Below is PART 2 of the adventures Jennifer and her two friends Suzanne and Katy had when they came here from the United Kingdom specifically to attend Comic Con, see True Blood locations, and generally have a good time.
COMIC CON 2013
After 3 days in LA visiting theme parks we travelled to San Diego for Comic Con. We had a lot of fun cosplaying the Avengers on the Friday and we are excited to experience the madness that is SDCC.
Lynnpd had recommended getting in line early, so we arrived in full Merlotte’s uniform at midnight on the Saturday morning ready for the panel at 3pm. We had nothing but our blankets (Thank you Delta Airlines!) a few bottles of Mountain Dew and a fully charged IPAD.
It turns out when you really want to get a good seat in Ballroom 20 that’s all you really need. After a long cold wait through the night we were let in to the convention center at 8am and managed to secure seats near the front. We watched the Once Upon a Time panels, The Simpsons, Futurama, Family Guy and American Dad panels and finally it was 3pm.
The True Blood cast was announced. Attending was Rob Kazinsky, Michael McMillian, Anna Camp, Joe Manganiello, Kristin Bauer Van Straten, Deborah Ann Woll, Nelsan Ellis, Rutina Wesley, Sam Trammell, Ryan Kwanten, Showrunner Brian Buckner and Anna Paquin. Stephen Moyer and Alexander Skarsgård were not scheduled to attend due to other commitments (Stephen was rehearsing for his role as Billy Flynn in Chicago at the Hollywood Bowl and Alex was vacationing in Iceland), but it was still fangtastic.
On our last day at SDCC we were shopping in the exhibition hall and as we came out of a store we bumped in to Michael McMillian. He was kind enough to take photos with us before his panel with Chronicle Books. Michael was promoting his latest book Steve Newlin’s Field Guide to Vampires (and other creatures of Satan).
Below are links to the videos of the panel that Michael McMillian participated in for Chronicle Books:
Recently I had the opportunity to meet and talk with John Swetnam, the writer of Stephen Moyer’s latest film, “Evidence” which hit theaters on July 19 and will soon be available on Blu-Ray and DVD. I wanted to know what the process was like from beginning to end from the writer’s perspective and John was kind enough to provide me a glimpse into the experience.
John: Stephen [Moyer] came in with smart questions, sort of attacking it and trying to do it right. As soon as the director said “action” they did it; never a wasted take.
How did your childhood as an “air force kid” influence you?
I moved around every two or three years and lived all around the world. I was born in South Carolina and lived in Japan, England, Korea and all over the states, Northern Maine, Southern Maine, Tennessee, Florida and Southern California. I think moving every two or three year is why I like movies so much.
Is horror your favorite genre and if not, what is? What’s your favorite movie?
No, not at all, probably action or action thriller would be my favorite. I like popcorn stuff. My favorite films are Back to the Future, Jurassic Park, Gladiator, big popcorn, fun movies, but I like everything.
Would you consider yourself a horror/thriller writer? If so, why? If not, what other types of films do you want to write?
No. I have multiple projects going now and they are all over the place.
Can you tell me how how you got your scripts sold? Was it luck?
No. I graduated college and came out to California in 2002. I always knew I wanted to make movies, but hadn’t committed to it before then. So I packed the truck, I drove out here and applied to a graduate school in Orange County. While in graduate school I started as a directing major, but ended up getting a master’s degree in screenwriting. I then moved to LA, eight years ago.
Unfortunately, a master’s degree in screenwriting, it literally qualifies you for nothing, except waiting tables. I thought, “I have a master’s degree, people are going to pay me to make movies,” but no job, nobody cares. Having a master’s degree I was just good enough to be shredding Parmesan cheese on people’s salads. At the same time, I was writing. I wasn’t good at it, but I kept doing it, so I wrote about 19 scripts in my basement. I think Evidence was number 17 or 18. And that’s 19 scripts just writing them, hoping that one day, somebody would buy them.
