Welcome Gentle Readers

This blog tends to wander from its main purpose -- updates on my fiction. I do have updates and excerpts of my work. But I also write about my obsessions -- food, friends and pop culture and my weird life in Los Angeles. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sudsy Actors, Historical Nakedness and Crickets

Warning: If you find yourself here via a google search for such things as TV shows or films, recipes or cities, this blog has some facts. However, this blog is one author’s very twisted musing on many weird things. It is sometimes graphic in content. If you read on, don’t write to yell at me.

Once again, I have a lot to cover. It’s been a busy week and not everything made the blog last week. But, as always, my friends distract me.

Naked Book Reading
Not the author! Our own Len Richmond is seen here giving a reading from his superbly funny and sexy, Naked in Paradise. Enjoy!

Craig has a one legged cricket living on his bookshelf. We think he means the cricket has one hind leg, because it hobbles and doesn’t chirp. Craig isn’t an earthy-crunchy kind of guy who thinks insects should be allowed to live like any living creature. He is more prone to crunch the critter on his shoe and scrape it off. His lovely girlfriend is the kind soul in the household. She’s been feeding it. Thus, it hangs out on a bookshelf next to Craig’s computer watching him work. He blames his girlfriend’s kind nature on being from Ohio. I can’t verify this as my friends from Ohio are all guys. Tell me, Ohio peeps, are the women there prone to feed and shelter helpless creatures? Meanwhile, I suggested to Craig that the unfortunate cricket might be his muse. He wasn’t sure about that, but he conceded that the critter on the bookshelf is far easier to cope with than the fully grown, live sheep he found in his dorm hallway while in college. Did you know that sheep do not like to go down staircases? He still hasn’t made a decision about the webcam.

Micro-budgeted Film Making Fun

The road to our second feature has been perilous and frustrating, to put it mildly. Of late, a fun project with a cast I am longing to work with has been stalled between the funding sources and the cable network interested in the concept. Each wants proof of some sort that the concept will be a sellable one. Thus, we decided to make a five minute version that captures who the leading pair of characters are and what the film will be about and how it will look and feel. The catch in this plan is that we don’t have a lot of cash to put into a proof of concept. And I mean there is more lint in our coffers than cash. But LA is a film town. Surely, you can rustle up what you need that is professional grade and just start filming, you say. Ha! I say. In this town, film is big business. Everyone that might be involved wants major bucks or at least they want more bucks than we can afford. It requires a great deal of creativity to get what we need to make the shorts look great. For instance, there is the rain barrel.

In one scene, our hero, Shadow Smith, is rinsing the trail dust off his big, buff body with water from a wooden rain barrel. I believe that scene is pivotal to the short and spent a lot of time talking it over with our DP. Actually, I talked about little else to the DP. Getting the light foam of suds sliding down that broad back just so is vastly important to me. It may even be important to the film. Anyway, before I’m distracted beyond all hope, I’ll continue. It’s possible to rent anything imaginable for a film in this town. I’ll give you a link to a typical prop house chosen at random from the 101 prop houses listed online. There is great stuff in those warehouses. I’m sure there is a rain barrel in one of them. However, renting is not an option for us in this case. The rental price may be terrific, but almost all prop houses want an insurance rider for each of their items rented. Minimum premiums are about $1500 for a million dollars of coverage – average coverage for prop and equipment rentals. I don’t find such requirements unreasonable. We had policies for both The Privateers short and Demon Under Glass. And, oh boy, did we need them. Things get broken or lost all the time on film shoots big or small. A hideously expensive camera was damaged beyond repair shooting Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It fell in a vat of chocolate. We demolished several glass props during the return trip to the prop house during The Privateers. During Demon Under Glass, it was the wreck of the prop machine guns. The insurance was money well spent. We just can’t do it this time.

Thus, my week was spent trying to buy a wooden rain barrel and period kitchen items for another scene at thrift store prices. There actually is a thrift store/prop house near here that I plan to check out. But I wanted to see what was online first. The big problem (and one I hadn’t counted on) was how difficult the Google search turned out to be. Finding the right combination of key words was a bear. It took a week of off and on searching along with inquiring on every film list I belong to, but I found that rain barrel and the kitchen wares locally. And though we weren’t looking for one, we found an amazing, full blown costume rental and sales place five minutes from where we live. Costumes are less of an issue than props for inexpensive rentals. There are several rental houses here that buy used costumes from the big studios in bulk for cheap so the studios can have the storage space. They rent them very cheaply in return and don’t require an insurance rider. If the costumes are lost or damaged, the renter pays the purchase price for the item in addition to the rental. I mean, Warner Bros will likely not have a need for Babylon 5 costumes anymore. So you and a whole squad of friends could look really authentic for Halloween or that Youtube masterpiece for very little money.

We lucked out on finding a Director of Photography who is talented but just starting out. He has his own equipment and a lot of creative energy. That will help us out a great deal. We also have a guy who can compose and lay down music tracks and handle the very mild FX load. Typically, we’d ask Gabriel Koerner for that assistance, but he’s hip deep in digital in Mach 5’s working the Speed Racer film. The location is not local. It’s a three hour trip in good traffic north of LA. We needed real frontier-like vistas, an actual ranch and horses to pull this off. Naturally, we are acquainted through colleagues with real ranchers who act on the side. They are being obliging in exchange for small parts in the feature. The costume hunt is on this week with our cast for The Gunslinger and for the other Proof of Concept short, The Gift of Surrender (much more on those details as we get closer). I’ll provide details and perhaps photos in next week’s blog.

Caption Fun

I had one illustration in mind for this week, and it is a lulu. However, whilst viewing it on the PC, Jon walked by and blurted out what could be the only caption for this thing: THIS IS SAPRTA!!! The actual painting by Jacques-Louis David hangs in the Louvre and is gi-normous by gi-hugic, or 13 feet by 17 feet for laymen. Here is a link to a larger version of the image. http://www.goddess-athena.org/Museum/Temples/Sparta/Leonidas_David.html Though I don’t think it was on display when we were at the Louvre. I’d remember something that huge and that naked. At any rate, I had to choose a new illustration for the caption contest. It is from another historical text depicting the arrival of King Louis XI (that’s 11, not 14 as google and yahoo insist). I’m not sure what he was arriving for, but it must have been quite a gathering. Give me your best zingers and win an Amazon gift certificate. This image may be too small to catch all the detail. A larger version can be found on this link. Good luck!

Must See TV
Thankfully, the WGA strike should soon be over. Meanwhile, do go and enjoy this inspired piece of solidarity on the actors’ parts. This is a real gem.


Soldier’s Fate Excerpt

Alas, this will be delayed. My other duties prevented me from choosing something titillating without having too many spoilers. I shall post it next week.

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