The premise for the short film Zelda, Almost Home became quite simple: Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald, born in Montgomery, Alabama in 1900, lived a wild and tumultuous life with the author of The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald, whom she met in 1918. What if she came back today as a ghost?
The inspiration to shoot Zelda, Almost Home came from watching Vincent Laforet’s Reverie on YouTube. You’ll also notice there’s a hat tip to Damien Chazelle and his film La La Land— Zelda walks in front of a mural. Simon Cade from DSLR Guide has been a big influence and coach as well. (This is my first short film. I’m 51 years old.)
Come to find out, there are ample stories around Montgomery already to suggest the premise for this film is dead on. The halls of Baldwin Middle School are full of stories alleging apparitions of Zelda. As I talked with F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum Executive Director Sara Powell last Friday, she had two more accounts, recent ones, as the museum prepares to open upstairs rooms as a bed and breakfast.
So as you read and watch the film, please know, it is grounded in much less fantasy as you might first suspect.
The Making of Zelda, Almost Home
One of the first things any viewer will note is the music, Almost Home, composed by Moby and used with permission from his website, MobyGratis.com. He offers free use of his material provided it’s used for purposes like this—non-commercial and creative expression.
The film is shot entirely in Montgomery, Alabama, June 22-25, 2017. And that is part of my commentary for shooting this, there are almost no films about Montgomery that are actually SHOT in Montgomery.
It is all shot with a Canon D60, part with a Nifty Fifty lens and part with an 18-135 mm. The camera for the most part is mounted on a Neewer Image Stabilizer. Shots from the car the camera was mounted on a tripod.
The intersection of Zelda and Fitzgerald, Montgomery
The opening shot is designed to give homage to Montgomery for honoring Scott and Zelda, while also having our Zelda set the scene that she was full of life when she lived here. It is not hard to imagine the real Zelda spinning around her street sign with glee.
Five minutes after we left the scene, I drove back through and someone had called Montgomery Police to investigate what we were doing. A patrol car was sitting where I’d been parked and was using the lights of the car to light up the street sign.
Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum, Felder Avenue
The house on Felder is now a museum. They have a fascinating collection of Fitzgerald memorabilia and are open very day of the week except Monday for tours. And they are in the process of opening an upstairs suite as a bed and breakfast so those seeking inspiration for their writing or filmmaking can soon stay in the same rooms as the Fitzgeralds for nine months back in the 1920s. This is said to be the longest the two lived anywhere together. And it was the last place they ever lived as a family.
Winter Place, Goldthwaite and Mildred
It is often said that Scott and Zelda met at the Montgomery Country Club. But lore now suggests in fact that they met at Winter Place on Goldthwaite. Part of the tale goes is that Zelda’s daddy, Judge Anthony D. Sayre, who lived four blocks away, would not have approved of her being at Winter Place so saying they met at the country club was much more proper.
The McBryde-Screws-Tyson House, Mildred
Christian Lowry, the owner of the house, tells the tale that Zelda was friends with the girls who lived there at the time. He says Zelda used a ring she’d been given by Scott to carve their initials in a second story window. Mr. Winter, who owned Winter Place across the street, is said to have had a thing for Ms. Zelda when she was younger and so as an admirer, when McBryde-Screws-Tyson lie vacant, he sent men into the home to extract with window pane Zelda carved initials into.
It is hoped, that since Mr. Winter was something of a pack rat, that as Winter Place goes through renovation, the original piece of glass will be found and hopefully returned to its rightful window.
But this is the sentimental importance of this shot in the film.
The Train Shed
There are stories about Zelda and the train shed in Montgomery. It was the prime way in and out of town for Zelda and Scott. But it is also said that she dressed down one day and walked around with a tin can seeking donations. News of this, of course, stirred Judge Sayre. Which is probably what it was meant to do.
The Riverfront Tunnel
The Riverfront Tunnel has changed over the years. Only recent efforts by the city to bring night life back downtown have led to the amazing lighting in the tunnel. The colored lights and the depth of the shot make this one of my favorite scenes in the film. I thought about going back and having Zelda walk perfectly framed up the lighted tunnel but then it’d be too staged and too fashioned, something the true Zelda would not allow.
