Wednesday, October 24, 2007

APPALOOSA Movie 2007 Oct 24

A beautiful morning in New Mexico. Call time is "High Noon', so time to finish chores. Drive the 65 miles to the base camp. Of course charming Elizabeth is waiting. Sign in and Wardrobe beckins. Change duds to 1880's attire and return to Elizabeth for further instructions. Chow time, how nice, and what a great feast layed out in the crew tent. Now that is rare. They eat a lot better than Back Ground does.

Today has fewer BG (Back Ground people) so we are invited in for lunch of a most tender roast and scalloped potatoes, along with portobello mushrooms and squash with delicious greens, of course always pasta for the non-carnivores. While eating in our own Back Ground tent (we can't have it all).

Our table discussion turned to curiousity about 'Da Flikkers'. The hits are running at record levels lately. More like Astronomical. We have no idea how they are finding our little blog. Comments and questions are welcome. We try to post answers in the following, or as additional info added to the post. Readers must be sharing their little 'find'? Must be Viggo, or Ed, or Renee. Hmmm.. Hard to decide who is the major attraction. All are very nice, fun loving, interesting people and proving to be a lot of fun to work with each day in our little Appaloosa.

Ruben, who actually looks like Viggo, is the 'Gun shop Owner', we discuss Helo's and WWII history. Jerry is 'The Assayer' wearing his truly antique 'Knox' bowler, made in New York. Ed the Appaloosa Doctor, is wearing a brown reproduction of an original. A surprising amount of the wardrobe is actually original and found in antique stores all across the US and around the world.

'Wardrobe' management personel are very protective of their 'treasures' and work extremely hard to maintain it. How they do it all is beyond me. Inventory is strictly monitored. Wardrobe holds on to our pay vouchers until we find and return the missing item. Now that is incentive.

The Wardrobe and 'set decorator' professionals roam far and wide hunting for our authentic movie items. I have seen the wardrobe people in thrift stores finding treasures discarded by others. On 'Comanche Moon' (3 part TV Western to be released at end of this year), a beautiful set of 'hoop' dresses, parasols and hats, actually were used in 'Gone With the Wind'. Start of 'Da Flikkers' began on that 'Bonanza Creek' movie set and can be found in the very first post in 2006 under 'Archives' in right sidebar.

There is not enough 'set and wardrobe' to go around, so companies provide reproductions that look exactly like the originals. During the 'makeup' process with Karen (loves Costa Rica and owns 2 homes there, wants to grow Mangos), I recognised Ed, (Appaloosa Dr) from 'Swing Vote'. All in all a great group, including many others not mentioned. Van load with last crewman holding a plateful of food and barely swinging aboard, 1/4 mile (402m) to 'set holding', our Hay, Grain and Feed barn.

While waiting for our orders, standing outside, the crew started to hold their ears and yell "Fire in the Hole". Kaboom, the sound of Hitch's (Viggo) 8 guage (most likely a 10 ga) long, double barreled, shotgun fired, as it does at times during the filming. It is plenty loud. The horses jump, even though they are far away from the blast. Filming was in the next street over. 'Appaloosa', which has real buildings, not just storefronts, has two main streets. Pretty big little town, Hey?

Rebecca runs to 'set holding', and shouts my name, we run up the street to the house I'm building for Cole (Ed Harris). Finally I get to play my role as his carpenter. The set is piled with lumber and sawhorses. Rebecca runs back later with bottled water for me, she is the sweetest person and looks out for 'Da Geezer'.

The first 'camera shoot' is started before the call 'Action' by Walt, our hiding PA (production assistant). Dennis rides into the scene on his black horse. My helper, Tim the wrangler, looking out from under his broad brimmed hat, notices the buckboard approaching, spits his 'dip', and quietly says go.

I quickly take my old cloth tape measure, in it's leather case, walk briskly to the porch, measure where I want the railing, move to the next post, measure, return to the saw horses, pick up a 2x4, walk back to porch, hold it in place and mark it with a little stick (my pencil).

