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, February 17, 2008

Film, Friends and Paris on My Mind

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.

I’m actually more tired than when we rolled into town late Sunday night/ Monday morning, but it was a really hairy week trying to get back into our daily routine while setting up all we need for post. I’m really wiped from that and oral surgery yesterday. Meanwhile, Jon has his usual post-shoot cold. He’s been down all day Saturday and so fuzzy headed that he couldn’t even look at the raw footage. Still, there is much to report.

Conversations with Craig

In answer to the questions posed by my readers: No, Craig still hasn’t acted on the web cam for his front yard. Despite evidence that weirdness continues to occur there when he isn’t around, I think he worries about more visiting him from viewers of the web cam. The one-legged cricket is still alive, or the food being left for it is being consumed. Since it has only one hind leg, they don’t hear any chirping. I’ve been informed by Craig that the cricket is approaching the length of time he and a college roommate had their pet Twinkie. They had to get rid of it after it had become furry in the little bowl on the window sill. It maintained its structural integrity the whole while they kept it as a pet. I was surprised that it molded. In an episode of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, the chef was visiting a book warehouse in Cleveland. The warehouse had once been a Twinkie factory, and its pipes still contained unused filling. Of course, Bourdain had to try the filling. It didn’t make him sick at all. Incidentally, all of the episodes for No Reservations are available on Itunes. The very first one is a big favorite of mine, Paris. The chef stays at the Hôtel d'Alsace, now known as L'Hôtel where Oscar Wilde died – even visited the actual room. And he searches for a real, barebacked experience with Absinthe. All the while, he is loving the city and it’s singular place in the food universe. I also recommend the intense Beruit episode and the one on Koltata and Bombay. In that one is a send up on Bollywood which – though extremely funny – is sickeningly similar to our dealings with Industry wheeler/dealers. Back to Craig. He is still mulling over the web cam.

CSI Miami Rant

Yes, the writers’ strike is over(yeah!). And though CSI Miami does not have new episodes yet, they still manage to do things that make me scratch my head. This new thing is called Bullet Points that will be run during an episode filling in fans on trivia about the actors and behind the scenes info. Um, how am I to concentrate on the compelling 'drama' before me while digesting the fact that David Caruso appeared in Rambo: First Blood? Someone with my brain will be rendered even sillier than when I normally watch that show. I hope they only do it during the reruns. I prefer providing my own commentary during the first run. Still, it’s good to get back to the normal routine of TV viewing – bitching and moaning.

The Outlaw Had No Boots

It’s not a direct sequel to The Vampire Had No Pants. The reasons for the lack of footware were different from the lack of pants. In Demon Under Glass, we did a costume buy for all the characters. With Simon Molinar, we had items from the GAP staked out for him. In the interim between finding the clothes and picking them up, the store was turned over. Merchandise for that part of the season disappeared as if it never existed. We found only one sweater on a sales rack, and the pants were gone. We had to improvise once we got to the first location. In the case of The Gunslinger, the big problem was a film called Bedtime Stories. They had raided most of the western clothing at the costume house, including boots and hats. Though we found items that were suitable when we did our first pass, the film was eating up more and more costumes. I actually found the clothes online because I wasn’t confident that anything suitable would be left to rent. There were very few boots when we returned to rent the gunbelt and other accessories, and there were none that would fit Travis. The costume is very important to the actor slipping into character. Boots are key to becoming a cowboy. Thus Travis, set out to look for boots that would help him become Shadow Smith. Unfortunately, our leading man is a very busy one. He’s always working or auditioning or attending a convention. That made it difficult to find time to look. And when the time was right, the best location in LA was out of business. Once again, we had to wing it on location. However, we were going to cowboy country. Finding boots weren’t going to be that difficult. Finding them in time to get in two scenes before sunset at a location we had never laid eyes on and in a town that we had never visited made for a very busy morning. It was worth it though. Travis found a pair of boots that were weathered like they had been on the frontier for some time, and they fit him beautifully. He even found a hat he liked better than the rental. Those items completed his look and made him really feel the part. That’s visible in the photos.

