Production Notes

PA Travis Bickell, Prod. Mgr. Brendt, Cameraman Tom, and our (anti)hero


Thanks to everyone who showed up last night, despite the apocalyptic weather, competing shows, lack of word of mouth, etc. The thing I loved most about last night was seeing new viewers: I always get a kick out of crowd reactions to certain things in the movie, the things they don't expect.
I also want to thank Jason Ryan for his usual help, and for securing the projector from Alex. Thanks also to Bryce, Josh Bluth, and Tim Tallent, for making the whole operation run smoother in the absence of our "predesignated merch people." LOL
Lastly, I want to thank Mark Murrin, Lowell (our biggest patron thus far!), and Bubbles and all her friends who showed up.


Funny how I'm now only uploading the news on holidays. Cooincidence? I think so.
So the past few months we've been working on Dante's and have it edited much better than the Premiere version, and finally have it where I'm rather proud to show it. We'll be showing it at Pollack Cinemas (Elliot and McClintock) on Thursday, March 22nd at 7pm. Pollack is a 300 seater (a real theater, heh). It'll mark only the second time the general public will be viewing it, and the first time since the hastily-put-together 2005 version. BTW, those of you who've seen it already, there will be some nice surpises. Not meant as a "hook." But also, people like it the more they watch it and I'm not sure how to take that. After all, yes, I did plan on there being a lot of heavy things you won't catch the first time 'round. But, conversely, that tells me that maybe there's too much information for a first viewing. I'll get the ratio right on future movies. Or, I'll continue to not follow formulae or norms, hehe.
Hope to see you all there. n


Happy D-Day and Day of the Beast. I think this should be a day of remembrance that the Beast has been with us for quite some time, and not becoming manifest among us today. No, the "Beast" has been alive and well since at least Reagan. Look at any wealth-screaming owner of a Humvee, our runaway, unrepresentative CEO government, any Republican-owned media-approved tripe on any screen and radio channel, gas prices, and the complacency of the sheep who are quite comfortable only complaining about these abominations.
On that note, Dante's has now gone through 4 different DVD authors. The valient attempts of the last three simply were no match for the pitfalls of technology (see any news item below, haha). Alas, I will begin to learn authoring myself. It will take weeks, I'm sure, but as the adage goes "if ya want it done, do it yourself..." So hopefully, the Purgatorio our movie has been spinning in the past two months will come to an end. Stay tuned. n


The audio is finally done. Just gotta slap it all together onto DVD. We expect this DVD to finally be ready for the public in the next week. Also, looks like Dante's will be showing at Harkins on Mill very soon. Will broadcast the news soon. Thanks for your patience!


In keeping with the sentiment "I ain't gonna sit idly by" waiting for the resources to clean up Dante's, I've used some rare downtime today to upload the pics from the Magalia Murders haunted house I co-produced/directed this past Halloween. Go to to see what transpired...


Sundance update: Dante's ain't goin' to it this year. After somedialog with the selection committee, they liked it, and gave me an extension period to "clean up the editing." This was a principle reason for my running off to California. And, as I wrote in the previous news episode, this didn't happen because of more computer trouble (USPS damaging my motherboard in shipping to CA), and I couldn't use the back up drives in the studio, because there was no studio, heh. But do I give up? C'mon. That which doesn't kill me only pisses me off more. So, again, those of you who bought a DVD and couldn't hang with the rawness, be patient, and I'll get you a more "consumer-palatable" version, ha, soon.

Not going to Sundance is actually a relief. Over the years I've compiled more negative than positive perspectives on what the once-indie-friendly Sundance Institute has become (Recommended reading: Kevin Murphy's A Year at the Movies,). Damn all these million dollar "indie" flicks. More pertinent to our struggle, as some of you know, is that one of Sundance's restrictions is that a movie cannot premiere at more than two places prior to a Sundance showing. This would have drastically cut down exposure for Dante's. So now we're free to show it to other places, namely SXSW, and other more local indie-promoting places.

In other news, I finally got the HTML bugs out of the Trailer page. So the updated trailer is good to go. Thanks again for your patience and understanding. I'm just a simple unfrozen caveman director and multimediaman.


