Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Just for the Hell of It -- Episode 38

                                          Now that's old school...

I'm don't know exactly where or when this shot was taken, but it might have been during the filming of Grand Prixthe epic car-racing movie of its time. Indeed, no other racing film even came close until Steve McQueen's passion project Le Mans hit the big screen five years later. They're very different movies, but both are admirable in their real-world, pre-CGI approach to filming a tricky and dangerous subject.*

Nowadays this shot would be done with a car-mounted camera, probably on a wireless hot-head, but back when film technology was still crude (and before lawyers sank their fangs deep into the jugular of the film industry), they did it old-school -- just strap the guy on and let 'er rip.

Not that I'd want to be running that camera, mind you, or this one, for that matter.

This isn't "old school," but no-school. Although their judgement is questionable, you really have to admire the enthusiasm, commitment, and ingenuity of these filmmakers -- and the courage of this camera operator is undeniable.

I just hope he still had functioning elbows once this shot was in the can...


Warner Herzog has been in the press a lot lately with two new films -- Lo and Behold, a typically immersive and oblique look at the birth, growth, and future of the internet, and Into the Inferno, a cinematic meditation on volcanoes. I've only seen a couple of Herzog's films over the years (Fitzcarraldo and Grizzly Man), but those were enough to make me appreciate his unique approach and all-consuming passion for filmmaking. There really is nobody else quite like him, and although I don't go to theaters much these days, I'll be adding both to my Netflix queue.


If you're a fan of Louis C.K. (and for my money, how could you not be?), follow this link to an hour-long video interview he did recently with Charley Rose. I think Louis is one of smartest people working in any aspect of our culture these days, with such good instincts and spot-on observational insights about the movie/television business, comedy, the modern human condition, and life in general.

This is a good one, so check it out sometime when you've got a spare hour to kill -- you won't be sorry.


Here's another piece by Mike Birbiglia, who seems -- in his own unique way -- to be following the path blazed by Louis C.K. in working on his own projects, making, marketing, and distributing them well outside the industry mainstream. His Six Tips for Making it-Small-in-Hollywood is short, sweet, and laden with hard-earned wisdom that will be helpful for any serious newbie writer, filmmaker, comedian, or whatever. Much like Louis C.K., Birbiglia is especially trenchant on the value of learning from failure.

Read it. He's definitely on to something.

In the same vein, here's Part One of a four part series (relax, my little oh-so-busy, no-TIME-for-this-Droogies -- each segment is only ten minutes long) by Ira Glass, the creator of This American Life, a radio show from Chicago Public Media that has run on NPR for the past twenty years. Ira has learned a lot about how to tell a story in that time, and shares the essence of his accrued wisdom in these four brief video clips. If you like the first one, there are links to the rest.

He can't teach you how to tell your stories, but he can point the way to the road upon which you'll learn all you need to know. That journey won't be quick or easy, but hey, welcome to The Joe Frazier School of Higher Education, where where the tuition is paid in blood, sweat, and tears -- and the lessons learned stick with you for life.


Next up are two excellent interviews, first with one of the producers of the Netflix show Narcos, then a re-run from 1997 with Curtis Hanson, recently departed director of LA Confidential, among many other films.

Hanson was one of the good ones, and will be missed.


I'll wrap up Episode 38 with the good news that "D" has resumed posting on Dollygrippery after a long layoff due to excessive work. When you live in a state that offers fat tax-subsidies to producers, and are good at your job, you'll be busy -- which he has been for quite a while. This been good for him but bad for us, because that kind of schedule (including a steady diet of weekly Fraturdays) leaves no time for much beyond meeting the most basic of human needs.

Being that my own long-ago experience as a would-be dolly grip was a rather humiliating blend of inexperience and incompetence, I don't claim to understand everything "D" talks about in his most recent post, which offers a pointed lecture for the less-than-professional wannabe dolly grips working in his part of the country. I'm a juicer, not a grip, but I know a professional when I see/hear/read one, and that alone makes his post worth reading, because the core point holds for everybody working in the film and television industry, no matter what their job -- learn your craft.

There's just no substitute for that.

*   I'm talking about the late, legendary actor and King of Cool -- not the undeniably talented new-kid-on-the-block director of the same name…


D said...

Great post. Thanks for the mention brother.

Michael Taylor said...

D --

Always, my friend. I'm just glad you're back...