When I first saw The Thomas Crown affair--the real one--I became interested in sailplanes. The aerobatics that the McQueen character performed in the movie were daring and exciting and seemed to combine the best elements of auto racing and sailing--two of my passions. It wasn't until I met Pippa Scott, an actress turned producer, that I decided to take the plunge and actually go flying. Pippa had seen one of my (Interview) segments, with me as the 'author' for once, and we met for dinner where we both expressed a fascination for sailplaning. We agreed to go out to the desert to a glider port and get our wings. It wasn't long before Kathi Carey, an actress and writer/director in my organization, also began making the trek to the desert with me and took to the air.
Flying the German-made Grob was great fun and seeing the world at eight thousand feet through a clear canopy was a lot different than the view through the window of an airliner. "Be careful of the military jets," we were told. "They like to come in along the top of the mountain range." We weren't too far from Edwards Air Force Base. One morning, I looked off to my left and saw a C5 Galaxy at my altitude not more than two or three miles away. It looked huge.
One day I arrived at Chrystal to find that there had been a fatal accident. A sail plane had gone down. No one asked if I wanted to fly under the circumstances. Pilots fly. Once airborne, we flew over the crash site and circled to look at it--confront it for all that it signified--because pilots have been taught, or understand by instinct, that danger is best met head-on like the time I heard footsteps running towards me as I was about to enter my house. I pulled the door closed, turned the key to lock the deadbolt securing my children inside the house and turned to walk toward the man who was running at me with the gun. Semper contendere.
The best part of flying was performing aerobatic maneuvers. Wing-overs were fun--an airborne rollercoaster where you dive to gain airspeed and then pull back on the stick and fly straight up into the sky. At a certain point, the sailplane will lose speed and almost come to a stop. At the peak of the climb, one makes a turn to the right or left and the plane goes nose-down. You then dive straight for the Earth and when you have sufficient airspeed, you pull up and head, once again, straight for the sky.
The last maneuver I learned (before life and schedule demands kept me from my twice-a-week visits to Chrystal Soaring) was the stall spin. I was asked to deliberately stall the airplane--slow it until there wasn't sufficient lift to keep it airborne--which would cause one of the wings to drop and, more quickly than you can think it, the plane is in a spinning dive toward the ground. Interestingly, I had no sense of the plane spinning. It was more like the desert floor, which was coming up at me very fast, was rotating. A little left or right rudder to stop the plane's rotation, then neutralize the rudder, pull back on the stick and we are in business again. Elevation is your friend.
I've thought many times over the years about going back to Chrystal Soaring, if it is still operating. There is something about piloting that affirms faith in one's convictions. The dynamics of flight cannot be seen but they can be believed.
How to Shoot a Feature Film in 15 Days (And Survive to See Profits)
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Examples of Responsive Reactions
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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
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
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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!
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“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...