Then I walk back to Tim, showing him where to cut. He is sawing silently with the teeth up, as we usually do. Ed, Renee and Viggo are now at the house. Ed jumps out of the Buckboard, 'CUT' is called. Ed Harris (Cole) comes up to Tim and says, "You need the teeth down to really cut the 2x4 with sawdust floating down, then proceeds to set up the board for Tim. Good idea, Ed tries very hard for reality in each scene. The sawhorses in the first scene were mistakenly the new ones from Home Depo, used in the actual construction of this nice little house with a front porch...Whoopsy! Quick switch them out for the old handmade log sawhorses.

"Reset to One" (first position) is called out, then we do our part again...and again...and again, many times, until all finally looks right. The sun is getting lower toward the horizon. We must move rapidly now. The camera crew runs up the street with all of the equipment right towards our new little house construction site.

Our site is now fully wireless with an antenna set up to record the remote transmission from the golf cart camera with it's audio. The buckboard rolls up the street with the 'Stand-ins', as happpens before each 'shoot' to be absolutely sure every thing is in focus. The horses like it better when they are really doing something worthwhile. Sounds like people.

It is starting to get extremely busy in our small construction site near the house. The direction that the camera now faces is towards the setting sun. Somehow the equipment and operators deal with it. The 'barndoors' (non-reflective, black flaps positioned around the lens) are used to control the field of view. Pretty, red haired Renee retreats to her little blue fold up cabana, for a refresh makeup. Her silky, Copper colored, bustle dress with dark blue vertical stripes glistens in the low angle sunlight as she walks smoothly across the irregular dirt surface. Upon her quick return to the 'live' set, the three of them are joking and just having a good time, like the rest of us in spite of the urgency of the setting sun. This group is professional and maintains their sense of humor.

Set up is complete. Now the Buckboard with Viggo, Renee in the center, and ED on the left, comes up the street with a golf cart in front of the horses. The cameraman with his body mounted, floating camera, is standing on the rear platform of the golf cart. The big, gray, fuzzy (wind and noise protected) directional Mic, boom, is held by hand, out of camera field, over the buckboard by a crewman running along side the golf cart in front of the horses.

The 'buckboard dialog' among the three of them, was recorded during this mystical, dusty, sunset backlighted, little trip up the street to Ed's new house. Many times this was repeated with the sun setting lower and lower. Each time the tracks in the street were swept away rapidly by the crew including Dennis 'the horseman'. All of a sudden Viggo Mortensen apppeared, grabbed a big broom and started sweeping vigorously alongside the crew.

Now that was different. Viggo Mortensen is definetly not afraid of hard work and dirt. The scene was repeated again and Renee is heard to say dialog referring to 'Braggs' (Jeremy Irons) men. "Are You Afraid of Them?" to Cole. 'ED' replys, "No I aint afraid of them", "Now get down out of there", as he jumps like an athlete over the left front wheel of the buckboard, turns and catches Renee by the waist, while she is climbing down from the seat.

This was done many times to get the timing right as ED (Cole) folds Renee's parasol and places it behind the seat. "Reset" was done fast, many times, like a rapid replay, with ED (Cole) jumping in and out of the buckboard several times, (like I said, Ed's an athlete) until it was good. "Cut" was called, then the command "Checking the Gate" where the action is reviewed to be sure all is perfect on film. Time was standing still while we waited.

The two horse team was getting a little fidgity. Viggo Mortensen walked over to the horse nearest him and started caressing its right flank slowly, and repeated it over and over, while talking to Renee, standing in the buckboard. The horse relaxed along with it's teammate. ED was in the little house reviewing the action on the monitor with the camera crew. The call we all were waiting for. "It's a Wrap". Time to climb into the vans, now fully loaded and pulled onto the 1/4 mile (402m) ride to base camp over the hill, just out of sight of Appaloosa.