Ok. Lots of news. I've had to leave AZ in search of greener pastures (on a lot of levels), and found myself in Paradise, California. There was just something compelling about the invitation from my dear friend and fellow filmmaker Gary Bennett to leave Inferno and go to Paradise. And not just symbolically, hehe. The precept was that I go up there to help his partner and him work on restoring houses, since as you know with my qualifications and the overall job market in Phoenix I couldn't even buy a job. They also were to have an editing studio awaiting, so that I could finally put the final cleaning touches on Dante's, since Sundance and several bigtime Hollywood players have been waiting.

None of these conditions were really met. In fact, because of USPS destroying my computer in shipping, Southwest Airlines losing my luggage (turned up in pieces days later), and a million other things, I found myself in a worse condition than when I left the hell of Phoenix. As I write this, I once again have no way of editing (USPS won't pay for the damages to the PC, despite my insuring it for $700). Trying to make lemonade from a few rotten lemons is hell. But we've come this far, and I'm not about to let divine conspiracy dictate the outcome.

Long story short: those of you who've bought the movie, you'll be getting the cleaner version sometime soon--hopefully in the next few weeks, as soon as I can buy another damned motherboard and pick up editing where I left off two months ago.


And I thought I'd be able to rest on laurels after the premiere. Nope. We've been feverishly cleaning up editing issues ever since. Even though we had an overwhelming, fantastic response from viewers, the DVD just wasn't polished enough for me to feel comfortable marketing it until now. Once again, thanks to Mark and Ton Weaver, Franckie B, Shane, and to Danny Udall for all their efforts in the post-post-production, hehe. And thanks again to Dean Mongan for putting us in touch with some big playas! We'll have the final DVD by Weds, just in time for Sundance's admission deadline. Also look for the new trailer in the next couple days.


Thanks to everyone who showed up last night. Didn't know I still had that many friends! And it was great making so many new ones. For you lame-os who "couldn't" make it, it was a critical success! We just gotta massage out some audio and other editing issues that we didn't have time to get to last week, and then it's on to some big, scary places. But first I sleep for a week...

Thanks again. We did it.

nicholas h


We've just confirmed our premiere date, time, and place. It'll be at the venerated Alwun House on Saturday, July 16th at 9pm. Alwun is at 1204 E Roosevelt St in downtown Phoenix. More info to come. I will of course broadcast an email later this week with more particulars...


I've been getting a lot of emails from people asking what's going on with Dante's. I can certainly understand their concern and wonder, since there've been so many flake-induced delays and computer evils. All I can say is I've been busting my ass editing it myself and trying to get others on board to help edit so that we have a prayer for a July 2nd Premiere. Thanks to Frank (Couch) Burnsed for picking up scenes to edit, and extra big thanks to Mike Post who's been a fantastically dedicated and professional audio editor in these our darkest hours. Plagues of bark scorpions to those (excluding Kevin Smith) who said they would help with post production but didn't.

On a lighter note, the edited footage we have thus far looks amazing.


The reason there haven't been many posts lately is because things have gotten surreal. I'm getting emails from everywhere in the world, from either just saying "good job" to offering places to show the movie, etc. It's a strange equilibrium. This thing keeps getting bigger at the same time more sabotaging occurs. By "sabotaging" I'm not necessarily meaning there's deliberate intention of Dante's not being made public; I mean, as usual, life happens--we've had several stalwart fixtures pledging allegiance to the cause (especially editors), but one by one they've had to bail on Dante's, due principally to their need to take "the better paying" thing that pops up. But if you've been reading these posts or have been on the inside of the making of this thing, you know that we'll persist, and it will be done, despite how many things divinity or human egos or human complacency throws at us. DANTE'S ARIZONA WILL PREMIERE AT ALWUN HOUSE ON SATURDAY, JULY 2nd, barring any of the usual setbacks. We'll see you there. And there will be much rejoicing.


The April 15th (Tax Day) premiere date has to be pushed off. We lost over a month of editing due to hard drives dying (7 of them), and motherboards that ate them. And while in the limbo of waiting on having a proven good editing system, we lost several editor prospects, and even a few editors that were on board. So. It looks like Memorial Day, at the earliest. Hanging in there as best I can, mud


The movie trailer is done. Will be uploaded in the next few days...


