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Wolf DeVoon

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'Chiseltown' is completed. It is an intensely personal story, although it has nothing to do with me personally, as odd as that may sound. It's about a fictional filmmaker and a movie, from the first phone call to the last. That's how movies are made. I suppose it's not so different in other walks of life. Somebody calls, you do something, there's another phone call to find out if they liked whatever it was that you did. A producer calls, a movie is made, and then there's another phone call from a preview screening to report average Jane and John Doe audience response, in Fresno traditionally. Audience cards don't matter. What matters is whether the movie made them laugh and gasp and cry real tears, because movies should do that.

Along the way, 'Chiseltown' presents a detailed, accessible education in filmmaking, how a script is written and funded and translated into actors and location shoots and sound stages with forced perspective to create a convincing night exterior scene, or an apartment, or a repair shop. Bruno Heckmeier is making a low-budget movie. There are severe obstacles to overcome. He has an unusual home life. There's an enormous amount of comedy for light entertainment purposes. Some of the story is serious literature. Some is slightly adult.

I found that I cared very deeply about the 7 or 8 principal players in this story. There are many more bit players, and if it seems unusual to have so many characters, please consider that the movie Bruno makes involves a production company of fifty skilled professionals, stunt men, two very capable stars, and an unusual supporting cast. It's a very short schedule, six weeks to organize it, six weeks to shoot everything, and six weeks of post production. Trust me, that's working at lightning speed.

It's a personal story in two respects. I had to write the movie for Bruno to make. And I had to live in Bruno's shoes (and those of all the other characters) with honesty, humor, drama, and a deep understanding of the men and women who call themselves "show people," no matter what their specialty or contribution to a motion picture is. Camera grip, driver, bookkeeper, electrician, set decorator, or seamstress -- they are people who sacrifice much to work a few weeks on a movie, a collaborative art that cannot be created without them. I've done many "below the line" production jobs for an hourly wage, in addition to "above the line" writing, producing, and directing.  You have to take my word for it. Directing is a high privilege.

It's done by lots of different men and women. 'Chiseltown' is directed by a talented, goofy, warmhearted, intelligent middle aged guy who got stuck on Poverty Row doing low-budget movies, while others did studio pictures with an average budget of $75 million. Bruno has to conceive and execute a feature film on 1/5 as much money, and he wants it to succeed, not only at the box office, but critically as well. Being an "indie" confers a great deal of freedom. No studio moguls, Teamsters, or IATSE work rules. The whole of Los Angeles as a locale, in a "period" setting that's fun to shoot.

I always experience emotional awe when I've finished a story. 'Chiseltown' is in a class of its own, among all the stories I've written, among all the fictional characters that I loved and still love, of course. The story of making a movie is a personal confession of my lifelong passion.  'Chiseltown' is a movie I didn't get to make, and it's deeply gratifying to have directed its fictional creation. Many of the characters are based on people who I knew and worked with and loved and respected.

Please buy a copy ($5 at Lulu.com) and review it. Thanks.

http://www.lulu.com/shop/wolf-devoon/chiseltown/paperback/product-24236289.html

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