different stages…and he would meet up with them along the way. We didn’t have any intentions to build POW cages yet (that came later)…but the POWs would be held captive in various ways (maybe tied together in death marches?) and Rambo would free them from the Asian-hat-wearing bad guys. So, during each encounter, he would need some firepower to “scare” the bad guys and force them to retreat to the next challenge. So, we needed to figure out what his firepower would be at each stage...and what the bad guys would be firing back at us. Here’s how we figured it out:
1. Rotten vegetables + water balloons. We knew that we didn’t want to shoot a bunch of water balloons into the pond for obvious reasons…so we came up with rotten vegetables as an alternative. My mom works at a farm stand…and I had her start collecting vegetables…and Colin did the same at his restaurant/bar. The idea was that rotten vegetables would be softer…and wouldn’t hurt as much…not sure that logic made sense…it would have been really bad if Rambo got hit by a slingshotted tomato….no matter how rotten. Haha. Glad that didn’t happen. For the other showdowns…Colin and helpers tied hundreds of water balloons…so that the bad guys always had something to fire at us.
2. Gun Turret. *NERD ALERT* We figured that we could re-purpose our camcrane 2000 to make the perfect gun turret. Rambo could fire roman candles or some sort of trailing fireworks that wouldn’t burn the woods down or kill any of the people on the banks of the pond. We could mount it on the front of the boat with gorilla tape, a 2x4, and zip ties…and it would be a pretty functional weapon. Furthermore, we could mount a gopro in front of the turret, and it would make for a really cool jib-snorri-cam-type shot.
3. Racketball Rocket Launcher. We were inspired by this ridiculous video…
...and you might as well watch this one too...haha...INSANITY!...
......but luckily (for our safety) our friend Ethan, and his secret potato gun skills, saved our lives from attempting to build a polish trash cannon. Haha. He showed up one day with PVC pipes and rubber cement and worked his magic. We decided greased-up racket-balls would be the perfect ammo. With the Rocket Launcher and the Gun Turret, we never let the bad guys (older brothers) know what we were working with…because we hoped that we could ACTUALLY scare them away. It didn’t exactly work out that way…but it was a fun thought.
4. Paintball Guns. We needed to track down paintball guns because it seemed like a fun thing to throw in the mix...a weapon that we could actually shoot at each other without getting hurt. We reached out to friends of friends of friends…until we realized that we needed to go straight to the source…and do a little begging. We sent an email to Tom at Mystic Fields of Fire Paintball…we linked Colin’s bachelor party video that we did a few years back…and he got back to us pretty quickly to say that he was on board. He respected our ambition + mischief…and we could have guns, CO2 tanks, and masks FOR FREE!...we just needed to buy the paintballs. AMAZING! Huge thanks to Tom and Mystic Fields of Fire Paintball for supporting our absurd vision.
5. American Gladiators Challenge. Who didn’t want to try to compete in this Gladiator Challenge when they were a kid? Colin was pushing strongly for something like it, and in the end…this is what we came up with: We rented a dunk tank, removed the cage, and mounted a pitching machine on our other camcrane 2000. After an extensive search for tennis ball machines (Thanks John Spears and CJ Taglione!) Josh finally found a pitching machine at a yard sale. The quirky owner sold it for $50 and pack of Marlboro Reds. He actually had to get the guy cigarettes down the road…haha! It was built for baseballs, but we put gaff tape around tennis balls so that they would shoot out with some speed/distance. In theory, the bad guys could aim from their perch above the dunk tank. Rambo got a series of different weapons including tennis-ball tipped arrows. The funniest thing about it was that we set it up in the woods about a quarter mile from the nearest power outlet or hose…so that meant we had to fill it with a bunch of big containers in the bed of a pickup truck…and we would need a generator to power the pitching machine. In the end, everything was a little sketchy…nothing really worked like we thought it was going to…but we still had some laughs. It was a funny rough draft…maybe someday we can perfect it.
