Sunday, December 21, 2014
ROUND-UP PASSES 200K HITS! ‘BOONVILLE REDEMPTION’ PT-2, PLUS 99C NETWORK UP-AND-RUNNING, AND MORE!
THE MAKING OF ‘BOONVILLE REDEMPTION’ PART 2
Kassandra Voyagis, Ed Asner & Pat Boone
In last week’s Round-up, I shared part one of my visit to the set of BOONVILLE REDEMPTION at Paramount Ranch (if you missed it, the link is HERE . If you missed my earlier story about being ‘background’ on the film, that link is HERE .) Here is the conclusion of my report, beginning with my interview with director Don Schroeder.
DON SCHROEDER Interview
HENRY: How did you get involved in this project?
DON SCHRODER: Judy Belshe-Toernblom called up just before Christmas in 2012 and asked, “How would you like to direct a feature film?” Okay! Can I look at the script? And it was really quite wonderful, so I accepted immediately. It’s a great opportunity – a great story. The first thing I said after I read it is, I could do this. Even though it’s my first feature, believe it or not I’ve made two or three-hundred other films.
HENRY: What sort of the films were the others?
DON: Mostly I’ve been doing informational films, public service announcements, documentaries, that sort of thing. I’ve won Emmy Awards for documentaries, and I won a Golden Angel Award for a narrative film I directed Robert Mitchum and Rhonda Fleming in.
HENRY: Wow, tell me about that one.
DON: It was called WAITING FOR THE WIND; it was a thirty-minute special for Lutheran Television, in the 90s. It’s about a farmer with a boat on his pasture, who’s always wanted to sail around the world. Robert Mitchum played the farmer, and Rhonda Fleming played his wife.
HENRY: Had you done any westerns before BOONVILLE?
DON: No, that’s what’s so exciting about this.
HENRY: What do you see as the big differences between doing a western, and the other genres you’ve worked in?
DON: Well, the thing about a Western is the technology is 19th century. So much of our world today is digits, but in the 19th century they had a physical world, and what’s great thing about that is it’s cinematic. Because you’re dealing with things, objects, and you interact with the world.
HENRY: Were there any surprises things you didn’t anticipate in a Western until you were actually doing it?
DON: The horses – you’re really don’t know what it’s like to work with them until you get there. And I really respect the wranglers, because they’re very safe. The thing about horses is they’re horses; they’re not people. The wranglers have really been careful. You have to think how a horse is going to think. You don’t put things over their heads, for example; that can excite them. They like to have friends around, they don’t like to work by themselves; they’re herd animals. With movie-trained horses, when you say “action” they understand they’re supposed to act. But sometimes if you yell “Action!” loud enough they’ll start to run. It’s very different working with horses; it’s been a lot of fun.
HENRY: You’re again working with very familiar actors – Pat Boone, Ed Asner, Diane Ladd. What is the difference in your approach, working with known actors like that, versus people who are certainly talented but not necessarily well known?
DON: I used to recoil at the idea of working with big stars, and it finally dawned on me that the reason they’re name talent is they’re really good! So, it’s been a dream – the casting that Judy’s done has been just spectacular. You expect that the actors bring something to the party; that they not only know their lines, but they’ve thought about the character, know what their backstory is. What mannerisms they may have developed. And these people are real pros – they do that, they bring something to the party, and it’s always more than you expected. Diane Ladd was just spectacular, and amplified the role way beyond anything we expected.
HENRY: I understand she does part of her role in Boontling. What is it like directing in an almost foreign language?
DON: She had a little trouble with Boontling; it was difficult for her, and I have to give her credit, because she mastered it. She did a beautiful job. It was like doing a part in a foreign language; she had some long speeches with Boontling, and she was fine.
HENRY: Would you call the film’s genre more of a western or a mystery?
DON: I would call it a family drama. It’s set in 1906, Boonville, California, and primarily a family drama.
