Scouting on the Road

Part 3: The Incident

Silvia: I do not know if you already know, but in this movie there was a big accident. Would you like me to tell you?

Joe: Yes, I was there, I’m afraid. It was kind of like the film coming to life, so to speak. It’s hard to imagine it happened, but it happened.

Martha: Accidents, of course, do happen. But in this case, it was probably senseless that it should have.

Roberto: I remember it very well. There was Stephen King sitting off-scene on a director chair and then next to me is Armando, then his son on the camera and then Silvia.

Silvia: We were shooting a scene where a lawnmower—the machine that cut the grass—was following a boy to kill him. And we put the camera on the ground with piece of wood beneath. To wedge, okay? I remember that Armando Nanuzzi ask to Stephen King, “Can we take out the blades?” But Stephen King say, “no, no, I like to see them.” Armando say, “But we don’t see them in the shot.” But Stephen King say, “No. No. Better that you let it.”

Roberto: Many times, Armando say to take out the blades. And then many times, Stephen King would say, “There’s no fucking way. We have to be as real as possible.”

Silvia: Then Stephen King say “speed” and the lawnmower supposed to go.

Joe: This lawnmower was radio-controlled and narratively it was supposed to go out of control—having a soul of its own, you know; machines taking over—and part of the scene entailed the special effects guy rigging some kind of radio control contraption to a lawnmower and then it’s supposed to move around without anybody behind it.

Silvia: But the first time, it did not drive. And I remember that the Special Effects say that they were raising higher the power on lawn mower. Then Stephen King say speed again and the lawnmower still not go. And the Special Effects raise high the power up again—and in my mind I say: I think it is very strong—but finally after the third time the lawnmower moved. And Stephen King did not say stop.

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According to ensuing legal documents, the lawnmower took off “like thunder” (according to Nannuzzi) or “like a runaway horse” (according to King).

Roberto: Then the lawn-mower comes as close to the camera to the point that it chews up some of the hard plastic that covers the lens. And it keeps going. Over and over.

Joe: And in the process of moving it, that wedge got caught in the blade.

Silvia: Then the lawnmower start to knock over the matte box. Then it start to take the camera—obviously in very few seconds—the camera operator take the camera away on the floor. The lawnmower then split the wood and five meters back there was Armando.

Martha: That splint of wood—my god, the odds were a gazillion and one—that splint of wood then went into Armando’s eye. For a cameraman to lose his eye…my god.

Silvia: “Ow! Somebody shot me. Somebody shot me” That’s what Armando said. But he said in Italian: Mi hanno sparato! Mi hanno sparato! And the blood was everywhere.

Laura: That was horrific. The wood chip in his eye. Just horrific.

Joe: Shocking. Disturbing. Sad. And ironic (given what the movie was about). It was just this terrible miscommunication.

Silvia: I remember the police arrive immediately and very soon there was a helicopter to take him to the hospital.

Roberto: They put Armando and me in a little helicopter to go to the hospital in Raleigh. And I stayed with him the whole time. I was his translator.

Silvia: I remember there was a big confusion because everything was happening very quickly at the scene of Armando. It was completely dirty of blood. It was kind of scene of horror. I will never forget in all my life.

Roberto: What was Armando Nannuzzi like in the helicopter? Just scared. Just the man; zero movie. “Hold my hand, I do not speak English.” That’s what he said. Tienimi la mano, io non parlo inglese. “Don’t worry Armando,” I told him. “I’m here. I’m here. Don’t worry, Armando.”

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