This is one of the apex locations in downtown Montgomery, connecting with Commerce Street, critical to the city’s past and present.
Over the past 15 years, the Alley has really come to life as an attraction in Montgomery, and wherever there was a party in this town, well, it’d attract Zelda.
Tallapoosa and Commerce Statue of Hank Williams
The Hank Williams Statue is now the gateway into the Riverfront Park area of the downtown area.
RSA Tower Fountain on Dexter Avenue
David Bronner has built a series of buildings throughout Montgomery over the past 40 years. The fountain this Zelda is playing along wasn’t here when Zelda was, but like the real Zelda, my character couldn’t resist the temptation to play. And she really wanted to get into the water like the real one would have done, too.
Catoma Street view of Troy State
Troy State wasn’t located here back in the day, but is an important part of the downtown scene, connected to the Davis Theatre and across the street from the Jefferson Hotel where Scott and Zelda are said to have stayed, as well as being near the Rosa Parks Museum, which I believe back in the day was also the Empire Theatre, one of the first air conditioned places in the hot of the South.
Sunny Paulk Civil Rights Mural, Lee and Montgomery Streets
Hat tip to La La Land and having Emma Stone walk past the You Are The Star Mural. Montgomery has a beautiful Civil Rights Mural here and we just had to include it. Zelda was gone before all of that came to be and so it was fitting for her to just walk past.
Oakwood Cemetery, Plot 28, graves of Minnie and Judge Anthony D Sayre
There is a memorial plaque for Scott and Zelda, their daughter Scottie Smith, and Zelda’s parents, Minnie and Anthony D. Sayre in Oakwood Cemetery. When we arrived for shooting, the sunset was alive with color and emotion.
The first shot is Zelda mourning over the plaque. She then runs her hands over the stone above her father’s tomb. Out of love and emotion, the Zelda character in the film lies down on the stone above Minnie and puts her hand on Minnie’s name. By then it was too late to see, but the poignancy of should not be lost. Zelda would dearly miss her Momma for many reasons all of us would.
Old Alabama Supreme Court Building, Dexter Avenue
Justice Sayre served on the Alabama Supreme Court from 1909 to 1931. Zelda would visit this place and miss her daddy.
The Alabama Capitol
The Capitol is just a stone’s throw from the Old Supreme Court Building.
Chris’ Hotdogs, Dexter Avenue
Chris’s Hotdogs is 100 years old this year. I don’t know if Zelda ever went there to eat before she left town, but the odds are pretty good that she would have. They have served every sitting Alabama governor since they opened. It makes sense the lead Flapper Girl would have been a customer, too.
Court Street Fountain
Many a girl like Zelda has climbed the fence at the fountain to wade into its waters looking down Commerce Street toward the Alabama Riverfront and up Dexter Avenue toward the Capitol.
Sunroom window, The Fitzgerald Museum
The sunroom at the museum would hold special value to Zelda. Scottie, their daughter, wrote about its importance during the Christmas the family spent in the home. As a ghost looking back, she would totally take time to look into this room and remember the gem of joy they experienced there as a family for one of the few times ever.
The Museum at night, Felder Avenue
Day or night, the museum is a treasure of Montgomery.
My Own Zelda Ghost Story
So, the night before we began shooting, while walking up the drive to the museum, a white and tan cat came running out of nowhere and up to me. I am allergic to cats and don’t care for them. This one, as I was standing in the drive looking at shots, avoided my Zelda actor, (Angie Tatum Weed) and began curling around my legs. I finally said, “Hey Zelda!” and the cat stopped.
Apple’s Yosemite Doesn’t Work With Exchange On Multiple Macs
And Apple’s technical support doesn’t know why.
I’ve been a Mac since Oct. 11, 2007. In that time, I’ve made a lot of pronouncements about how well Macs work. But today, Nov. 6, 2014, I am ANGRY to report that Apple has completely screwed the pooch when it comes to Exchange working in Mac Mail on multiple Macs. It flat does not work.
