Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Postcards’ Category

My mom was an art teacher for 31 years at South Seminole Middle School. A paint brush with her name on it is one of the few mementos I have of her time there. There’s something beautifully simple about a used paint brush, and this one brings back a flood of memories growing up looking at books in our home showing the work of great painters. I was drawn the most to the works of Winslow Homer, Claude Monet, Salvador Dali, and Vincent Van Gogh.

As a teenager, my mom took art classes at the Dayton Art Institute, and later studied art at Ohio State. I’ll never know exactly how that impacted my creative sensibilities, but I do think my sense of composition was formed in looking at those paintings in books year after year.

My mom was born on this day during the depression. In the years before she died I enjoyed hearing her stories that filled in the gaps of her life. While in high school she worked at radio station WINK in Dayton, Ohio where a young Jonathan Winters was getting his start. And when I asked her if any of her art students went on to have a career as an artist she mentioned Colorado-based artist Scrabble Campbell. It’s so hard to make a living as an artist that John Mellencamp recently said that despite his love of painting, it was easier to become a rock star.

My mom with a creation by one of her students

P.S. This morning in American Cinematographer magazine (April, 2022) I read about the HBO documentary Black Art: In the Absence of Light directed by Sam Pollard and shot by Henry Adebonojo (and also featuring archival footage shot by John Simmons).

”For me as a filmmaker, I always take strength from artists because of the courage they exhibit in doing what they do, as well as their vision — the way they see the world. I’m working with a different kind of canvas than they are, but I can take so many things from them to alter what might be an ordinary palette and turn it into something dynamic.”
—Cinematographer Henry Adebonojo

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

Read Full Post »

Postcard #212 (Sugar—My New Puppy)

I know there are more serious issues going on in the world at the moment, but if you need a smile today here are a few photos of my new dog that graced our home this weekend. A new chapter begins.

P.S. Two of my favorite dog films are Marley and Me (2008) and My Dog Skip (2000).

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

Read Full Post »

Here’s a photo I took last month of a glassblower at the Sundance Mountain Resort in Utah. Fascinating to watch this craftsman ply his trade working with broken glass. A trade, by the way, that’s been around for thousands of years.

This is what the Sundance website says about their recycled glassworks area that’s part of their sustainability efforts :

“Because recycling glass in Utah presents a set of challenges, Sundance Mountain Resort installed its own glass works kiln. Wine and other glass bottles used at Sundance Mountain Resort are not only recycled onsite, but are turned into decorative art and housewares for use around the property. Glass blowers from Tlaquepaque, Guadalajara (best known for its hand-blown glass) come each year to blow our glass on-site. In a perfect fusion of artistic and environmental purposes, they transform hot molten balls of discarded glass into art pieces, vases, wine glasses, dinner plates or pitchers, many of which you will use again in the restaurants or experience at other venues around the resort. The glass blowing artists use up to five 30 gallon barrels of glass each day and are able to produce as many as 500 glasses each day.”

Related posts:
The Road to Sundance is Difficult—Literally

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

Read Full Post »

“[John Wayne’s] visual legacy has defined him as the archetypal man of the American West—bold, innocent, profane, idealistic, wrongheaded, good-hearted, single-minded, quick to action, not given to pretension, essentially alone, ready for any adventure—no matter how grand or daring; larger, finally, than life or death.”
—Peter Bogdanovich in Who the Hell’s in It

As a way to tie in my recent post about writer/director Peter Bogdanovich with my recent holiday trip out west here are a couple of photos from Arches National Park in Utah. I took these two days after Christmas on a quick stop between Grand Junction, Colorado and Provo, Utah. If you’re not from this part of the country and are a cinephile this place just screams old westerns.

Back in the ’60s, when Bogdanovich was still a journalist he met director John Ford when he was shooting Cheyenne Autumn. I’m not sure which location in Utah he was able to observe Ford direct, but part of Cheyenne Autumn was shot in Arches National Park. As were parts of many other films including Thelma & Louise, Indiana Johns and the Last Crusade, The Greatest Story Ever Told, and another John Ford film Fort Apache (which starred John Wayne).

It’s a mesmerizing part of the country.

Ground central for classic Hollywood western films (with its classic buttes) is Monument Valley directly south of Arches about 3 hours. But to show how vast this terrain is, I took the photo below about an hour northwest of Arches just off Interstate 70 near Green River, Utah. I couldn’t pass up the way the light was hitting the mesa. Since the Sundance Film Festival starts tomorrow I’ll talk about the road to Sundance in Utah in my next post.

P.S. I imagine I’ll write more about this later, but if you’re interested in the history of films made in Utah—from The Searchers to 127 Hours to Footloose—check out the excellent book When Hollywood Came to Utah by James D’Arc.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

Read Full Post »

Just two weeks ago on my cross country driving trip I drove through Wichita Falls. That north Texas town has been on my radar for decades because it’s near where director and screenwriter Peter Bogdanovich shot The Last Picture Show (1971). I believe Archer City was the stand-in for the small dying oil town based on Larry McMurtry’s novel. You don’t need to be too far out of Dallas heading north on Route 287 to be transported back in time in the mesmerizing wide open spaces of Texas. But the majestic blue sky I witnessed is a stark contrast to the black and white vision Bogdanovich used in The Last Picture Show. (One said to be encouraged by Orson Welles.)

