Archive for September, 2008

William Fraker again, Crazy Cooter Ben Jones, John Bailey

September 29, 2008

Talked with Ben Jones today. First time in a long time. He’s over a break from promoting his book “Redneck Boy in the Promise Land, Confessions of Crazy Cooter”. He invited me up to his place Sunday (I need to return his DVD – “The Power of Myth”, Bill Moyer’s interview with Joseph Campbell was such a huge influence on Old SChool, New School. Such an inspiration. 

Got an email from DP John Bailey. He invited me to join him in NYC early next month to continue talking about his participation in Old School, New SChool.

Also about 80 pages into Mike Zampi’s manuscript. (He’s asked me to write the forward. An honor!) It’s a self help book on being positive and using that power to move forward in life, and accomplish your dreams. Read the first 58 pages yesterday. I was flying through it. 

Producing effects heavy educational video at ADG Creative (casting 9 parts), not a lot by most standards, but big enough given the small crew. While doing this I’m also prepping a training video with 12 roles to cast for a tech company.

Watching a bunch of William Fraker’s movies these days. Conversations with these people are not about their careers, and they’re not interviews at all, but I figure it would be good to fine tune my knowledge of their work just the same. Booked my flight to Los Angeles today. But am talking a break to rewatch Louis Malle’s Place de la Republique! Amazing!

Louis Malle rules!

September 26, 2008

More and More. Agnes is turning into a story directly about finding the perfect lover and less about exploration of fantasies. But she’s so inactive in life and so wrapped up in her own excessive fantasies, how can the story be about true romance?

Louis Malle’s docs are incredible! “Vive Le Tour”, “Humain, Trop Humain”, “Place de la Republique” — a real treat! Humain, Trop Humain is so sad… people working in that factory seem so trapped to me. Place de la Republique is extraordinary! So simple: just hit the street and start interviewing man on the street style, only he did it covertly. Amazing how people, total strangers, open up about the most personal things.

Louis Malle, William Fraker, Los Angeles

September 25, 2008

A good day. Heard from William Fraker in Los Angeles. He’s happy to appear in Old School, New School! He said my work is “terrific”. Such praise indeed coming from a 6-time Oscar nominee.So now I can narrow my trip to Nov 5 -10. CAlled John Bailey, trying to schedule him for an on-camera conversation as well, plus a WHOLE LOT of meetings with potential supporters. 

Got some more footage of the editors a online.tv that I thought they could use. (a list of early stuff: old interviews, early acting jobs, early directing jobs) 

Much to do to prepare for Los Angeles. Very exciting that the conversaiton with Fraker is happening! Talked also to Ben Jones’ wife. Getting hold of him is near impossible! I’m told he’s still interested in being in Old School, New School. Meanwhile, a proposal for angel investors is with Greg Simmons at UMBC to review. He’s nice enough to look it over and offer suggestions.

These just in: “Vive Le Tour”,  “Humain, Trop Humain”, “Place de la Republique”  — documentaries by Louis Malle. Can’t wait to dive into them!

Gregg Landry and BlueRock Productions

September 23, 2008

Gregg Landry at BlueRock Productions called today. He is premiering his documentary on The Basillica next month in Baltimore and asked if I would be a keynote speaker. Of course! How could I deny such a good friend. Gregg’s been working on this movie for three years. It follows the restoration of The Basillica in Baltimore.

Gregg’s been such an important  part of Old School, New School … whether he realizes it or not. Once again, he’s opened up BlueRock to support in production and post production. He’s a great friend.

Romane Bohringer, Felafel, Albert Maysles

September 22, 2008

Heard from the office of Albert Maysles, the legendary documentary filmmaker. I’d been in touch with them for quite some time now. Apparently, Maysles cannot appear in Old School, New School at this time but is intrigued and wants to keep in touch about it. That’s promising.

Watched “He Died with a Felafel in His Hand”. Quirky Australian movie. Only watched because Romane Bohringer is in it… enjoy her work very much! First saw her in L’Accompagnatrice in the early 1990s. Such magnatism.

Cinematography.tv, Chris Kenneally, Crazy Legs Conti

September 17, 2008

Early morn. Last several days and nights have been long. Getting lots of stills and video clips and newspaper articles scanned and digitized  and mailed/emailed to the folks at on-line.tv, creators of cinematography.tv. They are based in NYC and producing a feature on my career (magazine style program). They’re really putting a lot into this and I have high hopes for a slick piece.

Wacthed Crazy Legs Conti, a doc made by my friend and Old SChool, New SChool videographer Chris Kenneally. Great guy. great movie.