All were amazed to see Viggo Mortensen, in his dark green jacket vest, still wearing his 45 caliber Colt on his left hip in a 'cross draw' fashion, walnut gripped butt forward, with all of the cartridges vertically lined along the brown 'fast draw holstered' belt. Viggo had started walking back to base camp along our little road. We stopped our full van. We gladly 'scrunched' together and Viggo Mortensen climbed in, laughing and joking with us. Viggo has a sharply chisel featured, face. He then stared intently out the window watching the beautiful full moon just starting to rise above the Eastern horizon.

I followed him out the door as he walked briskly toward his trailer. This day passed extremely fast. The hours were flying by. No time to read my book. That is wonderful. Then it was our turn to 'chango-tent' and take our 1880 clothes to wardrobe, pick up our payroll form, deliver it to Elizabeth, check our next call date before leaving. The Carpenter (Blogengeezer) returns again on the 14th of Novenber. You will just have to check back then for, "The Rest of the Story" as witnessed on the set of our great little Western movie, APPALOOSA.

I drove slowly out to the highway, head South for the 65 miles (104km) drive to 'the house'. The full moon was now above the Eastern horizon in the darkening, cloudless sky. The sunset was now a blazing red in the West. The mountain ranges to the West, were as silouetes against the red background in the dusk. I drove along in the quiet solitude of this wonderful desolate highway, reflecting the entire day in my mind, repeating the images over and over as if it were a scene that we were trying to perfect.

What more could a person ask for in this, "One Nation Under God" the United States of America.


Blogger Diane said...

In answer to your query, I think you are certainly getting a lot of hits from us Viggo admirers. Of course, that's not to say Ed's or Renee's admirers aren't checking in too.

Your reports have been fun to read and thanks for being gracious enough to share with us.

5:49 AM  
Blogger blogengeezer said...

Thanks for your blog about the filming of "Appaloosa", because fans of Jeremy Irons, like myself, are starving for news about him and the film's production. Jeremy and I have met a few times before. He emailed me back in September just to say he was off to Boston and then Santa Fe and wouldn't be back in England until December. Jeremy was in Boston a few weeks ago, filming a small part in the Pink Panther sequel with Steve Martin. (Why, he took a part in that sequel I don't know....I hope they paid him a lot of money, because it's not likely to be a great movie.) There must not be any papparazzi in Santa Fe around the movie set, because the only photos online of anybody in the production were those of Renee buying sheets and pillows at a local Santa Fe store, just after she'd arrived in town for pre-production. I also read online somewhere that the principal cast are staying in rented homes around the Santa Fe area. Jeremy's got to love that part of the country, because he's a horseman and a motorcycle rider and a musician, so I'm sure he'll keep himself busy while not on set. Any chance you'll be able to add photos to your blog? At the time I saw the movie "3:10 to Yuma" in theaters, I was reading the book "Appaloosa" and I immediately thought that the set for "3:10 to Yuma" would be perfect for "Appaloosa", because the town has the same primary ingredients...train station, saloon, hotel, etc. Anyhow, thanks for replying to my message and I'm really glad I discovered your blog. Enjoy your time working on the film. I'm quite envious. Far more exciting than a rainy, blah, cold, fall day here in Youngstown, Ohio. Jennifer from

9:00 AM  
Blogger ColetteHera said...

Thanks,very interesting to read,looking forward to see some photos aswell.


12:08 AM  
Blogger ColetteHera said...

Thank you..

12:28 AM  
Blogger Karin said...

I am one of those Viggo admirers, a fan website pointed to your blog. Interesting reading material!

6:51 AM  
Blogger jane862 said... is taking a huge interest in your posts about the filmng of Appaloosa! We have a membership in excess of 1200 and many of the members will be linking to your blog as a result of your posts so far, which we have featured on our website.
Thanks for sharing and we look forward to more journal entries in the days to come.

5:15 PM  
Blogger Suzanne said...


