Sunday, June 21, 2009

Recent Filming Projects Take Many Unusual Forms (Inyo Register May 7, 2009)

BS Ranch Perspective:

It looks as if the government has found another way to bolster the economy for the film industry in the Owens Vally, I mean, since the car industry has taken a fall, and cannot produce as many commercials in the valley as they usually do! Now the DoD is taking up the Slack in the Free time of the Back Drop of the Valley to make Training Films for the Men and Woman that are going to Iraq for the War on Terror! The training will be a valuable tool for the American Solder, so I feel that the trade off is a wonderful one, but I still feel awful about the economic slow down in the Auto Industry, so bad, that I did purchase a Truck from one of the failing markets just to see if my purchase makes a difference, after all the Chrysler Family of Automobiles and Trucks are the BEST on the ROAD! Now I am not saying that there is anything wrong with the Ford or Chevrolet vehicles. It is just my belief that when it comes to Trucks, the Dodge Truck is the best on the market, after all they get the same Torque out of a 6.9 liter, that Ford or Chevy gets out of their big 7.2 Liter. Now the biggest difference is that Dodge's Cummings Engine has two less Cylinders and therefor gets better fuel economy with the same amount of torque, hence the better vehicle! Again this is just my opinion, just remember that an opinion is like your but, everyone has one!

I am glad that these training films are being made now, but I am wondering why? Why, they have not been made a whole lot earlier then now? I guess because we have a kinder gentler President in Office now that is the difference, to make training films to show how people should ride in a Hummer when it is in motion in Iraq!

BS Ranch

Recent filming projects take many unusual forms

Humvees at the ready at Whitney Portal and Movie Flat roads as part of a Department of Defense training film for troops in Afghanistan. Photos courtesy Inyo County Film Commission

By Chris Langley
Inyo County Film Commission

The economic slowdown has had a significant, measurable effect on filming projects locally. By this time each year, the county usually has had 20-30 automobile commercials. This year they can be counted on fingers of both hands. Different kinds of filming projects have been scouting and filming, however, and demonstrate that many new forms, markets and formats are being generated by innovative artists and Internet gurus.
The writers' strike last year ended the hopes of many budding television series, and furloughed feature film production. That was followed by the threatened actors' strike. Although a tentative agreement has been reached, the strike's shadow is still present. Many companies stored their money for films in hedge funds, which quickly evaporated with the enormous drop in the Stock Market.

As the economy contracted calamitously, the three major automobile companies' sales did too, bringing them to the edge of collapse. Now Chrysler has filed for bankruptcy, GM is trying to reorganize and even Ford struggles. With the government involved, the companies have how they do business, and in one sense have changed how they do commercials for marketing their products. GM requires a production company to use its own money creating the commercial, only receiving half the money upon completion and acceptance of the ad. The second half of the money is paid only after the commercial has aired or been published. In fact, the automobile companies are using the production company's money to fund the creating of the commercial. Obviously, production companies are unwilling to front money for a company that may disappear, obviating their need to repay the company.
Nevertheless,Spider Motorcycle, a three-wheel version introduced a few years ago in a commercial made here, Kia, and Subaru all have worked locally in the last months. While they have worked in the Alabama Hills, many of the shoots have taken place on the scenic roads of the county, north and south.
When "Transformers 2: Revenge of the Fallen" opens at the end of June, it will be interesting to see if the show begins with the work done here as originally planned. When "G.I. Joe" opens in August, we'll be looking for Tuttle Creek and Whitney Portal second unit work.
Two very interesting projects have shot here in the last few months. They are very different from each other in style, purpose and intended audience. Neither will be seen in your local multiplex, that is for certain. The Metabolic Studio from L.A. is filming one project and the other is being done under the auspices of the Department of Defense and will be used in training Humvee drivers in Afghanistan to avoid IEDs and terrorist threats.
"Silver and Water" is an artist's film under the direction of visionary artist Lauren Bon who works with FarmLab, and the Metabolic Studio, a collective of artists practicing social sculpture. Rochelle Fabb, project manager, began working in the Owens Valley nearly a year-and-a-half ago, consulting with the Film Commission on locations, history of the area and local resources to create an installation/performance piece being created by Ms. Bon. The group intended to investigate the history of the area that links Lone Pine and Southern Inyo so closely with the city of Los Angeles. The work had many aspects including performance and installation at the PPG Plant south of Lone Pine, Swansea and Cerro Gordo.
Then it would all be filmed on a schema of the "Wizard of Oz" and titled "Silver and Water." The silver is the bullion from Cerro Gordo that kick-started the backwater town that became Los Angeles. The water was the water the city took from the area to allow for development of the megalopolis that exists to our south today. To further their reach into the community for support, they taught a group of local citizens to play the glass harp (wine glasses tuned to specific notes). Called the Metabolic Orchestra and dressed in costumes inspired by the Bauhaus style of design in Europe, the group played "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" in one of the silos at the PPG. All this was filmed to be incorporated in the film in a public performance.
Additional filming was done over at Swansea where projects involving growing algae for oil extraction as a fuel were attempted. There was even a skywriter who spelled out "Surrender Dorothy." The work of the group continues with the themes of "Film, Fuel and Food," and they have leased property on Main Street in Lone Pine near the Espresso Parlor to develop the "food" component. Work on the filming will also continue. It is planned now that the film will be shown at a new theater up at Cerro Gordo during the Film Festival this year. The group has created a beautiful greenhouse to develop sustainable agriculture and replication of an algae/brine shrimp art installation from 1972.
The other project of note is a training film for a simulator for military personnel driving in Afghanistan. Scouting and staging plans took several months because the film was made in 300-degree-plus panorama with a state-of-the-art digital camera. Actually, the camera was eight cameras all in-synch, and the final film would be projected in the round so the trainees experienced encountering terrorist threats in Afghanistan. Again, the Alabama Hills stood in for Afghanistan as they did in "Iron Man" and a Motorola commercial before. Inyo County, in film terms, is more the "New Afghanistan" than the "Old West."
The shoot was challenging because of the panorama nature of the staged encounters. The director had to ride in the camera car and anyone in the Alabamas camping or climbing would appear as being in war-torn Afghanistan. This required the Inyo County Board of Supervisors to close Movie Road for five days. The supervisors and the county really practice being film friendly when needed. The wind blew some of the days very hard, and as one crewman steadfastly said, "I guess the wind blows like this in Afghanistan as well."
This shoot was good for our economy and of even more value because it would make our men and women in the Armed Forces better prepared for the challenges of the Middle East.
Langley can be reached by phone at (760) 937-1189 or by e-mail at

