Monday, March 9, 2009

Welcome to the HOWL Blog!

Monday, March 9, 2009:

Welcome to the Howl Blog! This is where you will find an exclusive behind-the-scenes account of this innovative new film currently in its final week of pre-production in New York City. This film tells the story of Allen Ginsberg's landmark poem Howl and the obscenity trial that resulted. Scenes from Ginsberg's life that led to the creation of Howl and reenactments of the trial are intercut with Ginsberg's actual voice reading Howl while the poem's imagery is brought to life through the animation of Eric Drooker. The cast includes James Franco (Milk, Pineapple Express, Spider-Man) as Allen Ginsberg, as well as Jeff Daniels (The Squid and the Whale, Terms of Endearment), David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck), and Mary-Louise Parker (Weeds) as the courtroom participants who battled over the literary merit of Howl. Stay turned for more cast announcements coming very soon.

Howl starts shooting in NYC next week, and so today we went on a tech scout to all of the film's locations. Twenty-two crewmembers crowded onto a bus and drove from location to location - the production designer and art department took measurements and mapped out how they would design the space, while the director of photography discussed with his gaffer how the scene would be lit and spoke with the directors about camera angles. The locations department found a beautiful courtroom in the Bronx that captures the look of the courthouse in San Francisco where the actual trial took place in 1957. The crew also visited a vacant storefront in the West Village where the Six Gallery will be recreated - this is the place in San Francisco where Allen first read Howl in October 1955 (Jack Kerouac later recounted a fictionalized version of this night in his book Dharma Bums). Various apartments on the Upper East Side will stand in for Allen's New York and San Francisco apartments. When the entire crew went to scout one of these apartments, the lock was jammed and the landlord could not open the door, so our 1st Assistant Director, Tom Fatone, climbed up the side of the building to the second floor and into the apartment window, and he was then able to open the door from the inside!

We next scouted locations in the East Village, including Tompkins Square Park, Alphabet City, and the exterior of an apartment building where Ginsberg actually lived. We will be referencing a number of period photographs, including one of Jack Kerouac smoking on the fire escape - we will be shooting this close to the actual location it took place!

Stay tuned for more updates as we count down to the beginning of the shoot next Monday...

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