Upon my return from living in Paris, I began making independent
films--'thinking man's cop dramas' was how I referred to them--that
examined the fascinating and complex inter-dependence between law
enforcement, organized crime and politics. I had intended to return to
Paris as I only came to Los Angeles in order to market the TV pilot I'd
shot in France (The French Chef starring Philippe Léotard) and to spend
time with my father and sisters. I had been engaged by J. Walter Thompson in Paris to do a film for Tropicana Orange Juice and would need to be back in Paris to shoot it.
Although everyone seemed to love The French Chef, cable TV was still in
its infancy and the show (featuring a French movie star and a girl from
the Crazy Horse Saloon) did not fit into the limited and preconceived
ideas of what cable should be offering. While I was making the rounds
trying to sell the pilot, I was approached with an offer to do a feature
film which I gladly accepted. That film was Desert Center and I shot it
on and around El Mirage, the dry lake bed near Victorville where I'd
worked on the CBS TV movie Sole Survivor as a teen. Completing the film,
I was asked to do a second film by the same individual, which I did but
only after returning to Paris for three weeks to fulfill my obligation
to J. Walter Thompson and Tropicana. The second film took us back to El
Mirage with a new story and a new cast with the exception of Gérard Ismael who starred in both films and more recently taped a segment of (Interview) version française with me. Gérard and I went on to do a third
film together, Fait Accompli, which like the first two fell into the New
Wave, French-style 'film policier'. My brand was emerging.
Enter the repertory company. I formed a group patterned after the old
Hollywood movie studios and we went about producing movies and TV shows
using the actors in the group. We branded, managed and promoted them in
addition to creating products in which they could work. Given that we
had about a hundred actors in the group at any given time, we had a wide
variety of personalities--brands--with which to populate our movies and
TV shows. The more interesting 'brands' inspired us to create a movie or
show based on the actor's persona. One such was Michael Chanslor.
Although The Jerry Fairfax Show, which was conceived specifically for the
persona and talents of Michael Chanslor, would seem to be an off-brand
exercise for me, the common thread was that of irony. Jerry was a
marvelous character. He was a never-wozzer who failed with his
drive-time radio show in a small town somewhere in the midwest and had
returned to Hollywood where he first knew fame. That taste of fame had come
in the form of a small role on the TV series Name of the Game wherein
the fictional Jerry had one scene with Tony Franciosa. That Tony was in
his trailer while Jerry did his half of the scene was not taken by Jerry
as a slight but, rather, as Tony's trust in Jerry to do an fine job
without Tony's assistance. Irony, you see.
The fictional Jerry Fairfax Show was filmed in the San Marino mansion of
the fictional Dorothy Bloomingdale-Smith (played by Kathi Carey's
mother Teddy Carey). Jerry was constantly striving to maintain
semi-professional standards on the show in spite of a technical director
(Dave Manship) who never knew if they were in or out for commercial--or
if he did know, saw no need to inform Jerry--various girlfriends
(one played by Kathi Carey of Marilyn Howell-Becker fame) competing for air time on the show, a disgruntled staffer (Kevin Courtright) who would just
as soon see the show fail and an ensemble of
characters sourced from our repertory company. I've never had such fun
shooting a show.
Michael would improvise not only dialogue based on my suggestions, he
was capable of improvising musical riffs on the piano from blues to jazz
and rock 'n roll. A complete performer is Michael. More recently,
Michael has worked with me on the Ferrari GTO videos and was the post
production supervisor on Carrera Panamericana (1950-54). His music has
graced many of my projects including The Jerry Fairfax Show, Clip Joint,
Point of Departure and Elysée Wednesday: Drive!
Michael and I have been working together since 1997. I don't know what I would do without him.
How to Shoot a Feature Film in 15 Days (And Survive to See Profits)
Click to buy on Amazon
Click to view on Amazon
Examples of Responsive Reactions
Click photo to see 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)
Click on poster to buy the poster and DVD
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...