The Gunslinger shoot was a lot of fun. We certainly learned a lot from our prior experiences, and in some ways, this was easier than any shoot we’ve done before. But there were still a lot of hats to wear. I had some new ones this time. Aside from line producing, and actor wrangling, there was wardrobe mistress, script supervisor, and continuity (keeping track of the food on the plates from take to take -- much more on that next week). It meant my eyes and ears were always ‘on.’ I couldn’t ever really relax while they were shooting. That was draining, even for such a short shoot. Now, I’m not saying that I didn’t have some fun. Travis and Jennifer were wonderful to work with (talented, very patient and dedicated) and game for anything we threw at them. I was particularly pleased that Travis trusted me enough to adjust his pants (yes, they really needed a lot of adjusting, geez). And he let me come at him with a lariat while fully aware of my reputation. I like that in a tall, slab of good-looking actor. The results will make for great advertising photos. And there were fun moments even as time got pressed. I wish more of them had ended up on camera. Travis was flipping through the prop book (more on that below) which was actually The Picture of Dorian Gray with a new cover. He began to read it a la Shadow Smith complete with the Texas drawl. That was a right pretty picture Basil painted...well, y’all are gonna have talk to Sir Henry about that... That sort of thing. I really wished we’d recorded some of that.

About the Prop Book
Crosspost from the Hidden Passions Blog

Shadow Smith (Travis Willingham) as a fictional character within the film came about after watching a documentary on Kit Carson, real life scout and all around western action hero. He was part of a posse sent to find a lost wagon train. They did, but all members were dead. One of the female victims died clutching a dime novel about Kit Carson in her hands. He never got over it. Many of the big western stars were living their lives while being written about in novels by authors nowhere near the frontier. We thought that adding this element of pop culture would provide a source of both comedy and drama to the film. Our director, Jon Cunningham, is really into authenticity. He started researching Dime Novels to find out exactly what sort of thing was being published at the time the film is set. He had a very specific idea of what he wanted to see on the cover because it matches shadow's movements on the trail. In the feature film, the novel cover will actually morph into live Shadow on the trail. But finding a vintage cover with exactly the right pose to morph is not going to happen. Thus, Jon had to construct the exact cover he needed. The image on the Myspace home page is photo-shopped with over a dozen layers. There is the dime novel cover that came from archive sources. The horse was from an illustration contained in a novel from the archive we work for. The rider is composed of three images. One of them had a female hostage that had to be removed. One had the coat Jon wanted. The pants had to be retextured because they were originally white. Then, there was the position of the arm that had to be changed. The image was only the half of it. He had to find just the right kind of card stock to print the image on (salmon was all the rage then). And there had to be just the right kind of book to wrap it around. After that much detail, I lost track. It was a lot of work, suffice it to say. And this is for the short film. I can't imagine what the cover for the feature will be like.

More next week in The Love Scene – why we’re all here.

Paris on My Mind

As I said before, I’m tired of not being in Paris. I try to make do. I cook a whole lot more French dishes than I ever had. I use Herbs de Provence and fresh thyme every chance I get. I even try to do the French breakfast as much as possible, but you long for the real thing. Even Jon said that it was hard to consider the free continental breakfast at our hotel once one had had breakfast on the continent. My longing grows. It doesn’t help that my Food Network chefs keep going there lately. Even The Bourne Supremacy stirs yearnings. One of the scenes was at Gare du Nord, the train station we used to leave for the airport on our last trip. It was in the neighborhood where we were staying. Everything, it seems, beckons me to return soon. Be prepared for a lot of wistful meanderings on the topic.

Caption Fun – At Last

The two I liked from weeks ago were from the same reader. Though I wasn’t putting up the Leonidas painting in the contest, the caption was too funny to ignore. Is there film in that camera???!!! Even Jon thought that was a hoot. And for the return of Louis XI, Ah a bunch of tarts on the block today, regular price, 5 francs. The new illustration is from my favorite book on Archive.org, Alias, the Night Wind. The man being thrown is a police officer. Have fun!

A Soldier’s Fate Update

I’m inputting a full notepad every other day, even while wiped out. I’m on pace for the current publishing date. I’ll post another excerpt soon. Also, I’m considering doing a live action trailer for both novels. During the shoot last week, I found an actor with beautiful facial structure and amber eyes. Here’s now working on Here TV’s The Lair, so I don’t think content will be an issue for him. More on that later.

Next week – Actual discussion on writing.

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