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Cameron Crowe's ETown Filming Journal

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Cameron Crowe (I'm developing a huge crush on this guy :wub: ) has updated his online Journal. (Previous entries were posted here).

This is great stuff - but: :!!: WARNING: HEAVY SPOILERS :!!:

July 3, 2004:

Last day of rehearsal with Kirsten before she leaves for Spiderman press throughout Europe. The last rehearsal, including the ballroom scene, sparks with real intensity. Dunst is especially magnetic today. It's not hard to stare at her, and for the two hours of our rehearsal it's a real glimpse of the movie we're about to shoot. She's immersed in her character. You'd never know that elsewhere, all across the country, she's on screens everywhere in one of the most successful movies ever made. Here, she's just a girl from Nashville, playing a flight attendant with a love of travel and a strange fascination with a shoe designer from Portland, Oregon, here to helm the funeral of a father he had planned to know better… next year. The exhaustion I'd been feeling is disappearing into a new kind of adrenalin. I hope that I can keep this journal going. Many a director has started keeping a journal only to see it disappear into blank pages shortly after filming, with the tidal wave of actual filming hits. Wish me luck.

July 6, 2004:

Everyone is rested up and ready to start filming. We set up shots for the upcoming driving scenes with Orlando. Family portraits (that will be featured on the refrigerator and dresser, etc) are taken of Susan Sarandon, Tim Devitt and Bloom. Standing on the street in Louisville, they pose together and it's like watching another piece of the puzzle snap together. I take a photo cam shot and send it back to L.A. so Doria, who works in our Vinyl Films office, can see. She writes me back excitedly. Putting a movie "family" together is always tricky, and our casting director Gail Levin (nickname "Genius") is a stickler for physical similarities in the casting choices. So is Susan Sarandon. When she met Orlando and Judy Greer in rehearsals, Susan looked into their eyes almost immediately and sized them both up, laughing. "Yep," she said, "we look like a family." Today it's fun to see them in the same frame. In a flash, summer thunder rocks the sky and we’re all caught in a rainstorm. Neal Preston takes a few last portraits of Mitch and Hollie – Sarandon and Devitt – caught in the rain. There is something tragic and romantic in the shots. Bet those are the ones we use.

July 12, 2004:

My most magical first day ever, and it starts in the Pisgah Cemetery just outside of Lexington. Wonderful accidents arrived, almost immediately. Many feet of film shot. Orlando as Drew is now officially on film, and so it really begins. It's a tough week, with everything scheduled tightly, so I know I have to move quickly. The rehearsals are paying off - there's a brisk language between the actors and me. "Try that thing we did last week?" "Okay, sounds good." This is the best kind of language between directors and actors. And it sure beats, "Okay, what are we doing here?" "You tell me." Special highlight - playing Cat Stevens in the cemetery, and getting a big laugh from soundman Jeff Wexler, who began his career as a production assistant on "Harold and Maude."

July 14, 2004:

A nail-biter, but we make the day again. There's a visit today from my dad’s good old friend Ralph Conlee, who watches from my director chair as we do our big “car stunt.” I get all the shots with just a few minutes to spare. I have to keep my eye on the movie, and not just on making the schedule… though one feeds the other. Watching dailies is the true highlight. The scene by the gravesite from day one shows the movie’s look – deep and rich… a comedy with visual texture. It feels like comedies that I love, the ones that work the deep-tissue of the frames, “Harold and Maude,” or even “Local Hero." Plus, I can already see from the music we've played during the takes... the actors are soaking up the songs we've already picked for the movie.

July 16, 2004:

Kirsten returns from her press tour, soon she'll be on film too. A beautiful week ends as we film late at the Clark funeral home. Big scenes, big emotions. The crowds on the streets are growing, kids and families and locals and some who've heard we're here and have traveled to see Kirsten or Orlando. Both take the time, always, to run off and sign autographs or in Orlando's case, taste the homemade ice cream a neighborhood family has made. We even get a visit from the owners of Ale 8! (It's a favorite regional drink - it's written into the script.) It’s so wise and so fortunate that we’re starting the movie here so that everyone can bond, and see exactly what this movie is about – Kentucky and the strength of American life outside the culture centers that dominate the media. All the characters and actors are coming together -- the movie feels alive. It’s a shame to waste this good of an exhaustion on sleep, but so it shall be. Good night.

