I commented on Facebook recently that the first rule of guerilla filmmaking is to be ready to strike anywhere anytime with whatever you've got and it is my observation from reading books by A-list Hollywood filmmakers and hearing them speak--most notably William Friedkin speaking at an American Cinematheque screening of his film The French Connection--even major motion pictures have an element of guerilla filmmaking in them. Friedkin had to resort to spur-of-the-moment renegade solutions to get the footage he wanted on the elevated train that culminated one of the most famous car chases in film history. I sat with Bud Smith, an associate producer and editor on another Friedkin film Sorcerer, and he explained to me what they had to do to get the famous swinging bridge scene that needed to be in driving rain (during a drought).
Every film I've made qualifies as guerilla filmmaking and, often as not, spur-of-the-moment. Even a film I did for Tropicana Orange Juice for the J. Walter Thompson Agency saw me experimenting and, in fact, I dictated the 'completed script' to them in Paris over the phone from my Hollywood apartment the day before I got on the plane to fly to Paris for the shoot. They did not know that I was dictating it off the top of my head. Everybody loved the script and appreciated the time and effort I had obviously put into it.
For some twenty years, I ran a repertory company for film and television which I had founded in Los Angeles. Modeled after the old Hollywood studio system, it trained actors in a technique I had devised, taught them about public relations, marketing, branding and other considerations essential to working actors. The purpose, of course, was to have a band of actors with whom I could make experimental and innovative movies whenever I wanted and who could deliver their 'brand' to the camera in whatever scene was created for them. Eventually, we had a roster of 100 actors and maybe a dozen writers and half that many writer/directors.
Though I dismantled the rep company some 15 years ago, it seems I've formed a new one without realizing that is what I was doing. I now have a troop of actors on the east coast that I have trained teaching Action/ReAction, PR, branding, marketing, etc. and, as an army, they are ready to go. Many of them have performed in one-man/one-woman shows I wrote for them which can be seen on Amazon. Last week, I began shooting a feature-length film in HD which will be given a 'film-look' before it is completed. The gift shop 'souvenir' clapper/marker the crew is using is an inside joke because it says 'Hollywood Production' on it--the actors and crew are in Washington, D.C. and I am on the set via a Skype connection directing from my apartment in Ireland. Hollywood is a state of mind...
I have worked with the actors as students and they have learned what they need to know to be able to deliver compelling performances 'anywhere anytime' because they have prepared for exactly that. The teaser clip here is from the first of three movies I am doing. I wanted to shoot a declarative shot that would present the theme of the film visually. Two other movies I'm preparing are currently in rehearsal--a screwball comedy about two ladies who lunch and a more serious piece about two women managing their break-up via a series of cross-country phone calls. They will start shooting within a few weeks.
The point of all this is that everything you do is predicated upon everything you've done. When someone says you can't make a film on the spur-of-the-moment, they don't understand how much time and preparation went into that spur-of-the-moment.
This is the main theme for my movie Fait Accompli that led out of the opening prologue and into the opening credits taking us to Gérard Ismaël's arrival at the Union Station in Los Angeles, the largest railroad passenger terminal in the Western United States which combines Art Deco, Mission Revival, and Streamline Moderne style...
This sequence from my movie Bleeder & Bates shows our protagonist Bates paying a visit to someone I wanted the audience to infer was an 'informant with benefits'. Like addicts of any sort, she lives in a state of apathy and this was the message I wanted to convey with her prolonged, absent gaze as Bates calls the station to leave a message for Del or Henry. Later in the movie, I drop another subtle hint and some viewers correctly guessed that the woman is Bates' ex-wife and the mother of his daughter.
French bassist Bunny Brunel composed and performed the score for my movie Fait Accompli which I made in 1981 and shot in Los Angeles, Palm Springs and Ensenada. The track presented here was used for the end credit roll.
A couple of years ago, I asked Bunny if he still had the tracks he recorded for the movie as most of my possessions--personal and professional--had been 'lost at sea' in the late 90s. Bunny told me he was about to move and hoped he might come across the files in the process. Alas, it was not to be and it seemed as though his outstanding scoring and performance was, indeed, lost.
So it was a complete and welcome surprise when the other day I received an email from Bunny informing me he had found the files and would be transferring all the music tracks to me via We Transfer. Today they arrived and I have been enjoying listening to them--a very nice stroll down memory lane for me.
I have it in mind to make a feature length film without a word of dialogue spoken by the principle actors. This idea is inspired by some very well known films wherein sections of the movie play without spoken dialogue. The opening scenes of Le Samouraï directed by Jean-Pierre Melville and starring Alain Delon is a good example of this. So is Rififi, a 1955 French crime film directed by blacklisted American filmmaker Jules Dassin. In these speechless passages, it is clear that the characters know what it is they are doing and their thoughts and emotions are evident making words something of a cinematic contrivance rather than a necessity.
This scene from my Point of Departure could easily have been displayed without the voice-over as the downcast, vacant eyes of the actress speak volumes about the despondent mood of the character. She is on a quest to find someone who, likely, will never appear.
This episode--Kim Rollins (Interview)--starring Victoria Foyt is unusual in that Victoria and I collaborated on the story that was presented in this fictional interview. Marshall Brickman wrote a spec treatment after seeing the episode.
Notice how subtle is her use of interstitial reactions...
How to Shoot a Feature Film in 15 Days (And Survive to See Profits)
Click to buy on Amazon
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Action/ReAction at Stella Adler
Point of Departure
A Series of ONE...
Stephen and Dragonuk
Stephen Mitchell webinar for Stage 32
A review from my new student Louella
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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!
“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.
Simone Kussatz interviews Stephen Mitchell
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(Interview) version française
Christine Astrup (Interview) version française
Stevie Williams (Interview)
David Gritten reviews (Interview)
With Roy_M Martens at Cannes
The Film Portal
Rebel, Rebel by Marc Sonnery
Ferrari 'Breadvan' trivia
Stephen interviews Marc Sonnery
Ferrari 250GTO by Stephen Mitchell
Ferraris on Mulholland
Ferrari GTOs at Willow Springs &...
Ferrari GTO in Paris
Stephen Mitchell talks with General Richard Wilmot (part 1)
In 1980, Stephen founded an entertainment industry think tank in the guise of a repertory company for film and
television labeled The New Hollywood Studio System. In 1985, Stephen pioneered a unique application of product integration in branded entertainment with his cable TV series (Interview). In 2006, Stephen authored a protocol for the management and marketing of business executives. He is currently producing a documentary on the Ferrari GTO, one of which he owned for several years.