I see you were a director and executive producer of a short called “Evidence” in 2011. Is there any relation to your full length film of Evidence?
Yes, what happened was that I was writing for about eight years while waiting tables. I couldn’t sell anything. I’d written 17 scripts and at that point and didn’t understand or know what to do, so I decided to part ways with my manager and start fresh making my own film in order to have something to show to people. And, as it happens, as I was actually making it, the feature script started getting out there and it just went off on its own, so we didn’t even finish the short.
What inspired you to write Evidence?
I’d been writing for about ten years and I was writing a lot of things and I was trying to figure out what I could write that would provide the quickest way to get it on the movie screen. It was the kind of idea that you could sell quickly, that people can make quickly because it’s not going to cost $150 million dollars.
Was that because it was a “found footage” film?
Yea, when I wrote it, all the films like, Paranormal Activities had come out and I thought, I knew it was going to be found footage, I knew it was going to be horror, but how do I make this something unique? I’d written the script, we sent it out to a bunch of buyers and it sold in January. It was bought by a company called Bold Films. Bold Films paid for the script, and then they attached Olatunde Osunsanmi, as the director. We got the money to make the movie and by August, we were in production, which never happens; that’s a very short window to sell a script and shoot it. Then, once the movie was made, we went to festivals to get people to distribute it and that’s when Image came in and they’re the ones who got it in theaters and video, etc. It’s a fun process.
The film is in theaters now, did you go see it?
I went down on Sunday and saw it and one of the actors, Albert Kuo who plays Steve, the magician was there. It was really cool to bump into him. I had seen a rough cut of it a long time ago, but I wanted to wait to see it on the screen with all the special effects and music, etc. It was cool.
How different is Evidence now from what you conceived it to be when you wrote the script?
It’s a really interesting process. When I’m at home writing the script, nobody cares, nobody’s paying me for it, I’m allowed to just sit there and do whatever I want. So, the very first draft of it was just what was in my head, what I wanted, what I saw. Then, what happens is we sold it, so I don’t own it anymore. Once I sign the contract, it’s somebody else’s; it’s like selling your car. Once you sell your car, if they want to paint it pink, it’s not your car anymore, but that’s my choice. Selling it to a company like Bold was great because they had “Legion” and they were working on the movie “Drive” with Ryan Gosling, which I knew was going to be really good and the producer, Marc Platt is just amazing. Because it was them, I thought, “this is a dream come true, please buy it.”
Then, what happens is that you bring in a lot of people, it’s a big process. The director has a vision, the producer has a vision and then when you bring in 100 people to work on it, it always changes, but everybody’s trying to make a really good movie, but every movie is just not going to be an Oscar winner; it’s just impossible. It’s an evolution.
It’s an evolutionary process for sure, but are you pleased with the outcome? Sure, I think of movie making as very gaseous; it’s just gas everywhere and you don’t know what you have until at the very, very end. As you’re making it’s just craziness.
When you started writing it, did you already know the end?
Yes, I knew I was going to do a horror movie and I knew I was going to do found footage. I used to live up on Hollywood and Highland, the tourists district, and I remember seeing this bus of all these Japanese tourists, about 50 of them, and everyone one of them had a camera and cell phone them just filming everything. That’s when I started thinking, “I like that” so I thought of the bus accident and everybody’s filmed something so you start piecing it together. Then I thought, what’s the twist ending? I’m a huge fan of, and I have no problem saying it, of TheUsual Suspects and in homage to that film I thought it would be fun to do something similar. When you watch the news and YouTube , etc., you always believe what you are seeing and I thought the idea of that was really interesting, and so I built toward that ending.
When I first wrote the script I wanted it to all build up to that moment in the film. There’s a line in the movie, one of my favorite lines, where he says, “you can’t fix this with editing” and she replies, “I can fix anything with editing.” I always had that line in my head because you watch these reality TV shows and its all editing, everything, but you just believe it and get in with it..
