Monthly Archives: March 2008

Santa Muerte strikes again…

OK, I know I’m breaking with the narrative a bit here by skipping to the present day…but the reason is that my old foe, Santa Muerte — Saint Death, who plays a pivotal role in our movie — has struck again.

Santa Muerte, phone stealer!
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Earlier today, we were filming a bloody Santa Muerte induction ceremony in an abandoned apartment building in downtown Albuquerque…and guess what happened? I lost my new cell phone.

Yep, it’s gone. If it wasn’t stolen from the craft service cart on the bustling street below, then it was somehow sucked into the shadows of our dusty old set. But I’m convinced that my phone has left this plain altogether and that somewhere, Santa Muerte is texting her friends like mad.

The scene of the crime…
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My phone searching gear!
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Seriously, I looked EVERYWHERE for that thing. And if I couldn’t find my phone anywhere on set with the aid of a dust mask, a pair of latex gloves and a snow shovel…well, I don’t think that thing will ever be found…

The good news — if you can call it that — is that Christine called Sprint (thanks, honey!) and they can still transfer my service back to my old phone — oh yeah, did I mention that this phone was new? I actually bought it the day I left L.A….nice, huh? — if I do it right away. So, since I don’t exactly feel like shelling out the bucks for a new cell…old phone it is!
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Santa Muerte candles…
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Man…first my laptop, then my cell phone…I guess the big lesson here is, don’t write scripts about skeletal street Saints. And, you know, make sure you keep your cell phone in your pocket on set!

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The Avenger!

And then, seemingly as soon as our adventures in sleepy, spooky Las Vegas had begun, Ginger and I found ourselves heading south to Santa Fe for the next leg of filming.

The Snowy Avenger! (2008)

So, with a heavy heart — probably from all that after hours junk food — and a pair of pilfered Historic Plaza Hotel coffee mugs, we checked out of our hotel and headed outside to find the entire town blanketed with snow. It was beautiful!

And speaking of beautiful, I should probably take a moment to introduce you to another player in our unfolding drama here in New Mexico…and that is my fully-paid-for rental car, the brilliantly blue Dodge Avenger! Yeah!

Ginger scraping snow off our Avenger! (2008)

He might be slow on hills and have some of the worst insulation I’ve ever encountered in a “new” vehicle, but man, I love that little blue bitch. And best of all, he has a AV input jack for my iPod. So, yeah for him and yeah for us. We had rocking tunes wherever we went!

Actually make that go…as the Avenger is amazing still in my possession. It’s kind of weird how attached I’ve grown to that car. I mean, I have been driving him now for almost six weeks…so I guess it’s to be expected, but wow…I never knew rental car love could flow this deep.

The Avenger on the open highway…

Anyway, complaints aside, he’s a good little Avenger and so this post is for him…rock on, buddy! I’m gonna miss a lot of things about this trip when I’m back home next week…and you my friend, will be the thing I miss most…

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Churches, porches and loony bins…

Before moving on to some of the other exciting fare in Las Vegas, New Mexico wanted to post a few of my favorite “behind the scenes” pics from the set.

The old stone church, Las Vegas, NM (2008)
Blacked-out church, Las Vegas, NM (2008)
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As you can see, our locales ran the gamut in Las Vegas from beautiful stone churches to spooky old Victorian porches and sprawling former insane asylums. And yes, the insane asylum — which doubled as our Sheriff’s station — was just as spooky as it sounds.

The Bishop Family home, Las Vegas, NM (2008)
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While exploring the freezing cold mental hospital, Ginger and I happened upon a rusty old bathroom with a curiously large area around the tub that was no doubt witness to many an electroshock theraphy session. Yikes, that place was just asking to be “ghost-hunted”.

And to make things even scarier, the asylum was later used as a school for sick kids, so there was all these faded children’s finger paintings and stuff hanging on the walls. Seriously, it looked like that spooky old abandoned school in “Children of Men”…freaky!

