After filming the Kerouac hitchhiking scene along Highway 1 near Bixby Canyon, I was invited to join the cast and crew for a late lunch around 2pm. Shuttle buses and cars caravanned 30-40 people back to Bixby Canyon Bridge and then deep into Bixby Canyon itself. I was in a car with three of the producers. It was interesting to get their take on exactly what producers do. Probably the most interesting thing I learned is that one extra take of the hitchhiking scene was an expensive decision, as it took us into the lunch hour, and certain union contracts dictate extra pay when that happens. These are things we never know about from simply watching a movie, but obviously they’re decisions that affect the bottom line.
I’ve been to Bixby Canyon many times over the years (click here to read the report of John Allen Cassady, Steve Edington and myself making the trek back in 2005), but I have never been so deep into the east side of Bixby. After ten minutes deep into the woods along a dirt road with nothing but hills and tall trees, I was flabbergasted when we crossed over a bridge into a clearing where we were met by 20 to 30 huge white trucks.
This was Base Camp for the Big Sur production. Electrical trucks, costume trucks, RVs for the actors to rest, trucks with kitchens in them, trucks with generators, trucks, trucks, trucks. White trucks, trailers, little golf cart types of trucks, blue RVs (small RVs—we were, after all, deep in the woods and driving winding roads). There were no semis or tractor-trailers; they wouldn’t have fit in Bixby Canyon. But there were probably more trucks there that day in Bixby Canyon than have ever been there with the possible exception of when the Bixby Canyon Bridge was being built back in 1932 in the middle of the Great Depression.
Coming across Bixby Canyon Creek we were greeted by three California Highway Patrol cars—the cops were joining us for lunch. There was a trampoline on the property, and Fifties-era cars—and did I mention there were more than a few trucks?
Lunch was a terrific spread of various meats and veggies, breads and desserts. Corn on the cob and salads. Working man’s lunch, and plenty of it. I’d heard in the past how a film production company runs on the food that is provided and even in this remote setting that seemed to be the case.
After lunch I wandered around Base Camp and introduced myself to various people. Orian Williams, the producer who had invited me down, told me of his time working on the movie Control, the movie he made with Sam Riley playing Ian Curtis and Alexandra Marie Lara, the actress Sam married who was also in that film. Riley is playing Kerouac, of course, in Walter Salles’ upcoming On The Road.
I also met Josh Lucas, who is playing Neal Cassady. I liked Josh; nice guy, very open and approachable—he should make a very manly Neal Cassady. Josh is the one who had the presence of mind to remember who he was playing in the movie and suggested we take our photo in front of the police cars. He’s been in Glory Road, Hulk, A Beautiful Mind and American Psycho.
You’ll recognize Patrick Fischler as an actor who has been in numerous TV shows, including NYPD, Nash Bridges, Lost, Lie to Me and most recently, Mad Men. He’s playing Lew Welch in Big Sur, and Stana Katec (TV’s ‘Kate Beckett’ in Castle) is playing his girlfriend, Lenore Kandel, best known for The Love Book.
Anthony Edwards (ER‘s Dr. Mark Greene) is playing Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Kate Bosworth (Billie/Jacky), Radha Mitchell (Carolyn Cassady), and Balthazar Getty (Michael McClure) weren’t around when I was there.
Henry Thomas was, though; he’s playing Phil Whalen (he was ‘Elliot’ from ET, now all grown up). I also met and got photos of Brenda Marie King (Joanna McClure), Jason Wong (playing Ferlinghetti’s friend Victor Wong, no relation) and John Robinson (as Paul Smith).
Quite the cast! All in all a very successful day in Big Sur. Certainly a day I won’t forget, and I hope, for you dear reader, one that encourages you to look forward to this film as much as I do.
To see more info about Big Sur the Movie and the actors/crew involved, click here »