This has been a bizarre week even for me. It began with blatantly thwarting LA film codes and ended with a sudden and tragic passing of one of my oldest friendships. Our day jobs have had a big change, and the battle for funding took an interesting turn. The Eagles are playing right now, but I’m ignoring the game for now. By the time this is finished, there may be a final score. I don’t even know if the game’s outcome will matter to me. I have a lot of distractions right now.
The film community complains a lot about Runaway Productions. They don’t just complain about the work going to other countries. They complain bitterly about the work that has left Los Angeles. I understand their complaints, but I also understand why they lost and continue to lose work here. We wanted to do the short for The Gunslinger locally. I mean, who really wants to drive five hours when they could travel a fraction of that time. But the film ranches in this area are used to projects like Deadwood and the budgets that go with it. The day rate these places wanted caused hysterical laughter. Then, we took a five hour drive. It’s almost the same situation with Blood Oath. We wanted to shoot for a few hours on the state-owned Dockweiler Beach. At first, I was up for doing it legally. I inquired after a permit. To my complete surprise, it was more than twice as expensive as a permit to shoot on Malibu Beach. On top of the pricey permit, they wanted a million dollar insurance rider. Did I mention that all the guys are doing on the beach are some Tai Chi Katas? Jon, our DP, Erick and Ralph were undeterred. We did it guerilla style – no permits and very efficiently.
We started just before 9 am when the beach is fairly deserted. It’s not a touristy beach because of its location at the end of the runways at LAX (which is why we didn’t have any dialogue happening). It was a picture perfect, sunny day. The water was an emerald green and the waves broke very prettily. We couldn’t have designed a better backdrop. The guys looked very yummy together, especially in the training phase (the black tank tops). We did a set of katas where Rik is teaching Vincent (training phase) and ones where they are just meditating together. I love the hands especially (Forgive my fuzzy photography. It’s an older digital camera). There are more pics on the myspace page. Most are the very nice, clear pics that Ralph took. Matty and Lance definitely have chemistry together. The footage is compelling. And that’s good, because we won’t have to shoot it again. Being an outlaw film maker is far more stressful on me than I thought it would be. There were at least three beach patrol vehicles who past by and gave us the once over, and there was an LAPD motorcycle cop who buzzed our base camp in the parking lot. It was all very unnerving for me, anyway. I was really relieved when we wrapped for the morning.
Tomorrow, I’m having Matty over to practice playing with his ponytail and to do some cooking together. We may try to grab some scenes of Vincent in the kitchen at some point as part of the opening credits. Lance will be there to practice playing with Vincent’s ponytail and to go over the new dialogue. It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it.
No new updates on The Gunslinger and Luv U 4 Ever. A lot has been happening that I can’t talk about. It’s fascinating and frustrating how much of what’s going on has nothing to do with the films themselves but are pivotal to the film’s funding. I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to talk about what all of the machinations were. I don’t know if anyone would believe me if I did. We’re still awaiting word of a start date.
Most of what I wanted to talk about this week was eclipsed by an e-mail from a very kind stranger telling me that Harry W. Kenney, a friend for over 30 years, had died of a heart attack. He was 48. The day before, his 100 year old mother died. Harry was a fixture in my homes in Philly. We went through high school and college together. He was at many holiday gatherings and we heralded in many a New Year together along with a group of nerdy misfits I’ve known forever. He helped me write the first version of The Privateers, and we worked on a couple of other scripts while I was still in Philly. Harry’s claim to fame was not in writing. He was a pioneer in adult internet content under the name Dravyk. Little wonder that he was the first host for NovaD.com (now NovaD.org). It was an interesting career turn for a Catholic boy (though, maybe not that surprising), and it took him all over the world. His last days were spent caring for his mother, something he had done for most of his life. Though he may not have pursued the writing career he’d wanted, his work influenced a lot of folks in the webhosting world, and he left a lot of friends who will remember him fondly. It’s fortunate that a few of us ended up in LA. We’ll go have a beverage and a dance or two in his honor (he was an enthusiastic, if not a very good dancer). It’ll be tough returning to Philly and not meeting up for a drink with him. As you can see from the photos, there was a lot of drinking and apparently costumes in our friendship. He’ll always be around when any of us get together.
I’m off to do some stuff for the memorial and for the read through tomorrow.