Saturday, June 12, 2010

veuve clicquot by the case: spring 1986

Graphics and photo courtesy of Veuve Clicquot. And yes, there is a little story here.

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Details are sketchy, and believe it or not, this isn't because we'd had champagne. It was our last day of shooting. Night, actually. It was very late at night, and cold; I remember that much. The last scenes we shot were outdoor scenes, and it might have been out in the Brentwood area, although I have no specific recollection of that location relating to that night, as such. That night's memory-file is a combination of a grouping of non-sequential visceral impressions along with other memories, themselves cobbled together after the fact upon revisiting a few Polaroid photos I have of that evening.

We were happy, maybe even giddy, at having completed principal photography on what was (for nearly all of us) our first feature film. Our youthful enthusiasm and dreams of a bright future in movies served to make up for the project's lack of real money.

In one Polaroid, the production designer holds a flashlight under his champagne glass, for reasons that made silly sense at the time. The camera's flash doesn't illuminate beyond him so it's just a black void beyond. We could have been anywhere. We're all wearing coats, so it must have been cold. Had this been the digital age instead of 1986, photos of that night would have been legion, preserved forever in digital history. Images snapped with iPhones and Canon Powershots galore, and footage on YouTube.

But this was 1986, and we were so-called "young filmmakers." It's impossible to relay this next key fact without it sounding like name-dropping, but there's no way around that. Our odd, now infamous little horror film was funded partly by Francis Coppola (or his mother, now that I think about it), with the other half coming from a friend of mine who was one of the producers. Even with their equal contribution of funding, Francis was able to support the film in ways nobody else could, most significantly by providing post production facilities. He also let us shoot scenes on his Rutherford property (near Napa, California; this is the location of his Victorian home and his winery, set on achingly beautiful acreage). He gave us young filmmakers thoughtful story notes during the edit. He made pasta for us.

That last evening, that important and fleeting point in time, as muddled of a memory as it has become possibly because of how exhausted we all were, and as lacking as we now are in good photographic evidence, was for me most memorable for one tangible event: the arrival of a case of Veuve Cliquot from Francis. The idea of a bottle of Veuve Cliquot was heady enough to me, and still is, but the audacious extravagance of an entire case of this liquid gold was... dazzling.

If we were drinking a case of Veuve Cliquot sent from Francis Coppola, we knew, just knew anything was possible.

It's still my very favorite champagne. It probably always will be.

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