Sunday, August 28, 2011

Vertical spaces in Collinsville with Tabitha for The Sydney Highrise Variations

When you make feature-length movies on no budget, you take what you can get when you can get it. So when Tabitha Hassell, the niece of my old friend (and Poetry Scores' new production assistant) Jocko Ferguson offered to show me around Collinsville for possible movie locations, I said sure.

We mostly know where we are shooting everything for the movie we are making now, Go South for Animal Index. So I sized up Tabitha's Collinsville with an eye toward the movie we are shooting next, The Sydney Highrise Variations.

We'll shoot Sydney to our score of Les Murray's poem by that name. Les' poem is about modernity, vertical space, and the rise of modern cities in the 19th and 20th centuries. Les' poem is saturated with the history and geography of one specific city, Sydney, Australia; but we make our movies in and around St. Louis and just have to make do with our local approximations of the exotic details in the poems we score and film.

In Tabitha's kitchen, straight away, I saw a quirky vertical closet that unfolds an ironing board. So I see an opportunity to shoot a domestic scene around an ironing board that exploits this vertical space.

(You'll see a lot of Tabitha in these shots. Laurent Torno III asked me always to position human beings in the frame when I'm shooting location shots.)

Tabitha also has a groovy vertical clock. Les' poem is in part about time -- about how the concept of the century is modern, so in a sense the 19th and 20th centuries were the first centuries -- so it wouldn't be hard to find a domestic scene to shoot in front of this guy.

Our first stop in town was a bar owned by a friend of Tabitha's. Given this was a big Hurricane Irene day, it was fitting to be in a bar named Hurricanes. It has a beautiful bar, though there is signage galore we'd have to dodge. The place never opens before 4 p.m. so we'd have tons of time to shoot there.

The courtyard at Hurricanes has a fantastic vertical to shoot as a backdrop: the Collinsville water tower, helpfully tilted so we can't read the town name.

Also a nice lone tree back there to shoot up into.

Collinsville has some trees, now. Look at this beauty.

Also, great roads for the tramps in our city highrise movie to ramble.

We rambled to Collinsville's most famous landmark, a giant catsup bottle.

There is an abandoned structure next to the bottle that is just dying to be some kind of hobo hideaway.

Where a hobo hideaway, must be railroad tracks.

Those tracks should sort of wander off forever.


Just opposite the hobo shed there also is what amounts, in a movie shoot, to a forested mountain.

Driving in Collinsville, you pass lots of these, which look cool but could get you killed shooting in them.

We made a stop at her friend Jason Jenson's house to see its tiki bar and golf green.

That could come in very handy when we come up with the scenes for the zombies in The Sydney Highrise Variations. In this movie, the zombies will be all of the new cosmopolitan urbanites who populate the new vertical city that sprouts up around the tramps of old town. We'll need some golfing new urbanite zombies. And zombies in tiki hot tubs.

Our final stop was a granary I have always loved.

Shot from a side road as we drove back to Tabitha's, by way of an ice cream shop, it looks rather like a castle.

It was a nice, productive ramble with Tabitha in her Jeep Rubicon -- a rugged 4WD monster she is willing to drive on locations with us. Welcome aboard, Tabitha! See you soon, Collinsville.

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