I found your site through a Viggo fan site, and I'm so glad I did as I am writing a novel with the film industry as a back drop -and despite much research and subsequent begging I have not been able to get on a film set (just to pick up the atmosphere, type of directions used, where the stars hang out etcetcetc so it sound like I know what I'm writing about!!) I am in the UK and there arent so many large productions made here that I have even been able to find out about getting on set as an extra. So, your blog is really helpful for me and I look forward to your next entry! Hope you dont mind me using it as a research resource!


5:39 AM  
Blogger Veronica said...

I am really enjoying your reports from the set of "Apaloosa". Not only do you have an engaging and entertaining style, but you are giving us a fascinating perspective from "behind the scenes". You are indeed a lucky man to be working with such amazing talent like Viggo Mortensen and Ed Harris. I am looking forward to your next report!

7:38 PM  
Blogger blogengeezer said...

VIggo fans as well as most fans are 'visual' and like pictures of their Stars. While working on the sets of several films during the last couple of years, I have learned one major lesson. The Film Stars are actual, real life people. They may portray strength on the screen, while in reality they are as fragile as the rest of us, maybe even more so. Their privacy is cherished during off camera moments. I have witnessed many attempts at interfering with their few moments of 'quiet time'. I stopped carrying a camera a couple of years back after seeing how they were turned off by the attacks on their privacy. A few fans are obsessed with the idols of their affection to the point of being dangerous. These few, destroy the openess for the rest of us by calling for intense security measures. I now respect their wishes, view their actions from a distance, and record it in my memory for display in type on this blog. I only hope that the fans do understand. If so, return again and again to get a 'visual' memory like an imaginary friend that is kept in your memory bank for years after the fact. Thank you for your understanding.

7:52 AM  
Blogger Swell said...

Kudos to you mate on not giving in to the temptations of taking photos. I have a friend who has been an extra on many films and tv series here and has told me first hand that those who are seen or found out to having spilled the beans so to speak through photos have not been called back again. I think your posts are visual enough to paint the Appoloosa canvas for us.
Keep on 'painting' mate- it is greatly appreciate from someone very far away.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Veronica said...

You're a good man, blogengeezer.
Have you finished filming your part? Will you be posting any more reports?

5:22 PM  
Blogger blogengeezer said...

The production schedule calls for 'The Carpenter' to return on the 14th of November. After that date it is whenever 'The Carpenter' is required. Hopefully he will be required for more extensive work around 'Appaloosa'. Some 'Victorian' gingerbread beneath the gabels perhaps? He is very good at odd jobs, maybe a few caskets will be needed? A 'handyman' you might say. He is a retired Ships Captain afterall. At least that is how Ed Harris wrote him into the script and he is 'Da Boss'.

6:24 PM  
Blogger Veronica said...

The film is based on a book...have you read it? If so, would you reccommend reading it before seeing the movie?

6:40 PM  
Blogger blogengeezer said...

'Amazon' Elizabeth (slain printers widow) is reading the book as we work and tells us what is happening. In that instance it is fun to see the progress (excruciatingly slow) I myself, read primarily non-fiction these days, so have no clue as to before or after. I did read 'The Perfect Storm' after seeing the film. The book is very intense and factually informative, more so than the movie in that particular case. Of course the films visual's enhance the subconcious during the reading of the book.(my own experience of course)

7:08 PM  
Blogger summerflu said...

I guess I, for one, can vouch for the Viggo fanbase from the Obsession website ( I first came here to get the latest on filming, but your blog has been bookmarked now on my computer and I will be returning long after "Appaloosa" has wrapped. Thank you for keeping us updated. Your words are pictures aplenty.

5:29 PM  
Blogger Veronica said...

Ah yes, the old Catch 22. The book vs. the film, "fill in the blanks" vs. "cut to the chase". I think I will try to read the book before I see the movie.
By the way, do you have any lines as of yet?