How involved were you in the production?. I was working a lot and was very involved with the rewrite process so, up until probably the day of production I was working with the director and the producers because we were rewriting it constantly trying to make it work within the budget. I was on set for a couple of days because I wanted to see Stephen (Stephen Moyer) do the monologue in the interrogation scene I had watched him on True Blood, I was a huge fan and to see him give 100% and to see him just dig into it was so cool.
Stephen Moyer wasn’t on set for that long was he? It was a very short filming period for him?
To even get something with that small a budget into a theater and to get a guy like him to do it; yes, it was very short, he was there for maybe a week. Most of his scenes are just in the police station, but he came in and just went to work. It was fun, it was great to watch.
Did you have Stephen Moyer in mind for the role?
When I sold the script I put together sort of a “look book”, my vision of the movie. I didn’t have Stephen listed, but I had a list of maybe 6 actor’s types such as, Dennis Quad, John Cusack, very much that type of guy, like leading man kind of the guy you just “like,” sort of. So, Stephen fit it almost exactly.
Radha Mitchell was completely off. That part was for a 50 year old Spanish man. It’s a funny story because the name of the character is Detective Burquez, which is a super Spanish name. So I always thought of Esai Morales or somebody like that. I named him Burquez because that was my girlfriend’s name, and when broke up, I thought, I’m going to use her name in this movie and when the director told me that they were going to cast Rahda Mitchell as Detective Burquez the studio said, you can’t name a blonde Australian “Burquez.” So, I told the director, that’s my girlfriend’s name, we broke up, I need that name in the movie so, in the first scene of the movie, everyone is calling out “Detective, Burquez, Detective Burquez, and no one ever said anything that it was the weirdest, most Spanish name ever. Its little things like that are the funniest part about being a writer where you can put little things in for yourself that only I’ll know about.
Below is PART 1 of the adventures Jennifer and her two friends Suzanne and Katy had when they came here from the United Kingdom specifically to attend Comic Con, see True Blood locations, and generally have a good time.
The following are the tales of our epic adventures to see all things True Blood and Stephen Moyer!
How did we meet? The three of us met at Bitten, the first Unofficial True Blood convention in the UK in 2010. We hit it off immediately through our shared love of the show (and our wicked sense of humour) and have attended the convention together for the last 3 years. The final convention was in 2012 and we wanted to continue experiencing as much of the show as possible. We decided there and then we wanted to go to see the True Blood panel at San Diego Comic Con. Hotels were reserved, flights were booked and after a very nerve-wracking queue for Katy in SDCCs “Epic online waiting room” (that’s actually what it’s called!) our badges for Comic Con were all reserved.
Suzanne, Katy and Jennifer
PART 1 – NEW ORLEANS AND LOS ANGELES
The first stop on our tour was New Orleans. This was even more appropriate after the shenanigans in True Blood Season 5 on Bourbon Street. Sadly no vampire piggybacks or karaoke I’m afraid. We tried the local cuisine (gator hash anyone?), hospitality (cocktails in the street is encouraged) and local tourist sites including a steamboat ride down the Mississippi river, a trip on a bayou with Captain Dave and a day trip to the Oak Alley Plantation where some scenes from the film, “Interview With A Vampire” were filmed.
Oak Alley Plantation, Louisiana (scenes filmed her from Interview with a Vampire were filmed here)
Los Angeles – Visiting True Blood Filming Locations
Our second stop was Los Angeles, California. We arrived early in to LAX airport and after picking up our car rental we headed straight out to some of the True Blood filming locations.
Big Patty’s Pie House
From the airport we went to Big Pattys Pie House from season one. It is actually a fully functioning diner called Chips located in Hawthorne.
Location used for Big Patty’s Pie House from Season 1
Bon Temps Police Station
We stopped for a quick photo op and then went to find the Bon Temps Police Station. This is also a working Police Station in Hawthorne but no one seemed to be home that day. Exciting for us “Bon Temps” is still written on the entrance door.
