July 1st, 2007, posted by MitchMan710 | Digg This
Indiana Jones helps us discover the Fountain of Youth
A beautiful sunny, summer Saturday out with the family, and a trip to New Haven, to meet up with old co-workers and their families, walk around the park, the shops, get a bite to eat, visit to the Yale Peabody Museum to see the dinosaurs, and oh yeah,… see how the filming of Indy IV was going. But, the big star that we all knew and loved was working today – that’s right, my pal from college was an extra today and we wouldn’t miss that for the world.
You see, this blog isn’t a testament or how to guide to be an obsessed fan. It is a report on how the filming is really just an attention-getter, or novelty in the background that brings a lot of curious folks out to see their first ever glimpse of a film production. It has become the equivalent to going to our local Bridgeport Bluefish baseball games, they are being managed this season by legendary New York Yankees pitcher, Tommy John. We take the kids to the games and the parents just talk, the kids run around, we watch the game peripherally. The mid 30s-40s dads perk up if Tommy John comes out and gives a wave – and instantly we are all teenagers again and Tommy is in his prime and 20 years go away in what seems like a blink of an eye. This is what Indy IV has become – nostalgia come to life, as old friends meet up and remember when we were all younger back in the 80s. Sometimes it is the years and not the mileage.
Today, my wife wanted to see what all the “big to do” Indy IV was bout, as the kids had told her about it, and I mentioned seeing Ford and pielberg. Although, I worry if she ever saw Harrison Ford close-up, she ould say “why would the bloodthirsty, murdering crooks in “Firewall” ever kidnap the family dog”? But, honestly, my dear wife could care less, she is not impressed by Hollywood – and as we are in both in marketing – know it is more often, if not always, about business than artistic expression. Also, back in college in New Haven she worked at Scoozi’s restaurant, near the famous Yale Repertory Theatre, where she waited on actors or actresses, and never knew who they were. Many a night she would call me up and say at her table was “the guy that was in that “Incidental Tourist-thing”, William Hurd? Jason Rhubarb? Stacey Peach? Mertyl Strep? Paul Redford? Robert Newman? I would always correct her and she would say – “whatever”. My next question to her would always be – did they tip well?
We arrived in New Haven at noon, walked around Chapel Street. The boys were excited to see the new “old” store dressings, like the old fashioned Bozo fun Phone, the mechanical horse, (which sadly Owen couldn’t ride as it was a prop), and read flyers. It was fun to watch them play with the scales and gumball machines. Wait until next May 22nd, they will be them pointing at the screen and “hey that’s our Bozo Phone Indy walked by”. Questions came up from Spencer, as he read the pamphlets. What was a “commie” or “atomic bomb”, and who were the Marshall Patriots and when were they playing football against Northern Connecticut University? Note: There are three directionally named universities in Connecticut – Eastern, Western, and the one I graduated from, Southern – but none called Northern). I explained that it was materials from the fictitious Marshall College that Indiana Jones taught at.
It was quiet today, no Shia LeBouf sporting a pompadour that would give Elvis a run for his money. No Harrison Ford or his stunt double zooming by, either. We looked around and saw that there was some Indy IV filming going on inside the Yale courtyard (where we used to crash Yalie parties back in college) and the Green (where we went to dozens of free summer concerts that had such greats like Ray Charles), and old cars were parked along College Street (where we once found a knocked over parking meter and thought if took it home we’d be rich – but it weighed a ton and we were 10 years old). This filming has really become a big tourist attraction, so much so, we saw bus unload a huge group of tourist nearby and they quickly came towards the roped off filming area with cameras clicking. I kid you not!
We met up with our friends and their kids and played catch with the boys, only to stop to watch the extras come by dressed like students, teachers and regular towns folk in their 1950s clothes. We looked amongst the group and spotted our friend in his costume, complete with shoes – he looked cool, like a picture of my grandfather. The kids were excited as he waved to us, they told all their friends at school, they knew a real movie star. So what he will be a fuzzy, image on screen for less than a nanosecond – today he was the man! He was standing around women who looked like Lois Lane from the old, black and white, Superman show with George Reeves. During a break he came over to say a quick “hi” to the kids. Twenty years earlier, he would be playing in bands at clubs across the street from where we stood, and I would do stand-up and film public access comedy shows, both dreaming about fame, fortune and glory. Now, we stood there as my kids asked if even his socks were from the 50s – he said they probably were– but everything was authentic, pipes, lighters, glasses, cigarette packages, newspapers and all the women were wearing real 50s style underwear, so they fit the costumes properly. My wife wanted to know how he knew what the women had under their dresses – to which he replied with a raised eyebrow that would have made John Belushi proud and made a quick exit back to the Indy IV set. Authentic underwear: just another example of the painstaking detail that these Lucasfilm/Paramount folks put into this film. We left for lunch at the Black Bear Grill and my son asked a crewman how much did all this cost – he laughed and said that we will probably never see a film of this large scale so close up, again. To which Owen replied, does “large scale” mean everyone was fat who worked there? Oh, to be a seven-year-old.
When we came back we noticed one of the old car drivers was really a local high school principal. Then started talking with a fellow (who I soon discovered sat near me at the Billy Joel concert on October 30, 1996, during which Joel kept stopping the show to give the crowd updates on the Boston Red Sox/ New York Met World Series) said Steven Spielberg had just come out and not only stopped to wave to the crowd, but turned the cameras on them literally! As they all snapped away with their various cameras at Mr. Spielberg, he pulled out a camera and started taking their pictures. Now they could all go home with a great story – they had the same thing in common with Tom Cruise, Tom Hanks, Richard Dryfuss and Harrison Ford – they had just had their picture taking through the camera lens of an Academy Award-winning director! I mentioned that I had a great photo of Spielberg and Ford yesterday, but had to delete it – the “old concert acquaintance” said no problem, and emailed me the shots (they look great) it was like being a kid trading baseball cards.
Seconds later Harrison Ford made his way through Yale’s Phelps Gate (where I asked my first girlfriend out), he stopped and waved at the crowd twice, as they cheered and snapped pictures. This time, I let my son Owen, who sat on my shoulders play cameraman, and he took a few somewhat blurry shots of everyone’s favorite globe-trotting archaeologist.
Everyone was having a good day, as we made our way to the car and some ice cream at the Tasty-Di, across from the British Art Gallery. We watched them film more cars driving down High Street and then we headed over to the Yale Peabody Museum . If you are ever in New Haven, you must stop there, its our version of the Museum of Natural History, and where every kid went with their parents or third grade class. It has meteor rocks, a vast collection of dinosaur fossils, and a mummy – the kind of place you could imagine Indiana Jones looking for a wayward Marcus Brody.
The last few days have been amazing, as we met old friends, met new ones, learned about movie making up close from the best in the business, and about promising, upcoming filmmakers like the folks at safehousefilms.com. Truly, what an adventure it has been.
Driving away, I looked back and thought about how Indiana Jones was somewhere around these streets getting himself into all sorts of trouble like he did in the old days. And somewhere in our memories we were also running around the same streets, just like we did in the old days.
With the big Indy-pendence Day approaching, cookouts, fireworks at the beach, and getting going on finding a new marketing/public relations job (I wish writing about movies would pay the bills – but this is just something I have been doing for fun for my friends – both old and new) I am taking a break from the New Haven filming.
However, a great resource will be the local newspaper and news station (newhavenregister.com and wtnh.com) for more information, photos, interviews and video on all things Indy in New Haven. So check them out.