I made my first film in Paris, France after spending years immersed in the academic and practical study of filmmaking. I studied cinematography with Peter Gibbons who was head of the camera department at CBS Cinema Center in Studio City and editing and sound recording/mixing with Elliott Bliss who was head of the sound department at the same studio. Elliott later took over the camera department when Peter retired. All the while, I was practically living on film and television sets and locations. I watched episodic director Paul Stanley's every move on shows like Mission: Impossible, Medical Center, The Road West, Then Came Bronson and T.H.E. Cat, among others.
I also worked on a number of films and shows that provided me with some real-world experience and close up glimpses of major Hollywood icons at work--Clint Eastwood, Lee Marvin, Josh Logan, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Robert Wagner, Gene Kelly, Barbra Streisand, Dean Martin, Sharon Tate, Richard Basehart, William Shatner, Vince Evans, Lou Antonio, Ryan O'Neal, Barbara Parkins and Mia Farrow. The one time I worked on Mission: Impossible (as opposed to observing Paul Stanley), was in an episode directed by Bob Gist who directed so many episodes of Peter Gunn. That's a story for another time of significance only to me and (actor/composer/musician) Michael Chanslor possibly.
A week wouldn't go by that I didn't see three or four films that were outstanding in some respect, usually at one of the Laemmle Theaters or at the Nuart or Fox theaters but sometimes as re-runs on television. These outlets were the forerunner of home video in that the films they presented had earned cult or classic status and the people who one saw in attendance were devoted cinephiles. The movies we saw there are now staples on DVD and Netflix--Lawrence of Arabia, Sunset Boulevard, A Touch of Larceny, Dr. Strangelove, All About Eve, The Flight of the Phoenix, Casablanca, L'Avventura, À bout de souffle, Run Silent Run Deep, My Fair Lady, Persona, La nuit américaine, Soldier in the Rain, The Hustler.
I went to Paris to reconnoiter for two weeks and stayed two years filming Montmartre and my television pilot The French Chef with Philippe Léotard during that time. I wanted a name for the activity and Cine Paris came immediately to mind; it described the activity and the location. Some years later back in Los Angeles, my brother-in-law at the time, Scott Mednick, graciously offered to design a logo for me. Scott was one of the foremost logo designers and his work would be familiar to anyone paying attention in those days. When it became customary for film companies to show their logos in the opening credits, I wanted to add sound to the graphic image that would appear.
There was no question about the sound I wanted--it had to be a symphony orchestra playing the A above middle C, which I am pleased to say has been the French tuning standard since the 1860s (if Wikipedia is to be believed). I wanted to take all that had inspired me to make films--the French Nouvelle Vague, the Italian Neorealism movement, film noir--and have it be reflected in the film or project I was presenting, however experimental it might be, and alert the audience that what follows might include unexpected influences and references. I thought it would be consistent with my style of filmmaking wherein what is implied is of greater importance than what is said.
My thanks go to Kevin Courtright who was an actor/ writer/director member of my repertory company for fifteen years and who suggested I write this post and to my son Sean who recreated the clip as the only version I had was third generation lacking resolution and sporting time code. Thanks also to Louella Ladybug for recreating the graphic used in the clip. It will be featured in the opening credits of A Series of ONE episodes.
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