Monday, January 23, 2012

Quiet On The Set

The final project, for the video film class Alex is taking, is a Western. Tatiana is editing the movie, and James was a stuntman, until he left for college. Grant made an appearance, and his brother, Clark, stepped in to finish some fight scenes. William advises, and has also developed terrific computer generated animations for the green screen shots. Have I mentioned that our living room has become a green-screened sound stage? Suki has been helping with costumes and make-up. Eli has been helping with costumes, and about everything else, as well. Alex wrote the script, and he's been organizing everyone and everything, which has proven to be a monumental responsibility. Maria and I have been ready for anything... feeding the cast and crew, standing in, transportation, first aid, acting as extras.

Oh, golly. I am going about this all backwards. Does it matter? The green screen shots were taken first, and then we went on location. These were taken when we went to a local park, for some real life-outdoor-westerny scenery. Later I will share some of the fun of making our home a movie studio, and also saying ~so long, and farewell until you return~ to James.

Some days I cannot help being overly wordy, and explanatory. The intention is to clarify all points and be understood, but I muddle it so. I think I must be more obtuse than I mean to be.
Doing it again.


Too beautiful for words. In my whole life I have never seen as many peacocks, at once, ever. In fact on this day I saw more peacocks than I've seen collectively in my entire life. I make this statement with absolute certainty. Maria and were completely awestruck and enchanted with these wild birds... they were everywhere. They are not tame, but not particularly shy either, so we were able to get quite close to some.

Alex, Eli, and McRae had to get straight to work filming, because they only had one hour of sunlight. Maria and I were free to explore, and that is exactly what we did. We explored and delighted. We agreed that someday, when we finally do celebrate her seventh birthday, the cowgirl birthday, that this would be the ideal place to wear bandannas and ride hobby horses, share cupcakes, and kick our boots.

Howdy, Eli.

When Alex made arrangements for them to film here, the park managers were really nice, and supportive. They went over some rules and expectations, then just stepped back and let the movie makers do their thing.

The film will be sepia toned, and they are going to dub their voices. I'm still not sure what the story is, exactly, but I do know it has fight scenes, and an airship, bad guys, and good guys. And mustaches. It must be good.

Not familiar with the trees of California ranchos? Those tall, spindly ones are eucalyptus... brought to southern California by someone hoping the fast growing trees would make good lumber for railroad ties. They do grow fast, but they don't make good rail road ties. They smell good. The shorter, fuller trees are pepper trees... Schinus molle. Not a true pepper, but still used in spices. It can be poisonous. Unfortunately, the pepper tree, though somewhat pretty from a distance, has become an invasive species around the world. Ah, I hate to malign an innocent tree, but honestly, I am not a fan. When planted in the wrong environment, they quickly become an irritant, and they suppress other plants and native species.

Okay, but never mind, because it's a really pretty scene, right?

Still using my pocket camera. The charger for the big beautiful black camera will not show itself. Can you see the four peacocks on the rooftops? Pretty.

I'll be saying pretty a lot in this post, because well. You know. This place has a lot of pretty.

This is all a city park, but the history is more interesting than that. I don't know that it's usually this quite, because it seems like the kind of place that would fill up quickly, regularly. I feel fortunate to have enjoyed this first (successful) visit in such a private and intimate way. We were practically the only ones there. It was kind of nostalgic and sentimental, imagining the Carillo family working on their out buildings, hosting friends and family, keeping their Rancho de Los Kiotes in working order.

The land and the buildings were acquired through the acting work of Leo Carillo, and though the land today is worth many millions of dollars, none of it feels particularly opulent or ostentatious. It feels like the home and working ranch of a family that was blessed and generous. It still feels welcoming, personable, warm.

It makes me happy that the city, and other thoughtful people, have thought to protect and preserve this place, and to make it available for everyone to share.

Maria and I found lots of big peacock feathers, and some very tiny and pretty ones. The large tail feathers, with the iridescent eye, were too scarce to be found.

They finished a lot of filming in one hour. A few more scenes need to be filmed here, next week. They have had a rough run, with many setbacks, delays, and even a run to the ER. Not ideal circumstances for getting a final project completed, but of course some of the best film makers out there have fantastic tales of sandstorms, and other disasters. These guys aren't giving up.

I guess I am still feeling sentimental and nostalgic, seeing these boys at work. I think how amazing it is when the make-believe and play of childhood becomes something bigger... all the pretending, well, it becomes as real as they imagined. I've been behind the scenes all along, and I am still enchanted and enthralled by the magic of seeing my children grow.


test said...

This looks like an exiting project, we are just coming from Nevada and lots of wild west.
Looking forward to seeing you in the next few days.

Jo James said...

Lovely, lovely, lovely!
And mustaches!
And now I want peacocks :)

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Michael, I think you could have had a part in this movie!

Natalie, the Chickenblogger said...

Me too!
A little bit... until I hear them start calling at dusk. Wow, are peacocks loud!!
Mustaches, right? Good stuff.