Shot the "n getting screwed at the Title Company" scene tonight. No major problems, either! We did, however manage to break Deon's special "bad Gilbert Ortega" painting. But, Deon, I salvaged the frame and the canvas, so we can still split it when we sell it for gazillions on Ebay, heh. The shoot went (too?) smoothely, as we had some gold-caliber actors on board--Steve Fox amd Tonetta Weaver. Thanks guys. And thanks again to mah crew Brendt, JR Like TV Show, and Baron. With this one in the can, there's really only three more days of shooting...


Shot our last "big" scene yesterday, at the foot of glorious Superstition Mountain. The aerial footage looks great! Gives a whole new flavor to the movie.

With the usual setbacks (actors flaking, technical problems, etc), I found myself once again scrambling for last minute fixes. Thanks to Travis for saving my ass by jumping from camera to acting as our flamed-out Sodomite Investor, and to Sean for becoming an actor, who convincingly played our Usurer (banker), to Jason Parker for leaping into another "Shit! We need someone to play this character!" role, this time as the Ghost Rider, and to Deanie, who supplied makeup/hairstyling and transportation when she should have been celebrating her birthday!

It's funny how few breaks I've gotten the past few years (whaaa), but when they do happen, they happen wonderfully, and dare I say miraculously. Thanks again to everyone who helped. I'll try to post some stills the next few days. Some neat stuff.


As you can imagine, we're concentrating on the Goldfield Haunted Ghost Town. More info on that at But we're thinking about camping out near Goldfield one night this week or weekend and finishing up some "wandering in the desert" footage for Dante's. Anyone up for a camping trip? I'd liek to do it Thursday night, so we can set up more stuff for Friday's Ghost Town. But we may opt for Friday night instead, for all you day-jobbers, hehe. Email me if interested in camping either


I'm pleased to say we're still rolling along quite productively. Shot the glorious "n vs Rattlesnake" scene today (See the Stills section). Special thanks to snake handlers Zack and Steve, and Baron Dixon who shot it. Fantastic footage. I think this scene will push this movie into the stuff of lore. And it didn't hurt me too much, hehe. Also special thanks to the guys at Honest Engine in Apache Junction for fixing my truck, which decided to lose one of its wheel's lugs on the way to the shoot. Ah, another day of indie filmmaking.


Shot the remaining Cats scenes today. Thanks again Michelle! And thank you Marlee--looks like you're gonna get "Associate Producer" credit after all ;)


Rolling along. We're scheduled to shoot the remainder of the Cats scenes this Sunday. And Wednesday we're gonna see if I can elude a premature ending to this movie when we shoot the "N vs the Rattlesnake" scene. Special thanks to Zack Ziesing of The Superstition Reptile Museum for providing Diablo, our gorgeous 5 foot Western Diamondback, and some other beautiful, if not nasty desert creatures for Dante's.


Just shot the German Corner Restarant scene. Should be a beautiful composition, considering the orange, soft ambient lighting, pictures of my dream castle Schloss Neuschwanstein, etc. We've finally got our Roger Bacon character (Dennnis Skolnick--yes, 3 n's--too many n's, huh), after having to replace two previous but competent actors Rick Semlow and Josh Reichlin.

We're now down to 7 pivotal scenes to shoot and this thing's done.


Has it really been 4 more months since the last news installment? Believe me, I haven't been having fun, despite time flying. Been besieged by more computer problems (including hard drives crashing and our losing footage, even in back ups), my Ma dying and being back in St Louis (Belleville) for over a month for that, losing more actors, etc. The few actors that remain just can't get on the same schedule, so we're in limbo still. Will try to shoot the German Restaurant scene one of these Sundays. Then there's really only 8 or 9 scenes more to shoot. Having Dante's down by the Sept 23rd Sundance deadline seems impossibly optimistic. But I feel fine!


Just wanna say thanks to all who've bought the soundtrack. Definitely helps. Look for it in stores such as Zia, Stinkweeds, Eastside, etc, in the next few weeks.

We're still chugging away, slowly but surely. We should have the infamous Heavies scenes completed by the end of April, as soon as Nick S. gets back from playing rock star.