The spooky old Las Vegas asylum! (2008)

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Ginger in the holding room! (2008)
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But despite the downright creepiness of many of the locations, the mood on set was usually — emphasis on the word “usually” — really light and fun. Even if it was colder than hell most of the time. Literally!

There were so many of us huddled around the propane heaters at one point that three of us melted our jackets. Myself included!

Trapped in the holding cell! (2008)
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But hey, what’s a little burnt plastic when you’re freezing your ass off in a former mental hospital?

 

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My first words…

I know I’m going back in time a bit here, but it was also here in Las Vegas, New Mexico where I wrote my first words — blogging and texting aside — since the WGA strike began in November of last year. Yeah!

Father Salinas filler dialog!

I wish I could say they were in service of something really cool like an action sequence or something, but alas, my first words written on February 13th, 2008 (the day we returned to work) amounted to little more than filler dialog for our female lead, Paz Vega, to read at a vigil for her missing daughter, Toby.

Sadly, I did not manage to get a pic of those pearls of writerly wisdom, so here instead is the second filler monolog I was called upon to write that day. These words are for “Borat” star, Ken Davitian, who plays the Del Rio, Texas parish priest, Father Salinas. Yes, the fat naked dude from “Borat” is playing a priest.

And he rocks at it too. Seriously, just look at the picture below…is this dude not convincing as a kindly, west Texas parish priest? Amen.

Ken Davitian and me @ the Catholic Church in Las Vegas, NM

Anyway, the funny part about both filler dialog assignments is that there is so much going on in the foreground of the scene — which takes place in a crowded Catholic church with tons of extras — that you’ll probably barely be able to hear either Ms. Vega or Mr. Davitian’s stirring recitations of my “beautiful” filler dialog onscreen.

Ah, the glamorous life of a Hollywood wordsmith. Ha! Either way…it was really fun just writing again, even if it was just background chatter nobody’s ever gonna hear in the actual movie…

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Charlie’s Spic & Span Cafe

As I think I mentioned in my previous post on Las Vegas, New Mexico…this town is sleepy in the extreme. And late night dining? Forget it. If Ginger and I got a hankering for some late-night grub after we wrapped we had two choices…fast food and Wal-Mart. Seriously, they don’t even have a Denny’s!

Charlie’s Spic & Span Cafe, Las Vegas, NM (2008)
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You’d think the daylight options would be better…but you’d be wrong there too. The free breakfast at the Plaza hotel’s Landmark Grill wasn’t bad, but if you wanted a truly spectacular taste of New Mexico…there was only one place in town worth hitting on a regular basis…Charlie’s Spic & Span Bakery and Cafe.

Not only do they make and sell fresh flour tortillas all day long (see picture below) but the food was my first — not to mention second and third — taste of classic New Mexican cuisine. And wow…what a way to start! Similar to Mexican food in many ways, the big difference here are the chiles. They are fresh, spicy, and best of all, they use them in and on top of everything here!

The tortilla maker @ Spic & Span!
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There are two different shades of chile here in New Mexico, Green and Red and almost anything you order (including bacon cheeseburgers, which are amazing!) is smothered with them.

Your server will always ask a color preference first, and if you’re unsure, there is always the option of ordering your food “Christmas” style. That means red AND green chiles! And let me tell ya, that is the only way to fly, baby! Delicious.

Best dinner in Las Vegas!
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The other big difference between New Mexican and Mexican cuisine is the way they kind of cover everything with a layer of beans and chiles. My sister-in-law, Laura — a stickler for segregated food groups — would probably die, but everything here just sort of runs together in a big old plate of deliciousness. Yep, it’s messy, but man, is it good!

Most places here also serve their enchiladas (mostly made from blue corn tortillas) flat rather than rolled. It’s kind of odd, but the taste is right, so, who cares? In case you were wondering, that’s a blue corn enchilada and a homemade pork tamale under all those beans and lettuce above.