HENRY: Who do you see as the natural audience for this film?
DON: That’s a good question. It’s a family film. I’m sort of pointing it at a thirteen-year-old girl because that’s the protagonist.
HENRY: What should I know about you, and this production, that I don’t know?
DON: You know what really helps is to have the executive producer. Judy’s been 35 years doing casting, and it’s made an enormous difference. Because she has really gathered a tremendous cast. I don’t mean just the lead parts, the name parts, but all the rest of the roles are character people with years and years of experience. She chose carefully, and we have a tremendously rich cast, which makes my job a whole lot easier.
HENRY: I know that you’re a film teacher at Loyola Marymount University, as well as a filmmaker. Which is good, because there are so many who teach it, who have never done it. And we are now a generation where most of us in the business have gone to film school. I went to NYU.
DON: I went to U.S.C.
HENRY: How does working with students and training new filmmakers effect what you do on-set?
DON: What’s fun is the other way around – what I do here effects how I go about teaching. Now this experience is so rich I’ll be able to bring a lot of it back to the classroom. The kind of equipment we need to have, what goes into making a shot. We have a behind-the-scenes photographer, one of my former students, taking pictures. And I gave her an assignment; I told her I’d like you to shoot all of the different elements that go into making one good shot. And it’s really remarkable, the amount of preparation that it takes to get one good shot.
HENRY: What kind of camera are you using?
DON: This is a Red One camera. It’s digital HD technology, but not the absolute latest. It’s just a little bit older, and my director of photography, Virgil Harper, knows how to get the very best out of it. We’re getting an incredibly good look – the visual is just stunning.
HENRY: A lot of people are very upset at the disappearance of celluloid in exchange for digital. How do you feel about it?
DON: I understand the purists, and in truth film is still a long-term preservation medium. But when you can control each pixel on the screen, you really don’t need film. You can make it look like anything. So as far as I’m concerned, film is unnecessary except for archival purposes.
HENRY: Are you interested in making the video look like film, or do you just let it look the way it looks?
DON: No, there’s a whole lot that goes into making a film look cinematic. And Virgil knows those secrets; I don’t. But there’s a lot involved with setting up the chips so that they record a cinematic look. You can do that also in post, but he’s doing that here with the way he’s set up the camera, and filtration. He uses a lot of filters to give it that cinematic look.
HENRY: Have you given thought to the music you’re going to use?
DON: Well, you know one of the stars is Pat Boone, and he’s going to sing a song at the big wedding party at the end. He’s going to sing ‘Old Time Religion,’ and everyone’s going to be dancing to that. Also, one of our actors, Nicholas Neve, plays the violin; we discovered that in auditions, and we’ve woven that into the story. Beautiful, beautiful scene where he says goodbye to Grandma Mary, not knowing that this is the last goodbye. And he plays ‘Just As I Am’ as he walks down the road by himself, beautiful sun going down behind him.
HENRY: Do you have any favorite Westerns?
DON: Virgil and I watched a lot of them. John Ford Westerns are of course the best. The control of the frame – he gets the right things in front of the camera, and he arranges them so cinematically. John Ford is by far the best teacher for Westerns – without question. There’re others too, but nobody measures up.
EMILY HOFFMAN interview
Emily Hoffman plays Melinda, the thirteen-year-old whose search for her father’s identity is the core of BOONVILLE REDEMPTION’s story. We didn’t have much time to chat, because she was in virtually every shot on the day I was there, but we talked for a minute or two between takes, while she petted a horse. She, and Nicholas Neve, who plays Melinda’s companion, Shakespeare, are two of the nicest, most enthusiastic, genuine, and patient kids I’ve ever met on a set.
HENRY: Is this your first starring feature?
EMILY HOFFMAN: Yes it is, and it’s really exciting. It’s a big thing for me, and it’s surreal, I’ll tell you. I’ve been getting used to it, and how it works, and it’s awesome.
