Written, directed, and edited by Neil Brimelow, Doc in the Box” is a short comedy film about two bungling robbers that decide to rob a local 24hr “Doc in the Box” in a small town, only to find out they must play doctor while they wait for the time lock safe to open in the morning.
- Gary Grubbs
- Eric Wesley Mobley
- David May
- Frank W. Kapaun
- Robin Lee Canode
- Frank C. McGovern
- Papa Darwell
- Jamie Johansson
- Lydia LeRoy-Williams
- Jenny Shipley
- Quincy Armstrong
- Alexandra Bujan
- Colton Comans
- James Donald
- Christopher Dulworth
- Kevin Eshelman
- Jackson Miller
- Jim Noyes
- Carrie Rayner
Shot on a Sony A7s in the course of two nights. Additional credits go to the Producer Lydia King Rayner and Stacie Watts as Script Supervisor.
“Doc in the Box” was the second film I’ve ever made, and it was pretty big for a small film. The patients are based on REAL patients I researched in medical journals and from stories I’ve heard over my life. Everything that could possibly go wrong, went wrong during the filming of the movie. But it still turned out great.
The lead in the film of “Doc Whipple” is played by veteran Film and TV actor Gary Grubbs who has been in practically everything since the mid-70’s. Gary was brought onto the film via my producer, and fellow film student, Lydia King-Rayner. Gary and Lydia are great friends and Gary teaches his acting class at her majestic house in Long Beach, MS. The idea was to put together a movie that could use Gary’s own students in a singular location. So, since Lydia owned a “Doc in the Box” in Long Beach, I wrote a movie for that location specifically.
Originally, I wasn’t keen on having Grubbs in the lead role, the reason being was that Grubbs was a real Hollywood actor, and still in demand. I feared that he’d get called away to a real film and it would be hard to film around his schedule. Turns out that was the least of my problems.
After I had planned all the shots for the original location, Lydia had to move the location of her clinic, and ironically, the clinic moved literally right across the street from our film classroom. This was convenient, but I had to scrap everything and start over from scratch right before we filmed.
On the first day of filming we ran into a big problem. Our other main lead, Eric Wesley Mobley, looked like death warmed over when he showed up on the set. To his credit, he tried to soldier on, but after a short time we drove him to the hospital. The next day Gary was going to see Oliver Stone about a part in his new film so we lost the two leads the first day. Fortunately, after a few days in the hospital, Eric was all ready to go and literally came from the hospital to the set. Also, fortunately, Gary was back and we were able to resume filming.
Filming took about two days (actually nights), but because the original schedule was thrown out the window, I had to shoot totally out of sequence to match the actor’s new schedules. Most movies are shot out of sequence, but with comedy you want to keep things in a certain rhythm so that the humor clicks.
I learned more filming “Doc in the Box” than anything else I’ve done. One of the things I learned is that slapstick comedy can only carry you so far, and unfortunately, due to time and budget constraints I wish I could have fleshed out the characters more and given everyone more screen time.
David’s character Charls was originally the one who was going to get sick, but because Eric had shot some scenes already and we had footage Eric in the hospital, I re-wrote it so that Danny gets sick. When we went to go pick up Eric from the hospital, Lydia suggested we should get some footage of him in the bed, so we snuck the camera into his room and we filmed him right before he was discharged. So, essentially, we shot the last shot first.
Frank Kapaun, who played “Mr. Assley” in the film was a real trooper and was originally running sound, but I wrote a part for him and he didn’t budge for a moment to “drop trou” for the blood clot scene J Gary was also a trooper as there was no buffer; what you think Gary sees, he saw! J I’m happy with how things turned out, and everyone gave a fantastic performance, even the non-actors like Pappa D from Darwell’s in Long Beach who played the ailing Mr. Lepetomane. Also mad props to Lydia’s daughter, Carrie, who played Lady Vine-gina, a tough role that most local actors shied away from.
For the Lady-Vinegina scene I wanted it to be like that scene from “Poltergeist” where they’re pulling the ectoplasm-covered rope from the aether, but we were already too tired and that would have been too much of a mess. The end result is very slapstick.
The most impromptu moment in the movie was the “Wreck it Wraph” scene. Stacie Watts was the script supervisor and her son Jackson was running around set on the first day of shooting and I thought of a scene to put him in. I came up with the idea that Danny is getting real sick as the night wears on and he starts to hallucinate and he sees the boy who punches him in the gut, but that’s his appendicitis talking.
Kevin Eshelman who plays “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” also isn’t an actor, but jumped at the opportunity to play the part. The joke that isn’t made entirely clear in the movie is that he/she is an alien.
The commercial that plays in the background when Danny is flipping through the channels in the hospital is Gary Grubbs’ own Pace Picante sauce commercial, where Gary played a deputy that complained that the diner didn’t have Pace Picante sauce. During filming, Gary was telling the story about how that was his big meal ticket as the commercial was really popular at the time, and Pace wanted to do a lot more commercials with Gary and the actor who played the Sheriff, but the actor who played the Sheriff wanted to much money, so they scrapped the new commercials and later went with the famous “Get a Rope” commercials.
The movie was shot with the brand new Sony A7S. I had to use the A7S as it was the only full frame HD camera at the time, and was the only way I could get wide angles. The drawback to the A7S was that most people weren’t familiar with the SLOG-2 shooting profile on the camera, this meant that some of the shots were overexposed, even though there is only natural lighting on the set. This is because the A7S one of the best low light sensors on the market and it can film in almost total darkness.
Alexandra Bujan struck such an impression on me on set, even though she didn’t have any lines that I put her in my next film “Mr. Dr. Pepper Sniffer.”