Chicken. And Gloritone. Tonight at Long Wong's on Mill. 'ts all I'm sayin'.


So on a lighter note, we shot the rest of Hans Olson's scenes, including what looks like will be the movie's finale. Yeeeehaaaaawwww! We had, as usual, some severe setbacks, such as car troubles, technical difficulties, and worst of all, we had no Heavies. Which is a BIG problem considering these scenes were to have all three Heavies, but alas, one could not be reached, another's truck broke down, and another just plain couldn't make it. But, taking this relatively in stride (I'm used to such setbacks, heh), we rolled, having Brendt double as Heavy #1--a not too convincing Heavy #1 (with apologies to Brendt and Scott, LOL), and our buddy Mo, who doubled as Nick's Heavy #3. With some trick camera angles, we pulled it off. We'd like to welcome our newest member to the wretched (wrecking?) crew, cameraman/DP and Indie filmmaker extraordinaire, Baron Dixon. We'd also like to thank Hans Olson for sticking with it this long. It dawned on me a few days ago that I first approached Hans to play the Jimmy the Jackalope character four years ago, when we were doing Dead Heat. Four years. Man. Now that's perseverance! We consider ourselves lucky if we get an actor to do two consecutive scenes, heheeee.

Well. We're now down to about 7 or 8 more days of shooting, and then it's a wrap. These 7 or 8 days, of course, could be dragged out for another couple months, but for the first time in my relatively short filmmaking career, I can smell the end. Smells like Chicken. Speaking of which, one of the greatest bands to come outta Tempe, Chicken, will be reuniting for a one time show at Long Wongs, Sat March 28th. They open up for Gloritone. Considering both these bands are on the soundtrack, and that each band--and probably half their fans that will pack the place for the show--are acting somewhere in the movie, we're planning on having a Dante's preview party probably after the show. It'll be just cut-together raw footage to show what we have so far. You, reader, are cordially invited to the show, and to the preview screening, location to be announced soon. Stay tuned...


Ok. This post probably won't be up long, due to the negative nature of it. I'll probably take it down after I feel better, since after all the shitty things that have plagued me the past few years, I've been careful to edit myself for fear that I'd sound whiny.

But, the past few months I'd been sealing a deal with a guy in New Mexico to buy his 30 acre ranch so I could build a moviemaking town--we've already got some fantastic set pieces to move onto this property, plus the views, wildlife, and everything were ideal for making the next few movies. Deal of the century--only $10,000 plus $220 a month for payments on the remaining $15,000. We were set to go up there tomorrow to put my name on the title, but I just got a call from the guy and he sold it from under me.

In the past month, I've lost my fiancee, my (her) beautiful kids, the ranch, my publicist, and soon my ma, who's dying of several different flavors of cancer. All this in addition to the normal day-to-day hell of not being able to pay the bills, computer problems paralyzing my progress, lack of communication from actors, etc.

I'm only writing this now as a record of what kind of trials I face as I make this movie, a movie that probably will receive more negative criticism and government scalding than anything positive. In a twisted way, this is exactly why Dante's will be completed. The soundtrack will be out in the next few days; my kids' book is coming along (will be posted on my website,, which is currently under construction), and I'm working on the scripts for the next movies. Perseverance, right? Yeah. Hell yeah. In the words of my friend Kurt Klinger, "BRING IT!"


I wish everyone a fortuitous, peaceful, successful New Year. After many close calls of pulling the plug on Dante's Arizona the past two years, 2004 WILL see the movie realized. Although, after seeing Lord of the Rings: Return of the King last night, I'm impelled to say that there shouldn't be any more movies ever made! Hehe. The most stunning accomplishment ever achieved on film. I'm still reeling. Pun not really intended. While most people cried at a few of the more poignant moments, especially Pippin's song while the King's son led his hopeless Pickett-esque Charge (Gettysburg, Killer Angels) into the city, I started to cry when I saw Gondor for the first time. Nothing will ever beat this cinematic moment.

