Thursday, May 13, 2010

A trip to the set of Jonah Hex

Okay, stick with me here, because this is going to be one heck of a long post. I wanted to break it up into parts but I wasn't allowed to, so it will be one huge long ramble. Here goes:
                                                        Josh Brolin as Jonah Hex
Last year I received an email from Warner Brothers publicity department asking if I would be interested in helping them advertise the new Jonah Hex movie.(?!) After double-checking the IP address to insure it wasn't a joke from my Eldest son, I replied in the affirmative, asking what all was entailed in 'helping advertise'.

They said that they usually try to get a fan blog involved in a movie and they would send me some pictures, maybe a film clip, and other goodies to post on my site. They also mentioned that at times they send folks out to the set for a visit. I chuckled, yeah, like THAT would ever happen.

A week later, that is exactly what happened. I got another email asking if I would like to be on the set either May 14th (Josh Brolin and John Malkovich) or May 19th (Josh Brolin and Megan Fox) . My jaw hit the keyboard in disbelief. WHAT?!?!?!?

I speedily replied that the first date would be best for me and shortly thereafter I was informed of my flight reservations and hotel accommodations. I was told that I would on the set and they would be shooting a night scene between Josh Brolin and John Malkovich. Not only would I watch them shoot, I would be able to partake in an interview with Brolin, Malkovich, Jimmy Hayden (the director), and various other folks working on the movie.

I was urged to get an audio recorder but I couldn't take any photos, ask for autographs, nor could I post anything on this site until WB gave me the go ahead (since they want to control the buzz about the movie). As we say in Oklahoma, It's their rodeo, so they get to load the horses into the chute!

Anyway, my flight took off Wed, May 13th at 0600 and I land in New Orleans around 10. I ride in an airport shuttle to the JW Marriot near the French Quarter and that was fun in and of itself.
                                                       Megan Fox as Leila

The van was very crowded and there were a couple of talkative guys in it. One from St. Louis and one from Staten Island. Staten Island says that he's in town with his best friend who just won Employee of the Year at their job. Staten Island says he's in town on business. They both start comparing hotels when the driver calls out "Who's staying at the JW?"

I raise my hand and Staten Island says "Wheee, what did that set you back a night?"

I hesitate, "I don't really know, I'm not paying for it."

"Really? Who is?"

"Warner Brothers."

You could have heard a pin drop in that van! St. Louis asks what I'm doing in town for WB. I tell that that I'm doing some publicity on a movie they are shooting.

Really? What movie?

"Jonah Hex." Well, they want to know who's in it and I start to tell them. When I get to Megan Fox St. Louis hollers at his buddy "Hey, Bill? You go on without me. Me and my new best friend...What's your name?"


"..Dwayne here are gonna be hanging out with Megan Fox!"

About that time Staten Island wants to know who I write for. "Well," I say, "I really don't. I have a blog about this comic book character in the film..."

"Wait wait wait. Youse gots this blog thing?"


"And they sees it and calls youse?"

"Yeah, pretty much."

"And how are you gonna be handlin your click-through things? Youse gonna get some money offa all this traffic? Youse know what youse need?"

"Uhhh, what?"

"A manager. I can be a great manager for youse to be sure the money comes your way. I'm used to dealing with lowlifes like these."

"That's okay. I think I can handle myself. Thanks."

"Well, just give me a call, I can make things happen."

The rest of the ride was about the same with me talking about the Jonah Hex film and what all was supposed to happen once I hit town.

I spent most of Wed walking around the French Quarter and I took a trolley ride into the Garden District to take photos in the Lancaster Cemetery. While I was in the cemetery I noticed that the area was overgrown and looked neglected. Walking further into the cemetery I saw a sign stating that the area wouldn't be mowed until film production was complete on May 29th. Wow, looks like I accidentally stumbled onto a location for the Jonah Hex film!

Thursday was when the set visit would take place but I didn't have email access and hadn't heard anything from anyone regarding the visit. I was getting pretty antsy by noon and dug out a hard copy of an email that listed the names of the journalists. I rang the front desk and asked to be connected to the first name I saw.