Location used for Bon Temps Police station
Next on our travels was a trip to Long Beach to find the outside location for Fangtasia. Ironically the real name of the venue is Alex’s bar. We decided that perhaps not all the car park is genuine in the show as it is much smaller that it appears on the screen compared to what you see when Eric and Russell Edgington are baking in the sun in season three.
Outside the original location for the Fangtasia Bar
Fellowship of the Sun Church
From Long Beach we drove to Whittier to the Rose Hills Memorial Park. This is the church used in season two for the Fellowship of the Sun. It is set on a stunning hillside and the grounds are beautiful. The church is located at the top of the hill so we highly recommend driving as its quite a distance from the entrance.
location of “Fellowship of the Sun” church from Season 2
We then set out to Las Virgenes near Malibu for Sookies house. The building was custom built for the show and it is set on a private road. We wanted to see how close you could get but as it turned out you could only see the rooftop from a distance. It was good enough for us though.
If you are interested in visiting the same locations the addresses are below.
Big Patty’s Pie House, Chips Restaurant, 11908 Hawthorne Blvd, Hawthorne, CA
Bon Temps police station, Hawthorne Jail, 4440 W 126th St, Hawthorne, CA
Fangtasia, Alex’s Bar, 2913 E Anaheim St, Long Beach, CA
FOTS Church, Sky Rose Chapel, Rose Hills Memorial Park, 3888 Workman Mill Road, Whittier, CA
Sookies House, TV set, 1199 Las Virgenes Road, Agoura Hills/Malibu, CA
I’ve been dragging my feet writing this week’s chronicles. In the past few episodes For a moment I was given hope that my most favorite True Blood character had not completely been destroyed by the blood of Lilith. But the latest episode was a stone cold reminder that the Bill who drew in millions of fans with his tortured soul and humanity has disappeared from Bon Temps and is probably gone for good. No matter how hard I try I am simply unable to be as invested in Bill’s story as I used to be.
With that off my chest let’s take a look at what happened this week.
While Eric still has his dead sister all over him, Bill reminds him of their mission to save the vampires that are locked up in vamp camp. He did everything he could to keep his end of the deal to save Nora, but Eric sees that differently of course. Bill did not come back with Warlow, because Sookie has him. Eric offends him about his weakness for his ex, hitting where it hurts by bringing up the stake incident. Bill feels powerless against Eric’s words and in defense he elevates him in an attempt to shut him up. But Eric is furious and won’t stop mocking him, until Bill hits him where it hurts by making a remark about “his weakling maker Godric”. The boys are completely at odds with each other again and Bill is still no closer to saving the vamps in camp.
Sookie has a huge decision to make: or become Warlow’s faerie/vampire bride or be responsible for the death of her friends. She goes to Bill to discuss the matter, but he is only interested in completing his mission and does not care what Sookie would have to sacrifice for that. Bill wants to take Warlow to vamp camp where you would give his blood to the vampires in the white room to make them impervious to the sun.
Sookie talks to him about when they first met and how Bill hated being a vampire. Bill answers that he was misguided and he looks away almost as if he were ashamed of the way he was back then. Sookie tells him that Warlow wants to turn her in exchange for him helping Bill with his blood. But Bill doesn’t give Sookie the answer that she had probably hoped for, along with all the Bill-Sookie shippers: a little sympathy was the least he could have shown her. But he doesn’t care, he even thinks it’s a good deal since Warlow will be doing them a large favor.
I’ve stopped shipping for Bill and Sookie a long time ago, I thought that they had their shot and it didn’t work out, I even thought at times that she didn’t deserve him, but this is the very first time that I feel that he doesn’t deserve her. Sookie is right; Bill has turned into a monster.
On the cemetery Bill seems more human again, asking Sookie what changed her mind, but still no words of sympathy for Sookie’s impossible situation. When they arrive on the other side in Faerie land however someone got there before them and Warlow looks pretty drained. That can only mean one thing: Eric is on the warpath!
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