July 19, 2004:

The day begins with some of Orlando’s most compelling stuff, a scene facing his dead father’s body in a casket at Clark Funeral Home in Versailles, Kentucky. It’s one of the first sequences I wrote for "Elizabethtown," a scene in which a guy who’d never seen a dead body before deals with being left alone in a room with the deceased father he never knew and never really fell in love with in life. It was written as a showcase moment for the lead character, and a musical showcase too. Much is meant to be said with his silent looks. It was also one of the scenes I auditioned all potential Drews with, and one of the first I’d worked on with Orlando almost two years ago. These are dangerous scenes to discuss and rehearse. Sometimes too much time is spent worrying about these “big” scenes and they can easily crumble under the weight on filming day, when the off-handed ones sail through with ease. I've learned not to over-rehearse scenes. Still, the casket scene loomed on the horizon as a "big" moment. "Big" moments can be dangerous. Today, though, fortune smiles as Orlando digs deep and we’re done with the scene before ten in the morning. There's even time to play different songs with different rhythms, trying different things. John Toll's lighting is deeply moving too. Scene and visuals work together.

Orlando finishes the day signing every autograph for the local fans waiting for many hours for him on the street. Dunst, visiting for some costume adjustments and film tests that we do on the front lawn, does the same. (Those are the internet photos that have been surfacing - our costume test on the funeral parlor lawn.) Oh, and the mayor of Versailles, Fred, who actually delivers pizza too, gives me a key to the city. It’s on my mantelpiece. There is no doubt in my mind, this would have made my father a ) happy, and b ) laugh. You just don’t see this kind of passion and appreciation in Los Angeles. Plus, there’s some kind of rare delight in talking to the mayor, and calling him Fred.

July 21, 2004:

Making a movie, and especially directing the actors, is sometimes a matter of emotional math. The goal, I think, is to satisfy that voice in your head and heart… the one that tells you that a scene is as good as you'd always imagined it. On the day of filming, with chaos reigning around you, and a large clock ticking on the time you can spend, the objective is to get the best version of the scene and know when you have it… or when you don’t. The scene today at Wagner’s Pharmacy was always a flashpoint in rehearsals. We never got the scene perfect in rehearsals, and the actors were secretly dreading the day of filming… dreading the agony of NOT getting it right when everything was in place, and the big camera was whirling away, saving everything for posterity. I woke up feeling confident and happily rested after eight hours of sleep (a big bonus). I took this confident mood to the set, and tried to inoculate everyone with the enthusiasm. On the way to the set, I tell Andy that it’s going to go well, I was sure that it would. Privately, I know it's a make-or-break day in terms of getting the lead actors’ chemistry on film.

The scene is a simple scene across a table, but much is discussed. It takes place at a Louisville hotspot… for horse trainers and horseracing fans, a diner across the street from Churchill Downs, site of the Kentucky Derby. It’s a true romantic comedy scene, dependent on the rhythm of the actors and the chemistry of the leads. We start with the wide shot, and Kirsten and Orlando are immediately “on.” I’m ecstatic. This is the true beginning of their love story on film. Kirsten and Orlando have spent just enough time around each other to be comfortable, they have obvious repartee, they joust with each other naturally, and the scene explodes with rhythm and humor. Kirsten finds a great comic tone as Claire, and the scene has never been better. I play music on the set and during their takes, sometimes just to surprise and jolt the actors. These two have always responded to it - it's part of our process together. Today, I tried super-upbeat stuff to throw them off-guard, music they wouldn't even listen to themselves, stuff like The Monkees, or obscure soul music. It works, but as we move in for closer shots, I switch to something more intimate and confessional. Immediately I can see something shift in Kirsten, she goes to a very private place before we film. We start filming and suddenly her Claire is darker, more interior, very private. At first it doesn't even feel like the character, but soon I can see what she's doing - this is the raw Claire beneath, and this is the pain that her character keeps tucked away. For the next few minutes, she shows it all, all the layers... It's a fascinating take, and I'll probably use a piece or two from it in the final edit. This is how finely tuned she is an actor. I make a mental note to be careful with the music I play during her takes... she's an amazingly instinctive actress, and what she hears gets into her artistic bloodstream, instantly. It's a blast working with Dunst, there's nothing wasted in her acting. Next I try a song I know is a favorite of Kirsten’s - she absorbs that and turns Claire's emotions inside out, right on camera, again. It's all there, right in her eyes. All day long, men on the crew take me aside and say, “I want to meet MY Claire… “ I've been waiting to put her on film as Claire for a very long time. We turn around on Orlando's side of the scene, and the chemistry is complete - his Drew is confounded and enchanted by the richness of this girl. Finally we have the "Wagner's" scene on film and it’s better than it’s ever been before. We have peaked on the right day.

