The Hefty Gentleman From Corsicana

I've been tooling around on my bike the last few days shooting photos of this and that in my neighborhood and points to the south. It's still damn humid … but, oh, blessed sunshine!

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Late Satuday afternoon, after stowing away my bike and taking a shower, I headed over to Russ' new place in a quiet neighborhood tucked away off Austin Highway near the McNay. He had his friends from East Texas visiting him over the weekend. I'd met Gem and Jon maybe two years ago at a restaurant following a Short Ends screening. Russ has known them for about thirty years.

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Because of Russ' love of the infamously derided (and justly so) Corsicana fruit cake, his friends stopped in that town to bring him a prime example of the Collin Street Bakery's “mouth-watering DeLuxe Texas Fruitcake” (and here I quote their website). And after a wonderful and delicious meal prepared by Russ and Gem, what most enraptured Russ was the unveiling of the fifth guest at the table. The hefty gentleman from Corsicana. The pristine shipping box fell away under an assault from a sturdy chefs knife Gem passed to Russ.

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I must admit I politely allowed a portion to be placed on my dessert plate. I am now set for another two decades.

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After dessert, Jon invited me and Russ out to Russ' garage, which Russ has turned into a workshop — currently he's building a camera dolly. Anyway, Jon, when he's home in Kilgore, is in the habit of working on his art in the evenings in his studio. And he's apparently a serious artist. He'd been working on a drawing out in Russ' garage while the rest of us were watching a movie.

“Okay,” Jon said. “I've done a pencil drawing in here. It's up to you guys to find it.”

Me and Russ wandered around the garage. We looked at the floor, the walls, the exposed beams. We checked out cardboard boxes. We finally gave up, baffled.

“Okay, where is it?”

Jon pointed to a metal bucket.

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Pretty cool.


One of the team leaders of the San Antonio 48 Hour Film Project (henceforth, SA48HFP), Lorenzo Lopez, used to work for one of the local TV stations. He managed, unbeknownst to me, to line up a spot on the local Fox affiliate morning news show. It's great when other people help to make me look savvy and on top of things.

I met Lorenzo this morning at about 7:15. He had brought along a friend who shoots for Kens 5 (another local TV station) — this guy (whose name I've forgotten) was there to chronicle Lorenzo's 48 Hour film-making endeavor. We should all have a camera crew following us around.

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In lieu of a green room, we waited in the lobby. Eventually we were joined by a couple of other guests.

One of the station's tech people came up to us and she asked who'd be doing the most talking. Lorenzo hooked his thumb at me. “Well, Erik's the producer, so I guess he will.” I soon learned that despite Lorenzo's years of TV news, he was much more comfortable behind the camera. As am I.

The woman began to place a wireless lavaliere microphone on Lorenzo. It was rather comical, because he was already wearing one, the receiver of which was attached to the Sony HD camcorder wielded by his electronic Boswell. But the woman didn't miss a beat. She had Lorenzo wired up in a matter of seconds.

Soon we were escorted into an ante room which opened onto four studios and a very busy control room. Even after a whopping large cappuccino I'd had before leaving home, I was relatively calm. Lorenzo seemed slightly nervous. He peered through the glass window of a door into the main studio and made mention of the attractiveness of one of the on-camera talent — meteorologist, I believe (and am I really using that word??). It's not that is was off-color or anything, but clearly Lorenzo knew most of these people. I pointed out that he was, indeed, wired up with a live microphone and surely someone was monitoring him. He just shrugged.

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Me, Lorenzo, and his camera man, had been curious about a crawl we'd been seeing on all of the TV monitors around the building (which showed us the show in progress). It mentioned something about “Gore is still being sought in connection to rape.” Surely not Al? Maybe his son? There was another update. The rape happened somewhere in west Texas. And then we learned that the suspect was not related to Al Gore.

The camera guy shook his head. “But why would they keep announcing just the last name? Gore?”