Why is Peter Jackson only (only? uhhh...) going to make $150 million, when the executive producers will make (and keep) BILLIONS? And don't answer, "Because they took the risk" or "Because the masses are putting their money into it; where else would it go?" There's a lot more to it that should not be addressed here; I'll let Dante's hit on this. Hopefully in post-revolution America, this sort of unjust imbalance will be just another shadowy, grotesque chapter in the human narrative.


Thanks to Patti and all at Casey Moores, setting of our infamous "Big Dick's" walkup scene. Woody Allen said, "The hardest thing about making a movie is getting people to show up." Agreed, whole-heartedly. Of the about fifty people invited to be extras for this scene, thirty or so said they'd be there; four (4) extras actually showed up. SO. We had to once again recruit extras who were already dining at Casey's to be extras. Of course, with our usual skeleton crew, we couldn't keep a close enough eye on the extras and other environment variables (such as a couple really adamant scene-crashers), so there were a lot of important details in the script that went unrealized.

We'll most likely need to do a quick re-shoot to get some the missing elements, as it got too dark too quickly for us to get them the first time. We had a window of about one hour to shoot all the dialog, walkups, sign shots, "crusty punk" shots, and other things. And, of course, about ten minutes into our setup, we found out that there would be a party of 100 booked for the restaurant. So, after some scrambling and re-organizing shotlists, we tried our best to be unobtrusive to Casey's. Only a few feathers were ruffled, so all in all I think we pulled off another miracle.

Special thanks to our fine first-time actors Johnnabah and Tim, Nathan and Jacob. And of course to Sandy, Cheryl, Claudia and Miguel Manzano for showing up as extras. Lastly, to our new photographer Mary Johnston for documenting it all.


Here's a copy of an email exchange I just sent to everyone involved in our Trailer Park Goth scenes planned to be shot on Nov 1st. I include this as a snippet to show more of the "behind the scenes" pitfalls we've had to overcome!

"Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2003 12:48:29 -0700 (PDT) From: GARY BENNETT Subject: nov.1 shoot To: nico holthaus

Sorry nick, but bad news I'm afraid... I spoke with Larry's wife last night and she said their lawyer reccommended against letting us use it. However... if we want to pay their lawyer a couple hundred bucks to draw up a waiver of liability, she told me that they might do. I certainly could pitch in a hundred bucks myself... She also said we were more than welcome to come and take the set to somewhere else... she's tired of looking at it and want's it gone. So if ya know someone who could pull three mobil homes off there, well then you've got a free set! LOL Anyway, give me a call sometime this weekend, and we'll come up with a new plan... Sorrry 'bout all this, G~"

"Date: Fri, 17 Oct 2003 14:16:47 -0700 (PDT) From: "nico holthaus"

Hi guys and gals.

This is an email I just got from Gary in Flagstaff. I wanted to get a concensus on what we should do about our "Trailer Park" scenes that we WILL shoot on Nov 1st. I could--if absolutely necessary--pitch in the other hundred dollars to get that waiver so we can shoot where the set is. BUT, it just seems to me it would be more convenient for everyone involved (except Gary?) to move the set away to a closer location, like Gisela (Just South of Payson--MUCH closer to us than Flagstaff), where Josh owns property. He and I will find out if he even can legally have the 4 buildings on his land. But that also raises the issue of how to get the buildings to Gisela. Basically, they're 3 half-size trailers, and one normal-wide trailer, which is about 25 feet long by 10 feet wide. I just talked with Gary, and he's gonna try to see about getting a semi, or trucks with big enough engines (Ford F350's, e.g.) that can pull them. But before we commit to anything, I need to find out where everybody's at.

It's a tough dilemma, because I know at least one of you has reservations about making the 2 and a half hour drive to Flagstaff so early the day after Halloween (hangovers), and I also haven't even heard a confirmation from anyone that he/she will be available for the shoot anyway. At the same time, I don't have the extra hundred bucks--I'd have to beg, borrow, or steal it (I've been living off credit cards, in true indie director fashion). So I'm leaning toward acquiring those buildings for the convenience of having set pieces for any future shoots in other movies (Hell, Gary put so much work into making those sets that he should be able to use them for his own purposes when he wants, and for any other filmmakers' purposes!). But I still need to know where I can put them, and then how to get them to where they're gonna be!

