Napoleon said that an army marches on its stomach.
He was Emperor of France and knew a thing or two about armies. A film crew of
any size can be likened to an army serving long hours under difficult
circumstances doing a job that is result-oriented rather than just putting in
the hours of a shift. The food provided and the conditions under which meals
are served take on greater importance relative to the difficulty of the job at
My first experiences with movie locations were with The Wrecking Crew
(Palm Springs), Winning (Riverside Raceway) and Sole Survivor
(Victorville). It was typical that we would be served lunch on the set by movie
caterers and dinner was at a restaurant of our choosing paid for by the per
diem provided by the company. For the most part, we would all eat in the hotel
restaurant because the remote location meant a limited number of available
restaurants in the area. One exception to this was on The Wrecking Crew
when I took a “co-worker” to a Chinese restaurant in my Ferrari...
Any shoot tends to be economical with time but this is especially true of a
production on location. Breakfast and lunch tend to be hurried and to the
point. Dinner is a more relaxed occasion unless after dinner shooting is
planned. The imperative is to keep the camera rolling.
Living in France, I found that food took on a completely different
significance. Not only did its preparation become elevated to an art form, a
meal was the social convention that formed meaningful friendships. As I
acclimatized to living in Paris, dinners starting at eight in the evening and
lasting until well past midnight were quite common. Fine food and interesting
conversation bonded people who had previously been strangers. I decided to
carry this ritual into my filmmaking.
On my first film, Montmartre, we ate in various restaurants around Paris
where we were shooting. Couscous Merguez and steak-frites were favorites. Vin
rouge was the beverage of choice. Preparing to shoot The French Chef,
my partner and I dined out in some of the best restaurants in Paris where the
proprietors (in France, the chef is also the owner of the restaurant) would
“audition” for the shoot by inviting us to a dinner that they would present on
the show. Some
shoots found us in isolated areas that offered limited choices of places to
eat. Desert Center, Success, Terminal Velocity, Dead
Right and Double Cross were all shot in part on El Mirage lake bed
and in and around Victorville and Las Vegas. When we were in Victorville
breakfast was always at a truck stop where the biscuits and gravy were
intoxicating. Lunch was where we could find it but dinner was open to crew
input and we would have prime rib one evening and pasta the next. Las Vegas
offered even more exotic possibilities as did Mexico when we were there
shooting Fait Accompli. In Ensenada, dinner one evening was hosted in
the restaurant of a former New York gangster who took a liking to us.
Regardless of where we took our meals, they were unhurried affairs and I could
generally get a feeling from the group when they were ready to return to work.
This approach made for some very pleasant shoots and, no doubt, the thought of
doing things this way would drive any respectable unit manager crazy but I've
found there's more to making films than making films.
My special thanks goes to France and my Parisian friends who informed my
approach to filmmaking and, yes, to life as well.
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...