“ I wrote the story myself. It’s all about a girl who lost her reputation but never missed it.” Mae West
Our five-day shoot in Mexico is sadly over. Its’ been a good one. The crew is on its way back to Los Angeles with our 20 silver and black boxes of camera and lighting equipment. I didn’t quite reckon on how tricky it is to blog, tweet and update the Facebook page when shooting.
It’s hot, humid and a damn fly is buzzing ferociously around me trying to get to the parts no other fly has yet mauled. Mexican flies seem to be particularly good at making the most of their 3 days on the planet. The heat reminds me of the steamy film by John Huston (written by Tennessee Williams) “The Night of The Iguanas” shot not too far from where we are.
I am sitting in my little room overlooking the Pacific Ocean with palm trees swaying in the front garden listening to the relentless waves crashing against the pristine white beach. In the distance, a hammock beckons but so does the prep for our forthcoming shoots in LA/NYC.
We were blessed with the perfect location for our accommodation and the food has been heavenly. (Thanks to Shaheen our producer.) Surely this must explain why every morning our lovely crew would come to breakfast with broad smiles, ready to work in the hot, humid Mexican sun. Sometimes you just strike lucky with a crew when the energies flow smoothly. This was one of those rare times. For me this is vital, in a small, intimate documentary environment where trust, thoughtfulness and patience are essential.
There was ‘mucho gusto’ laughter and just as crucially Alice Walker didn’t mind us walking all over her beautiful house and lush garden setting up/filming shots -the visual texture/bedrock of the film. I started off the first interview with Alice Walker by asking her about the Mae West quote she used in the preface of her book “The Way Forward Is With A Broken Heart”.
Why this quote and what did it mean to her? Suffice to say, Alice’s dusky pink Indian kurta as well as her splendid, enlightening answer, which kicked off with a hearty laugh, more than matched the witticism and panache of Mae West. We talked at length about Alice’s experience of living in Mississippi in the mid 1960’s in an interracial marriage – illegal and unacceptable to the deeply racist Southern whites steeped in Jim Crow hatred. Having calling cards put through the letterbox on the porch “The Eyes of the Klan Are on You”, to shopping late at night in empty supermarkets to avoid the hateful stares and potential violence towards them formed part of the highly pressurized texture of their daily lives.
The landmark film “Guess Who Is Coming To Dinner?” with Sidney Poitier and Katherine Hepburn explored the taboo of interracial marriages, which had been illegal in most states of the United States, and was still illegal in seventeen southern American states up until June 12 1967, the year of the film’s release. When Alice Walker and her white, Jewish civil rights lawyer husband (at the time) Mel Leventhal lived as an interracial couple in Jackson, Mississippi they were a unique sight. Apparently, Mississippi now has the highest number of interracial marriages in the whole of the United States. When you follow your heart, who knows what revolutionary change you instigate. More later!
For now enjoy the perfect sunset which greeted us just as we arrived at our location in paradise.