Thursday, August 4, 2016

Schulenberg's Page: New York, Part LXXI

Text and Illustrations by ©Bob Schulenberg

New York, 1966. So it was really beginning to happen. Paul Bartel and I were finally going to make our own underground film, THE SECRET CINEMA.

Paul had written an amazing script centering around "Jane," a plain young woman living in a New York inhabited and ruled by the dazzlingly glamorous "In Crowd." Jane was neither dazzling nor glamorous but she had a handsome boyfriend "Dick," who was a filmmaker.
Jane was unaware of a lot of things, but unfortunately she was also unaware that she was the subject of a vicious film being made. It was all about her life and every misstep she made was captured on film and shown to an audience ravenous to know what else was going happen to this naïve but hapless young woman.

Because of screenings of the film at a members-only secret location, she became very famous although her naïveté made her totally unaware of her celebrity!

Decades before anyone else thought of the 1998 film, "The Truman Show" or current Reality Television, Paul already had.
"Jane" would be played by Amy Vane, our old friend from UCLA . "Dick" would be played by Philip Carlson, who was the boyfriend of Amy's roommate Pattie Sauers, another close friend from UCLA.
N.B., It was Philip Carlson who introduced me to DPC In 1966!
My old friend Harry Gordon "Buddy" Felio would play Jane's lecherous, conniving boss, Mr. Troppogrosso.
In Paris, he had done a cameo in "What's New, Pussycat?" attacking Peter Sellers during a group therapy sequence, and my friend Roman Polanski wanted to use him in something but could never think of anything.

And now in New York, Buddy was managing Hamburg Heaven.
Paul gives Buddy a script at Hamburg Heaven.
I never knew how he got the job there but he was friendly with the owner Dick Heller and his wife Ann. Buddy even persuaded Dick, whose hobby was writing songs, to write a song for us for our movie: "I Want to Take Your Picture!"
Paul had also met Connie Ellison, a beautiful African American young woman, and thought she'd be perfect as Jane's coworker and best friend. Here, she's wearing one of the KUKU FURS costumes we borrowed and the makeup for the final scene.
Fred Wellington, here with Amy, owned a 35 millimeter movie camera and volunteered to be our cinematographer. He'd been working in Animation and wanted to expand into live action.
Another acquaintance of Paul's was Burt Bluestein, who joined us as an all-purpose assistant director/line producer/assistant camera guy doing film loading and any other technical assistance we needed.
And my girlfriend Mara Lepmanis was working at Paraphernalia so we were able to borrow some cutting edge clothes. I was also able to persuade KUKU FURS, a "fun fur" store to lend us some trendy fur coats!
I learned that companies were very helpful and if we were able to persuade them that the exposure would be useful for them, they were very generous.

We were also able to have John Pierro, a well known hairdresser, to do the hair styles. His work had been appearing in HARPER'S BAZAAR and he too was excited to expand into film work.
We started shooting the office sequences on Easter Sunday and used Paul's father's advertising agency, West, Weir & Bartel as the location.
Amy as Jane.
Connie as Jane's treacherous friend and coworker at West, Weir & Bartel Advertising. I wanted Connie's desk to be flourishing with plants while Jane had only one dead plant on hers — like her life.
We found out that when the people working in the agency returned to work after Easter, they were confused that so much of the office had been rearranged.

That's Sho-Biz!

We shot on weekends and used Paul's apartment for Jane's.
Amy waiting on the bed in the foreground while Fred Wellington, Paul, and I work out what we need to do.
We used a wheelchair for our dolly shots!

Just around this time, my brother called to tell me that they were expecting a baby in November! Everyone was creating!
Carole Gister also had a walk-on cameo in the office sequence. It was, for the most part, a UCLA production! Here, with Amy and Paul.
The next weekend, April 16th, we shot our discotheque sequence having secured Sybil (ex-Mrs. Richard) Burton and her younger husband Jordan Christopher's famous club ARTHUR, all thanks to Barre Dennen's neighbor/friend Tiger Curtis (who was the manager).

We had it on a Saturday afternoon until 6:00 p.m., so we had to work fast!
Tiger and Paul after.
I called every modeling agency to suggest that they invite all the models who'd like some film exposure. From my working on the hair publications at Popular Library, I was able to persuade FLOWER MODES, a hair accessory company, to give us boxes of promotional gifts for our guests.
Tiger had given us free soft drinks, but I told everyone it was Bring-Your-Own-Bottle. And they certainly did.

Mara and some friends, wearing Paraphernalia micro-mini skirts, were go-go dancers, and my friends Tom Krumwiede and his wife Dale helped. Their baby sitter's boyfriend Bobby Tuske had a band — and they played!

The disco sequence involved Jane being lured there by an invitation from her boss. When they get there, she is humiliated to see her boyfriend Dick making out with her "good friend/coworker!"
We had also borrowed the Rolls Royce and chauffeur from the Cafe Nicholson. It was supposed to be "Mr. Tropogrosso's" and was used to take Jane to the discotheque, which was called "The Raided Premise." That was a wink given by the fact that the city had raided many establishments, placing a "Raided Premises" sign in the window. This was so that non-Manhattan visitors to the current world's fair would not be shocked!

Of course, it's hard to imagine what if anything would shock a Manhattan resident!

I photographed one of those notices, doctored it a bit, blew it up photographically and we put it on the entrance awning at ARTHUR, which was now The Raided Premise!
I'm telling Tiger how the sign was made. Paul's holding it.
Shooting the arrival at the club.
We were lucky that every weekend when we were shooting exterior shots it was raining, so we had no problem with streets being wet in one scene and dry in another — a problem that even major studios have to deal with.

The next weekend, we had to shoot Jane meeting her mother for lunch at The Plaza Hotel's Palm Court. We'd been given permission to shoot there by a friend of Paul's father so Paul and I set out to meet Miss Hannon at the hotel to make the necessary arrangements.
Afterwards, we checked it out.
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