Straight Up: Kentucky Bourbon and an Old Crow Memory

The Dog Face Boy relaxing after a long day.

The Dog Face Boy relaxing after a long day.

I was in a store on the Washington coast a couple weeks ago when I saw a bottle of Old Crow. I haven’t seen one in a long time. I had just started working on the post-sound for Eric Byford’s film, Straight Up: Kentucky Bourbon and an old memory come screaming back to me.

Years ago I was staying at the Claremont Hotel in Berkeley. I’d live there for weeks at a time when we were mixing some of Gus Van Sant’s films at the Saul Zaentz Film Center. I walked in to the small bar one night after a really long day. “Bourbon and water please.”

“That’s an old man’s drink.” said the bartender as he winked at me. “If you ever want to know if a bartender knows their stuff ask for a Dirty Bird in a Bath. That’s Old Crow and water.”

The Bartender was in his late sixties with bright white hair and a twinkle in his blue eyes that was pure mischief.

“Michael Sullivan.” He said as he extended his hand. I heard a hint of an Irish accent.

“Kelley Baker.”

The place was empty so we talked. He used to have an Irish Pub in the City (figures) and he regaled me with stories from the old days. He sold his bar a while back and worked at the Claremont a few nights a week cause he didn’t like retirement. I saw him from time to time and he always had great stories.

About a year and a half later I’m mixing another picture at Zaentz’s and staying at the Claremont. The Post-Supervisor was up from Columbia Pictures as well as two Executives. She asked me to meet them for dinner at the hotel after we were finished mixing for the day. There were some things they wanted to discuss.

I was late of course cause we never stop working right at 7 pm. They’re all waiting for me in the restaurant when I finally show up. I’m not sure what’s going on and why we’re meeting but it’s their money so they can do as they wish.

The waiter asked me what I wanted to drink and without thinking I said, “A Dirty Bird in a Bath.” Everyone including the waiter did a double take but no one asked what it was. I’m sure they didn’t want to appear unhip.

A few minutes later from behind me I hear a familiar Irish accent.

“I knew it was you. How you doin Kelley?” I turned around and there was Michael, he had brought my drink personally in to the restaurant.

I got up shook his hand and we talked for a bit while the Executives just looked at me thinking, “What the hell is going on? We’re the important ones here. You’re talking to an old bartender?”

After a few minutes I gave Michael a hug and told him I’d be by to see him later. He looked at the Executives, “You take good care of this guy, he’s a good one.” And he turned and walked away.

I sat back down at the table and the whole atmosphere changed. The Executives were very friendly and when I asked them what they wanted to talk to me about they told me not to worry about it. They left the next day and the Post-Supervisor told me everything was good.

I saw Michael a few more times while I was staying there. No matter how busy he was he always had time to tell me a good story.

I haven’t thought about him in years and the last few times I stayed at the Claremont he was no longer there.

I bought that bottle of Old Crow.

Michael, I have no idea where you are or even if you’re still walking the earth. But I remember your voice and that twinkle in your eye. I haven’t added water to any whiskey in a long time. But I poured myself a Dirty Bird in a Bath tonight and I’m toasting you. Wherever you are.

Eric Byford, I’m also toasting you tonight. I hope your premiere goes well. You’re a good man and you’ve made a good film.

Cheers to you both!

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A Conversation With Stephen King

Here is a cool conversation with Stephen King at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library on 11/7/11. He is talking with Tom Perrotta.

The conversation starts talking around 5:30. King starts talking around 7:00. This is well worth watching/listening.

You’re welcome.

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Ray Bradbury talks about Fahrenheit 451and other things.

I just stumbled across this great Ray Bradbury Interview. It’s mostly about Fahrenheit 451 but he talks about some other things too. This is well worth your time to listen to, it’s only 12 minutes.

What a great writer, what an insightful man. I just love this guy. Whenever I re-read his books it takes me back in time to when I was a kid but I’m also amazed that he was able to retain the point of view of a kid in so much of his work.

I will always be a fan and I will always learn from him.

The Angry Filmmaker says, “You’re welcome.”

