STEVE VERTLIEB: THE MAN WHO "SAVED" THE MOVIES:
Behind The Scenes Film Production Blog # 2
And the predominate operative word in so much of this is “irony”, …which is not necessarily a bad thing.
In one of my all time favorite films, Ray Harryhausen’s 1973 fantasy epic THE GOLDEN VOYAGE OF SINBAD, there’s a thematic / philosophical motif (one which runs through many of the stop motion master’s classics by the way) which at first seems ironic, but in actuality is anything but. Exemplified in a recurring line spoken throughout by Sinbad and his hearty band of adventurers, “Trust in Allah, … but tie up your camel” is a philosophical gem. Eat your heart out Confucious, Aesop, Socrates and L. Ron Hubbard.
play "I LOVE LA." (R. Newman)
My mother is an ordained Protestant minister, and over the years I've learned this same sense of apparent irony is also evident in a truism spoken by many clergy before embarking upon many all important tasks, namely to “Pray as if God were going to do the job completely without you, … but to work as if you were going to do it completely without Him”. And hey, one more of these nifty little irony-isms (and yes, I know, that really isn‘t a word, but for the sake of thematic and verbal rhythm you‘ll forgive me) - this one from a more secular “philosophical“ source.
In one of Eddie Murphy’s earliest stand up concert films (I don’t recall whether it was DELIRIOUS or RAW) he humorously but oh so perceptively relates how relationships are ultimately always initiated by women. How the woman decides from her very first meeting with a guy whether or not she’s going to be with him (socially, physically, etc.), and the biggest task for the guy from that point on is to just not muck it up and make her change her mind. Far easier said than done, isn‘t it fellas? In the end however, if said dude manages to not (as the Mercury astronauts used to say) “screw the pooch!” and the relationship flourishes, well, we guys then take the credit for being the smooth, suave and confident “initiator”! Yeah, right! Oh, and all of this of course falls under that vague, magical, and sometimes maddening rubric of “things operating on an unspoken / subconscious level”. All of this, believe it or not, bringing us to our “Phase 2” L.A. shoot portion of our first film here at the Gull Cottage / Sandlot, STEVE VERTLIEB: THE MAN WHO “SAVED” THE MOVIES. Whew! Now THAT’s an intro if there ever was one. And all of this will neatly dovetail in the end, I promise!
For you see, there are creative gods and fates which, similar to the aforementioned examples, collude hand in hand with those determined craftspeople who “furiously work their asses off” yet at the same time remain faithful and respectful of and to the warp, weft and will of that artistic deity we all seek to capture and understand. Once again, far easier said than done.
After last month‘s “Phase 1” shoot at the MONSTER BASH Convention in Mars, P.A. (and I’ll never get used to saying that - the “Monster Bash in Mars“?) went so swimmingly, I thought nothing could supersede it’s creative excitement and momentum. I was wrong. Our documentary subject - cinema journalist, archivist, educator, consultant and film music expert Steve Vertlieb, is a native of Philadelphia, PA. who travels to Los Angeles, CA. once per year during the last two weeks of the unofficial summer season, to visit with his brother Erwin, as well as reconnect with a gaggle of film industry friends and former collaborators - among them respected actors, directors, composers, journalists and more. This year we’d follow Steve with a small camera and sound crew over three of those days. And our time in L.A. (one day in particular - and Steve himself felt the same) will certainly go down in my personal mental / emotional Roldex (an over 30 reference there, Google it kiddies) as one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. On the other side of that scale however, the preceding weeks were certainly some of the most stressful, tense, difficult and enraging I’ve ever encountered. Hench that irony.
Those who have been following our progress know of our original Kickstarter campaign, which didn’t fly as high as hoped. As Kickstarter is an “all or nothing” prospect, the monies which were pledged were never collected. So, with but two weeks to go before the scheduled commencement of our L.A. shoot, we launched our own crowdfunding page on this site, and many of those who’d originally pledged on Kickstarter transferred their support to the new fundraising endeavor. And thank goodness they did.
Once again, a great big hug and shout out to you all! Still coming up short however, we raised a little more by digging even more deeply into our own already thinly stretched pockets; by deferring auto repairs and a few other bills, and via a couple of short term loans. And no, not THOSE kinds of loans. No broken nosed Rondo Hatton-esque looking enforcer dudes with brass knuckles banging on the door in the wee hours, so relax.
Our film has always been the working definition of an independent enterprise. And, once again ironically, while one of it’s greatest debits, this at the same time continually proves to be one it’s greatest assets.