Machaca plate de Dios!
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And lest you think Charlie’s Spic and Span is all about the fresh tortillas and tasty dinners, they also serve a pretty kick-ass breakfast too. Ginger had some strawberry French Toast that was melt-in-your-mouth good but the real highlight for us was my machaca plate with papitas. The potatoes were a bit ordinary, but the machaca — served with shredded tortillas, fresh salsa and eggs — rivals some of the finest Mexican chilaquiles I’ve ever had. IN MEXICO! They were amazing!

And finally, it should also be noted that Charlie’s is the one and only place in Las Vegas where you can get a real Starbucks latte. And trust me, after drinking good, but mild, craft service coffee all week long, that is really something to look forward to!

To quote my Grandpa Romero and the colorful t-shirts the staff wears: “Panza llena, corazon contento…full stomach, contented heart.” Rock on, Spic and Span!

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“Not Forgotten” Teaser Poster

While he is probably best known for his work on the Golden Globe-nominated CBS series, “The Guardian” and his more recent turn in “The Devil Wears Prada”, our lead actor, Simon Baker also has a rabid, über-geeky “fanboy” following based on his work in “Red Planet”, “The Ring II” and “George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead”.

So, because of that, our distributor recently released a pretty rocking international teaser poster for our movie to the nerd-tastically awesome magazine, Fangoria. When Ryan and I were kids we used to live for Fangoria magazine…it was totally geeky, totally gory and totally awesome! So, needless to say, I was kind of stoked that the first leak of the poster was to them…

NOT FORGOTTEN teaser poster! (2008)
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And, hey, if our international teaser poster is good enough for the horror and sci-fi fans of the world, than I figure it’s probably good enough for you guys too. So, here it is…enjoy!

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The Historic Plaza Hotel

My first week here in New Mexico, we were shooting up north in a small Western-era town called Las Vegas. The town is so cinematic that was almost like staying on a studio lot…and once the sun went down, it was just as lively. Meaning, it was deadsville…literally and figuratively.

The Historic Plaza Hotel, Las Vegas

But hands-down the coolest thing about Las Vegas was were we stayed! Our crew was split up at hotels all over town, but I had the pleasure of staying at the very cool Historic Plaza Hotel in downtown Las Vegas.

You might recognize the Plaza as the setting for several crucial scenes in the Coen Brother’s recent Best Picture Winner, “No Country For Old Men”. And though the lobby looks a tad different in real life, those creaky stairs and the spooky little shotgun hotel rooms are exactly as they appeared in the movie.

The creaky staircase at the Historic Plaza Hotel!

I had an insanely-large handicapped room on the ground floor (that’s a pic of my charming bathroom below), so I’m almost positive I wasn’t staying in any of the rooms they used in the movie, but even without Javier Bardem stalking the halls with a freaky cow gun, that hotel was creepy in the extreme!

Built in 1882, the hotel has a long, storied history in the area, hosting such old West luminaries as Kit Carson, Billy The Kid, Doc Holliday and his girlfriend “Big Nose” Kate Elder. And for just as long as it’s been around, the Plaza has also been rumored to be home to a number of very active ghosts.

My freaky bathroom @ the Plaza!

Unlike a couple of our crew members who actually switched rooms after being woken and literally pulled from their beds by “something”, I can’t say I saw anything out of the ordinary at the Plaza. I mean, there were strange sudden drafts at night and odd electrical problems with my almost all of my stuff — like, for instance, that’s where my poor Macbook, HAL 9000, died! — but overall the vibe there is just plain weird.

After one night at the hotel, at least one of our leads moved to the Comfort Inn across town. And if you’re giving up “19th Century Victorian atmosphere with 21st Century amenities” for the Comfort Inn, well, you know the Plaza is scary! I shit you not, I actually slept with the lights on until my friend Ginger arrived late in my stay and shamed me into turning them off. That’s her shadowy figure waving from the upper staircase in the picture below. Hey, Ginger!

Ginger on the stairs! Boo!

But scary or not, both Ginger and I agreed it was kind of fun staying there, especially now that “No Country” swept so many of the major categories at the Oscars. At the very least, we can say we stayed at the spooky-ass Historic Plaza Hotel in downtown Las Vegas and lived to tell about it…yeah!

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