“You kidding?” I asked. “I thought you're in the media. We're in the belly of the beast. It's fucking Fox news.” I was about to throw in that whole Obama Osama thing, which, as I thought about it, was probably not Fox, but CNN, when the techie woman began piloting us into the studio.

Lorenzo, who obviously knows his way around a TV studio, knew what the vertical mirror on the outer edge of the studio was for. He gave himself a quick once over. I knew I was a lost cause, and continued into the studio. We were either at a commercial break, or the local feed had been exchanged for the national signal to show weather across the country or to return to the crucial on-the-scene reporting with the crews at the American Idol auditions in Dallas. Pleasantly controlled chaos — like any good production. The woman who would be interviewing us introduced herself. And I quickly forgot her name as the tech woman snaked a lav mike up my shirt. Lorenzo seemed to know everyone in the room. He made the rounds, shaking hands.

There was a comfy chair for the interviewer, and an overstuffed sofa for us. I took a seat closest to my interviewer. Lorenzo sat down on the other side of me.

“Erik Boss?” the woman asked me.

“Bosse,” I said. “Like a bossy person.” She nodded, smiled, and looked down at her clipboard in her lap. “And, um, your name again? I have to confess, I don't watch much TV.”

She gave me a sweet smile. “Stephanie,” she said. I've checked the website. Make that Stephanie Rivas.

I believe we had a three minute slot. And it goes pretty fast. She began as if both me and Lorenzo would each be making movies for the 48 Hour Film Festival.

I did my best to channel Nikki Young ('cause she does this shit so much better than I could ever do). I tried to keep myself from speaking to fast, and said something along the lines of: “Yes, I'm the San Antonio producer for the 48 Hour Film Project. And Lorenzo is leading one of our twenty-five teams. He's got to make a movie in 48 hours.”

Perhaps I came off as a robot, but I don't think it went so bad. (However, as I was driving home, it occurred to me that I never mentioned where and when the films would be screened — maybe they placed a text crawl. Hope so. Also, I don't think it was ever made clear that these were short films. Oh, well. Press is almost always good.)

After I untethered myself from the microphone, I whipped out my camera. I toggled on the flash — seeing as there were no cameras in the studio “on air” — and I took a picture of Stephanie.

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I headed home and caught up on some email.

Around one I took a proper bike ride. From my house to Mission Espada and back. About 20 miles. I stopped and took some photos of the recently defunct Mission Drive-In Theater and the adjacent Rosicrucian club house.

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Out at Mission Espada I played around with some close-ups of an artist's 3D depiction of the mission site sculpted on bronze or some other kind of metal which, in the onslaught of summer, becomes insanely hot. I want one of the local news stations to come out during a 104 degree day and blast the bronze courtyard with a liberal coating of Pam and crack on egg on that sucker.

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Back home, I had to decline an invite from Janet of the film commission to join her panel for tomorrow's Film Forum at the downtown library. The topic is film festivals. And of the one or two times I have sat on last year's panels, this is a topic on which I can legitimately pontificate. But I have made it known that I will be available at Ruta Maya coffee shop every Tuesday night until the weekend of the 48HFP. Kind of silly. Ruta Maya is only three blocks from the library.

But Janet should feel confident. They have, as panelists, Adam Rocha (who's been successfully running his San Antonio Underground Film Festival for a damn long time); Graciela Sanchez (and she's brought some amazing work to the Esperanza Center for their Cine Mujer — hands down the best of about a dozen San Antonio film festivals); Denise Crettenden (she and her husband run Seguin Film & Arts Festival, one of the most pleasant and laid-back local film fests — I always submit work because I enjoy attending their events); and Dar Miller (whose SAL — San Antonio Local — first annual festival, which is fast approaching, promises to showcase all the great talent here in Bexar County). I would have been in great company. But it's a good panel. Try and make it. It's free. Nikki Young will be MCing the event. And as the coordinator for the SA to SA (San Antonio to South Africa) Film Festival, she'll be more than qualified to keep the panel on track and on topic.


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