HENRY: How long have you been filming?
EMILY: I’ve been acting since I was six and a half; but I’ve been filming this movie for about three weeks now.
Pat Boone & Emily
HENRY: What had you done previously?
EMILY: I’ve done some short films. I’ve done some music videos, voice-overs, and modeling.
HENRY: I’m guessing this is your first Western.
EMILY: Yeah (laughs) It’s so cool to see what they wore back then; how there was no air-conditioning back then, which sucks. And how they acted. It’s cool.
After the 1906 Earthquake --
Emily and Nicholas Neve
HENRY: Is this your first period film of any kind?
EMILY: I believe so and it’s awesome. I like to time-travel.
PETER SHERAYKO Interview
Ever since TOMBSTONE, where he played Texas Jack Vermillion before the camera, and was in charge of the authenticity of props, costumes, saddles and the expert riders known as the The Buckaroos, Peter Sherayko has been the go-to guy for getting Westerns right. He’s written a pair of books, TOMBSTONE: THE GUN AND GEAR, and THE FRINGE OF HOLLYWOOD – THE ART OF MAKING A WESTERN – you’ll find his site HERE. I asked Peter what his job is on
Peter Sherayko and me
PETER SHERAYKO: We at Caravan West are doing everything – the props, the set dressing, the costumes, the horses, the saddles, and the guns, and Sheri Keenan, my assistant, is handling all of the background people. That’s the Caravan West side of it. The Peter Sherayko side of it is I’m the armorer. It’s not a gun-heavy movie, it’s a gun-light movie. And I’m also the stunt coordinator, and I’m playing the part of Jack, who is ranch-hand to the main bad guy.
HENRY: Now you were just recently working on the second season of QUICK DRAW, the Hulu series, here at Paramount Ranch.
PETER: We finished that earlier this year. The second season of QUICK DRAW comes out in August, and we’re anxiously waiting for a third season to come up. And Nancy and John, who are the producers, director and star of the show, want us to come back and do more stuff. They just did an interview with the L.A. Times, and the reporter called me up, wants to interview me regarding the Buckaroos, and putting everything into the shows.
HENRY: Terrific – that’s the kind of exposure you want.
PETER: It would be nice to be in the L.A. Times, yes. The end of last year we did HOT BATH, STIFF DRINK2, and I just got a call that we’re going to do HOT BATH, STIFF DRINK 3. But then I’m negotiating with another show, it’s a ten-episode documentary series for FOX TV. They want me to do everything – not only what we normally do, but they also want me to get the medic, and the water truck, and the fire department and the permits, and hotels. The company is Warm Springs, and they’re out of Montana. They’re the ones who do the series MOUNTAIN MEN. So the supervising producer, we’ve worked together on four different shows. And he just said, when we do a Western series, we know who to call.
HENRY: Would this be a show done in Montana?
PETER: No, it would be done here. We plan on doing ten weeks, five days a week. Three days a week at my ranch, and they want to book Melody Ranch for the other two days, to do the recreations.
HENRY: So it’s documentary recreations of what?
PETER: Documentary series on ten people: Davy Crockett, Butch Cassidy, Wild Bill Hickok, Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Kit Carson, Custer, the real Lone Ranger – supposedly the Lone Ranger was based on a real character, but not so much like Clayton Moore played him. Black Bart, and there’s one more that escapes me – it’s like trying to name the seven dwarfs.
HENRY: How did you get involved in BOONVILLE REDEMPTION?
PETER: Don, the director called me last year, and he said he was trying to do this nice family movie about this little girl and her mother. We came out, shot here one day, and we did about four scenes. They cut it together, and then they tried to raise the money all year. And they raised the money, and they called me about two months ago. They said Ed Asner’s going to be on the movie, Pat Boone, Diane Ladd, Robert Hayes, me, and can you put everything together? I said yeah, I’d be glad to. We’re doing a 24 day shoot and having a great time.