Now we head up into the hills of Kentucky for the completion of the “Red Hat” scene – a scene where the two characters meet after an all-night phone call. Both actors rip through their takes, and we all go home tired but happy and, of course, ravaged by mosquitoes who laugh at our feeble attempts to repel them with spray.

July 23, 2004:

I can’t wait to talk to Kirsten today because I'd had a late-night revelation. Sometimes, particularly in a car scene, you can be separated from your actor by a great distance. It's important to start building our shorthand. Standing in Louisville's Cave Hill Cemetery today, the most beautiful cemetery in the world and the site of an incongruously upbeat date between Drew and Claire, I tell her what I think is a great rule of thumb for our communication about the role of Claire. Like some of my favorite characters, she is a warrior of positivity. Claire is a character who'll never let you see her cry - she'd much rather go home, shut the door, and spare the world the trouble. She is on the planet to help others... until someone realizes she's in need herself. It's a fun part for Dunst, and she naturally makes the sunniness of the character interesting, but here's my revelation. If ever she's in trouble with the character, or lost on how to play something, even in the middle of the scene, here is the map back to safety - more love. This is a character that is pure and simply a messenger of love. I want her to know it, and I tell her, and she responds immediately with a quick nod. That's all it takes. I’m enjoying working with her, and this is my best day with her ever. We're just about to film this sequence, a sequence that was always supposed to happen on a sunny day and, of course, suddenly a loud crack hits a few miles away.

Thunder and rain start to sprinkle, and then downpour hits within about three minutes. “Let’s wait out the rain,” yells the a.d. I see Kirsten head away from the camera, and as someone else pops open a zebra print umbrella… it hits me. The sequence should be shot in the rain. "Let's shoot it now, let's use the umbrella." Dunst snaps it open, and Orlando shouts happily, "let's do it," and we're off. Their first take in the rain, approaching the unique grave of a beguiling local part-time magician, works beautifully. We’re off and running. It will be a sequence in the rain, and the sun… using the summer storms that flash through Kentucky as the backdrop.

Many hours (and rain delays) later, our day ends. Twenty-three separate shots, three scenes, a montage in the rain and a close-up on a new character – the urn. My most productive day… and week… ever. I hope it all feels as good later as it does at this moment. I’m not sure, it’s all blended into one music-and-rain filled Kentucky blur. Good night.

So. Cameron has seen the pictures on the internet. I wonder where? :O

Have I mentioned before how I am DYING to see this film?!? :unsure:

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Thunder and rain start to sprinkle, and then downpour hits within about three minutes. “Let’s wait out the rain,” yells the a.d. I see Kirsten head away from the camera, and as someone else pops open a zebra print umbrella… it hits me. The sequence should be shot in the rain. "Let's shoot it now, let's use the umbrella." Dunst snaps it open, and Orlando shouts happily, "let's do it," and we're off. Their first take in the rain, approaching the unique grave of a beguiling local part-time magician, works beautifully. We’re off and running. It will be a sequence in the rain, and the sun… using the summer storms that flash through Kentucky as the backdrop.

I cannot wait for that scene!

Both take the time, always, to run off and sign autographs or in Orlando's case, taste the homemade ice cream a neighborhood family has made.

Awww, that's so sweet! :wub:

Jeez, how long is it until next 2005?

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Okay I am done avoiding spoilers. I tried but I just can't stand not knowing anymore. I can't wait until this movie comes out. If I am getting chills just reading his journal, I am going to be dead by the time this comes out. The year can go fast enough.

