Diary Part One
Diary Part 2
So much happening so fast.
Just when I think things are sorted the ground shifts. Ah well, I am in LA. Desert on a fault line.
Had a meeting last week with the manager of the strip club we want to use for the test scene shoot. She quotes us $10,000 for a night. 2am - 8am. We barter.
Is there anything she'd like filmed there. She wants a reality tv series. We said we'll shoot a pilot for her. I've already shot a doc about the downside of the sex industry so I know the territory. She says she can definitely swing it with the owner. We leave feeling positive and go round thrift shops looking for props.
'Let's see if there's any angels in here'. An entire shelf of heavenly hosts. Kitch angels. Bric a brac angels. Angel photo frames. A big angel with a wire halo for a huge Christmas tree. Some for just 89 cents.
Next morning there's a message from the strip club manager. 'spoke to the owner. He absolutely cannot let you have the place for free. You have to pay. He'd rather I paid someone for what I want to do'. Depression sets in. We're running out of time and we just lost the location.
Then there's the issue of insurance for a 35 mm film camera package. I got a free film camera to shoot a short film when I was at college in England but the college covered the insurance. I've asked everyone I know who might have insurance as part of their set-up but most companies take out insurance on a project by project basis. Or they have their own digital equipment. Things not looking good.
Thinking of giving up the idea of shooting a test scene. People already helping me are enthusiastic to continue. I don't want to waste anyone's time. As someone said last night 'all we truly have is our time and our character'.
I compose an ad asking for assistance to put on relevant film websites.
I meet with a producer someone I know's recommended. We chat about the project. He's willing to help out for free. We walk on Venice beach. There's a Black guy wearing a leopard skin loincloth balancing on a tall ladder with 2 cobras in his hand. The snakes look real. I go up and hold one. It's plastic. 'oh'. Hearing my disappointment, the guy on the ladder reassures me 'you're beautiful. And you have a good heart'.
The producer's bemused.
Anxious to find another location I suggest some location scouting. I know there's some strip clubs near lax. Is he up for it?
We don't know the way. The producer remembers passing one, so we go looking. We find it. Bright neon lights. Metal bars like a cage outside the entrance. Inside there's a booth with bullet proof glass where they take the entrance fee. I ask to talk to the manager. A guy comes out and stands behind the glass. I move so I can see his face.
'I'm making an independent movie. It's set in a strip club. I'm doing some research and looking at possible places to film. I wondered if we could have a look inside or make an appointment for another time.'
'I can't let you in. Come back on Monday and speak to Kim or call her’. He writes her number on a piece of paper and disappears, disinterested.
We go looking for another club I remember from a previous trip when I decided to ride the subways with a friend (not like London, it's an adventure most people in LA have never undertaken). We ended up at the lax stop to get a bus back to Santa Monica. I needed to use the bathroom (American for loo). The nearest place was a strip club. I asked if I could just use the ladies room and they said absolutely not, so we went to a bar nearby where I left my glasses behind and ended up having to get them sent back to England.
We find the club. This time I tell the lady at the payment booth about my film. She's writing a book about her former life. 'I used to be a stripper. As I'm writing it I think, oh god, did I really do that. Thank god I'm out of it now'. I congratulate her sincerely and ask to speak to the manager. She says he's standing outside smoking a cigarette. Very friendly. I tell him what I'm doing. He says to go in free and look around. Talk to the dancers if I want.
It's an informal place with bar food, a pool table, people drinking at the bar, a stage with two poles. People aren't over focused on the dancers, who wander around the club. A young Asian woman comes and stands near us. I know from previous research trips that she's waiting to see if we want a private dance, which would earn her a lot more money.
'We're not regular clients. We're here doing research for a movie project.'
'Thanks for letting me know'.
'No problem. I know you're here to earn a living. Don't want to waste your time'.
The manager tells us he's a film editor in the daytime and runs the club at night. He'd be fine with us filming but we have to talk to the owner. As they open early and close late there wouldn't be much time out of hours.
He gives us passes to go to some of the nude bars in the area. This place has a nice friendly vibe. Not like other places I've been in my search for a location.
Tuesday 28 Feb
Just went to Oscar nominated short film preview event followed by screenings and Q&A’s with directors at the Academy. Amazing films. Average budget £30,000 each. Working Title and Pixar amongst the credits. 5 animations, 5 live action. Strong theme of death, or maybe those were the ones that left the greatest impression on me. Particularly the exploding cow.
Interviewed a sweet Icelandic director. Shy rabbit caught in the headlights. Sincere. Uncorrupted. His film reminded me of Ingmar Bergman. Encouraging to see young filmmakers like this exist and get noticed.
Once the video blog's up and running and I've managed to get to the post office to send the tapes back to England, you can see him for yourself.
Important to keep getting the inspiration to keep going in a business that will drain the life blood out of you and eat your soul if you let it.
If anyone has any ideas or contacts for insurance or locations or sound people with equipment, or if anyone's coming to LA soon and wants to get in touch, email me at email@example.com.