HENRY: Twenty-four days – that’s a long shoot.
PETER: It’s a long shoot. I’m working as an actor about eight days, I’m working as a stunt coordinator three days, and supervising everything else is every other day – every day.
HENRY: What’s so far been the biggest challenge on this production?
PETER: The biggest challenge for me is getting everything right with very little preparation time. We have a very tight schedule. We have a different designer. I have a way of doing things, and they have their way, and it took a few weeks until I could get into their rhythm. I know the West. I always pre-plan everything. I look at every set that’s there, I go this is what’s going to go in this set: this, this, this and this. And I get it all lined up. Other people work in a different way. So they didn’t line it up. And then they have people pulling it, but it’s not the stuff that I’m saying to pull, so it’s kind of a hectic thing.
HENRY: When you say pulling it, you mean pulling props.
PETER: Going to my ranch, going to the buildings and getting the props. I’m literally doing nine jobs on this movie, and I can’t be at all places at all times.
HENRY: You’re a purist when it comes to historical accuracy. So when you’re, let’s say, picking saddles, how many saddles would you have of your own to choose from?
PETER: I have over sixty period saddles. So it’s 1906; I’m playing the ranch hand, for instance, who is the old guy. So the saddle that I’m riding in the movie, my character bought twenty-odd years ago. So it’s an 1880s saddle, not a 1906 saddle. But for the sheriff as well as the deputy, I have a loop-seat saddle that came out in the mid to late 1880s. Then for the main bad-guy, Maddox, I have a brand-new saddle of the 1900 period. So depending on who it is, I’m designing every saddle.
HENRY: So you’re casting saddles to characters.
PETER: I’m casting saddles as well as firearms. For Maddox, I have him having an 1877 Colt Lightning, a double-action gun which they made into the early 20th century, which you don’t usually see in movies. For his throw-away gun I’m using an 1890s style double-action top-break gun. And the sheriff and the deputy, who are the only other ones in the movie carrying guns, I’m giving them Colt single actions. The Colt single actions from 1902 to 1906, that’s the gun they made the most of, so I’m giving them the standard gun of that time
HENRY: So that late, into the 20th century, they were still making more single-action than double-action guns?
PETER: They were making more single-actions in the early part of the 20th century. They may have been making them because they had more parts to put together, so they said, let’s get rid of these, so we can start promoting the newer style guns, but historically that’s what they were doing. And because it’s California 1906, that’s basically what a lawman would be carrying.
HENRY: Looks like quite a bit of rolling-stock out there. Are they yours?
PETER: Yes, I have seven wagons on the show. I had four; I just purchased three more.
HENRY: Are these reproductions?
PETER: No they’re all originals; they could go back as far as the 1880s. I found three of them in June when I was doing a book-signing in Grass Valley. I found a guy who had twenty wagons.
SHERI KEENAN Interview
HENRY: How long have you worked with Peter Sherayko?
SHERI KEENAN: About a year and a half. I live in the next town, in sister towns. There was a write-up about him in our local magazine, and it sounded like it fit my background pretty well, and I thought I might be able to assist him. So I wrote him an introductory letter. He called me right back, and here I am.
HENRY: Is this your first job in the film industry?
Sheri Keenan -- made up for the earthquake
SHERI: In the film industry proper, yes, but not my first job in the entertainment industry. I worked for Disney for fourteen years. I started off at the Park, which was really fun, and then I moved on to Imagineering.
HENRY: How many Westerns have you worked on since you started working for Peter?
SHERI: What’s interesting about that is I think I’ve worked on as many non-Westerns as Westerns, which I didn’t expect. One thing about the western genre is, even though it’s a western, it could be a commercial, or it could be a rock video. The other thing is, Peter has his ranch, which we utilize for locations quite a bit, and that brings in all sorts of other projects, and other times periods. They wanted it to look like Jonestown, in South America the other day, and flew in an airplane. So you just never know – that’s the exciting part of the job.