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The spoilers are just making me want to see it more! It is going to be a VERY long year.

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What a treat to read and get a small snapshot of what a director such as Crowe goes through in a day. Even though these are just brief accounts, his descriptions of the processes and the in-between happenings of filming gives us a glimpse of the working Hollywood that is different from the glamorous red carpet events we are often exposed to in the tube/magazines. Personally, reading these makes seeing Elizabethtown more meaningful because of the rare sneak peeks we were allowed through his journal that we won't normally see anywhere else. Yeah, May 2005 can't come soon enough.

:wink:

Ermina

Please pardon my attempt of an insightful post.

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Thanks Jan.

Cameron Crowe really knows how to keep people's attention.

Oh, I must have been living under a rock for a while; I just noticed your avatar, Jan. It's so. dirty! I love it!

It's been a couple of days. I need to change mine too.

:hug: Jorge

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Wow! That was a lot to absorb. I love how Cameron uses music during filming and between takes. It is obviously affecting Kirsten, as well as Orlando. It sounds like it's gonna be a great movie. Is it 2005 yet?

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God, I'm so glad he kept up the journal. I was worried it woud be too much. Cameron, I think I love you. :wub:

Today, though, fortune smiles as Orlando digs deep and we’re done with the scene before ten in the morning. There's even time to play different songs with different rhythms, trying different things. John Toll's lighting is deeply moving too. Scene and visuals work together.

Orlando finishes the day signing every autograph for the local fans waiting for many hours for him on the street.

Excuse me while I go and BURST with pride. :throb:

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It thrills and amazes me that Crowe uses music the way he does on set. The whole process is fascinating. Claire's character sounds wonderful.'a warrior of positivity'....love that!!

Following the making of this movie from ka-Bloom encounters and pics to Crowe's diary is just going to make the movie itself so much richer and more meaningful. I join Jan in the Crowe crush. Maybe we put him in the Gush Another Hottie thread? :lol:

It'll be worth the wait. I can feel it!

Litchi

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Guest sweetbaby231

I love the way Cameron uses music to get the actors in the right mood. He really seems to know what he's doing, and he seems to have a lot of confidence in Kirsten and Orlando. He's always describing how they've acted out scenes perfectly, and it makes me more excited to see this movie.

With the casket scene and the scene where he starts to cry (as mentioned in Zatarra's encounter), I can't wait to see Orlando's range and ability in this movie. Blockbusters can be are great and entertaining, but it's a movie like this that'll prove how talented our boy man is. :shiny:

Click For Spoiler
I'm praying that he wrote some journal entries during the 'road trip' scenes with Orlando.

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That seals it. I. Am. Not. Seeing. This. Movie. Alone!!!!

(Or with my husband. I must see this with a fellow KaBloomie or at least, a real Orlando fangirl.)

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I just adore reading these snapshots from each day. I hope Cameron can keep them up as he seems to want to. :unsure: They truly humanize the process and I know we all appreciate the effort it takes and will "squee" appropriately.

Thanks, Jan, for posting. I just love this stuff. :wub:

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That seals it. I. Am. Not. Seeing. This. Movie. Alone!!!!

(Or with my husband. I must see this with a fellow KaBloomie or at least, a real Orlando fangirl.)

Houstonian here!

We could meet somewhere in the middle? :w00t: Just and idea.

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it hits me. The sequence should be shot in the rain. "Let's shoot it now, let's use the umbrella." Dunst snaps it open, and Orlando shouts happily, "let's do it," and we're off. Their first take in the rain, approaching the unique grave of a beguiling local part-time magician, works beautifully.

Spontaneous Inspiration! How cool!

My most productive day… and week… ever. I hope it all feels as good later as it does at this moment.

I'm just SURE that it will!

There is no contact e-mail that I could find on CC's site, but, it is FREE to register on his message board, Town Hall. (I though you had to buy the $30 membership or I would have done it long ago! ) :blush:

And you can thank him for his Journal entries and encourage him to keep it up on the Cinephile Forum in the Journal - Elizabethtown thread.

Dairwendan

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I'm so glad CC has been keeping up with the journal. It really gives a wonderful and fascinating insight into their workings. I was completely rapt to be reading about it all.

