High School Memories – Robbing a Bank for Art

We shot two videos for Spanish II my sophomore year.  The first was La Zona de Crepuscular (The Twilight Zone).  That one worked out well.  While everyone else shot theirs in the library with an A/V kid directing, we shot “Eduardo, el Hombre Invisible” at my house.  I edited it all together and put some music and titles to it.  The other video we made was Dragnet.  This is the idea I came up with for me and my two classmates, Jeff and Ed.

The time is ten o’clock, the place: a bank in Schaumburg.  Three mysterious figures are seen fleeing the area.  The next morning, officials are horrified to discover the bank has been robbed.  The crooks were very smart; they didn’t trip off any alarms.  However, they were also pretty dumb.  They stole sixty dollars in pennies.  Our intrepid investigators are hot on their trail, looking for clues.  They find some tire tracks.  Detective Eduardo follows the tracks to actual tires, links them to an actual car, which proceeds to run him over.  Detective Roberto finds one of the missing pennies… then another… then another.  They lead him on a trail back to – Eduardo.  It turns out Eduardo stole the money because the police department doesn’t pay very well.  However, he only stole twenty dollars.  Who stole the rest?  Detective Juan looks a little guilty and he confesses to stealing another twenty dollars.  This leaves Detective Roberto who confesses to stealing the final twenty bucks from the bank.  The detectives arrest themselves, bring themselves to justice, and the case is closed.

Like the real Dragnet program, I strove for accuracy.  I bought a red piece of poster board and a little plastic police badge for the title shots where we intoned “El cuento que vais a oir es verdad…”.  We also shot “on location”, doing the quick pan and zoom of an exterior location – so familiar to television viewers – before cutting to the interiors at my house.  We had shots of the Schaumburg police station, scenes at the train station, and – unfortunately – Heritage Bank.

We picked that bank because it was well lit (very important for the video camera) and it had a marquee sign under the bank name that showed the time and temperature.  So, we went over there a little bit before 10:00 one night and planned our shot.  I would start at the bank sign, showing the time, and tilt down to the left side of the bank.  Jeff would run left to right.  I would pan over to the front doors of the bank where my stand-in (I played Detective Roberto) was holding the front door knobs.  He would run straight past the camera.  I would then pan right and Ed would run out from the drive thru lanes.  The bank building itself was lit by flood lights, so my bank robbers were shadowy silhouettes against the background.  Very cool.

It was a cold ten minute wait with everyone in their positions.  At last, the bank time said 10:00 exactly.  I began the tilt down and cued Jeff to start running.  I noticed headlights in the background, but didn’t give them another thought.  I panned over to the front doors of the bank and cued Joe.  My stand-in stood motionless.  I waved at him again.  Nothing.  I was concentrating on the shot, so I didn’t notice the car pulling up in front of him until a spotlight lit him up.  I looked up from the monitor and there was a Schaumburg police car parked in front of the bank.  Poor Joe stood there, frozen like a fly in amber, holding the front doors of the bank in the harsh glare of a police light at 10:00 at night.

Luckily, I was only fifteen at the time.  My mom had to drive us all over to the bank to shoot the scene.  She was parked in the lot next door.  When she saw the squad car, she came running over to explain the whole thing.  Would you believe it?  The officer actually let us shoot the scene!  He even asked if we needed a police car in the picture… uh, no… thank you.  In the final cut of our Dragnet episode, the bank robbery scene worked exactly as planned.  Everyone and everything in the shot went like clockwork… except for the clock itself.  By the time we shot take two, the marquee showed 10:04.

I was hoping I would get in touch with a few more memories of high school when I went to my reunion last weekend.  I want to thank Darrin (a.k.a. “Diego”) for reminding me of this incident.


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