A FEW DAYS ON THE SET OF ‘THE BLACK DAHLIA’
Ã‚Â Three years after my first meeting with Brian De Palma, I’ve been to Sofia, Bulgaria, the last 18th may, for observing the making of the new Brian De Palma film.
Ã‚Â Needless to say that I was so excited because of meeting again the person who is, for years, my favorite film-director, and especially on the set of his new movie, The Black Dahlia.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â [I’ll tell the less as possible about the scenes that I observed, I don’t want to waste the pleasure that will have the audience. No pictures of the actors Ã‚Â because of the image rights of course, and the places where the movie is still shooting will be keeping secret]
Ã‚Â During these six surreal days, I realized that lots of shots, of sequences will make happy the De Palma fans. Thanks to the production coordinator, Maggie, I have all the informations about the Black Dahlia (casting, crew, notes, even the screenplay by Josh Friedman!)
Ã‚Â Thursday 19th may
Ã‚Â I came the first day on the set, in the middle of the Los Angeles from 1947 - fabulous works of Dante Ferretti! Sue, the script supervisor, has the kindness to introduce me to the whole crew (the crew is international, there were americans, tcheques, italians, bulgarians, french…). I meet again Brian, we shaked hands and don’t speak a lot - he’s very busy. I meet Brian’s AD, somebody who’s really wonderful - her patience and her kindness helped me a lot during my trip. She’s one of the best person I’ve ever met. I meet Josh Hartnett, who’s playing Bucky, the main character of James Ellroy’s novel. We talked about my website, about his character, other De Palma movies(he likes very much Travolta’s character in Blow Out), and the famous works of Ferretti. I discovered somebody who’s really smart, very friendly, obviously in the skin of his character (he had to play it three years ago, when David Fincher had to make the film, but the project broke down)…
Ã‚Â I meet Steve Eastin, who played a detective - a wonderful person whose I talked about The Black Dahlia, or Polanski’s Chinatown… I found he have an incredible voice and I saw him played, he was so great! I’ve also seen Mike Starr - he played Russ Millard, and he’s fantastic! So very very nice casting. I discovered that Brian is somebody who like to work with three cameras for a same scene. What I saw on the monitors was simply fan-tas-tic! I knew that some of the scenes has already been shot before, but they had many problems at three times with the negatives in bulgarian labos, so they had to shot again the same scenes.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Shaking hands with the crew, I realized that they are very nice people, very friendly, but also interressed by their work. Not only Vilmos Zsigmond, the director of the photography, who has already worked with Brian -he was really pleasant, and full of humour- but also Rolf, the Danish who’s the set potographer, people like Alexandre the clapman, the “props girl”, all the ADs, the 1rst ass director, Jean-Paul and Sam from the sound department (both have already worked with Brian for Femme Fatale), also the Aaron Eckhart’s and Josh’s AD, and David Varod, and Dante Ferretti, etc. I hope that those that I forget will pardon me. Anyway, it’s a wonderful crew, and one of the best that De Palma have ever have - they’re making their best for making a great esthetic film.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Friday 20th
Ã‚Â The day after, they’re shooting by night, in interior this time, always in an incredible set, for a spectacular scene (this shooting of this scene took a long time - four days). For a De Palma fan that I am, I had a wonderful meeting: I shaked hands with William Finley! The man is very friendly, very nice, and I talked with him a lot - not only about Black Dahlia or Phantom of the Paradise for exemple, but also about everything. I saw him alone, talking with Brian, both of them sitted on Black Dahlia’s chairs during that the crew preparing the next scene, and Sam told me: “Hey, there’s a shot to make!” I came to Brian and William and asked them if I could take a picture… and they said “yes!” Now, thirty years after Phantom of the Paradise, I’ve got the picture of Brian with William both back on a movie set…
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Saturday 21st
Ã‚Â On the third day, no shooting. I went to a party with some members of the crew, and I’ve seen that they were really cool.
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Sunday 22nd
Ã‚Â On the fourth day (or “on the fourth night”), the shooting with Finley and Eckhart continues, and I was so happy to see again William and talked with him. I never had the time to talk with Eckhart unfortunaly, just shaked hands with him on the last day of my trip. Brian was surprised that I haven’t put my repports on my website, I explained him that I haven’t the Internet in my hotel room, he answered that “the whole world have to know how is it on the set, and Geoff have to know”, which was true… Unfortunaly, the time was also a reason, so I’ve put this section when I was back in France.
Ã‚Â Monday 23rd
Ã‚Â On the fifth night of shooting, it was always the same spectacular scene, this time with Josh Hartnett. I meet Bill Pankow who is the editor for this movie, and he has already edited lots of De Palma films. It’s a Ã‚Â news! I talked a little with Brian, explained him why I’ve created a website, told that I discovred his terrific visual style with Carrie, and that Body Double is my favorite movie of all-times. By the way, it was Sue’s birthday, and I’ve also made an interview with Brian about the Black Dahlia for my website!
Ã‚Â Ã‚Â Tuesday 24th
Ã‚Â Last time that I’ve been on the set, in another place this time (and what a place!). I shaked hands with Bill Pancow who is the editor of the movie… I had to take my plane to Paris during the morning, after the shooting. At the end of the night, I shaked hands with Brian, said bye, thanked him, took my stuff and went to the airport… I didn’t have the time to say “bye” to everybody, like Alex the clapman, who’ll pardon me I hope…