Everyone PLEASE email back ASAP with at least a confirmation that you'll be at the shoot on Nov 1st, whether it's in Flag or in Gisela. Then, also let me know if you don't mind going to Flag (we'd carpool as much as possible of course). Lastly, please let me know if you have any ideas on how and where to move these buildings, if we can't get them to Gisela...

Please understand my headache on this matter, and oblige with at least a confirmation!

Thanks, nico" (end of email)


Been editing, location scouting, testing out our new wide angle lens and steadicam, fighting off the pitfalls of the Day Job, and working on the soundtrack. The latter should be ready to go in the next few weeks.

We're gonna try a quick pick-up shot today. Up next, dunno. But Nov 1st we'll shoot all the Trailer Park Queen scenes in Flagstaff at a set built by our Flagstaff filmmaking compatriot Gary Bennett.


This week's reason for delay in production: nico's birthday. It was celebrated over several days (actual birthdate is Aug 4th), not out of zeal but out of necessity to accomodate people's schedules! New girlfriend, work/social schedules of friends, cast and crewmembers, etc. Except for one morning of alcohol poisoning (I just turned 19 again), I couldn't complain, hehe. Thanks to all who showed up to Wong's Weds night. It was great seeing so many people there for me. Warm fuzzies. Hell, we even had all three Heavies at the same place at the same time! Next up: still Big Dick's Patio scene. Or not. ;)


We shot the Jehova Mormon scene tonight. And there was much tongue-in-cheek religious rejoicing. I wouldn't have thought finding a couple of blonde-haired, blue-eyed people would be so hard. Alas, my old buddy Matt and a friend of our cameraman shone up, sho'nuff. And boy did they shone up. Next up (hopefully): the patio of Big Dicks scene. And with this scene in the can, we'll have the first forty chronological minutes or so of the movie done.


More setbacks. The major one this time was my own damned fault. Damaged camera. So we've been waiting on Canon to ship me what I need to remedy the problem. There were also the usual schedule conflicts and an especially large number of the "everyday life" things that got in the way. But we'll be shooting something this week, and more in the next two weeks.

I'd also like to welcome MAC makeup artist Lizzy Campbell to the team. Another wonderful person to bring along when the "big time" hits...


Happy D-Day everyone. Hmm. Last night we shot the much-anticipated "n and Cats" and "n explodes" scenes. Not to get too philosophical, but last night may have been another occurence of "invisible hands" guiding this project; our having been flaked on by "Cats" character prospects all these times while my guinea pig's days were dwindling, finally came to a fratuitous end, as the wonderful actor Michelle Mann absolutely nailed the part. I found out a few hours into prepping for the shoot last night that she had just driven up from Tucson. When she told me she lived there and came up here just for this scene, I was stunned. What dedication. There was so much great energy last night that the shoot went damn near flawlessly. Can't wait to have a few free minutes to drool over footage, hehe.

I slept comfortably last night for the first time in weeks; maybe the best sleep I've had in months.


In the nearly two years of our shooting, we've not had so much trouble securing a shoot location as we had the past week. The "artists ranch" written of in the last installment turned out to be a bust; the owner could scarcely be reached despite three confirmed days to see the place. So I was forced to make a day-before-the-shoot location change to shoot the "Jackalope (Hans Olson) Lair and Heavies scene." My undying gratitude goes to Ron Kaczor, proprietor of the Cave Creek Mistress Mine. Ron, my friend and recently ordained Buddhist Monk saw our predicament and graciously let us use his place to shoot the scene. The result was a success. The place is fantastic, a sort of solace to which I retreat every few months when I start feeling the ills due to the dysfunctions of urban living. It's rustic as all hell, the perfect home for our charismatic, if not eccentric Jackalope character.

Tomorrow we finally shoot the "n and Cats" scene. That's right, we've finally secured our gal, after having suffered through so many flakes!

I should qualify that last statement in saying that this flaking may be due in part to my approach to some of those prospective actors. After all, the average people I approach who are not "in the know" about our movie, and have never acted before or even been approached to act must think, "Who in the hell is this person? He works part time at a Home Depot, so how could he be really making a movie!? Especially one with so many names attached to it? He must be bullshitting me." And so it goes. Well, after the Dante's dust has settled, and our movie is out there, and we're ready to work on the next one, I have a feeling I won't be having such casting troubles, hehe. In fact, it's interesting how many people have actively sought me out the past few weeks to help in the production.

