Monday, February 6, 2012

Back to Shooting

You're looking at Howard Hughes home in Los Angeles. For those who saw The Aviator with Leonardo as Hughes, they did some filming here. It's now owned by an agent. So how did I get there?

As mentioned in a past blog, I still occasionally shoot some video for friends or for a particular effect I might need. For the last two weeks I've helped out my friend Marilyn, who is an author of 2 books on film directors, George Stevens and Raoul Walsh.

Marilyn is considering a documentary on Walsh, who was a studio-based director rather than the more flamboyant directors like Huston or Ford. Walsh showed up on Monday, got his assignment and then went and made it. 

Among those assignments were legendary movies, White Heat with James Cagney, High Sierra with Bogart, Objective Burma with Errol Flynn. He also made The Big Trail, just at the beginning of sound movies, John Wayne's first big role.

Since I will gladly take any filming assignment just to shoot something, I said I'd help her out. She has a list of older actors, all of whom worked for Walsh, who died in the early 1960's. Since they're all at least in their late 70's and most in their 80's,  she wanted to get interviews with as many as she can find, or who want to.

Last week I filmed Jack Larson, who to many boomers, was Jimmy Olsen in the 50's Superman TV show, for those who remember "faster than a speeding bullet"...

Olsen's first role was in a 1948 Walsh war movie called Fighter Squadron and he recounted, with amazing detail, almost every bit of his part in the movie, as well as great stories about other actors and the Hollywood of the early 1950's. 
As we approached his Frank Lloyd Wright home, he walked out and I immediately saw Jimmy Olsen, cub reporter. Well, maybe an older Jimmy Olsen but instantly recognizable.

But now - Howard Hughes.

Hughes never really had anything to do with Walsh, but because the owner of the house had something to do with him, we filmed inside the place. Afterwards we had a tour of the place which included Hughes' "vault", which apparently was used to keep his fortune in, or at least that which he wanted to be close to.

The home can best be described as Spanish-Moroccan, he bought it in 1928 for around $135,000. Inside, the rooms are spacious and light pours in from different angles,  giving it a comfortable feel.

One of the most interesting points of the house is that it's on a golf course and, if you saw The Aviator, you saw Leonardo land his airplane on the course and walk to his house.  Some of those scenes were filmed there, the landing probably at a place much more accommodating than a golf club.

I'm enjoying shooting again, even if it's video, the camera is like an old friend I haven't seen for awhile and I still have the feel of filming.

A film student, David, who is helping me film the interviews is enjoying the Hollywood history lesson he's getting from the places we've been so far, and it's nice to see someone his age connecting to the history of the town. And Hughes was certainly history, as was Walsh.

We're going to have a few more interviews and I'll add to the blog if they're interesting. In the meantime, I'm working on my Christmas screenplay.

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