Monday, November 29, 2010


We have finished week one here in Palenque. We drove 10 hours from Mexico City and saw amazing nature on the way. The ride felt much shorter and it gave me a chance to get to know some of the people I am going to be working with for the next month. 

The movie is called Los Ojos Azul and is about a young New York couple who travel to Chiapas to follow in the guy's anthropology grandfather's footsteps. 

When I first read the script I realized that we would be visiting some amazing places, Karen and Zach go to the ruins and they go to the market in San Cristobal so that means we do too! Certainly can't shoot Queens for Palenque. So sign me up! 

Palenque street.

I share a room at the Hotel Maya Tulipanes with the lovely Marietta, who is also down from New York to shoot stills and behind the scenes. This is the view from our balcony. Mmmmmm... I like it a little bit down here.

We are shooting the first part here in Palenque, a town known for its Mayan heritage mostly in the form of ruins. Our location the first week was a beautiful eco hotel called the Chan Kah. 

Grip staging in paradise. Learning that film making is absolutely universal. We pretty much do it the same way all over.

The RED camera is not a fan (no pun intended) of tropical heat and needed a little extra cooling off before she could perform again.

When I need a little cooling off down here I just order a Michelada.

This is one of our principals. The sweetest little girl! A Mexican hairless Xolo dog. I'm a little in love.

We wrapped week one around 6 am saturday morning. Just in time for the Saraguatos to begin their morning racket. They're howler monkeys and they are all over around here.

Days off are like mini VK's around here and saturday was sleep sleep sleep. Mosy down to the pool for some laps. Drag my tired ass to the super market to pick up some of these lovelies...

Hello old friend.

And lolligag back to the pool for some quality time with my new friends. About 30 percent of the crew speak English. My 2nd is fluent and so is most of production. The rest I have 3 word relationships with. Por favors and gracias gets you a long way. But I'm trying my damndest to learn more.  I'm making a list of useful words for set communication. Up, down, left, right, before, after, more, less and numbers so I can call for lenses and other things... But just like when James and I drove the Baja peninsula a few years ago with Ebba, who kept insisting on breaking down, I ended up learning a lot of car Spanish, this time I'm learning set Spanish, words I'll never use again, Pisarra for instance - is the slate, or clapper. Disco is our hard drive and tarjetas are our flash cards. Ruben, our 3rd camera, is a jolly man and he knows very little English so we are parrotting each other trying to learn so we can make life easier on set. 

Sunday was set aside for our nature hike. 10 minutes outside of Palenque are the ruins but also pretty dense rain forest. A jungle is awesome enough on its own but here whenever you look down you realized that you are stepping on ruins. When Mayans ruled here there was no jungle but a thriving city!

Our fearless guide Victor knew everything about what plants produce color pigment that the Mayans painted with, to what leaves make a good hang over tea, to "shits from animals" to which vines make the best swings. Diabetes isn't gonna stop this guy from hiking the jungle every week. Go Victor!

Balsa tree

Smoke on the water

DP Sebastian is the Bushmaster. Named from a poisonous snake Victor told us about. "In 1 hour the peoples is dead."

Kajsa makes concrete bird baths from molds of rhubarb leaves. These would make some killer baths, fit for Emus!

Howler monkey. As close as we got unfortunately, but we heard them alright!

Mayan tomb!

This jungle was full of Indiana Jones stuff! 

One last snap of Victor!

Today we are off to shoot at Agua Azul! Yes we are going to work but no one can stop me jumping in as well!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Hola de Ciudad de Mexico!

I find myself in the embassy district of Mexico City. 

Staying with the director of the film, Eva in her parent's house. It's just me, the DP Sebastian, Eva, Lincoln the German shepherd and 2 maids around. 

Eva's father is Homero Aridjis a writer of poetry and prose. He is also a serious environmentalist and has through Eva's stories become my immediate hero. He was a major player in saving the breeding grounds of the gray whales in the lagoons of the Baja peninsula. He did the same for the Monarch butterflies. The house is  incredible and filled with art, books, knick knacks from around the world and an all around awesome intellectual vibe. 

One of MANY traditional and ritual masks that decorate the house.

Handsome house mate and modern art.

There really is no strolling about Mexico City. It is just toooo damn big. The area I'm staying in is very nice and most houses have a booth with a security guard outside. 

Kooky fairy tale Gaudi inspired villa close to Eva's house.

