Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Script - Part 1

I remember waking up one day and saying, "I've got to make a movie." "Ranchero" wasn't my first. I had written and produced a couple of shorts, and even an ill-fated feature. But this was different. Having just completed the "No-Budget Film School" (thank you Mark Stolaroff) I had a strategy for making a Spirit Award worthy film by using the resources that were available to me. That meant a script with a cool setting - like my cousin's ranch.

My original thought was to write a screenplay that took place entirely on the Silva Ranch in Herald, California. If you're curious, it's a small farm town between Stockton and Sacramento. But as I considered different storylines, I kept coming back to the time-tested, fish-out-of-water tale of a man leaving the country for the bright lights of the city.

This story appealed to me for several reasons. For one, as a child, I was the "fish-out-of-water" when I visited the ranch. To quickly bore those who have read my writer's notes, I worshiped my big cousin Gary. He was a tough cowboy kid who got to do all kinds of cool stuff: ride horses, shoot guns, etc. I was the city kid that felt like a wuss around him. So I kind of liked the idea of turning the tables. But I also wanted a lead character that takes a physical journey to inspire his psychological one. You can't run from who you are; but, a change of scenery can serve as a catalyst for those more difficult internal changes. I settled on a rancher who had lost pride in who he was and where he came from. He would set out on a journey of self-discovery and change not only himself, but those around him. Crap! We'll have to shoot in the city.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Porn Palace

Before shooting "Ranchero," I was unaware of the many "studios" there are in LA. Of course I knew about the majors, like Sony and Paramount, and even some smaller ones like Sunset Gower. But few people I know had ever heard of places like Entertainium.

Entertainum was located east of Downtown in an industrial, warehouse type district. I remember scheduling shoots on Sundays to avoid the clamor of the nearby metal recycling plant. From the outside, the place looked like an old, abandoned warehouse. On the inside, however, was a treasure trove of cool movie sets.

A pool hall, night club, jail cell, and hospital room where only some of the many different sets. Now I don't want to blow the image of the place out of proportion. This wasn't Universal. But for an indie filmmaker looking to get a variety of interiors on the cheap, it wasn't too shabby. As Rich, DP Mike, and I perused the rooms, we figured a lot of films must have shot there. We were right. But most of them were porn.

After a little asking around, we found out that our new found pool hall had been used in countless adult films. So it wasn't a question of not knowing what had been done on the pool table, we knew exactly. Trust me, sanitizer was as good as gold.

But that little trivia aside, the shoot there went very well. We got everything we needed and a lot of joking to get us through a long day. Did I forget to mention that there was another shoot taking place while we were there? We were kind of on the opposite ends of the facility and the other film didn't have much dialogue. I do remember tip-toeing by their set on the way to the bathroom. From inside, the director suddenly yelled, "Cut, cut. Would someone PLEASE lick his balls!"