A location manager scouts the perfect house for a film. The only problem is the occupant. 4,973 words. Illustration by John Mann.
I’m on my way to Malibu on the 10 heading west to PCH when I round the curve of the McClure tunnel and bang, that view of the ocean and the sparkling coastline opens up and I say to myself, this is why I live in L.A. It’s for days like this.
I can groove on it too because I work outside. Not like those suits in Century City. "Hook yourself up with a production gig,” a buddy of mine told me when I first came out to the Coast. "They pay you way too much. And most of the time it’s just hang time. Everyone else is doing lunch or waiting for their money on a development deal.” He got that right. But what did he know? Directing his first big feature, he walks straight into the tail rotor of the chopper they’re using to shoot a stunt. Long day. Magic hour. Had the whole crew rushing to pick up a dusk shot. Typical director behavior. Their only reality is their own reality. He bought it good. I don’t need that kind of grief. I’m a team player. Don’t mind doing my small part, hanging it up at night and seeing what’s on the plate for tomorrow. I don’t worry about little gold statues or where they seat me at Spago. Or who returns my phone calls. Don’t need the headaches, the hassles. I’m in, I’m out. Onward and upward. Next.
Beach Boys on the radio, Don’t Worry Baby, as I make the hard left just before Zuma onto Westward Beach. Roads get all squirrely out here. My Wrangler’s GPS freezes, so I reboot. It can route you all the way to Ojai before it wakes up. I see a guardhouse up ahead in front of State Beach. Surfer dude waves me through. I pull in and turn around. He comes out of the shack and hits me up for twenty bucks parking.
I say, “Where’s Cliffview.”
“There’s no in and out," he says.
I slide my shades down my nose, give him my best glare over the rims.
“Do I look like I’m here for the waves?"
A hit TV show set in Hawai’i is ending an eight-season run. What’s the local crew to do? 2,581 words. Illustration by Mark Fearing.
"Now, this is the exact location of the camera of the title sequence, which we all know so well. Place your hands like this," as Waimea made a bracket to simulate a camera’s view in front of his face. They were standing on the valley ridge and all four held their hands in front of their faces like directors do. "Then, we slowly pan across that jungle edge to the ranch house. Then we zoom in, pan slowly, then zoom out and we keep panning across the valley as the music builds. We keep panning, panning, until we settle on the beautiful blue Pacific and a spectacular sunset."
"And up comes the Paniolo main title!" said the woman.
They all stared, squinting in the bright sunlight. There was much to see. The bright green of the valley floor that deepens to brown at the top of the jagged primeval ridgeline. The bright blue of the sky and the bright white of the billowing clouds. Waimea turned to the young girl and asked, "Can you tell me what Paniolo means?"
She proudly replied, "Hawai’i cowboy!"
"That’s right. Now we’ll head to craft services and get you some lunch. And then you can see your Aunt Amanda. She only has one fast scene today. Then I think she wants to take you to the North Shore."
At they arrived at the buffet barbeque, Waimea turned to the family and said, "It was a pleasure to have met you. Here is my card. If you need anything on your vacation, please call me. I’m a local boy. Make sure you try a little grilled Portuguese sausage, yah? It’s hard to find on the Mainland and it’s everywhere here. Savory.”
Waimea Ward thought savory was a good word. The cast and crew of Paniolo were savoring their last days. Their familiarity, long taken for granted over the last eight seasons, would soon disappear. The show was ending. Strong ties would unlace. Routines vanish. Lovers uncouple. The mood on set was underscored with unspoken goodbyes.