I am finally getting the hang of IMDb after decades of not submitting my credits. This is still only a partial list. For example, I am still trying to track down a copies of Dead Right, Terminal Velocity, Fait Accompli and others so they can be added to the listing.
It was after I had gone back to the John le Carré novel Smiley’s People
for the umpteenth time that something dawned on me about storytelling.
What matters is not that which you tell the reader—or show the
viewer—but what they think they read or saw. I remembered the story as a
linear narrative. However, reading it again after the passage of time, I
realized the story was actually written as a series of interviews
between the character George Smiley and a number of other characters
that had interacted with the narrative that I had remembered but had
not been written—the linear narrative existed only in my memory of the
story. This realization changed the way in which I would approach
filmmaking and from that point on, I didn’t shoot what I wanted the
audience to see, I shot what I wanted them to remember. I found that I
could intimate things about the story without actually having to film
them; things that would become part of the action in the viewer’s
As with Clip Joint, I created The Jerry Fairfax Show as a show-within-a-show and designed it around the unique talents of Michael Chanslor who was a member of my repertory company for film and TV. I recognized a number of qualities in Michael that made creating a show around him an easy decision. He has a great sense of humor and excellent comic timing. Michael is also an accomplished musician and has done a number of scores for my projects over the years--Clip Joint, Point of Departure, Carrera Panamericana (1950-54) and, more recently, my Series of ONE show. As someone with his own post production company (Viral Video) Michael understands what happens to a project when the shooting stops and that, for an actor, is a rare thing which makes shooting with him all the easier.
The character I created for him was that of s showbiz 'never-wozzer' whose claim to fame in Hollywood was appearing in a small role in the TV series Name of the Game in which he had a scene with Anthony Franciosa. It didn't bother Jerry that Tony stayed in his trailer while Jerry filmed his side of the scene. Jerry saw that as an act of respect and confidence on Tony's part knowing the scene would turn out perfectly without need for his presence.
After a failed marriage and a lackluster career as a drive-time radio DJ in the heartland, Jerry has returned to Hollywood to do his new variety show. Unable to find an affordable studio, Jerry tapes in the San Marino home of the wealthy Dorothy Bloomingdale-Smith who seems to have a soft spot for Jerry if not for the crowd of showbiz staffers and hangers-on who descend upon her home for taping each week.
Viewers would see the 'raw feed' which included show content as well as the nonsense that goes on while the show is 'out to commercial' though Jerry and his staff would habitually lose track of time and often, in the middle of a gag, song or story from Jerry, Dave would interrupt over the PA to announce "And we're back in five, four, three..."
Kevin Courtright appears as Todd in the last part of the promo seen here; a much put-upon production assistant somewhat disillusioned to have spent over $70K at U.C.L.A. film school only to find himself as a go-fer on The Jerry Fairfax Show. Kevin, by the way, is the the author of Back to Schoolin': What Led Zeppelin Taught Me About Music
Though I would create gags on the fly for each of the actors appearing on the show according to their signature (or brand), sending them in with a bit and waving them out to keep things moving, it was Michael who did the preparation required to create a weekly show theme, music selections and a guest list for each episode. Every week, Anthony Franciosa was announced as one of the guests though, unaccountably, Tony never actually appeared on the show. In all, 190 half-our shows were produced.
In the early 2000s, I took an interest in product integration as opposed to product placement which I had been utilizing as a production tool since I shot The French Chef in Paris in 1980. One could differentiate the two concepts in movie terms by saying that in product placement, the product is an extra and in product integration, the product is the star. A very good example of product integration was seen in The Castaway where both FedEx and Wilson became characters in the telling of the story. As I have previously written, the James Bond series has been a veritable placement/integration franchise hitting both with skill and elegance. Product integration has the effect of amping up the idea of implied endorsement.
It's the Kid's World is a product integration concept I created wherein a young retired child actor is absorbed into a game in his cell phone and could communicate to his friends via their cell phones for help in navigating his adventure. Here is the thumbnail description of the show:
It's the Kid's Word is a comedy about a child actor who took early retirement and "went out on top"--six months ago. He's rich beyond belief and keeps a full-time staff of retainers and attorneys working overtime to maintain and oversee his dynasty. Having conquered the real world, "The Kid" matriculates into the world of his cellphone game environment where he can confront and conquer the characters and situations he discovers there. From within the cellphone he makes calls to his friends eliciting their help in overcoming enemies and obstacles within the game. The Kid's friends track his progress within the game on their own cellphones. Viewers can text-message cheat codes/walk-throughs to The Kid in an effort to help and participate.
The Kid was played by my son Sean and was a spin-off of the character I created for him in Clip Joint. The visual promo clip seen above was composited for me by Michael Chanslor who has scored the music for many of my projects and often oversees post production with his Viral Video.
Martin Bliss was in a state of bewilderment as he lay in his bed at the George Washington University Hospital where he had been admitted under an assumed name. Brandi had just administered a sponge bath with a happy ending when Martin’s CIA-furnished doctor entered the private room. The badge he wore proclaimed ‘Major’ and Martin wondered if that was his name or rank.