Ahh, the deeper we spin...This thing is gaining so much momentum already that if I hadn't been awaiting this my whole life, I'd probably feel overwhelmed.


We shot another scene Saturday night, the "n and Homer" (Paul Cook) scene. Went pretty well. We loved the makeup job done by the newest production member to Dante's, Nancy Zilversmit. The cuts she applied to my lip were too good, so we had to back it off a bit, hehe.

I've got to scout some more locations tomorrow. There's an artists' ranch up near Cave Creek, so hopefully we'll be able to shoot the Jackalope Lair (or would that be a "warren?") scenes as well as maybe the Ed the Trailer Park Queen and Trailer Park Goth scenes. I hope to be shooting these in the next week or so, as I have a few actors who will either be, uh, changing their appearances or will be generally unavailable for a while...And we still have yet to find a good "Cats" actress, but as long as my guinea pig continues to appear in good health, we're still good...AHHH the pressure!


Due to yet two more seemingly enthusiastic acting prospects flaking on us, we've not been able to shoot any of the "Cats" scenes as was planned this week. This really sucks because, while waiting on their availabilities that never came, we could have been shooting other scenes, as I have several actors growing a bit impatient waiting for their shoots. The bigger problem is, we really need to shoot the one Cats scene asap because my guinea pig plays an important part in it, and she's close to passing on, probably a couple weeks or so. So let that be on the flakes' conscience should they read this!

So what did I do, with a whole week of not-one-day-working-for-the-Man? I went camping, first in Payson, then in Tucson, did some abandoned mine hunting, played in the Biosphere, ate Mayan know, those sorts of wonderful things that are the true reason we're all here in AZ! Speaking of camping, my buddy and I were, within a three minute timespan, beseiged by six different species of desert creepy crawly. The first was a plague of insects (insectus plagus), then a tarantula, then a sun spider (my natural enemy), then a BIGGER sun spider, then a centipede, and then this softball-sized brown thing that scuttled after me. It was a good night. We must have sounded like little girlymen, laughing so hard at the absurdity/scriptedness of it all. And believe it or not, I had my camera with me, but 1. I didn't know how long this game of "and in a few seconds a bigger, more vile creature will come along" would continue, and 2. my camera doesn't do so well in very dark conditions.

So you'll just have to use your imaginations...until it becomes a scene in our next movie Ghost Desert.

Good night, sleep tight, and don't let any softball-sized brown things...come marching in, and crawl up your leg, and start biting the inside of your ass...



!Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

Sometime in the next two weeks, we'll be shooting the n and Cats scene. The scene: n has just sold his house, and it's just sinking in how much he's been screwed by the deal, set up by his friend Roger Bacon. His only true friend in the world, Cats, had not been around in n's world lately since he started spiraling, so n doesn't know where to start with all the things that has happened to him. This frustrating inability to explain things to her pushes him over the edge. Frightened, she leaves.

In a rage, n storms into his room. His guinea pig starts sqwalking, and in a lightning-fast reflex, he grabs it, raises it as if to fastball her into a wall...

This scene will be a little tough to pull off, because it will require two camera setups, one in n's living room, the other in the difficult-to-light bedroom. Emotion is also key here. It's sort of a mini-climax of the movie. Also, this scene involves yet another first-time actor (Cats, played by Augustina Sutherland), although I have confidence in her ability to play the part.

We have to shoot this scene soon, because my guinea pig, Sabrina, is starting to show signs of, let's say expiration.

We'll also be shooting the "Jehova Mormons" scene. This will be easy to act out, and should have been shot already, but it's been unbelievably hard to find two young Aryan looking kids that are 1. willing to do it and 2. available on the early evenings needed.

With the completion of the "Jehova Mormons scene," and the n approaches Big Dick's" scene, we'll have the first thirty minutes of the whole movie edited.

Of course, we've shot many other scenes, but they're chronologically later in the story, and we had to shoot out of sequence through the whole thing due to flakes, cast and crew leaving without much notice, if any, and a million other contingencies.