Friday, June 19, 2009

San Bernardino Council Approves Firefighter's Wage Cut! (The Press-Enterprise June 1, 2009).

BS Ranch Perspective:

It seems that the Budget crisis is effecting the Inland Empire, and what do you know but there is a city that is willing to take the obvious gamble at loosing personnel because of the shortfall in their Budget! However Unlike the State of California they have taken the bold move to actually go to the Union of the Fire Services and see if they were willing to take a cut in pay rather then lay off's! Being that the Cut in Pay made more sense then the Lay Off's they took the cut in pay so that they were able to try to work through the shortfall, without loosing any Personnel!!

BS Ranch

San Bernardino council approves firefighters' wage cut

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10:00 PM PDT on Monday, June 1, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

San Bernardino City Council members agreed Monday to a pay-and-benefit cut for firefighters aimed at saving the city $1.4 million over the next 13 months.

Council members approved the agreement unanimously. Firefighter union members already had approved it, union President Scott Moss said.

The agreement, which expires at the end of the 2009-10 fiscal year, marks the final wage concession by San Bernardino employee groups to plug a $9 million deficit in the city's $150 million general fund budget.

The contract calls for an across-the-board 8.7 percent pay cut and does away with an earlier negotiating point that would have cut the city's contribution for health coverage by $664 per employee per month.

The percentage-based pay cut was more equitable, said Linn Livingston, the city's human resources director.

She said the agreement also requires firefighters to sell 48 hours of accrued vacation time back to the city by the end of the month, and another 48 hours before July 1, 2010, the start of the 2010-11 fiscal year. The firefighters would be required to work those hours, Livingston said.

She said that's cheaper than the current arrangement. Under the city's "constant manning" policy, any position left vacant by a firefighter on vacation must be staffed by a co-worker on overtime, Livingston said.

In return, council members agreed to extend a union contract, which was due to expire at the end of this month, for another year.

Further, firefighters will be allowed to log four hours of paid leave per week in a "time bank" for later use.

Until the start of the 2010-11 fiscal year, the contract restricts firefighters from drawing more leave from their time bank than they would ordinarily accumulate in a year.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Supreame Court Rebuff Allows Sale of Medical Marijuana in San Bernardino County... (The Press Enterprise, Wednesday, May 20, 2009)

BS Ranch Perspective:

What is up with the decision of the court to allow the Inland Empire of California to have the decisive use of the "Mary Jane" for medical use! This might be the start of the break down for the rest of the country, and the begining of the break down of the rest of the country to gain the use of the Medical sides of Marijuana for the rest of the United States! But isn't it great to know that it was the Inland Empire that gave the world the Hells Angles and now Medical Marijuana use!! 

