Fool’s Gold: California Roadtrip in an Election Year
Direction & Edit: Lili White
color; sound; TRT: 78 minutes
I ran across a town on a road trip — A sign on the edge of the town put up by its inhabitants tells its history. Upon reading it, other stories flashed thru my mind: the American novel, McTEAGUE, and its filmic counterpart, GREED (directed by Eric Von Stroheim); the Biblical story of CAIN AND ABEL; and ZOMBIES whose presence symbolize the wasteful consumer(ism) of human life; who can only be killed by disabling their brain.
My response also drew from neighboring landscapes of DEATH VALLEY and the COSO MOUNTAIN RANGE where drinkable water is bestowed to the desert from CHINA LAKE — a place where ancient Native Americans carved signs into the rocks along its stream bed — some say to honor the spirits there.
These impressions turned into a feature film: FOOL’S GOLD: CALIFORNIA ROADTRIP IN AN ELECTION YEAR, whose central theme of “home” belongs to the American dream that has now been overturned, even into global economic crisis.
During the 1980’s we started to see consumerism and a “me first” shift in American everyday life. From that era to the current time, seems somehow connected to the force of greed seen in society; thru the Madoff scandal, the housing crisis and global economy issues. Somehow this energy is akin to events whereby many Californian company towns vacated into ghost towns.
FOOL’S GOLD presents shifting perspectives that suggest psychological dimensions and mimics today’s dismembered communications; to portray a situation in total: seen both above and below the surface.
FOOL’S GOLD: CALIFORNIA ROADTRIP IN AN ELECTION YEAR references the theme of greed and envy told through popular legends and stories of the livelihood and moral fiber of a once wealthy, small, and rural American mining community after a corporate layoff and its ensuing exodus; as told thru interviews with the remaining elderly population. Historic facts spanning the Gold Rush and the 1980’s of Reagan’s presidential years, comments about “consciousness” and visuals of CAIN & ABEL, Zombies as “insatiable consumers” found in Michael Jackson’s THRILLER dance sequence, and desert landscape of PINNACLES Monument and DEATH VALLEY, display an American mindset that effects war and its economic circles, the housing crisis and global financial change, and the love for consumer products and celebrity.
FEATURING: elderly residents of TRONA California
Dr. Theodore Dimon, Jr. of the DIMON INSTITUTE
Marta & Frank Russo of M/F GALLERY with artist: Fernando Carpaneda and the DETHRACE band
Nicole Berong, dancer from STEP IT UP & DANCE Show at the Tribeca Film Festivals’s 25 year anniversary celebration of Michael Jackson’s THRILLER with Vincent Paterson
CAIN & ABLE actors: Chris Choplin-Brown & DeMarcus Reed
MICHAEL JACKSON played by: Peter Carter
VOICEOVERS: Flo Ankah & Valerie Oisteanu
CAMERA: Chloe Smolarski, Flo Ankah, Marc Silverman, Lili White
LIGHTING: Fred Hatt
CAIN & ABLE COSTUMES: Jillian Maslow
Toe-Knee & Thomas Parker Williams: THRILLLING Theme!!!
Michael Legan: THRILLER theme
Oleg Krylov: KAIN & ABEL & LONLINESS
Jason Weinberger & the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony- http://wcfsymphony.org
CLAUDE DEBUSSAY – Printemps, Modere
MAHLER – Symphony #5: Trauermarsch
William Stromberg & Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra perform
FERDE GROFE – DEATH VALLERY SUITE; Courtesy NAXOS of America
Andrew Mogrelia & Czecho-Slovak State Philharmonic Orchestra perform
SERGI PROKOVIEV – Romeo & Juliet Suite; Courtesy NAXOS of America
Kurt Masur & the New York Philharmonic perform
CESAR FRANCK – Les Eolides; Courtesy NAXOS of America
Zombie Makeup artist: Doug Sakmann
Brantley Baird & The Chevelon Steps Petroglyph Site
NY channel 4 TV news crew
Mule photo # 11 by Mengel
Cathedral of St John the Divine’s St.Francis Animal Blessing
Tom Lassu & the Film Synergy Group for their continuing support
Crossbow Helicopters pilot: Dave Gibbs
MILLENNIUM FILM WORKSHOP & Howard Guttenplan
Searles Valley Historical Society (Old Guest House) Mural: T. Scott Sayre dedicated to his father, James Allen Sayre
Death Valley National Park
Pinnacles National Monument
RIDGECREST Film Board
BLM: Bishop CA
China Lake Naval Base
US troops fighting in US conflicts in the years of 2000 CE
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council
Tribeca Film Festival
Mabel Dodge Luhan House
Cain & Able PAINTING by TINTORETTO (Galleria Dell’Accademia, Venice, Italy
Standing in the present, you are poised between the future and the past…
America’s West: where the good life includes sustainable income, development of land use, the rise of a town, and the horror of its crash and burn.
What is the nature of our “work” and how does that impact us, our surroundings and the environment?
FOOLS GOLD: CALIFORNIA ROAD TRIP in an ELECTION YEAR, a story about a Western American landscape and the dream of a better tomorrow.
We are drawn into a bizarre mixture of landscapes that include; a mining town, its adjoining attraction of unique prehistoric rock formations used by Hollywood for sci-fi sets, a salt lake bed and the mineral wealth of borax incorporated, along with personal stories of elderly residents who experienced the live-work experiment that eventually resulted in a mass layoff and exodus.
The edit weaves together different genres revealing actions, desires, and mindsets similar to those who gravitated to out West during the era of Manifest Destiny. Scientific and historic facts about the Gold Rush, the 1980’s and current times, entwine with the story of Cain’s intention towards his brother Abel, and Zombie horror that, acted out in movies, none the less parallels human desire and consumption.
The films intermix includes: actors in poses based on Tintoretto’s Renaissance painting of CAIN & ABEL; references to the unconscious action of man told thru the Zombies of Michael Jackson’s 1983 THRILLER dance sequence presented at the Tribecca Film Festival THRILLER’s 25th Anniversary Celebration; commentary by Dr. Theodore Dimon, Jr. and Marta & Frank Russo of the horror theme based M/F GALLERY in Brooklyn NY.
The edit combine historic facts; titles from Von Stroheim’s film GREED (based on Frank Norris’ novel McTEAGUE) and landscapes: SEARLES (salt) LAKE; Chevlon Steps & China Lake Navel Base’s Native American petroglyphs paying homage to water; Death Valley and the PINNACLES National Natural Monument and NYC’s WORLD TRADE Memorial Site.