Speaking with that gentleman, he said that he hadn't heard anything yet but it would probably be later that evening. I had some lunch and walked around the Warehouse district and while doing so I stumbled onto some shooting for The Expendables. Snapping some pics of New Orleans I kept walking around town and was getting rung out from the humidity so I head back to the hotel, shower and take a nap.

Around 4 I get a call from the publicist in charge of our group saying that everyone is meeting for dinner in the hotel and we'll head out to the set afterward. I get ready and wait for dinner.

I head down to the steakhouse and find a group of young folks milling about (I'm talking 20's and early 30's) and I learn that they are the journalists. I introduce myself and shake hands (one of them stating that handshaking was 'old school'. Hell, I'm 48. I have jackets older than these guys and was probably married before they were born). One guy insists on a fist bump and I oblige. But I explode it. When he doesn't, I say "You don't bump and boom? That's old school." and head into the restaurant.

We get a table and sit down and there is a little talk about my blog and Jonah Hex, but most of their talk is shop talk, what movies they have seen, what stars they have interviewed, what sets they have visited. I listen politely and a few times I get included in the conversation. They do give me some pointers about how they take turns asking questions and everyone will get a chance.

After dinner they load us up into a coach bus and we go pick up John Gallagher, Jr. who we get to interview and then we head down Bourbon St. to pick up Will Arnett and they will both ride with us out to the set (more on that later). The coach ride is about 30 minutes out into a swamp area/gravel road/residential/shrimp boat launch and we arrive on the set.

Getting off the bus I can see the night lit up and can hear men shouting. Straining to see, I spy what looks like a rock fort but past that are two large smokestacks!?! As we get closer we can make out that the smokestacks are part of a large ironclad boat that is in dry dock and the filming is taking place on top. We get closer, winding through all the trailers and equipment, walk through the small rock fort and then we see the huge monstrosity that is the dry docked ironclad.

I'm trying to keep my jaw from hanging open. There are a dozen of so extras on the boat with Malkovich, the cameras, and all the movie crew. There are tons of prop crates, boxes and prop equipment around the boat and there are some large tubes running into the nearby swamp and it appears they are pumping smoke into the water so that it bubbles up out of the water.

We are guided to a canopy structure near the bow of the boat and there are several monitors under the canopy, showing us what is going on the deck of the boat. A few minutes later we are joined by Jimmy Hayward and we talk for a bit prior to the interview. Jimmy is talking about how he read Hex back in the WWT days and brings up the issue where Jonah's dog saves his life, and Jonah ends up taking the dog to a doctor and tosses the patient currently being attended to out the window. I mention that was back in Weird Western Tales #14 and Iron Jaws was the wolf's name.

Jimmy also mentions that they have had folks from DC out to the set, including Jimmy Palmiotti as well as John Albano. I politely mention that Mr. Albano passed away a few years prior, and Jimmy says that they had his family out. I ask if Michael Fleisher had been contacted and Jimmy leans back talks to a publicist, she tells him "No" and he tells her to get on it. (Sadly, as far as I can determine, they never did contact Mr. Fleisher, even after I sent them his contact information, with his permission, of course.)

After the interview with Jimmy Hayward, we talked to one of the producers, the set director, got a tour of the floating ironclad as well as getting to crawl all over the large dry docked boat. Then we interviewed John Malkovich.

                                                       John Malkovich as Quentin Turnbull

There was a long wait due to some shooting changes and we all walked down to the mess tent where we had dinner (I think that was around midnight or after) and then we strolled back to wait for Josh Brolin. During the wait I was wandering around and one of the folks asked if I was with the journalists.

I laughed because I have never thought of myself as a journalist, but I admitted that I was with them but I was just a blogger. The guy asked if I was the fan blogger and when I confessed to being said 'fan blogger' he said, "You would not believe how many times Jimmy has had us read your stuff to look up pictures so we could get a feel for this film." He introduced himself as the 'Extras Director' which is not directing the extra actors, but the director for the DVD extras ('making of' type stuff, bloopers and such.) and he asked if I had a business card.

My wife had made up a bunch of cards for me to hand out (just in case) so I handed him one and he said that he might be in touch, depending on what type of extra features were needed for the DVD. Immediately I had visions of being billed as "Jonah Hex historian" on a DVD extra feature. We chatted a little longer and then I headed on back to the boat.