Gawd, is it 2005 yet??

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I had no idea Cameron Crowe was so "tuned in" to his actors.the way he describes scenes and emotions in his journal is like being inside their heads.and the way he uses music to set the scene, along with his spontenaity, is absolutely fabulous. :clap:

It seems as if he has been bewitched by Kirsten.he seems to love every thing that she does.this bodes well for her if she can so impress someone as big in the industry as Cameron. Of course, he is a normal male, and only reacting to a very pretty and talented young woman. Now, if Cameron were a female, I wonder how he would feel about our Orlando, and what kind of fascination he would have with him? :lmao:

Perhaps he will write more about Orlando in future entries while filming the "road trip" scenes. :heart::heart: If he can find the same emotions and depth in Orlando that he has found in Kirsten, then this movie should be a sweet success.

Thanks for posting this journal, Jan.. Can't wait for more !!! :hug:

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July 19, 2004:

The day begins with some of Orlando’s most compelling stuff, a scene facing his dead father’s body in a casket at Clark Funeral Home in Versailles, Kentucky. It’s one of the first sequences I wrote for "Elizabethtown," a scene in which a guy who’d never seen a dead body before deals with being left alone in a room with the deceased father he never knew and never really fell in love with in life. It was written as a showcase moment for the lead character, and a musical showcase too. Much is meant to be said with his silent looks.

I can, without a shadow of a doubt, see in my minds eye how wonderfully emotional this scene is going to be. I think of Legolas looking towards Boromir as he dies in FOTR.

Orlando has a unique ability to speak with his eyes and facial expressions. As Cameron Crowe says above, "Much is meant to be said with silent looks", and we all know how wonderful he is at that.

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(I thought you had to buy the $30 membership or I would have done it long ago! ) :blush:

I already did that - so if there's anything that comes up 'for Members only' - we'll be covered. :wink:

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Guest IceSculpture

I absolutely love reading Cameron's journal. What a gift, this sneak look into Elizabethtown. It makes me excited to read how wonderfully everything seems to be coming together for this movie, a movie I know is going to touch the hearts of everyone who views it. :clap: I'm looking forward to reading more.

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I'm really thankfull that Cameron took the time to keep this journal and with it allowing us to have a glimpse how a movie is conducted and the processes involved, as well as the actors and what and how they do to become the film characters they're portraying. :throb:

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Guest DeeDeeNay

I'm loving this journal Cameron Crowe is keeping; it's quite fascinating. :clap:

Now, if Cameron were a female, I wonder how he would feel about our Orlando, and what kind of fascination he would have with him? 

Perhaps he will write more about Orlando in future entries while filming the "road trip" scenes.  If he can find the same emotions and depth in Orlando that he has found in Kirsten, then this movie should be a sweet success.

However, I am in agreement with the above quote. I am curious as to how Cameron feels about Orlando's acting abilities. It was nice to read about how gifted Kirsten is, because I know almost nothing about her acting because I've never seen any of her films (I'm not much into Spiderman, so I've never seen any of those films). But I couldn't help thinking as I read about how gifted Cameron thought Kirsten how did he feel about Orlando's acting abilities? I actually began to worry about whether Cameron even felt Orlando was doing a good job. :( I know, that was silly of me to think, because I feel Orlando will do amazingly well on "Elizabethtown", and I know from Orlando's other projects what a wonderful, gifted actor he is, and I have all the confidence in the world that he will continue to grow in his craft, and become an even greater actor (I think I read somewhere that Sir Ridley Scott thinks Orlando's amazing already, and that Orlando's work on "Kingdom of Heaven" is Orlando's best work yet, so I know Orlando can do it. :clap:). Hopefully, Cameron will give us more of an insight into Orlando's acting as Cameron continues with his wonderful journal.