We get in a van or a taxi and we get driven to where we need to go. Crime is obviously present but Eva says tourists are usually not the target. Of course there are muggings but kidnappings have gone down in number because there is just too much work involved and Americans rarely get nabbed because who would want the American government on your ass anyways. Drug crime stays outside the city, the big guys in the trade need the city clean for their legitimate affairs. But still, taking a lazy afternoon walk through Mexico City is not the best idea. I'm staying behind the bars of the house and am content taking hipstamatic snaps out the car window. 

We did a camera test yesterday at the rental house. It all went well but the language barrier is giving me a little bit of a head ache (made worse by the high altitude...). The camera department is Sebastian, me, 2nd assistant camera Stefania, our data manager Gilberto (meaning downloading of media from flash cards to computer) and our 3rd, Ruben. Both these guys don't speak much English so thank god Stefania's English is flawless. Poor thing will be translating her little heart out. Cause the same thing goes for Irving, our chief lighting technician and Ivanhoe (YES! Ivanhoe!) our keygrip.

Our equipment comes from Renta Imagen, a very cool rental house and studio in Mexico City.

I never met a dessert I didn't like so I wasn't going to frown at this one which looks like a slab of lard with raspberry sauce.

Tonight is dinner with the gang in the city and tomorrow we start our loooong journey to Palenque where we start shooting on Monday. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Vaya Con Dios!

My last Clintondale weekend before Mexico (there's frikkin monkeys there!!!). It's a bit melancholy to miss Thanksgiving (AND I'm traveling on James' birthday. Happy Birthday to my American boy!) but maybe we'll do a turkey for Christmas instead. 

I'll miss some work being done on the house but James has promised pictures. Got to see some sheetrock go up though! Exciting.

It's a tough one getting around all the angles and stuff but these guys will get it. 

Bedroom ceiling.

We have closets!

Downstairs is almost done. We bought paint yesterday, Ralph Lauren: Club Navy. The chip does NOT do it justice, but the picture at the top of the page has this color on the wall and it looks mmmmmm... Rosemary helped us in a big way with picking it out. We are leaving the inside of the doors white and our wood wall will be white and the rest BLUE. Trim in a semi gloss and walls in a flat.

We took a  long drive yesterday to familiarize ourselves with WOOD. For our decorative wall and for our floors. Since we moved up here, people have told us we have to go to Ghent Lumber in Hudson.  And once you're up there take a little stroll through the strange but lovely town of Hudson. For starters, we had a bite at Tanzy's on Warren Street. 

We shared a cream of brussel sprout soup. I had a super tasty grilled ham and cheese with carmelized onions and James kick started Thanksgiving with an open faced hot turkey sandwich. We took a peek in a few antique stores  and also saw this house which looks sososo much like our spring house. 

So - back to the business at hand. We are looking for rough sawn boards for our wall in the pastry shop and wide pine boards for our floors, upstairs and downstairs.

I'm pretty sure we found what we are looking for at Ghent, but since we were kind of in the area we decided to check out 2 other places that had been recommened to us. Both of them located in Pine Plains.

Antique and Vintage Flooring and New England Wholesale Hardwoods, or Both places were extremely helpful and nice to see but in the end we are trying to get away with cheaper wood and maybe spend the extra money on a stupendous finish instead. So 12" white pine boards from Ghent it is.

These guys have been all over the feeder lately. The usually super shy and lonely tufted titmouse now in abundance! 

I really hate leaving my beautiful house but the next 5 weeks will go by fast and I get to come home to a Christmas tree and super cosy time for at least a few weeks. We stopped by IKEA on the way back to the city today and stocked up on Glögg and gingersnaps! 

Here is the little table Rosemary brought last weekend that fits so perfect in that corner.

And here is the living room with the new little chest of drawers we picked up at Pier 1 Imports. (WHAT! That place is hell on earth you say? And I would mostly agree with you and your shopping eye has to be very selective.)

And we had claypot pork chops with dilly mushroom gravy for dinner. 

I rubbed a little salt, pepper and olive oil on the chops and seared them for a minute each on both sides. Then put them in the clay pot with potatoes and onions. They were in the oven for about 40 minutes.

We made the gravy with baby bellas, white mushrooms, oysters and shitakes. Sauteed them up in 1/2 stick of butter. Added 1/3 cup flour. Then 2 cups of stock and 2 cups half and half. 1 teaspoon dill weed. Let it simmer for 30 minutes.

We mixed it up the day after by making potoates au gratin. The gravy was even better day 2!

Alright. I better start packing. See you in Mexico!