Thursday, October 18, 2007

APPALOOSA Movie 2007 Oct 18

'APPALOOSA' the Movie

Elizabeth Gabel's, Far Horizon casting agency called. The wonderful girl has gotten me a 'featured' part as a 'Salty Retired Sea Captain' Carpenter, (Ed decided on that image) building the main characters house. I'll be working with Ed Harris, what an Honor!

Viggo Mortensen,

and Renee Zellweger

'APPALOOSA', filming near Santa Fe. I will do Wardrobe tomorrow in Santa Fe. I also received a 'paycheck' for this 2 hour day, Now isn't that nice? This is Great news, I love Western films, especially 1800's. They are like a full box of fine wine to a 'homeless alcoholic' with his bedroll tucked safely up under a warm, dry highway overpass for a nice nights sleep.

The production will be shot in and around Santa Fe from October 1 through November 24 and expects to hire approximately 90 New Mexico crew members and 500 local background actors. I drove 60 miles to Santa Fe for my Wardrobe fitting on Friday. The shirt is a well worn, faded, check pattern. The pants are heavy canvas with suspenders buttoned in place. A nice vest and a coat along with a billed cap, complete 'The Look' The pants are tucked into the tall worn looking boots. The 'town Meeting' is held to solve 'the problem', and we must look respectible. On the same day, Tom the Telephone retiree from our 'Commanche Moon' filming days together, was being fitted as the 'artist' painter. We have enjoyed working together in the past.

Ed Harris will produce, star and direct. Other principal cast includes Viggo Mortensen and Renee Zellweger. Alongside Harris, Producer, Director and Star, will be producers Robert Knott, Michael London and Ginger Sledge.

Appaloosa is based on Robert B. Parker’s novel, an 1800’s Western that tells the story of two lawmen (Harris and Mortensen) who are hired to bring order to 'Appaloosa', a dusty town suffering at the hands of a renegade rancher (A Hollywood portrayed, Dammed Conservative Republican most likely). But the arrival of an attractive, beguiling widow disrupts their plans. (Renee Zellweger)

This should be a great flik, also I have liked Viggo ever since 'Hidalgo' and 'Lord of the Rings'. Of course Renee did great in 'Chicago'. What a fun career. What a great Country, The United States of America, One Nation Under GOD! 'Our Earth' 'Warm Earth' 'Cool Earth''Casting calls', click on 'In Production' and 'bulletin board' or 'for locals'.

The call was for 12:30 am on Thursday Oct 18th 2007, at Cerro Pelon Ranch South of Galisteo New Mexico which is on hwy 41, South of Santa Fe. Elizabeth had posted it that way on her myspace blog. About 8;30am Elizabeth called me and said that I was needed earlier. I arrived at base camp at 10:50am. The drive is about 60 miles. Pretty chilly day with snow on the Northern mountains across the distant horizon. The crew was wearing snowmobile suits.

After sign in, I went to wardrobe and changed into my 'Carpenter' outfit. I bring a large plastic leaf bag to cover my own clothes left hanging in the wardrobe tent during these Western movie shoots. Dust gets into everything if I don't. After changing into my 'Character' wardrobe, a bundled up Elizabeth (snow bunny) told me to wait in Extras Holding (another chow tent). A van picked us up and delivered us to the holding building 'on set', 'Appaloosa'. What a treat to see several old friends (25 to 30), from previous films, that's the best part.

Tom (the painter) tells us his 'Nun' stories from growing up in the Catholic Church in Chicago. Norm (townsman), my friend from Lost Room and Swing Vote, is a prolific writer himself, says it aggrevates his 'Angst'. We all laugh and joke way too much. Steve, Toms old buddy from 'The Hood' has even more stories (stick ball, no 'shovel handles' allowed). Tom 'Telephone Man' knows everone it seems, He's friendly, but we love it.

Marvin (train passenger) Big Steve (Blacksmith). Big Steve (Da Bear) is an actual blacksmith in real life, he makes knives and customizes things like guns, for use by us film junkies. After we had a robust lunch of 'spaghetti' (big noodles), flat peas and 'chicken parts', (Tom would have loved 'Beets and cottage cheeze'. Tom is a connoiseur of fine 'Beets') Big Steve needed to be 'Dirtied up' a bit by 'Dirt Devil' Lisa, the make-up artist. Rebecca, who does some Blacksmithing herself, kept saying to Lisa, "Dirtier" until Big Steve finally looked like 'Black Smith'.

Chris (the Taylor), Marty (visiting Salesman), Frank (real estate), and PJ (Real Estate), PJ is a very accomplished Photographer in real life. He displayed his extremely well done Headshots and other work to us. He is published in New Mexico Magazine and has a website at, He has done many things during his life, (including truck driver), and of course Bob (building supply owner). Many others that I have not had the pleasure to meet yet are in this days filming. Strangers are Friends that I have not yet met.