“So, what’s the word, Eddie?” Brandi had a way of getting on a first name basis with males, regardless of name or rank.
“You’ll be glad to know it wasn’t a heart attack,” the doctor explained to Brandi as though Martin were absent. “I believe this episode was merely a reaction to overwhelming circumstances the Senator may be confronting. Just look what he went through for those Boat People. Can he take some time off for R and R?”
“Maybe we should ask him,” Martin interjected.
“You have no idea the stress he’s been under,” she told him. “He’s one of the most important men in the U.S. Senate and I get overwhelmed just seeing what he’s up against.”
“Perhaps you’re due for a complete physical.” Clearly the doctor didn’t need a ton of bricks to fall on him. “My nurse will call you to make an appointment.”
Major Eddie, or Eddie Major, left without further discussion.
“Nice work,” Martin observed.
“No, I mean him. Nice work, if you can get it, and I bet he can.”
“What are we going to do about Rrina?” she asked, changing the subject. “She’s obviously not working to your instructions.”
“The only voice she ever listens to is the one screaming in her head; not that I’ve ever complained.”
Before any further discussion could take place, the door opened and two paramedics entered the room with an ambulance gurney followed by two Secret Service agents.
“Hi, fellas,” Martin greeted them.
“We’re taking you to the White House for an emergency meeting with POTUS,” one of the agents explained as the paramedics transferred Martin to the gurney.
Brandi followed them down to a private entrance where they loaded Martin into the back of a flower delivery van. She blew him a kiss as the door slid shut and then took the rest of the afternoon off to do some writing on her memoirs.
I remember someone asking Miles Davis why he played his trumpet with a
mute. Miles told him that it created a sound that was the closest he
could come to the human voice. As one who sees a correlation between
playing music and performing dialogue in acting, this answer stuck with
me. As best I can, I try to get actors with whom I work to understand
this and insinuate as many musical elements into their speaking voice as
possible--phrasing, pitch, cadence, tonality, inference and even 'quoting'. These jazz concepts are all fundamental to my Action/ReAction technique, which I continue to develop.
Here are a few more quotes from Miles that can definitely apply
directly to an actor in performance, approach and attitude. In a
session, I would guide the actor to understanding how these quotes would
apply to them personally, but here I'll leave the reader to ponder them
and arrive at his or her own conclusions as to how they might apply.
"The thing to judge in any jazz artist is, does the man project and does he have ideas."
“Don't play what's there, play what's not there.”
“When you’re creating your own shit, man, even the sky ain’t the limit.”
“It's not about standing still and becoming safe. If anybody wants to keep creating they have to be about change.”
“Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent.”
“I always listen to what I can leave out.”
“For me, music and life are all about style.”
“If you don't know what to play, play nothing.”
“Do not fear mistakes, there are none.”
“I remember one time - it might have been a couple times - at the
Fillmore East in 1970, I was opening for this sorry-ass cat named Steve
Miller. Steve Miller didn't have his shit going for him, so I'm pissed
because I got to open for this non-playing motherfucker just because he
had one or two sorry-ass records out. So I would come late and he would
have to go on first and then we got there we smoked the motherfucking
place, everybody dug it.”
I wrote this scene as a succinct yet eloquent introduction to Wesley Harris' character (or brand) in Clip Joint, a show-within-a-show I created in the late 90s (à la Larry Sanders) about a movie reviewer.
The photos that accompany this article show Ferrari GTO
#3987 at a time when I owned it. I loved the car and would hand wash it every day
before I would set out on the road with it. Doing so, I memorized every subtle
nuance and curvature in the car’s lines in the same way one comes to know the
body of a lover. This did not mean to say that I drove it carefully or
conservatively. Notice that the car is parked in the dirt at Riverside Raceway
in these photos...
Read the entire article in the Blackbird Automotive Journal Volume 06, Spring 2015:
Over the past months, I have been developing a concept and content for a
television series consisting of one-man/one-woman shows that reveal
characters at a turning point in their lives. They are uncommon figures
and in each can be found elements of drama, comedy and pathos as they
navigate their situations. In describing the show, I've said it is like
my series (Interview) without the interviewer. The first two shows are
'in the can' and five more are preparing to shoot in the coming weeks.
designed the poster for the show and received help from Louella Ladybug in its
execution. Other elements are coming together--each segment will have
its own poster featuring the actor/actress for whom I wrote the
story--and my thoughts are turning to theme music that will fit the
How to Shoot a Feature Film in 15 Days (And Survive to See Profits)
Click to buy on Amazon
Click to view on Amazon
Action/ReAction at Stella Adler
Point of Departure
A Series of ONE...
Blackbird Automotive Journal
Stephen and Dragonuk
Stephen Mitchell webinar for Stage 32
A review from my new student Louella
(Click on photo)
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)
Click on poster to buy the poster and DVD
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
(Click on photo)
(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.