6:07 PM  
Blogger blogengeezer said...

Talk about a "Catch 22". In NM if you speak just a few words in one scene on camera, you are eligible for 'SAG' (screen actors guild). this involves the equivilent of 'Union' status. Higher pay follows. Therefor it is easier to find work with NO card. A few friends do not mention their card, so that they can find something to do in the industry they enjoy. Thats what it is all about for many of us. Sad is it not? We really need to 'get a life'. As in "Chicago", we actually love it. We are hooked on, "All That Jazz".

8:32 PM  
Blogger Veronica said...

So if they give you a line, you get a card, and once youy have a card you can be selective in your that how it goes? Do you know if it is only like that in NM?
It's not sad; it's something you love to do. It's a lot more interesting and presents a lot more opportunites tham most people will ever have.

5:01 AM  
Blogger blogengeezer said...

The last sentence in this posted article above, says it all.

7:01 AM  
Blogger Veronica said...

What do you do between jobs?

What about the time between shoots, like the past few weeks? How do you keep busy? Are you allowed to go to the set to watch the filming?

Does one job ever lead to another?

5:04 AM  
Blogger blogengeezer said...

Veronica, with 'high profile' stars, the security is tight 'on location'. Without special permission from the casting agent, we are are not allowed to just return at will. The set of 'Wild Hogs' was another story. We took over a small town called Madrid New Mexico. Security was tough to enforce. Tourists were getting into scenes and having a blast. We had a lot of fun doing that film. When we are waiting for the 'set change' or anytime the extras are together, the 'networking' comes into play. If the others are hearing about something interesting and they feel like sharing with you (enjoy your company), a tip will surface. The loners that sit in the corner and do not associate easily have to dig for info on the casting sites. such as the 'casting calls for Locals' in my right sidebar. As to the other question, this last couple of weeks were spent in travel. I will 'blog' it after this last filming schedule is complete. I was called to return to Appaloosa for a few non-scheduled days but had to decline. I hope they will take me back after 'the decline'. Sometimes they do not like a person that sets them back for one reason or another. The 'casting agent' decides on a case by case basis. 'Difficult' people are not welcomed back. Friends are always sending 'casting call' info to each other because they want their friends with them during the filming and 'holding' sessions. Being a friend, helps to gain and keep friends, we share a lot.

7:39 PM  
Blogger summerflu said...

BG, I was wondering: has the writer's strike affected filming on Appaloosa at all?

8:18 PM  
Blogger blogengeezer said...

All of the schedule looks intact as far as I personally can see. With Ed Harris producing, directing and starring, I beleive that he has it well covered. I will know more by thursday the 14 th of Nov. He does things to detail. The screen writer is of course concered with 'their baby'. On other films, the screen writers were on set periodically to check for 'authenticity' during filming. That happened during the filming of 'Comanche Moon' the mini-series (due showing Dec and Jan of 07-08, TV). We learned from the screen writer, that in the 1860's Austin Texas, ladies did not walk casually in the streets, only on the board sidewalks. The dragging effect of the beautiful hoop dresses through the 'horse exhaust', was probably one reason, mud another. The screen writer saw the mistake when she showed up and we had to re-shoot some scenes. Wardrobe was not happy to see our mis-treatment of their 'treasures'. We got really dirty during that filming. They stopped us from walking back to base camp, due to the wear and tear on our wardrobes. We always had to ride the 'Warbus'. (an ex military 4x6 bus) The scene in the bus with our 1860's clothing, top hats, hoop dresses, bonnets, parasols and all. The dust swirling around us at dawn with the old bus delivering us to the set. The driver had his CD loudly playing 'The Age of Aquarius', along with other classic rock. Surreal to say the least.

7:25 AM  
Blogger summerflu said...

Thank you, BG. I look forward to "Comanche Moon" and, while watching Appaloosa in the theaters next year I see the housebuilding scenes and yell out "There's Blogengeezer!" it will be all your fault. Who says extras can't have fans!