When folks say that movies are a lot of standing around, they aren't kidding. And while you're standing around in a night time swamp, you drink a lot more water than you would expect. And when you drink a lot more water than you would expect, you end up having to head for the latrine trailer, standing in line between two cowboys, and when you get back to where you're supposed to be, you learn that the interview with Josh Brolin has already started. (Holy Crap!)

I only missed the introductions and the first question, but the other reporters helped me fill in the blanks (Thanks guys and gal).

After that we were allowed to wander around and talk to whomever we could find which included the make-up guy as well as the guy in charge of weapons. I'll have little bits from them next week when I get that transcribed.

We got back to the hotel around 0400 (if I remember, it IS kinda fuzzy) and since I don't like flying in the afternoon (chance of thunderstorms in Oklahoma can destroy a fine trip) I ended up getting to my early morning flight back to OKC on time, but very very tired.

                                                        Michael Fassbender as Burke

Having never done interviews before, I have no idea what to highlight, what to cull, what interests folks reading this blog. Therefore, I present here in all their glory, all the interviews.

John Gallagher, Junior - Bus interview

Will Arnett and John Gallagher, Junior - Bus interview

Jimmy Hayward - Interview

John Malkovich - Interview

Josh Brolin - Interview

On a final note, I want to thank everyone at Warner Brothers and the cast and crew of Jonah Hex. You guys made the dreams of this fanboy come true. Also, a big thank you to the other journalists on the trip for helping out a newbie blogger with all the transcribing (in no particular order):

Todd from CHUD
Steve from Collider
Drew from (Crap! I forgot where Drew was from. Sorry, Drew!)
Jenna from JoBlo
Jeff from BloodyDisgusting
Joe from FearNet
Kyle from Comic Book Resources

Whenever WB makes a Scalphunter film, you guys give me a call and I'll bring you up to speed on that character as well.


Susan said...

Coolness! Read the main post, and I'll get to the interviews later. Hope you make it to the DVD! ;)

C.K. Dexter Haven said...

Can I touch your arm? ;)

Seriously, that's fantastic to hear; you deserve the "Hollywood" treatment.

Jim-in-Seattle said...

Very cool Dwayne.

Dwayne "the canoe guy" said...

CK, consider it 'touched'. :) You might also check out some of the reports at the other sites as well. Collider has the actual audio of the interviews.

Susan, if I make it to the DVD I'll autograph one for ya.

SallyP said...

This is SO cool, Dwayne. And a darned smart move on their part, to get someone who actually KNOWS what is going on with Jonah Hex.

Historian, indeed!

Unknown said...

Nice work Dwayne, and a well deserved tip of the hat from Warners/DC for all the effort you put into the blog!

I suspect the quite specific lack of any contact/mention of Micheal Fliesher in any material regarding the film is their legal department wanting to keep a firm hold on who gets credit for the film/character etc to mininise royaltes. If the filmmakers or DC acknowledging his role in developing the character I think it would been seen as giving MF some claim I guess. Not sure he would ever be bothered to be involved in such a claim, but DC/Warner brothers work for "the man", and fairness doesn't enter into their business decisions.

Dwayne "the canoe guy" said...

When I asked the folks from WB how I got picked, they mentioned that they just googled "Jonah Hex" and my blog appeared on the first page so they contacted me.

Since I knew that of the Green Lantern film rumors, I did mention a nice blog that I knew of called Green Lanterns Butt Forever that has a large readership.

The publicity folks laughed but did write down the name. Ya never know, Sally. Ya just never know.

Daza, every chance I get, I am still quizzing the WB folks about Fleisher. They are polite but I'm sure thay are ignoring me since the last time I communicated with Mr. Fleisher he indicated that he had not heard from them.

I can only hope he gets a mention somewhere in the credits.

Sleestak said...

So jealous! I figured they'd hit you up. Nice scoop!

I always expected the LotL PR dept to contact me but I was always (1)uniformly negative about Ferrell and (2) I think everyone involved in the film gave up long before the release.

SallyP said...

Thank you Dwayne. I'm glad that I was able to provide a little bit of entertainment. Can't say that I've heard from anybody however.

But dagnabit, I AM going to go and see this!

Jim-in-Seattle said...

I hate it when I have to cough up a crow. Is there an antihistamine for that?