Low and behold, my infamous 'Rebecca' our ECA (extra's casting assistant), was waiting for us. I hugged her a big bunch, put on the 16 oz gloves, then went to my (red?) corner, to wait for her instructions on when to be quiet, when to move it on out, or just what to do and when. Rebecca always has the very latest in hairstyle..The wind blows and it changes.

Rebecca does things like hold up the door that had it's lag bolts pulling loose from the frame and making sure we have water. At one point Rebecca told us it was Chow time. She is so nice. If you look closely we are all hiding in the Hay, Grain and Feed Store until needed in each scene. We had to stand back from the windows.(Rebecca told us) The chimney actually smokes because 'Sarge' sits near a little pan of charcoal, pours some 'Frankencence' on it and proceeds to 'Blow Smoke'....By the way, "There is a lot of that going on in the filming industry"... It sure smells a heck of a lot better than that automatic smoker we used in Comanche Moon. 'Smoke Bump'?

At one point Rebecca proceeded to pick a tan jacket up from a chair. Another extra walked up to her and tried to take it from her. She resisted. He persisted. Finally he said "thats MY jacket". Rebecca had thought it was hers of the same color. She would have noticed as soon as she tried it on, because of the huge size difference. Nice try Rebecca, but "No cigar".

This is the same great western movie set town used in 3:10 to Yuma last month. It has a rail and station system for train shots. It is located on the Ford (formerly Cooks) Ranch. Ford is a fashion designer and leases this ranch set to film companies. The big aircraft propellor fan was not needed on these days, the wind blew naturally, a lot...

After our lunch was finished back at the chow Tent about 3:30 pm and we returned by van to the 'extras holding' Hay store, the call finally came, that included 'all background', including the "Carpenter' (myself). The little green train engine (Paul told me it was Imported from Arkansas) with two passenger cars and one freight car, was fired up with wood and chugged into town, It sort of coughs periodically, like a horse that has eaten some bad hay. Pretty, red haired, Renee Zellweger, stepped down along with the other passengers and proceeded to head for the Restaurant. The first shoot, had way too many people in the scene (overshadowed the Star) so we had to do it over with fewer people.

The next try had 'the Carpenter' (myself) fixing the fence around the Church again, as pretty Red Haired Renee walks past, carrying her luggage. She acknowledged me, I touched my hat and nodded to her. Thats good, because I am her 'New Home' contractor. Paul my PA (production assistant) with his headset radio, was just off camera, hiding behind a small building extension near me, to the right side of the Church, 'queing' our "background Action"!. The 'Iron Horse' chugged past, the 'Natures Own' horse spooked, and Paul got trapped in his little corner by a large 'cowboy up', 'Meat, hair, and Bone', 'Hoofed' horse backing away from the 'Iron Horse'. A minor panic started to be evident as Paul was about to be squashed like a horse fly. Now that's the fun stuff that happens in the film industry, Hours of boredom, seconds of shear terror, Paul almost got into the scene. Great job Paul, maybe an academy award for 'Best Evasive Maneuver from a Horse'. Watch for it during the movie. Paul is in there, mixing it up with the horse.

It turns out that Paul is Ed Harris's brother from Oklahoma. He drove out here in September to help Ed Harris make this movie. Normally he works with a tree growing operation and told me he will probably go back to that trade when finished here. Hope he changes his mind, Paul is a fun guy. Paul has never owned a cellphone until this job, here in NM with Ed. You know those Oklahoma travelers! I'm safe, he has no way to even see what I wrote about him...WhaddaYaThank?.

After I had worked on that fence throughout the afternoon with the different camera angles, then "check'n the Gate" and the call came "It's a Wrap". Finished for the day, Sun was setting low on the horizon, tromp through Our dusty little 'western town' movie set, van ride back to base camp, change clothes in tent after a good dust off, turn in wardrobe, check out with Elizabeth and Rebecca, say bye-bye to all and drive 60 miles back to Albuquerque.

Have a cold beer while I write this blog, answer phone, 9:45pm, Wow's Elizabeth Gabel. They liked 'the Carpenter', the fence still needs work? I'm back to work and have to be there at 6:00am tomorrow. Night-Night all. What a fun way to pass the time in New Mexico and the Greatest Nation in the world. The United States of America, One Nation Under God.


Blogger Zach Alexander said...

Sounds like it's going to be a good movie.

Is the Elizabeth (without last name) you mention the same as Elizabeth Gabel? I know another Elizabeth working on the show, just wondering.


11:06 AM  

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