As a combat soldier, LAPD cop, carnival midway fighter, middleweight boxer, movie stunt man, LAUSD high school teacher, newspaper owner-editor, sideshow barker and target of failed filmmakers who have become hateful film critics, Cartel is no stranger at ducking punches or being shot at says, “Now that filmmaking is dirt-cheap and the new crop of startlets are more ‘friendly,’ I’ve decided to jump back into what I once considered a very expensive hobby.”
Cartel, who invented the Cinema Alley Cat© school of no-budget filmmaking says that he saves even more money by holding the new, small video camera in his teeth, thus eliminating the arrogant cameraman from his crew budget.
He also prefers using non-professional actors to direct. “They actually think you know what the hell you’re talking about, so they don’t talk back,” Cartel says with a vampirian grin. “They don’t whine about eating and politics and they actually perform better because they don’t try to act.”
Asked by Entertainment Heartbeat why Part 3 of Ghost Dog is being shot before Part 2, Cartel says that he’s still scaring up financing to be at the Salem, Massachusetts location. His deadline to fill the Web with Addison is this week, so he gazed ten miles to the west where he conveniently found a spooky beach with an actual ghost legend.
Why not just substitute the Salem forest with the nearby Big Bear look-alike location? “I have gas money to go to the beach, not to that damned endless, one-lane medieval trail to Lake Arrowhead,” Cartel says, his voice getting angrier with each word. “What the new filmmakers won’t ever understand is that you need five things every time you film something; a crew, actor(s), equipment (including everything charged up the night before), a location (that you aren’t going to get moved off by a property owner or the cops).”
And what’s the fifth thing? “A sucker to invest,” Cartel says, laughing so hard you can see his gold inlays. “That’s by far the hardest part; it takes carny showmanship to pull it off without going to jail. 30 years ago, indys only talked about ‘how do you distribute?’ But the Internet got rid of those lazy, thieving parasites (distributors). Also, because of electronic video editing, the biggest expense, the bloodsucking film lab has also died a screaming death. I still have the Movieola that I used to cut my 35 mm films and I just laugh about that out-of-business Getty Lab now.”
If the video/Final Cut/Web revolution allows Cartel to make his films for free all the way to the answer print, why does he still need an investor? “You still need gas money and you still have to feed the crew or actors,” Cartel says, as if explaining something simple to a fool. “Because the actors will get sluggish and titty-baby, and the crew will mutiny.”
So how many more episodes of Ghost Dog will there be? “As long as the cow keeps giving milk for free and until some studio idiot pays me to put the thing on cable,” Cartel grouses, shaking his head while staring at his empty wallet. “You know, even more than pit bulls, pawn shops, loggers-truckers-fishermen, cops and little people, the most popular reality theme are ghost shows that pretend to be real. Well, as a carny at 13 I ran a Pepper’s box ghost illusion tent show that the marks all thought was the real thing, so my rigged Ghost Dog Addy will fit neatly with all those other shams. But my hook isn’t just the two dogs (the other is Daisy, the chihuahua cadaver dog), but also the on-screen ghosts, not just the dark rooms with garbled voices and the actor’s silly screams.”
Cartel will be cruising the beach this Thursday morning to find a location with few people and fewer cops. And how many days will this shoot take when he plants his tripod in the sand? “About two hours,” Cartel says, thinking about everything that can and usually does go wrong. “I’ve sketched out some shots, then I just make it up as I go along. Everything is done in one take and we shoot it first and rehearse it later. With amateurs they only get worse with more takes, where they start thinking. Then we lose the sun.”
SEE THE FINISHED MOVIE ON THE VIDEO PAGE (Along with the Ghost Dog One webisode)