Louis Malle and Paris, France

September 15, 2008

Awoke this morn with a vision of Paris in the snow. No Old School news to report except that I’ve got some Louis Malle documentaries on the way that I’m hoping will offer inspiration. hmm, wonder if there’s a connection to the vision of Paris?

Ross McElwee

September 12, 2008

Sent off letter to Ross McElwee per request of his colleague/assistant/relation whom I managed to track down. I first learned of McElwee’s work at film school. I’ve been hooked ever since. Such an inspiring catalogue of work. 

Also sent proposal off to Katie at Frederick Wiseman’s place. Another film school inspiration.  We’ll see if they want to be in my doc. Also, finally with John Bailey, the terrific cinematographer! He is looking at the proposal I sent him (emailed last night).

A 14-hour shoot on Wed. A good gig, good pay.  Each day and night this week, in fact, have been non stop. No time at all for work on Agnes. That angers me to no end, but lots of work done on Old School, New SChool. So many wonderufl opportunities to follow up on, especially with WEgewood. Been working on the proposal for them (angel investors). Now that UMBC’s on board I hope the proposal will have a bigger impact. 

Haven’t heard  from William Fraker in weeks and I need to schedule his shoot. (My whole LA trip is based on recording him for Old School, New SChool.)  On the schedule now is a follow up with Henry Winkler. I put in a request for several people I thought would be good for Old School.. Sir George Martin among them. WE;ll see. exhausted now. can;t keep awake.

Oh — this week  watched “Sunset Boulevard” and “On the Waterfront”. Always an inspiration! Wilder, Swanson and Brando, what talents!

Bill Melendez and Bill Cosby

September 8, 2008

Mailed invite to Bill Cosby for Old School ,New School. Back and forth between Wegewood and UMBC – – excellent opportunities to get Old School in front of some angel investors who invest solely in art projects.

Called Steve, the first I could talk with him since Bill died on Sept 2. Steve is overwhelmed, as expected.

Bill Melendez

September 3, 2008

This one deserves a special posting.

Bill Melendez has passed away! Such a kind and gentle soul. So full of life and laughter, and such a true talent!

We all expected it, I guess. Last year when I shot his interview at his house it was a struggle for him. I have so many wonderful, cherished memories of that man. And to think, it all started in a little library in the town of Uxbridge outside London. I was 19 and researching a new list of production companies to solicit my proposals for animated TV specials. Bill Melendez Productions came up on a listing in a guide book. Having been a fan of the “peanuts” animated films all my life, entranced by the holiday specials, I knew the name immediately. I marched straight over the studio and discovered Bill’s son, Steve, ran the London office. We connected instantly, and our partnership and Steve’s mentorship was instant. It forever affected the course of my life, and career. The Melendez family taught me a lot.

Steve taught me the business of show business, served as a role model and showed by example how to be a good producer. From Bill I learned not to sweat the small stuff. By his bright eyes and contented manner I learned that a smile was the best approach, and that the nice guy CAN succeed, even in Hollywood.

Maybe it was because  I was introduced to him as a friend of his son that Bill treated me so generously when we first met in Los Angeles years ago. But somehow I doubt it. Bill, it seemed, was gracious to everyone.  A gentleman of the first order. He refused to let you pay for anything, gave of himself freely. He kept a childlike enthusiasm that was contagious!

In his office one day,  he was suddenly struck with bright eyed excitement. “Oh! Look at this!” he said to me, tickled with a smile. He crossed the room and picked up a wood display case.

“I went back to my home town (Hermosillo, Mexico) a while ago and the mayor presented me with this gift.”

Inside the box, surrounded by velvet, was a gold medallion. It was inscribed in Spanish which Bill translated for me. He admired it with the eyes and bright smile of a child at Christmas. And then, of course, he followed that with, “let’s go get some lunch!” Mealtimes were an important event. I learned it well from Steve. The best business is done over a glass of wine or a plate of something scrumptious.

As I listened to the NPR feature remembering Bill’s life, an epiphany struck. They described his partnership with Schulz and Peanuts as “finding his calling in 1965”. It hit me: He was 49 years old in 1965! 

True, he had been working very successfully in animation as a youngster in 1938, but it occurred to me that at age 49 life for Bill took an extraordinary turn that lead him on a tremendous adventures topping everything he’d accomplished up to that point. In retrospect it seemed those 40 years leading up to 1965 merely prepared him for what I see as being the most significant contribution of his life: his work with Charles Schulz. Gives hope  that careers can continue to blossom after 40 years.