Now that we had a basic idea of what our course was going to be…
It looked a little like this (haha):
THE FINAL COUNTDOWN
We had about one week left, ONE WEEK!, and we were still without a definitive answer from the pyro guys. Once again, this was mostly our fault…because we were still a little perplexed as to how we were going to set up these explosive gags without interfering with the spontaneity of the whole thing. Also, they finally gave us a price that had us all a bit shocked…and wondering if it was worth it.
So, I think it was late night on a Thursday…8 days before everything was going down. We met at Rosso’s, and he had all of our Amazon purchases laid out in his kitchen...amidst the cardboard boxes and bubble wrap there were so many amazing props, weapons, and weirdly essential items. Hubby and Ethan tried on their cop outfits…and they looked INCREDIBLE! We decided between the rocker mullet or the Kenny Powers curls…and the Kenny powers wig actually won out.
We discussed our last missions and expressed the worry that we weren’t going to be able to make all the ideas come to life….and then…right before we parted ways for the night…we unlocked a huge piece of the puzzle.
We should build POW cages.
This simple (yet incredibly time-consuming) new element helped us unravel the quest to create defined stages with POWs throughout the woods…and more importantly, it allowed us to control our big explosions. Rambo would initiate the explosion using some fake version of a bomb.
Real wick + Fake bomb + POW cage = Blow up the compound.
It was a very precise + clever way for Rambo to create a giant explosion…and still stay oblivious to the spontaneous unspooling of our plot. This POW cage idea, in combination with our decision to do a final cork-bomb minefield, finally solidified our wishy-washy goal to involve pyro. The problem was…we now had only a week to make this (and a million other things) happen. Actually we had about 5 days, because some of us were going to South Dakota for the weekend to celebrate the life of our friend Cody Ellingson who lost the year-long battle with cancer (but won the battle of living a life unbound).
The next day…while navigating the airport shuffle (with Dana nonetheless)…I snuck away to call our ‘mythical pyro guru’ John Ruggieri, and explained our fine-tuned explosive strategy. I set up a meeting between him and Colin at my house on Saturday morning. Colin arrived at my house at 6am and spent hours that weekend cobbling together our stick + rope (and screws) version of POW cages (along with Ross, Tyler, and others). John showed up and Colin walked him through the paths in the woods and as Colin laid out our plan, he calmly smiled and nodded...he could make it all happen. He would send his guys Butch and Shawn on Friday afternoon, and they would make it happen. Game on.
The last big details started to fall like dominoes:
MOPED. Safety-first! We ditched the idea of using a dirtbike or vintage motorcycle…and settled on the simplicity of a moped. Shawn (the tallest member of gnarly bay) offered to let us use his …and it was exactly the type of manly moped that we were looking for. Thank you S. Dot!
THE SHERRIF: OUR FRIEND RYAN WAS IN!!!…and he said that he was already learning the lines…which was a huge relief. Couldn’t wait to see what this talented and hilarious maniac would bring to the role. No Dennehy needed…Battleaxe (his gang name when we ran the streets of Honolulu as the Eastside Beatmasters) was coming to save the day!
THE COP CAR: I asked the owner of a pizza place...NO...a car mechanic...no...we called random people on craigslist…NO...and when we got really desperate, we started lowballing some poor lady with Malted Barley gift certificates and a little bit of cash to purchase her car that only slightly resembled a cop car (we were going to turn around and sell it the day after :). Eventually, 3 days before Rambo Day...she finally told us that her husband really didn't think it was a good idea. We didn’t think that it was going to be so hard to track down a car to borrow for a ½ day…but maybe people were completely freaked by our unique request. We were seriously running out of options...so, with only a few days left, serendipity led me to the garage of Grampa Jerry (my wife’s grandfather) and his Lincoln Towncar. It didn't look much like a cop car, but at that point it didn't really matter...Grampa Jerry saved us, and immediately said, "YES." In the end, the car’s unknown flaws made for some pretty dramatic footage…haha…more on that in Part 2 of this blog.
TANNING SALON: Thanks to Rosso and our friend Catfish…we solidified the permission to use the spray booth at Extreme Tan with owner Jay Konturas. His employee was going to let us in an hour before their regular business hours. Thanks Jay!
