Thursday, September 14, 2006

September 14, 2006
I took my mom and Lou to the airport at six this morning. Of course Lou was up at four, had his bow packed and by the door and pounded on my door at 5:30. We got to the airport at seven, I tipped a skycap $5 to ferry my mother through security in a wheelchair, and fought my way clear of the Beast in rush hour traffic. Fortunately most of the traffic was going the other way.

As promised, let's take a tour of my studio. Here's my main art desk (I have three, in different rooms) and as you can see, The Top Secret Project is spread out all over the surface. That's the big Rembrandt poster that Fred Nolan sent me. Intimidating, no?

Also, an image of the main character in The Top Secret Project is on the desk. And speaking of the Top Secret Project, which as you know will be a GN, and a movie on paper, and feature numerous set pieces, or master shots. One of them opens the movie, I mean GN, and it will be of an interior of the officer's headquarters at San Carlos. The Top Secret Writer and I loaded this scene up with a whole bunch of characters (easy to do when you're writing a scene, but much harder when you have to draw it!). I wanted to portray the place in the period when San Carlos was a rough outpost (it was never a fort), and in the early photographs it's all tents and brush-jacal arbors. Here's a scene from my sketchbook, which I lifted from a photo of an old stagestop (can't remember where I got it), but I like the holes in the roof and wall, and the gnarly wooden posts in and among the furniture.

Now, to people that room with accurate military men, in the proper uniforms (or lack of uniforms!), and also capture the resemblence of the seven men in the room (there are photographs of almost everyone assembled). I pictured the main officer behind his desk and various Apache scouts, plus Chief of Scouts Al Sieber and Tom Horn sitting and standing around the desk. I drew several rough sketches of where I wanted the men in the scene to be and mailed it to Jim Hatzell up in the Dakotas and he shot 11 rolls of film utilizing a wide cast of characters who show up at his annual Artist's Ride. Here are several sketches of the main characters which I gleaned from Hatzell's photos (the three sketches are of the Scout Curly, Lt. Mott and Tom Horn):

Next, I needed a room full of soldiers that approximated my sketch and that led me to Netflix, where I ordered the classic John Ford movie Fort Apache. Watching it on my office laptop, I found the exact scene I wanted at 12:12 and took a snapshot of it for my art reference (see below). The problem with the scene is that it's a tad formal (it was obvioiusly shot on a sound stage), and the room is too clean. I'll show more of this scene development as we go along and the script, so you can see how it progresses. And by they way, as I write this I do not have this scene nailed, at all.

"Accurate in every detail."
—Capt Kirby (John Wayne), at the end of Fort Apache, describing a bogus painting of the glorious battle between Cochise and Lt. Col. Owen Tuesday (standing in for Lt. Col. Custer and the Battle of the Little Bighorn)

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