By 1981, I had returned from Paris and had already made two movies that I
filmed out in the desert on and around El Mirage, a dry lake bed
located between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. The first was Desert Center with Gérard Ismaël and Georganne LaPiere (who played the original Heather on General Hospital and was Cher Bono's sister) and the second was Success
with Gérard Ismaël and Vinny Argiro (an actor who owned the trendy
men's clothing store Mike Bain on the Sunset Strip). I decided to make a
third film with Gérard when a friend who was an art gallery owner in
Palm Springs offered me the run of the Palm Canyon Hotel, also in Palm
Springs. I could shoot there to my heart's content for as long as I
needed without restriction; it was an offer I couldn't refuse.
that period, I made it a policy to welcome anyone visiting from France
to stay in my apartment at no cost as a way of thanks for the
exceptionally nice treatment I had received during my time in Paris;
giving back, as the saying goes. At the time, I had two
Frenchmen--Serge Georgeon and Yves Morel--living as guests in my
apartment, both involved in their own film projects, who agreed to come
onto the project as actors playing international traffickers of art
forgeries. Serge introduced me to jazz bassist Bunny Brunel who would
score and perform the music for what would become Fait Accompli.
was having difficulty casting a leading lady though I auditioned a
large number of actresses in the weeks leading up to the filming.
Leading men and leading ladies must have qualities that can be optional
in other roles. Not only must they be competent and fascinating, they
must have sexual appeal and, together, they must have chemistry. I was
learning that this was not the easiest combination to achieve.
day, I received a photograph from an actress that took my breath
away--not only was she beautiful and statuesque looking for all the
world like Rachel Ward, she exuded an intelligent playfulness in the
photo that would serve the role very well. I have my leading lady!, I
thought to myself. When the time came for her audition the next morning,
in walked a woman that had nothing in common with what I saw in the
photograph except dark hair. She was much older, much shorter and
weighed at least three times as much as the actress in the photograph I
had received. Feeling, perhaps, that an accurate photo would not have
gotten her any roles, she sent one she (rightly) believed would get her
in the door. Sadly, that's as far as it got her on this occasion.
the heels of this development, Serge suggested that I might want to
consider Bunny's wife Nani who he thought would be perfect. He was
right; she was. A beautiful brunette whose native language was French,
her English was flawless and she had great chemistry with Gérard. Thank
A few days before we were to leave for Ensenada where
I wanted to shoot part of the film, Gérard came to me and told me that
he couldn't go to Mexico. His immigration status required that he stay
in the US and leaving would have interrupted the process causing him no
end of grief. So, here I was with a cast and crew ready to leave for
Mexico minus one leading man. How did that happen?
were to shoot the entire film in California or go to Mexico and add
another role in the film that could take up the slack caused by Gérard's
absence. I decided I wanted the exotic Mexican locations in the film and
quickly put out a notice to find Leading Man, Part B. With only days to
find a candidate, I was not hopeful and could not find what I was
looking for. In the end, it was easier just to play the role myself. I
wrote in a character who is killed in the opening scene and
who we see in punctuating flashbacks through the balance of the film.
His death became the impetus for Gérard's actions in what was a story
of love and revenge.
It would not be the last time I would have
to introduce a new character in a film to take up the slack created by
circumstances; it became a useful solution when I was making Dead Right.
I found that using conservative, 'old Hollywood studio system' concepts
combined with guerrilla filmmaking tactics was a very effective
approach to movie making.
In addition to everything else, Fait Accompli
brought me an unexpected reward. As I was marketing the film to
producer reps, Robert Lecky was one who responded and though another company
took the film, Robert became an important friend and mentor
for almost two decades. He passed in 2000 and is deeply missed.
How to Shoot a Feature Film in 15 Days (And Survive to See Profits)
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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)
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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...