HENRY: You fit me with clothes and boots for this one. Are you the background wardrobe person on this one?
SHERI: I can’t take credit for that. Peter is unique in that when he supplies background, they come prepared dressed and ready-to-go, in their period attire. For this we’ve had a lot of women, which we don’t normally have in a Western. They have their own wardrobe, but I am doing more and more wardrobe.
HENRY: What are your duties on this production?
SHERI: My title on this is background casting. And because Peter is also doing set design and props and wardrobe, and is required on the set, and I get to come out for that as well.
HENRY: Where do you see the Western industry going? Do you expect to see more and more?
SHERI: I certainly hope so, for my future of course, selfishly so. It does seem like we’re heading into a resurgence, an upswing of interest.
Sheri among the 'backgrounds'
HENRY: Do you ride?
SHERI: I do, I grew up trail-riding, and competing every once in a while in horse shows.
HENRY: Have you gotten on a horse in any of these productions?
SHERI: Sadly, no. Not much call for a riding lady in the 1880s. however, I do ride quite often at the ranch with Pete.
When I contacted writer/executive producer Judy Belshe-Toernblom to find out where the production stands, she was enthusiastic. “We believe we are in our last edits. We then will proceed to color corrections, sound, v.o. work (looping) and finally music. We have some great interest but are waiting until it is in the highest form it can be for showing to distributors. We have had some test screenings and the feedback from them has been so helpful. We hope to get a 2015 release. This is all in the Lords hands but we are using the hands that He gave us to help. It's like Joel Osteen says "Do all that you can and then God will do what you can't." I’ll keep posting updates as thing progress, but you can also check out the official website HERE.
‘99CENT MOVIE NETWORK’ LAUNCHES WITH FOUR WESTERN COLLECTIONS!
As promised, the folks behind the Movies & Music Network have launched a new streaming movie network called the 99centNetwork. They’re going to be offering several ten-film collections – including four different Western collections – and you can select any three movies from a collection for ninety-nine cents! For $1.99, you can buy all ten! Heck, for eight bucks you can buy all forty Westerns! And these films are yours to stream for life – you can even share ‘em with your friends! There’s some cheap Christmas shopping for you!
They’re also offering movie collections in other genres, including, horror, sci-fi, holiday, and something called Pink Eiga, which appears to be Japanese soft porn. But let’s talk about Westerns! In Collection #1, high points include ONE-EYED JACKS, directed by and starring Marlon Brando; Monte Hellman’s Spaghetti Western CHINA 9, LIBERTY 37, starring Warren Oates; Dennis Hopper in the Aussie Western MAD DOG MORGAN; Lesley Selander’s BUCKSKIN FRONTIER with Richard Dix and a great supporting cast; two Roy Rogers films; a Buster Crabbe, and more. Collection #2 features, among others, Sam Peckinpah’s first Western, DEADLY COMPANIONS; two Bob Steeles; three Roy Rogers; and Enzo Castellari’s excellent ANY GUN CAN PLAY, starring Edd Byrnes, George Hilton and Gilbert Roland – incidentally, Enzo was in L.A. last week, speaking at USC, screening KEOMA, and discussing a new Western he’s planning with Franco Nero.
Collection #3 includes THE BIG TREES starring Kirk Douglas; Zane Grey’s FIGHTING CARAVANS starring Gary Cooper; the Spaghetti Western, BETWEEN GOD, THE DEVIL, AND A WINCHESTER, starring Richard Harrison and Gilbert Roland; the Israeli Western KID VENGEANCE, starring Lee Van Cleef and Leif Garrett; and Randolph Scott in ABILENE TOWN. Finally, Collection #4 includes KANSAS PACIFIC, starring Sterling Hayden, and featuring Reed Hadley as Quantrill; Howard Hughes’ infamous THE OUTLAW; DEATH RIDES A HORSE, starring Lee Van Cleef, and featuring a great Ennio Morricone score; Don Red Barry’s laughably bad and thoroughly enjoyable JESSE JAMES WOMEN; and the very interesting-sounding Mexican-shot JORY, starring Robby Benson and John Marley. Check out the site HERE , and please let me know what you think!
