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Hooray for Hollywood
A few months ago we were contacted by a man named Rich who was with an advertising agency in Los Angeles. He explained that they were in the process of making a documentary film on how people live and they wanted to include us and our lifestyle. If our part turned out satisfactory, they would then take some of what was shot and make it into a commercial for a web site by the name of homestore.com. We were skeptical, but agreed to an audition. 

While we were parked at Ron's mom's nursing home, they sent a professional videographer to tape us answering questions and we were asked to include a tour of our motorhome on tape. That was fun, but still we didn't think much would come of it until we got a call from Dominic, the producer, who said that they wanted to film us as soon as possible. We told him where we were going and when. Soon we all agreed on meeting in Tucumcari, New Mexico, and the plan was to travel to Corizozo, New Mexico, and the Valley of Fires national recreation area and from there we would travel to Las Cruces with a stop at White Sands National Monument. They told us they would be spending two days with us. We thought we knew what it would entail because Good Morning America spent two days taping us for that four minute spot five years ago, but we were about to learn that making movies is a lot different than making a tape for TV. 

Because we had been in rain and snow flurries our motorhome was very dirty so we pulled in to Tucumcari two days before the crew was to arrive so we could wash our motorhome and get ready for the cameras. We were in constant contact with  Dominic, and knew that the crew was flying to Albuquerque (from both Los Angeles and New York) then driving to Tucumcari. When they arrived in Tucumcari, he called and asked if they could come over for a short visit before filming started the next morning. Besides finally meeting Dominic, we met the very creative cinematographer, Chris Smith, who had recently won a prestigious award at the Sundance Film Festival for his documentary American Movie. We also met the lighting man, Fritz, and another cinematographer, Hubert. They all seemed very nice and basically all they wanted to do with this first visit was to see what obstacles they might have in filming in our motorhome. After this brief visit they told us that they would arrive at 7:45 and start filming by 8 a.m., the next morning. We were excited and I did not sleep well.

The van arrived right on time with the guys we had met the night before. Behind them were three more cars/vans and a large truck plus a rented Bounder motorhome which we learned later was the place for snacks and drinks and the rest room for the crew. The first person we met was Fabiola, the make up artist. Dominic had said that making a film was a lot different than taping for TV and we were beginning to see what he meant. Soon we met Janet, the sound person, Agnes the script writer (she writes in long hand everything that is said on camera), Rudy the focus puller (he is always next to the cinematographer and keeps the camera in focus), Rodrigo the director and his two assistants, the guys in the production truck who keep the film magazines loaded, John the caterer who made sure there were plenty of snacks and drinks for the crew, Barb, Rich and several others from the advertising agency, Steve from homestore.com and others that I can't remember right now. All in all there were 26 people who traveled with us most of the time. 

We didn't leave that campground in Tucumcari until 11 in the morning because they were filming Ron and I doing various things. It was only 150 miles or so to the campground at the Valley of Fires in Corizozo so even leaving that late did not worry us. But shortly it was clear that it would be slow going. 

Chris, Rudy, Fritz, Janet and Agnes rode with us all of the time. Chris wasn't always filming but when he was up front filming us (asking questions as we were rolling), Rudy had to scrunch on the floor at my feet to do his job while the others had to hide by lying on the floor beside the bed. One time Chris was filming out the bedroom window. 


       Janet and Agnes at the table            Fritz, Chris and Rudy in the bedroom
Hubert and his crew filmed us going down the road and several times after he filmed us radioed that he would like us to stop while they get set then take off  again. Three times we were asked us to turn around so they could re do the shot and that was not always easy since we were on two lane roads with no crossing roads or places to turn. Those times we unhooked the car, turned around, re hooked the car then did what they wanted.  They filmed us from the side, the back and even from the front (Hubert was anchored in the back of the van with the door open shooting straight up at us from just a few feet away). By the way, everyone in the crew was always in radio contact so communication was good. 

The production truck and two of the other vehicles       The road crew ready for us to roll again. 

We could see that it was going to be dark by the time we arrived at the campground and worried that we would not be able to get a camping spot. Dominic took care of that for us and had an assistant call ahead and save a spot for us. Dominic had a good contact at the park because they had had to pay a hefty fee in order to film there. To us it seemed like an expensive project and there were lots of complications. 

The next morning at Valley of Fires we were again filmed doing lots of things. Ron was filmed visiting with the neighbor, Wyatt. We had wondered what he and his wife  must have thought when late at night we pulled in accompanied by the Bounder, the white truck and the other vehicles. The crew left shortly and we had gone over to apologize to Wyatt and Donna for disturbing their peace. They got a kick out of the whole situation especially when Wyatt was included in the film the next morning. We didn't get to explore the park as we would have liked but did take part of a walk on the nature trail so it could be filmed. Again we got a late start and had to exit the park twice for the benefit of the camera. Always Fabiola was handy to do a little touch up and Fritz was asked to take a light meter reading. They all worked well together. 


    Fabiola touching up a shiny spot           Fritz with his light meter and Chris filming me.

At White Sands National Monument, we ran up the sand hills while the camera was rolling and again and again. Before we got to the campground in Las Cruces, they had us pull into a truck stop and fill up with diesel so that could be filmed. They generously paid the bill. That was a nice treat. The campground was just around the corner and they filmed us setting up camp then having a cocktail outside as the sun was setting. The good byes were sad; they had been a part of our life for two whole days. 

We will be getting a copy of the movie when they finish. We were the fifth couple they had filmed and they have one more to do. Two of the others who will be in this documentary are a couple who live in an old missile silo and a couple who live in a house boat on a bayou in Louisiana. The ad slogan will be something like ---This is their dream home; what's yours?   I will keep you posted on the progress, then we can all watch for the commercials. 


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