Early on, I got into the habit of writing scenes
for my movies dictating the dialogue to the actors just before we filmed
them. They would rehearse and, when ready, we would film. It meant we
could always shoot regardless of the circumstances we encountered. I
always knew if what I wrote would be 1st, 2nd or 3rd act material so it
would fit into the structure of the film.
More recently, these writing
sessions take place on Skype as my actors are 3-5,000 miles away--Los
Angeles in this instance. This is what I wrote off the top of my head
for Devorah Firestone and Gordon Maniskas, which we will shoot next week:
Gordon hovers over Devorah asleep in her bed. He is wound tight and desperate like the guy in Extremities. He screams at her.
G: Who the fuck are you?!
D: (waking) I'm me, who are you?
G: Where's Eddie?!
D: (rubbing sleep from her eyes) Eddie told me to tell you he left 3 years before I got here.
G: What the fuck?
D: My sentiments exactly.
D: Did it ever occur to you that I might not be wearing anything under this blanket?
D: Well, think about it, but do it in the other room.
G (More baffled) What if you tried to get out the window?
D: Not until I get some clothes on, at least. And you can always rush back in.
G: (He gets up, walks out ): Don't take too long.
D: It takes a woman as long as it takes.
(He's drinking a beer he got from the fridge)
D: Did you put your gun away?
G: I don't have a gun.
D: That's living dangerously. Who are you, what do you want, and when do we get to meet Eddie?
G: Eddie lives here.
D: On your way into my bedroom, did you notice the fixtures here in the living room?
D: I'm just wondering if they speak to you of Eddie. 'Cause I got them at the Rose Bowl swap meet
and if they do, maybe that's where you should be looking for him.
G: So Eddie's really gone then?
D: Then, now, and forever more. So what do you want?
G: I want what's mine.
D: Don't we all?
G: I'm not fucking around!
D: You made that clear when you burst into my bedroom. My guess is Eddie took it with him, whatever it is.
G: (talking to himself) I don't know, I don't know...
D: Of course you don't.
G: (jarred out of his thought process) What?
D: Skip it.
G: I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to look under your floorboards.
D: I always do, so don't apologize.
G: Are you for real?
D: What would you like the answer to be?
G: This is out of control.
D: Are you buying breakfast or what? I have a craving for Eggs Benedict.
G: Is that like an Egg McMuffin?
D: (sighs) Looks like I'm buying.
G (he looks completely lost)
D: I'm going to put some makeup on. There's a claw-hammer in the drawer next to the sink if you want to look under the floorboards but frankly, I already looked.
G (WTH is she talking about?!)
D: First thing I do when I move into a new place.
D: I don't think so.
(She walks off to the bedroom, he goes to the kitchen, and rummages through the drawers. Not finding the claw-hammer, he's agitated.)
Ferraris on Mulholland--can you imagine the owners of Ferrari 250 California spiders and GTOs indulging in these antics today? Peter Helm is a friend with whom I spent a lot of time, back in the day, testing the limits of our Ferraris as well as that of polite society...
Point of Departure: "The Question"--I shot the scenes on the terrace and in the hotel room in the Principe di Savoia, a 5-star luxury hotel in Milano which I enjoyed immensely. Point of Departure is an enigmatic film much influenced by Michelangelo Antonioni's L'Avventura. I love how Antonioni's long takes invite (force?) the viewer to enter into the scene and figure it out rather than delivering everything distilled in shorthand-style with quick cuts. His film The Passenger was notable for this. I considered a quick side trip to visit the factory in Maranello but with Enzo long since gone, what would be the point?
John Fitch edit session: I was sitting in the Novel Cafe in Westwood Village (across from where I began the Elysée Wednesday gatherings) having coffee and editing an interview I did with the legendary John Fitch at his home in Connecticut for Carrera Panamericana (1950-54), my documentary on what was considered the most dangerous series of road races ever staged. I believe this would be John's last interview--he was a gentleman of the first order... https://tinyurl.com/ycere3yc Carrera poster by Chad Glass.
Look Into Darkness: Rehearsal run-through on Skype with the inimitable Tammi Rogers and the feisty Antoinette Greene--paying a visit to the gang matriarch who could free her brother on the eve of his execution...
Look Into Darkness: "Skype rehearsal" with Tom Maseth and Debbie Hartner--I write the scenes, dictating them to the actors over Skype and then rehearse them until they are ready to shoot on location. This is the story of eight people on the eve of an execution.
How to Shoot a Feature Film in 15 Days (And Survive to See Profits)
Click to buy on Amazon
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Examples of Responsive Reactions
Click photo to see example clips from Stephen's movies
Action/ReAction at Stella Adler
Point of Departure
A Series of ONE...
Stephen and Dragonuk
Stephen Mitchell webinar for Stage 32
Ferrari GTO 3987 at speed by Yan denes
Ray D. Shosay's Journal
Dispatches from a (junior) suite in Paris
Ray D. Shosay's Journal (excerpt)
"Saturday, January 27, 2007
They say you can fool some of the people all of the time. Accordingly, I think we should concentrate on this group initially. We can move on to the people you can only fool some of the time at a later date if we deem it necessary. I hope to hear back from my agent about this as soon as he's out of rehab, as I don't think my messages have been getting through."
Ignorance is Bliss by Stephen Mitchell
Kindle or Paperback versions
Exerpt from Ignorance is Bliss
"Out of the corner of his eye, Martin saw Martha shift in her seat. She leaned forward, as though something was about to be decided. This caused her breasts to push up against the neckline of her dress in a way that couldn't be fully appreciated out of the corner of one’s eye. So, Martin turned his head to look directly into the abyss of her cleavage. He was vaguely aware that Murray was talking again."
Carrera Panamericana (1950-54)
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Ferrari GTO 3987
Elysée Wednesday: Drive!
Click photo to watch on Amazon Direct Video
“You ought to meet Steve. The two of you have the same kind of Ferrari.”
Ferrari Berlinetta Lusso
One evening, I was enjoying a John le Carré novel and a glass of Bordeaux...
L'art de l'automobile
My first Lusso prior to restoration
It was only after Sinatra was gone...
Once upon a time...
Meeting Enzo Ferrari
I came across this on a late night stroll in Paris near the Louvre.
I bought Bentleys in England and Ferraris & Maseratis in Italy to re-sell in Los Angeles as a teenager. I met Enzo Ferrari, Juan Fangio and Steve McQueen. I 'grew up' on the set of Mission: Impossible and other episodic TV series of the era. For a few years, I owned a Ferrari GTO that is owned by Ralph Lauren today and valued at approximately $52M. I began my film career by writing, producing and directing Montmartre in Paris in French. I founded and ran a repertory company for film & TV for 20 years in Los Angeles. I created a TV series which had fans that included Marlon Brando. I authored the first new acting technique--Action/ReAction--that was not based on Stanislavski's Method. I am currently writing my third novel and shooting my spy thriller Exigence. If you can't make movies, live your life as though you were in one...