ARTHUR GARDNER DIES AT 104
Arthur Gardner, who came to Hollywood to be an actor, then became a very successful producer of series like THE RIFLEMAN and THE BIG VALLEY, and features like SAM WHISKEY and THE SCALPHUNTERS, has died at 104. After playing a small role as a German soldier in ALL QUIET ON THE WESTERN FRONT, he joined the First Motion Picture Unit of the Army Air Force during World War II, helping make military training films at Hal Roach Studios. There he met the two men who would become his production partners, Jules Levy and Arnold Lavin, who would form GARDNER-LEVY-LAVIN PRODUCTIONS, a company whose name became synonymous with ground-breaking, high-quality Western productions for big-screen and small.
Johnny Crawford, who starred in THE RIFLEMAN as Mark McCain, recalled on his Facebook post, “I first met him in January 1958. One day, after school, my mother drove me to Hal Roach Studios to be interviewed for an episode of Dick Powell's Zane Grey Theater. That episode was also the pilot for The Rifleman, and Mr. Gardner was one of the producers. He was a great role model and a dear friend for many years.” Even at age 102, Gardner was still going into his company’s Beverly Hills office regularly.
His autobiography was entitled THE BADGER KID. Below is part one of Arthur Gardner’s interview from the Archive of American Television.
‘RIO BRAVO’, ‘LITTLE BIG MAN’ OTHER WESTERNS ADDED TO NAT’L FILM REGISTRY
As happens this time every year, twenty-five films have been added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry. Among them are several Westerns: RIO BRAVO (1959), Howard Hawks’ and John Wayne’s contemptuous response to HIGH NOON; LITTLE BIG MAN (1970), Arthur Penn’s entirely different take on Custer’s Last Stand; RUGGLES OF RED GAP (1935), where transplanted English butler Charles Laughton proves himself more American than his employers; and STATE FAIR (1933), the first of three filmed versions of Philip Strong’s novel, starring Will Rogers. Among the non-Western films named to the list are ROSEMARY’S BABY, FERRIS BEULLER’S DAY OFF, HOUSE OF WAX and SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. For the complete list, go here: http://www.loc.gov/today/pr/2014/14-210.html
‘YELLOW ROCK’ CHRISTMAS NIGHT ON SONY MOVIE CHANNEL
December 25th at 10:40 pm, Pacific time, after you’ve finished unwrapping everything, and consumed as much food as you dare, you can catch YELLOW ROCK, the 2012 Western Heritage Award – Bronze Wrangler – Best Picture winner, starring Michael Biehn, James Russo and Lenore Andriel.
THANK YOU READERS! ‘ROUND-UP’ REACHES 200,000 HITS!
Last night, the number of times folks have visited the Round-up since I started posting in January of 2010 surpassed 200,000! Today, the top ten countries reading Round-up are The United States, France, The Ukraine, Germany, The Netherlands, Canada, Romania, China, Australia and Norway! We’re read regularly in over ninety-five countries, and my gratitude to all of you around the world who have made Henry’s Western Round-up an important source for your Western information is overwhelming. I am sure you realize that it takes a huge amount of time and work every week, and your support, and encouraging messages, makes it all worthwhile. I am more grateful to you all than I know how to express.
THAT’S A WRAP!
It’s already Chanukah, almost Christmas, and New Years is just around the bend. Here’s wishing all of you a wonderful celebration, a pause to appreciate your blessings, and high hopes for a spectacular 2015!
All Original Contents Copyright December 2014 by Henry C. Parke – All Rights Reserved