It's nice to read how attentive Orlando is to the fans - signing all autographs, talking to the fans, taking pictures with them, etc. - that's nice. He's such a gentleman! :Cloud9:

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The scene is a simple scene across a table, but much is discussed. It takes place at a Louisville hotspot… for horse trainers and horseracing fans, a diner across the street from Churchill Downs, site of the Kentucky Derby. It’s a true romantic comedy scene, dependent on the rhythm of the actors and the chemistry of the leads. We start with the wide shot, and Kirsten and Orlando are immediately “on.” I’m ecstatic. This is the true beginning of their love story on film. Kirsten and Orlando have spent just enough time around each other to be comfortable, they have obvious repartee, they joust with each other naturally, and the scene explodes with rhythm and humor. Kirsten finds a great comic tone as Claire, and the scene has never been better. I play music on the set and during their takes, sometimes just to surprise and jolt the actors. These two have always responded to it - it's part of our process together. Today, I tried super-upbeat stuff to throw them off-guard, music they wouldn't even listen to themselves, stuff like The Monkees, or obscure soul music. It works, but as we move in for closer shots, I switch to something more intimate and confessional. Immediately I can see something shift in Kirsten, she goes to a very private place before we film. We start filming and suddenly her Claire is darker, more interior, very private. At first it doesn't even feel like the character, but soon I can see what she's doing - this is the raw Claire beneath, and this is the pain that her character keeps tucked away. For the next few minutes, she shows it all, all the layers. It's a fascinating take, and I'll probably use a piece or two from it in the final edit. This is how finely tuned she is an actor. I make a mental note to be careful with the music I play during her takes. she's an amazingly instinctive actress, and what she hears gets into her artistic bloodstream, instantly. It's a blast working with Dunst, there's nothing wasted in her acting. Next I try a song I know is a favorite of Kirsten’s - she absorbs that and turns Claire's emotions inside out, right on camera, again. It's all there, right in her eyes. All day long, men on the crew take me aside and say, “I want to meet MY Claire… “ I've been waiting to put her on film as Claire for a very long time. We turn around on Orlando's side of the scene, and the chemistry is complete - his Drew is confounded and enchanted by the richness of this girl. Finally we have the "Wagner's" scene on film and it’s better than it’s ever been before. We have peaked on the right day.

Much as I can't wait to see Orlando in Elizabethtown, I'm equally excited about Kirsten! She's a very good actress, and Claire seems like such an intricate character!

Now we head up into the hills of Kentucky for the completion of the “Red Hat” scene – a scene where the two characters meet after an all-night phone call. Both actors rip through their takes, and we all go home tired but happy and, of course, ravaged by mosquitoes who laugh at our feeble attempts to repel them with spray.

The all-night phone call. Wasn't that mentioned in the script reviews way way back? I wonder what the "Red Hat" has to do with it! :damncap:

I've never seen a CC film, but I can tell he's a great director because of how well he interacts with the actors! I really hope he keeps up the diary! :wub:

Claire xxx

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I keep telling my friends that I can't wait until 2005 comes. They keep telling me to stop rushing my time away. Reading CC journal clinches it. 2005 needs to come RIGHT NOW.

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Guest AngieB-Have
Much is meant to be said with his silent looks.

Orlando being able to convey intense feelings with his silent looks. Now that ought to be really difficult for him! :lol:

Orlando finishes the day signing every autograph for the local fans waiting for many hours for him on the street.

Dani & I were two of those fans. :w00t: And like I've said before, even after what sounds like it was an emotionally draining day of filming, Orlando made sure no one was left out. *sigh* What an absolute doll. :wub:

I don't know how I am going to wait for 2005. I can't wait to see this movie!

Angie

Bolding by me.

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I guess I'm guilty of harboring a very negative mental stereotype of 'Hollywood types'. It was very surprising to notice that Cameron's thoughts and expressed emotions about this project are not unlike what an average person experiences at work in some big, creative project or even on a personal creative work. He just has more resources to work with. I'm also wondering, considering the effect of Peter Jackson's sharing the film making process with the fans, if we are entering a sort of 'new era' in which including the fans in the making of a film is a standard marketing practice. It seems a smart thing to do, and great for those of us who enjoy seeing that part of it.

Now I really can't wait to see this film. It looks to me like Cameron is going to fully utilize the 'soulful' aspect of Orlando's appeal as well as his well-discussed gift for nonverbal expression. After the combined tease/disappointment of Troy I am so looking forward to seeing Orlando work with a really strong romantic partner in a film that focuses mostly on character. It's . Gonna be. So. :censor: . Goood.

TF

:paperbag:

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