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A Great Interview with Terry Gilliam

Here is a great interview with Terry Gilliam for Romanian Television. The open is all in Romanian but when the interview actually starts they speak English. Terry talks about Steven Spielberg, Stanley Kubrick and his own work. This is a great interview for all filmmakers and film fans.  The Interviewer really knows his stuff and Gilliam responds appropriately. I love this.




The interview seems to be about a year old but it doesn’t matter. He still has lots to say.

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Stuff For Screenwriters

Hey Screenwriters!

For those of you who write screenplays, (or think you can write them) here’s a little column I found that might help you out.

Screenwriting Contests for 2016: The Top Ten Screenwriting Contests

And here’s a video I found called Getting a Better Read On Your Script.


I have no idea if any of this will help you get your script sold or your film made…
The Angry Filmmaker says, “You’re welcome”.

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Haskell Wexler and Vilmos Zsigmond RIP

We recently lost Haskell Wexler and Vilmos Zsigmond. These were two legendary Cinematographers but they were more than that.

Here’s an interview with Haskell you should check out.

And this was put together by Democracy Now! also about Haskell. Continue reading

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Goodbye To A Mentor

I just found out that one of my film school instructors Ken Robinson passed away last week. Heart Attack. He was in his 70’s and had recently retired.

My first semester in film school I had an editing class with Ken Robinson. He was one of the “young” professors and we liked him but we knew he could be tough as nails. He encouraged us to bring our films in to editing class and he would critique them. We all knew what that meant. He would tear them apart in front of everyone. I brought in one of my films and when my classmates found out which film I gave to Ken they were shocked. It was absolutely my worst film. All my friends said, “Why did you give Ken that film? He’s going to tear you apart.”

I don’t remember how long I was on the hot seat but Ken totally tore my film to pieces. He showed me (and the entire class) every mistake I made. It was brutal. Then he showed me different ways and different decisions I could have made to make the film better. He ripped the film apart, but he didn’t rip me apart. And there’s a huge difference. He gave me one of the roughest critiques of my work ever, but he taught me a lot and afterwards although I was down I wasn’t devastated. Continue reading

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Mel Blanc Documentary

I stumbled across the documentary on Mel Blanc on You Tube. Mel Blanc: The Man of a Thousand Voices

It’s old and certainly dated but it’s a lot of fun to watch. Mel Blanc was amazing and I forgot that he almost died in a car accident. How his doctor is able to communicate with him when he’s unconscious is pretty cool.

The Angry Filmmaker says if you’re a filmmaker or just a film watcher you need to check it out.

And if you don’t know who Mel Blanc is you should be ashamed of yourself. He was the voice of so many cartoon characters that we grew up with. Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Pork Pig, the list is endless.

Possibly one of the greatest Actors of all time… Not just the greatest voice actor of all time, but one of the greatest Actors of all time.

Watch it and see if you don’t agree.

You can thank me later.

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A Couple Articles All Filmmakers Should Read

It’s always writers, directors, cinematographers and stars that seem to get all of the recognition but without great editing (and sound) your film isn’t gonna work. Here are two interesting articles on Editors that you’ve never heard of who’ve cut films you have heard of.

The 4 Unsung Pioneers of Film Editing- Dorothy Spenser, Barbara McLean, Anne Bauchens, And Margaret Booth.

5 Editors that Broke the Hollywood Studio System – I think this headline is not accurate, I don’t believe any of these Editors actually “broke” the system but it’s a great read. These 5 Editors were amazing and their work was ground breaking.


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I was Interviewed for The Scofield on My Film on Kay Boyle

Kay Boyle pub 1953 credit Louise-Dahl WolfeI am so far behind here.

The Scofield, a wonderful literary on-line magazine has done a new issue highlighting Kay Boyle. I’m proud to say I was interviewed for it.

I’ve been too busy to promote this magazine but it’s a good one.  I’d appreciate it if you all checked it out. The articles and literary pieces by and about Kay are great.

I am still editing on the documentary, Dangerous: Kay Boyle. As you all know life seems to get in the way of our best laid plans but I am moving forward a little each day.
Go to This link takes you to the Kay Boyle issue which you can download.

Thanks for reading this.

Kelley Baker (Angry Filmmaker)


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