GOPROs + MOUNTS: The actual process of filming this day unfold had taken a backseat to the efforts of getting all the details sorted out…but it was always in the back of our minds. So, when we reached out to LensProtogo.com and told them what we were doing they donated 6 gopros to the cause. Also, we sent a hail mary email to Rhino Camera Gear to get a swivel mount (which consists of 2 selfie poles)…and when we explained what we were doing…they overnighted it to us. Amazing! These were essential details that helped us get the coverage of all the different fast moving scenes as they unfolded in real time…so, a GIANT THANK YOU to the fine folks at LensProtogo and Rhino Camera.
COLOMBIA OR BUST!: In hindsight, it seems absolutely absurd that we were simultaneously trying to plan + book a surprise trip to Colombia…but we were…and after a few pep-talk emails that were sent back and forth...
....the crew of intrepid travelers was decided…and we pulled the trigger on some incredibly cheap ($500 nonstop) tickets. Yeeeeeeeeha! We had no idea what we were going to do when we got there…but we’d figure that out on the plane. We had heard tales of exploding bar games (Tejo) and beautiful beaches...so that was good enough. Thanks to Jonno of Oz for the recommendations. Here's what Colombia looked like...according to us at the time:
COL. SAMUEL TRAUTMAN When I called Dana’s mom, Linda (aka: Dolly Dolly Dolly) to get in touch with Homer (Dana’s dad)…I filled her in a little about what we were trying to do…and I explained that we were hoping that Homer could dress up as Col. Trautman and play some sort of part in our ever-evolving plot. She laughed…and she immediately recited a few lines from First Blood like “Rambo would eat things that would make a billy goat puke”…reinforcing that Rambo was a huge part of Dana’s upbringing…I mean, how many mom’s in this world (in the year 2015) can recite lines from Rambo? Haha. A few days later, Colin confirmed that Homer was in…now, we just had to figure out exactly what we were going to do with him. It wasn’t until the day before the whole thing went down that we realized that we should have him deliver a TOP SECRET document…and send Dana on his next mission to Colombia. Perfect!
TODD WAS COMING! Cody Ellingson’s memorial service was the weekend before Dana’s bachelor party. Cody was Todd's best friend...and Cody gave Todd (and a few other friends/family members) the honor of planning every detail of his memorial service. It wasn't your average service...that's for sure. There was an incredibly well-planned outdoor amphitheater in Yankton, SD where 500+ people gathered to tell Cody stories and toast his legacy with kalua (Cody's recipe). It continued with an outdoor party that had lots of food/beer...a shave ice truck...and a modified mechanical-bull-turned-sweeper-arm (one of the most dangerous and insanely fun things I've ever experienced). People came from all around the country to celebrate Cody’s life…and share the valuable lessons that he was able to teach others. That weekend will forever be etched in my brain as a powerful reminder of the beauty of life, and the importance of friendship. We met Todd, Cody, and Ryan (The Sheriff) when we went to school at UH Manoa...and since then we have met their families and friends. Cody and all the people of Yankton, South Dakota have always been an inspiration. Todd made a video for Cody that paid tribute to the amazing experiences he’d had during his short life. He was always on the go…seeking new experiences, and truly living life to the fullest.
In the video was this quote from Cody:
Leaving, why? Or why not?
You get to a place
and when you become adjusted and comfortable;
it's time to leave.
Sun starts shining, snow is melting,
and un-countable opportunities arise.
Question is: is it time to stay or is it time to go?
Leave friends to meet others?
Life is an ongoing, strategic game.
Give up something just to keep life's pace a-changing?
What to do? Where to go?
Why leave? Why go?
Who knows, I don't
All I know is that it's gonna be good To and Fro.
Keep your head up and smile everyday.
Who knows the sun may or may not shine while you begin to decay.
Should? Could? Would?
It doesn't matter cuz it's all good.
Can't fear change even though it may be strange.
Do what you want because soon you can't.
