Peering at the Clutter of April

I'm temporarily back at the Company where I'm scoring standardized tests. In keeping with this country's love of corporate consolidation, the business has been swallowed up by a bigger business. In fact, the place has a new name. I, however, will continue to use the unoriginal denominator of the “Company,” protecting myself from breaching the massive and obdurate nondisclosure form I undoubtedly was made to sign a few years back which one must assume had a “no blogging clause” lost in the bowels of sententious footnotes.

This current gig is weekday nights. Three or four weeks. The bitch is that, as I recall, there is a lag of a couple of weeks before the first check arrives. Oh well, at least I have some pending income to supplement my current contract work with Urban-15 — for, you see, we're already gearing up for the 2008 Josiah Media Festival. Mid July. Start making room on your calendars.

Speaking of filling up the old social calendar, April promises to be a monster for folks in San Antonio. First off, we have The Esperanza Peace and Justice Center's annual Cine Mujer. Actually, it kicks off tomorrow (Friday) night. It runs March 28 – 30, and then April 3 – 5. It's free. But please try and drop a stray bill or more into the donation jar at the entrance. This is one of the best film festivals in town. Graciela and the crew over at Esperanza bring in some great work from all over the world. I plan to make as many of the screenings as possible.

Also, the 30th annual CineFestival will run April 10 – 13 at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. This is going to be a blast. Head over to the website to see what's planned for this nationally renowned Chicano film fest. And drop Payan and Pocha an email if you want to volunteer — it'll probably net you some free admittance privileges. I've seen one of the promo posters for the festival which was handmade — silk screen, I presume — and that's just fucking cool. I'll be camping out at the Guadalupe for that weekend. Hope to see your there!

However, that Sunday — April 13th — (late afternoon / early evening) I'll be over at the grand opening of Main Plaza, the area they've been renovating in front of the downtown courthouse. If you're kicking yourself for missing Luminaria, this promises to be more of the same, but in a smaller geography. There will be all sorts of performances from 5pm until about 10pm. That night, and, well, for months to come, performances and events in Main Plaza will be over-seen by Main Plaza Conservancy, a non-profit organization. Marisela Barrera (of La Colectiva fame) is the programming coordinator for the conservancy. Expect big things to come.

And then April 18 – 27 Fiesta will descend upon San Antonio. Tens days high-octane drinking and partying that, for those of us who live in the downtown region, resembles the biblical descriptions of the ten plagues of Egypt (quite apt, now that I think about it — Fiesta is usually around the time of Passover). There is some question as to whether or not the King William Parade will go by my house this year. The assholes who run the event are feuding with some of the folks who live on my block, and last I heard they were trying to pass through punitive measures. We'll see how that goes — E. Guenther Street has some feisty citizens.

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This morning I was at the parking-lot of the San Antonio Zoo. 7:45 call time. The zoo officially opens at 9, and we were there to shoot a quick scene for the SAL (San Antonio Local Film Festival) promotional teaser written and directed by Sam Lerma.

The folks who operate the little kid's train were kind enough to allow us to shoot on the train. We loaded crew, equipment, and actors onto the train, and the engineer (Don, I believe, was his name) put it into gear and we were off.

Here we have the train engineer sitting next to JJ Phillips. While we were still adjusting camera and audio settings, I heard Don tell JJ how proud he was to be working at his job. “I might be old, but I'm out here every day. I don't need a walker, and I can climb up onto this engine … well, better than you. Now I'm not bragging to make you feel inadequate, young feller, it's just the way it is.”

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Sam, Russ, and myself, the three crew people, were crammed into the handicapped car directly behind the engine. And there was a moment between takes when I realized that all three of us were snapping photos with our little point-and-shoot digital cameras. This is the future of on-set production stills. They will be listed in the credits as “shot by everyone.”

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We returned to the train depot with five minutes to spare. As we were breaking down equipment, the engineer motioned to Sam. Sam had his baby daughter on set as an extra. The engineer let Sam's little girl pull the cord for the train whistle.

Earlier while we were chugging along on the train, Russ has said something about how this was the fun kind of filmmaking. I think we were all on the same page with that.

Next, we headed to the park's train yard. It was a great location. We were in a little warehouse where two small gage tracks entered so that the trains can be maintenanced. We had two trains as set dressing in the background. And for this scene one of our actors was Andy Miller — filmmaker and SAL board member. He filled in for an absent actor, and he did a great job. I don't know how much of his lines will make it to the final edit, but he was doing some great ad-libs — and, as I was holding the boom pole, I was trying not to laugh.

The third and final location of the day was the Grayson Street Garage (strangely, not on Grayson Street, but N. Alamo). Sam wrangled it because the local TV station he shoots for uses it to service their production trucks. A very quick and smooth shoot.

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Here we have JJ Phillips on the right. The handsome grimy young man beside him is Cosme Espinoza, who only has one line, but he delivered it perfect. He will also be appearing in rest of the companion SAL promos.

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By 11:30 we cleared out of the Grayson Street Garage (where we were treated wonderfully). Andy had headed back to work, and Russ had to make a doctor's appointment (or so he said). The rest of us headed off to the Pig Stand on Broadway for lunch. Me, Sam, Dar, JJ, Sam, and the little Samlette.

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I then headed off to put some hours at Urban-15, and then off to the Company. A full day.

Thanks for Lunch, SAL!

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