4:59 PM  
Blogger Veronica said...

Well, I hope that when you arrive on the set today, there are no repercussions about not being "available". Looking forward to your next report.
"Commanche" sounds like something I'd like to watch. In the meantime, I'll pick up a copy of "Wild Hogs" this weekend and see if I can figure out who you are! Any hints you can give us?

4:36 AM  
Blogger blogengeezer said...

The call time Wednesday the 14Th is set for 12:30 PM for 'The Carpenter'. It looks like all is forgiven. Elizabeth still wants me. 'The Carpenter' returns on Thursday as well. Wednesdays scene;

"Allie (Renee Zellweger) is in 'The Boston House Saloon and seen taking up with 'Bragg' (Jeremy Irons). 'Hitch' (Viggo Mortensen) wonders what this is all about".

Sounds like a fun day for sure. The day calls for the 2 prostitutes, as well as a few townsfolk like 'The Carpenter'
Thursday will be the rest of that scene, as far as I can tell from our 'script' info.

Viggo is still on set so more material will be posted tonight. (depending on how long the filming day lasts, sometimes 12 or more hours) The Boston House Saloon is fitted with candles in the hanging chandeleirs. The chandeleirs are also rigged with electrical lighting that is not obvious to the casual viewer. The sitting room is just like the sitting rooms in Durango Colorado hotels that have been restored to 1800's decor. The display cases in the background have some nice antiques brought in from California.

Blogengeezer is barely visible in 'Wild Hogs' because he wore all black at times. That is a 'no-no' because black fades into the shadows past the immediate set lighting (the 'chroma-key' effect). 'Da Blog' thought he looked cool in his Levi biker duds, so he went against the recomendations of wardrobe. 'Big Mistake'. The only scenes with a clearly visible bearded 'Blogengeezer in the background, are the dance scenes with William H Macy and Marisa Tomey. 'Da Blog' wears a hawaiin shirt during those scenes. In Wild Hogs, watch for the woman wearing a floppy old western straw hat in the dance scenes. Judi is also seen on the side of the scenes, 'schmoosing around' during the same time she is supposedly dancing. A quick rule of thumb is, for every day an 'extra' spends on set, one second of screen time is visible. So much is cut or in 'trailers', that is at the most. The film is about the story and the Stars part in them. Background is only to add realism. Like Ed Harris's brother, Paul told me during 'the Carpenter's' fence repair scene at the church, as 'Allie' walks from the train station, "Don't try to go for an Academy Award, just acknowlege and nod to Renee as she passes"

5:52 AM  
Blogger Abby said...

Ditto what Summerflu said, I think you're aquiring quite a following already! I'll be looking for you in Wild Hogs and Appaloosa! Thanks for your pre update and I'm looking forward to your post this evening or tomorrow! :-) :-) :-)

4:20 PM  
Blogger Veronica said...

But it's that realism in the background, the attention to the details, that can totally pull the audience in and create such an "escape". I love getting completely absorbed in a movie. And even if the audience doesn't see or know everything that the actors do, I would think that it just helps everyone give a more convincing performance.
Don't you feel like your presence makes it easier for the actors to get into their characters? I think extras are as important as sets, props, and wardrobe...even more so. And the bottom line is, even though it probably gets a little tiring and boring when you aren't actually working, you are still part of a unique and amazing experience.
Are you scheduled to work today?

4:59 AM  
Blogger patusa said...

how is working with Jeremy Irons???can you give us the lowdown ....???

5:16 PM  
Blogger blogengeezer said...

Possibly the scene with the buckboard approaching Ed's new unfinished house will be cut and redone at another time. The aircraft flown around by the ex-special effects guy, possibly interfered with the sound. The sound track can be adjusted to remove a frequency from a generator running. Hopefully the same technique will work on this scene. If not the Carpenter may be replaced by a 'helper' in the finished film.

1:22 PM  

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