It's funny, one person told me that if Dante's had outside funding, we'd be fired because of all the time we'd spent scrambling to fix such contingencies. To which I replied, "Absolutely the contrary: if we had funding, nobody on our cast and crew would flake in the first place!" That is, if we all were paid for making this movie, there'd have been more dedication from some of the people who've left us hanging at one point or another.

So my hat's off to all who've stuck with me throughout the production. But then, they know it's already paying off.


Before I say anything about this movie, I need to extend my gratitude, to give "big ups," to "recognate," to give credit where it's a few people who are no longer in my social spheres.

First and foremost, I need to thank Doug Monce for getting me started in filmmaking. Granted, since I'd been running a multimedia company since the dawn of Homo Digitalis (circa 1995 C.E.), it was only a matter of time before I befriended a bona fide filmmaker. But he was the first, and I'm glad it was he who showed me the door, so to speak.

Second, Dean Mongan. I've not met anyone else so driven to make movies. I remember a few years back when Dean, Doug, and I were in the bowels of corporate hell (a computer integration plant within the Avnet-Hallmark-Hamilton creature) and they were drilling each other on such technical tripe as the color temperatures of a blue sock on July 23rd at 4:14pm, 1982 in Tanzania, if I recall incorrectly. I had to leave the aisle where they were working. Years later, I wish I'd stayed. Maybe not. Regardless, I wish circumstances had been different the last time Dean and I saw each other, not even a year ago as I write this.

Third, Danny Udall. So many projects, so little time and/or common ground. Again, I wish circumstances had been different. I understand the concept of family.

For different reasons, contact has been lost between each of these three individuals and myself, but I want all who read this to know that if it weren't for these three good people, Dante's Arizona would not exist. In fact, I'm not sure I would have ever seen the filmmaking road, let alone be in the mysterious, titillating place in life that I am.

Lastly, I wish to thank all cast and crew, especially my right-hand man, Brendt Parrish, who's performed so many roles from assistant director, to production manager, to gaffer, to makeup artist, to set design, to quasi-computer-programmer! I also wish to thank Jason "Crash!" Ryan, who's been our most dependable and steady-handed cameraman to date (we've had a lot of them). Finally, Deon Allen has been an ardent supporter, from being a returning extra for the fetish/orgy scene's SIX or so days we've shot it, to set designer, to cover artist.

I'm sure each of you know how indebted I am to your services. Although we've butted heads on countless issues, may we always remain friends and project partners.

On with the show...

This movie started off as something else. It was initially a rather straight-forward crime drama, and something to sort of throw together in the hopes that it would be a completed, feature length movie that we could show potential investors. With their money, we would be free to make "financed" movies, specifically a dream project Doug Monce and I had regarding Arizona's Lost Dutchman Goldmine legends.

The crime drama came apart due to a number of those usual elements that disintegrate a first-time team effort: too many chiefs (and, critically, not the right ones) and not enough Indians, as well as lack of organization, lack of resources, lack of...etc.

So the crime drama died.

Only to be revived a few months later due to sheer investment of energy and the exorbitant amounts (to me) of money put into what was to be our first project. This revival would create something very different--at times 180 degrees different--from the "boring old film noire" from which it was indirectly born. More on that in another installment.

I had the crew, the cast, the music for the soundtrack and score, just about everything to make another movie. Except the director, and a script.

The latter was a "no-brainer," as perhaps above all else I do on this planet, I'm a writer. The former was going to be the bitch.

But I figured I'm charismatic (enough), I've got some connections, and a whole lot of ambition. Plus, the equipment (well, the camera) was mine, and I got seemingly the whole town of Tempe excited enough in the first place to offer me actors, locations, etc. But most significantly, I'm just DUMB enough to try directing. Plus, I was at the beginning of the road of my unemployability. The stars were aligned; things fell into place, as they do.

So, two YEARS later, we're just about half done shooting the beast. Heh. That might sound to the uninitiated that there're two more years to go, but that's not necessarily how it works; I think we'll be done in the next few months. Unless of course we are confronted with more pestilence, famine, war, and death. True analogies, each. It's been by turns joked and condoled that the true drama of Dante's Arizona is the making of it. I see both sides. More on this later.