When I heard yesterday that Bogdanovich died, the film of his I thought of was The Last Picture Show. When I heard today that Sidney Poitier died the film I thought about was A Raisin in the Sun (1961). Next week I’ll re-visit posts I’ve written on both films. But today I’ll leave you with a photo I took in downtown Wichita Falls of what was originally The Wichita Theater built in 1908. The renovated theatre is now the Wichita Theatre Performing Arts Centre. It was originally an opera house, but in 1939 it opened as a renovated movie theater. I’d like to think that both A Raisin in the Sun and The Last Picture Show once played there. And perhaps it’s where the cast and crew hung out during downtime while making The Last Picture Show.

P.S. Because part of this blog is about places as well as screenwriting and filmmaking, you can get a great snap shot of American history and culture by watching The Last Picture Show and A Raisin in the Sun back to back.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

Read Full Post »

Driving down Main Street in Grand Junction, Colorado last week I didn’t expect to see a screenwriter sitting in a bathtub. But that’s what happened.

Oscar-winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (Roman Holiday, The Brave One) was born in Montrose, Colorado and raised in nearby Grand Junction. He wrote for the school newspaper before graduating from Grand Junction High School in 1924. According to Wikipedia, ”Trumbo worked the night shift wrapping bread at a Los Angeles bakery, and attended the University of California, Los Angeles (1926) and the University of Southern California (1928–1930). During this time, he wrote movie reviews, 88 short stories, and six novels, all of which were rejected for publication.”

Right out of the gate there wasn’t much to indicate that by the 1940s he would be one of the most in demand and highest paid screenwriters in Hollywood. But he got some stories published in magazines, had his first novel (Eclipse) published in 1935, worked as a reader for Warner Bros., and earned his first film screenwriting credit in 1936. But at the peak of his success he was named with other screenwriters and others in the film industry as a Communist sympathizer. In 1947 he was brought by House Un-American Activities Committee to testify before congress. Dalton refused to give information and was held in contempt of Congress. This resulted i Trumbo serving 11 months time in federal penitentiary in Kentucky in 1950, and the Hollywood Ten being blackballed from the film industry.

Afterwards he moved his family to Mexico City, wrote scripts for B-movies for low-pay, but also wrote Hollywood movies under a pseudonym. He wasn’t recognized for writing some of his films until after his death in 1976. That’s the sweeping timeline of a screenwriter from definitely from an unlikely place.

I can think of no other screenwriter who rose so high, fell so low, had books and movies made about his life, and has statue of himself back in his hometown. But as someone from Grand Junction once told me, “Western slope people are different.” Look no further than Dalton Trumbo—a man known for writing screenplays in a bathtub—as proof of that statement. (Artist: J. Michael Wilson)

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

Read Full Post »

Postcard #207 (Westways Court)

Pulling north out of Ouray, Colorado I came upon an retro motel sign for the Westways Court in Delta. It’s hard for me to pass these signs up when the lighting is good and they’re in such fine shape.

My next post will be about an Oscar-winning screenwriter who was born less than half an hour from the location of the Westways Court.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

Read Full Post »

Postcard #206 (Ouray/Ridgeway)

It’s almost impossible to drive through parts of western Colorado and not feel like you’re on an expanded set for a old western. I took these photos a few days ago in the neighboring towns of Our and Ridgeway where True Grit (1969) with John Wayne was filmed.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

Read Full Post »

To say that I was in Telluride, Colorado for Christmas this year would be both true and misleading. I was there—but only for about enough time to take this picture. Long story short, I had to get to Quray by sundown. Parts of many classic movies have been shot in Telluride, Quray, and the surrounding San Juan Mountains, including True Grit with John Wayne and Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight.

Christmas Day in Telluride

The historic ski town has also been hosting the Telluride Film Festival since 1974. So I dug around YouTube looking for something from the film festival that would be of interest and found this interview that Robert Ebert did with actor Glenn Ford and writer Elmore Leonard on the film 3:10 to Yuma (1957).

The screenplay for 3:10 to Yuma was written by Halsted Welles (based on a short story by Leonard) and directed by Delmer Daves.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

Read Full Post »

You know how some people go to church only on Christmas and Easter (with an occasional wedding or funeral now and then)? That’s how I am with Major League Baseball these days—Spring Training and World Series (with an occasional All Star or playoff game now and then). And since tonight kicks off the Houston Astros and the Atlanta Braves playing Game 1 of 2021 World Series, I thought I’d sneak in one more baseball related post from Cooperstown, New York.

When I went to Cooperstown in June to see the National Baseball Hall of Fame, one of the fringe benefits was celebrating my birthday at The Otesage Resort Hotel. The historic resort opened on the southern end of Otsego Lake in 1909 and is a short stroll from the Hall of Fame. Since my wife isn’t into baseaball she enjoyed just sitting on the hotel’s expansive back deck while reading a book overlooking the lake.

Since I had dreamed of seeing Cooperstown since I was a kid playing Little League baseball, the lakefront hotel—and the beautiful sunrise and sunset—helped make it an extra special visit.

Sunrise
Sunset
The Otesage Resort Hotel in Cooperstown, New York
What started in downtown Atlanta makes its way to downtown Cooperstown for a picture of Americana

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: