11/27/11

Larry Longstreth and Mark Ordesky Talk Film, Creativity and the Magic of the Eighties - Part Two

Larry Longstreth
I've been saving the second half of my interview with filmmaker Larry Longstreth and producer Mark Ordesky. We first spoke on the phone all the way back in September when they were promoting the DVD release of their film The Long, Slow Death of a Twenty Something. (What's that? You're Christmas shopping you say? Well then...)

When we talked, I knew that Larry and Mark were already planning a series of other projects. The press has a nasty habit of only paying attention to what's happening right in that very millisecond. But the projects Larry is working on under his Eddy Spaghetti production banner are worthy of your attention, especially now when he's smack in the middle of working on them. (You can find the production company on facebook for updates.)

In the works and already happening are an animated series called Four Tanks and a Healer that already premiered on theonering.net, an animated feature called The Wanderer King, a documentary called Before the World Goes Boom, and an animated pilot called Captain Wilcox vs. The End of the World.

Did I mention that Larry and his team are essentially moving forward on all of these projects at once? In some way, each of these projects is in their own stage of development. Did I mention that Larry lives in the Midwest? Not Los Angeles or New York. The Midwest.

My hope is that this will inspire you. I directed a successful actress in a small project recently who shall remain nameless, but she tells this great anecdote about "making it". She says she was once sitting in a golf cart with Tom Wilkinson for hours waiting for the weather to clear on a shoot. They talked about life and he told her the one secret to making it. (I like to think he held his finger up like Jack Palance's "Curly"...) The secret is...never quit. Eventually, as the years go by, if you just keep going no matter what, others will quit but you'll still be there. Doing what you love.

That made me laugh, but in a way Longstreth represents that kind of anecdotal tenacity. So many of us talk about the need to recapture the magic of the eighties. While we talk about it over beers, Larry talks it about it on his film sets or in development meetings. If the eighties was the generation of Spielberg and Lucas and Howard and magic aplenty...then we're the generation after them that has to figure out how to deal with that. How can we aspire to match that spirit without directly ripping it off or not doing it justice?

Longstreth is doing something about that and there's something extra exciting about the fact that he's doing it from the Midwest.  Whether it's by choice or necessity, I don't know. But it adds just a touch of rebel sheen to the whole operation.

As I previously mentioned, this is the second half of our interview. Read the first half here and then check out the second part where we talk celebrity heroes, films of the eighties and yes...even a little Lord of the RingsIn the following interview - A: Audrey, M: Mark Ordesky, L: Larry Longstreth.

11/22/11

Pepper Spraying Cop Strikes Again...and Again...and Again

I know I love a lot of things. Typical fangirl I guess. But THIS is something I really really love. A brand new meme brought to you by the recent blatant injustices perpetuated on peaceful protesters by some overreacting police officers.

"Pepper Spraying Cop" has turned from an actual villainous moment in this unfortunate man's personhood into a hilarious wave of internet art in which said cop (Although, to be fair...there are so many more than just this one and I bet he's really confused about the right thing to do and also being prompted by his chief and other authority figures.) has been placed into comedic situations in which he is shown pepper-spraying other unworthy recipients.

Like The Daily Show, Monty Python's Flying Circus, every Charlie Chaplin movie ever and plenty of Looney Tunes episodes, comedy in general, (and satire in specific) can reverberate the sentiments of the masses...

11/17/11

10 Iconic Movie Towns You Can Actually Visit

Image via Vogue

Most movies use a combination of backlots, studios, and a few location shoots to constitute one idealized fictional town. It's good to keep both feet on the ground and remind yourself as you scroll...real life is never like the movies.

Except...sometimes it is. Some locations are real. They're charming, beautiful, and just waiting for you to plan your next vacay. I mean, how many times can you visit the same time share or crash your relatives' couch?

Here are ten iconic movie towns you can actually visit, straight from the silver screen and perfectly fit for your next escapist daydream.

Image courtesy of BritishColumbia.ca

1. Nelson, British Columbia from Roxanne (1987) 

This hilly Canadian paradise provided the backdrop for Steve Martin's criminally under-appreciated rendition of Cyrano de Bergerac. This movie is still good for what ails you, whether you need to laugh, relax, or recall the sweet, sweet cradle of an eighties childhood.

The setting lends to the fairy tale quality of the film. Sweeping mountainside views, a small town fire station, and gorgeous houses are also enough to inspire a real visit.


Marblehead, MA.

2. Marblehead, Massachusetts from Hocus Pocus (1993) 

Marblehead has also provided a moody atmosphere for The Witches of EastwickThe Good Son and more. No matter how time passes, I continue to meet new people who talk about how much this cult classic impacted their childhood. It's one of those movies that just keeps growing in the pop culture consciousness. The setting played a major part in making such a big impression. Wouldn't it make a lovely fall vacation?

(My runner up to this was Sleepy Hollow, which I also think would make an excellent sitcom. Imagine living in a town known for its association with one holiday. The comedic possibilities are endless.)


Image by laurikutilportraits.com

3. Woodstock, Illinois from Groundhog Day (1993) 

This town is proud of its movie past. Some of the towns on this list have websites that bury their filmic past or don't acknowledge them at all. It makes me wonder what kind of crazies show up in these places and how much trouble they generate.

But I digress, aside from holding all the Groundhog Day festivities you can imagine, Woodstock also shows Groundhog Day for free in their local movie theater during the week of the holiday. Happy bonus, a small portion of Planes, Trains and Automobiles was also filmed in Woodstock.


Image by OurSmallTownBigLife.com

4.  Berlin, Maryland from Runaway Bride (1999) 

In the summer of 2000, I used to sit and look at Berlin's website as a way to pass the time at my day job. In fact, it was the first movie location I ever internet stalked. Ah, memories...

Sometimes modernization makes it tough to recognize movie locations today. But if you're even vaguely familiar with the quirky Gary Marshall comedy, their homepage immediately displays a slide show or recognizable sights. And it looks like they intend to keep them that way.


Image via the Chicago Tribune

5.  Grafton, Vermont from Funny Farm - (1988)

The owners of the iconic Funny Farm house have requested that nobody share photos of the home as it is today or share the address and the house itself. Totally fair request. Because the internet is rife with crazies, as previously mentioned.

But you can still see plenty of Grafton that made it into the film. And Vermont appreciates tourists, especially after Hurricane Irene. So pack a picnic basket, save yourself the last apple, and get on out and enjoy the fresh air.

Image courtesy of VRBO.com

6. Grosse Pointe Blank/Monrovia, California from Grosse Pointe Blank (1997)  

Grosse Pointe Blank isn't really a small town. But it feels like one in this dark comedy starring John Cusack as an assassin who comes home to attend his high school reunion. Tree-lined streets shade independent radio stations. Local watering holes dot downtown. It feels idyllic-like maybe it smells of fresh cut grass.

Here's the thing, only some aerial shots are actually from Grosse Pointe. I wanted to use at least one film to illustrate how often small towns in California end up doubling for other locations. (Even Culver City was used as Bedford Falls in It's A Wonderful Life.) Oh, and Monrovia has Craftsman homes galore on top of all that small town charm.

Photo by Karen Peron

7.  Micanopy, Florida from Doc Hollywood (1991) 

This truly tiny town stood in for the firefly dotted, moss-covered Grady, South Carolina. Here Michael J. Fox's plastic surgeon character breaks down on his way to L.A. and learns that even though it's more challenging, it can also be more rewarding to live and work in a small community.

Writing Sidebar: This script is plum loaded with story-serving details, like a love interest who was once burned by a big city man and a character introduction that includes the surgeon's co-workers bidding him good riddance with a profanity-laced cake. This script is a study in concentrated "move the story forward" efforts. Not a minute is wasted.



8. Winnetka, Illinois from Home Alone (1990)

John Hughes used Winnetka and the surrounding area in almost all of his movies, like The Breakfast Club, Planes, Home Alone, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Uncle Buck and more. Winnetka stood in for what Hughes thought was a representative slice of average American life, a fictional town he called Shermer, Illinois.

I've actually visited Winnetka. It's a beautiful little village. The air is fresh. Even the grocery stories are posh and calming. And the thing is? I can't find a photo that does it justice. Only a nice spring walk can do that. Highly recommend.


Image courtesy of JoAnn Vitali

9.  Concord, Massachusetts from Housesitter (1992)
Frank Oz is a legend in the puppeteering world. He also has some pretty impressive acting credentials.  But he's also a prolific director with razor-sharp comedic timing. He's responsible for helming Housesitter, What About Bob, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, Little Shop of Horrors and more.

And the man certainly knows how to characterize a place, as he did in Housesitter.


Image via Fort George Brewery


10. Astoria, Oregon from The Goonies (1985)

Quite possibly the world's most famous movie town, Astoria welcomes its admirers all the time. They even hold an annual festival for the film that put them on the map. I mean really, need I say more? Who wouldn't want to walk the streets where the Goonies quested to save their town? (Or where Brand stole that little girl's bike.)

So, where will you go first?

Oh, and one more thing...


I'd like to recommend Hooked on Houses. I stumbled upon it while researching Housesitter. It's thorough in its appreciation and subject matter, and that's something any geek can appreciate.



P.S. True story, I once almost moved to Naperville, Illinois just for the Hollywood Palms theater. Have you ever considered a move to a dream destination? Where? Why?

11/3/11

Happy Halloween from Heather

Contributor (and my partner in geeking, my sister) Heather went to a costume party on Halloween and she took her signature mad-crafting geek skills with her.

Her son was Link from The Legend of Zelda...


Keep going! The best photos are yet to come...