If you need a smile for more than a mile all the way up the Nile,
Love life and keep up the positive lifestyle.
That Wednesday, 3 days before Rambo Day, Todd sent this text:
Todd was perpetuating Cody's sense of adventure, and I can’t think of a better way to pay tribute to a friend that passed too soon. Cody would have appreciated it…and I know that Dana did.
THE ASIAN CHICK: On the flight back from South Dakota, Hubby was sitting next to me, and we were talking about all the details that we had in place…and all of the things that still needed to be done. 5 more days! It was starting to get a little stressful. Somewhere along the way, we started joking that we should’ve gotten a love interest involved somehow…and then, the proverbial stewardess noise dinged…the metaphorical reading lightbulb magically turned on above our heads…and we both knew that Hubby should dress up like the asian girl in Rambo II.
Dana was right behind us with headphones on…and once we started picturing it, we were quietly laughing so hard…and trying to whisper over the cabin noise as more ideas flowed out. Some ideas were fit for public…like ambushing her and blowing her head off with a blood-filled head-pack and a wireless trigger….and others have since been redacted from existence. ;) Rambo now got a chance to save the girl, and he had the mind-altering effects of high altitude to thank.
The few days leading up to Rambo were pretty stressful because we were all trying to maintain our normal work schedules while covertly handling a boatload of logistics on the side. I kept giving Dana ridiculous excuses for why I was leaving the office early or coming in late…and there's only so many times I could blame it on a doctor’s appointment for Kate, my wife (8 months pregnant at the time) before he thought something was actually wrong. That sounds terrible…but unfortunately, it was all I could come up with at the time.
So, it was a huge relief when July 25th (the day before) arrived and Dana and Nina went to the Newport Folk Festival, and we were free to roam.
We have so many people to thank for helping us out on this last day. At 6 am…we wrote down what needed to be done on a big piece of sheetrock. Then, we organized the garage so that there were different stations, and everybody just went to work. Throughout the day, more people showed up…and slowly but surely all the pieces fell into place. Here’s a pic of the sheetrock to-do list in the barn:
As a reward for reading this far (haha)...here’s a video of us scrambling around on this last day. It started at 6AM. We ran around all day, solving a million little problems....and at around 5PM, the older brothers and the rest of our crew showed up to get briefed on our absurd mission. We walked the half mile into the woods to the pond to show them all the stages…and we showed them where they needed to be at certain times. We also designated POW cages for different friends that had met Dana in different stages of his life. It was incredible that everybody showed up, and got excited to be a part of this. We had a bunch of laughs, Uncle Roy was the class clown, and asked a bunch of dumb questions…and overall, we left my house that night thinking that we were pretty prepared to pull this whole thing off.
We want to sincerely thank all of our friends for showing up, and helping make this vision come together. We love you guys…and want to make it 100% clear that we never could've completed this mission without your help.
Check out the BTS video below...the password is rambo:
After this long day of setting up, we brought the cop car into Westerly and we kept all the Rambo + Police officer costumes/props in the cop car. We went to a restaurant to have a bite to eat, and discuss last details. After months of scrambling, we finally crossed off so many things on our never-ending checklist that we accomplished that day. What a beautiful feeling…but then we kept thinking, and added a bunch more…so, we knew there was still a lot to do in the morning. Ryan (the Sheriff) had never been to Westerly, so it was pretty funny that he was the first domino that had to fall in the morning. So, even though Jordan (gnarly bay’s best unicyclist) was going to be hiding in the car directing him…we gave him a late night tour of where he would be staked out…and where the tanning salon was in relation to the arrest location.
So, it's 1 AM…and we are back in the parking lot of the Extreme Tan, peaking through the blinds. The town is asleep, and pages and pages of details are running through our heads…and we are vomiting them back at the Sheriff. We are thinking that we have it all under control and then, those shiny black combat boots come stomping into our brains. Rambo Day is here.
To be continued...
Next week: RAMBO DAY PART II: THE EXECUTION. A behind-the-scenes glimpse into how we planned and captured the day on video.