When one creates an Exchange account on one Mac, say an iMac, and does it in Mac Mail, it works fine.
When one opens their Mail client on a second machine, say a MacBook Pro or a MacBook Air, a dialogue message pops up saying the password, which was entered correctly on the first machine, is wrong. What is wrong, instead, is that in the Username fields on the second and third machines, the @domain.com portion doesn’t come across so the two machines perpetually are looking for just the user name on the account, not the entire email@example.com.
As long one doesn’t try to use Exchange on multiple machines, which is the very idea and premise for it, it works on the one machine.
The guys at Apple Care have spent more than an hour with me noting this issue. They say that it can’t be something wrong with Internet Accounts, that it has to be an Exchange issue, which of course, since it’s a Microsuck creation, they don’t support. But it’s their system of Internet Accounts that precludes one from being able to set the email account up on the three machines without it being stuck in the Cloud portion of the OS, therefore making this an Apple issue, not an Exchange issue.
The two machines that it’s not working correctly on both had Yosemite Beta on them. I did a reload of Yosemite on the MacBook Pro last night and tried it fresh this morning. It’s not a Yosemite Beta issue, and not one that was remedied when Apple issued Beta Seed 1 on Tuesday night, either.
I’m about to call my Exchange provider and switch the account back to a simple IMAP account. Apple is apparently unable to handle an Exchange account on multiple machines in Yosemite.
If you have Exchange and are considering upgrading to Yosemite from Mavericks and you run the same account on multiple machines, I suggest you wait till Apple gets it’s stuff together and hopefully fixes this dramatic business interruption.
BTW, Exchange is working on the iPhone and iPad along with the iMac. But when it gets to the other two Macs, forget it.
Red Lion Hotels-A Great Brand Experience
We operate out of Dallas and don’t get over to the “Left Coast” as often as we’d like, but yesterday we learned about a hotel chain that clearly has it going on when it comes to social media. The hotel chain—Red Lion Hotels—interacted with us in some very positive ways certainly worth mentioning here.
To set this up, on DaddyClaxton.com, we did a post yesterday about how a front desk clerk, Courtney, went beyond the call of duty to ensure that a guest, there on her 67th birthday, got breakfast delivered to her room via a special request. In fact, we called the hotel from Dallas and made this happen, but HOW we made it happen is as much a part of the story as what happened.
First of all, all we had to go on were the keywords “lion, hotel, portland, airport.” From there, a Google search led us to Red Lion Hotels. On their very lively and colorful website, is an option for “live chat.” Clicking that box immediately put us in discussion with an operator. We asked about how to reach the hotel and the Pacific Grille. The operator on the chat said to call the hotel and dial 0 for the front desk.
That led to a conversation with a young lady who was getting off for the day who said that they hotel restaurant doesn’t “normally do room service, but I’m about to get off work and would be happy to take it to your mom’s room for you.”
After exchanging credit card info, Courtney was on her way.
Later on, once Mom was surprised, came the blog post and tweet on Twitter and a post on Facebook.
A few hours later in the day came a reply from @RedLionHotels on Twitter. The messages were all positive and supportive, including word that they are going to seek out the young lady who went beyond the call of duty and present her with a reward for her efforts. (The CEO of the company is going to present her with a nice thank you.)
The whole process has been an example of systems that work, and an example of proactive and responsive social media. It was refreshing and very professional, not to mention personal.
After alerting Mom about what the hotel had said, she replied that the most surprising point of all had been that the front desk clerk had even given her a hug for her 67th birthday upon delivery of the BIG pancake breakfast. (Another point not mentioned—for $9.95 the pancakes were almost as large as the plate. A rarity in hotel food both in price and amount.)
We’ve never stayed, nor honestly, had heard of Red Lion Hotels before Sunday a.m. But one thing is for sure, next time we are out west, there is going to be an effort made to find one of their hotels and see if the stay matches the brand experience online. The entire virtual and personal experience, what brand managers hope and pray for, but seldom realize, is in full effect with this chain and it is truly rewarding and refreshing.