Fool’s Gold: California Roadtrip in an Election Year

FOOL’s GOLD: California ROADTRIP in an ELECTION YEAR trailer from LiliWhite on Vimeo.

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 in a form that mimics today’s dismembered communications: to portray a situation in total, as seen from both above and below the surface.

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 who helped grow the “company” town of TRONA California.
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


CAIN & ABLE COSTUMES: Jillian Maslow


Toe-Knee & Thomas Parker Williams: THRILLLING Theme!!!

Michael Legan: THRILLER theme


Jason Weinberger & the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony-


CLAUDE DEBUSSAY – Printemps, Modere
MAHLER – Symphony #5: Trauermarsch

William Stromberg & Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra perform

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


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


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. Interviews with the remaining elderly archive the development of a “company” town.

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.