Thursday, December 13, 2007

Back From California!

Wow, what a trip! It was a lot of fun traveling with Ryan, I couldn’t have asked for better company!

It's great to finally have concrete locations to look at instead of just ideas. The movie really began to appear right in front of us and it just reinforced my initial decision to write a story about Kernville. Of course, there were a few difficulties, like how certain locations existed only as an amalgam of places in my head and so had to be modified to fit the practical reality of Kernville. But that’s a good exercise at any point of production – learning to make do and appreciate what you have and not go out chasing some undefined ideal that may never show up (Let me say that I'm all about chasing a known ideal, though!).

Two locations that are still proving elusive: The Cave and Red Rock Canyon. As you saw in Ryan’s post, we did find an amazing cave. The only problem is, it’s a rough two hour hike and even if that didn’t give you second thoughts, there’s a good chance we won’t be able to find the way back up if and when the snow comes. It kicked my ass and that was without carrying any heavy gear or enduring the necessary hours of shooting inside. Right now, our location manager, my Aunt Sue, is trying to find us a more accessible cave. It’s still more promising than Red Rock Canyon, though.

Because of how far it is from Kernville and how far out of the way it is from our planned travel route, it looks like the Red Rock Canyon location will be dropped altogether. This was the hardest decision made during the trip and maybe through the whole pre-production process so far. I used to pass it driving from my Grandpa’s place in Nevada to my Grandma’s place in Kernville. It’s gorgeous. In the script, it’s the whole reason for the boys’ detour to Kernville. We’ve got a nice little solution for that change courtesy of Ryan, but I still can’t help but feel some loss for what I expected would be one of the great images of the movie.

That’s the funny part about movies, and I think it’s why you sometimes hear filmmakers complaining about the difference between the movie they made and the movie they wanted to make (when it isn’t all because of creative or corporate restrictions) even though the movie works great for the viewer. You have something in your head that you want to show everyone and you get excited about it. Suddenly, it turns out that you won’t have the chance to show it after all. It’s like losing your turn at Show and Tell. In the end you just have to remind yourself that the film is the sum of its parts and have faith that the rest of the film will still be gorgeous and more than worthwhile and that the only one who will some obscure location or element is you. That’s why you keep making films!

Getting back to Kernville, it's remarkable how kind and welcoming everyone is. There’s quite a bit of filming that goes on in Kernville and once people understand what’s involved with the film making process they usually prefer to have nothing more to do with it. But that wasn’t the case there. People were more than happy to have us come in and shoot stills and were mostly enthusiastic (or occasionally indifferent) to us bringing the crew into their pride and joy. I think no small part of that hospitality was due to our amazing Location Manager, and host, Sue Roefer! Being a resident and business owner in Kernville (she runs the Kern Lodge with my Uncle Marty), she was able to approach people as a local instead of Ryan and I approaching as strangers from up north.

Still, given the number of times Ryan got hit on, I guess being a stranger in a small town has its own advantages!

Over all a great experience, I can’t wait to go back in January! I especially can't believe it's less than a month away!

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