BS Ranch

Supreme Court rebuff allows sale of medicinal marijuana in San Bernardino County

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03:11 PM PDT on Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

San Bernardino County residents previously unable to lawfully purchase marijuana for medicinal uses should soon be able to do so after the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear challenges to the state's medical marijuana law.

"The Supreme Court is the end of the road," said Allen Hopper, litigation director for the American Civil Liberties Union's Drug Law Reform Project. "There is no additional legal challenge left for the counties."

San Bernardino and San Diego counties had sued in San Diego County Superior Court three years ago contending that federal drug law trumps California law, therefore making the possession of marijuana in this state -- for medical or any other use -- illegal.

By refusing to hear the case, the court upheld lower-court rulings that rejected the counties' arguments.

Supporters say marijuana helps chronically ill patients relieve pain. Critics say the drug has no medical benefit and all use should be illegal.

California voters in 1996 decriminalized using marijuana for medicinal purposes, and the state Legislature passed a law seven years later spelling out regulations governing its use, including a requirement that counties issue ID cards to patients who have letters from their doctors confirming the medical need.

Riverside County has been issuing the cards ever since, county spokesman Ray Smith said by phone Monday.

Victoria Jauregui Burns, chief of the Riverside County Public Health Department's HIV program, said San Bernardino County residents cannot cross county lines to obtain ID cards because they must show proof of residence to obtain them.

Riverside County residents must also have a letter from a physician and pay a $153-a-year fee.

The county has averaged 350 applicants a year for the past three years, she said, but the volume of applicants has surged in recent months. Some 200 people have applied for the cards in the past three months.

Supervisors in San Bernardino and San Diego, and as many as seven other California counties that have been waiting for the Supreme Court to weigh in, will now consider issuing the ID cards.

San Bernardino County will not issue the cards at least until supervisors are briefed by their attorneys on June 2, county spokesman David Wert said.

The ACLU's Hopper said county supervisors need to understand the meaning of the decision, "so I have no problem with them taking a little bit of time for their lawyers to explain what the legal effect of the decision is."

On the other hand, he said, "It's not rocket science. The Supreme Court said that what the Court of Appeals did stands. The Court of Appeals threw out the counties' challenge."

Scott Bledsoe, of Crestline in the San Bernardino Mountains, said he doesn't trust the county to quickly begin issuing ID cards. He said he will lead as many as 50 medical marijuana proponents in a demonstration at today's supervisors meeting in San Bernardino to press for immediate action.

Bledsoe sued the county in January when it refused to issue him a medical marijuana ID, and he says Monday's Supreme Court decision "bolsters my suit.

"We were expecting, or hoping, that the Supreme Court would deny review of San Bernardino's case," Bledsoe said by phone. "We also assumed that they were going to continue obstructing, even after a ruling like that came down. I filed suit so we could get something going."

Fast Action sought

Aaron Smith, California policy director for the national Marijuana Policy Project, called on the two counties to act immediately.

"It's time for San Diego and San Bernardino counties to end their war on the sick and obey the law," Smith said in a news release Monday.

Tom Bunton, a senior deputy county counsel in San Diego County who argued the case on behalf of both counties, said he was disappointed with the Supreme Court decision, but that "I think it does" mean the end of the battle against California's medical marijuana law.

He said he will recommend that San Diego County supervisors begin issuing identification cards.

Hopper said the Supreme Court decision -- while unexplained by the court itself -- "really comes down to the sovereign right that the state has to decide for itself what its criminal laws are going to penalize or not penalize."

He said he is counting on the Obama administration to continue its hands-off policy on medical marijuana dispensaries in California, a sharp reversal from the Bush administration.

Reach Darrell R. Santschi at 951-368-9484 or

Friday, June 12, 2009

Redlands dealership lands on GM's drop list (Press Enterprise, Monday May 18, 2009)

What I don't know is how does, The Elected Official, from the U.S. Congress, know what or who's Dealership in what City or Location is best suited to provide the best services to the people whom want to purchase their favorite General Motor's Vehicle or Chrysler Made Vehicle, since they are closing some of the Dealerships that have the best Sales Records in their Dealership District, with which some of them have kept that Best Sales Record for Multiple Years Running, yet they find themselves on the chopping block as one of the Dealerships to be CLOSED, as part of the Big Picture, that has been designed by the Congress, and the U.A.W. of which has not been able to successfully been able to argue for one of these huge money making Dealerships, which have been showing a profit, EVEN WITH THE TOUGH TIMES THAT WE FIND OURSELVES IN NOW! THE MOST SUCCESSFUL DEALERSHIP'S HAVE BEEN SHOWING A PROFIT, for their respective Auto Maker's!! 

Either Congress or the U.A.W. has seen their way to close these big time money maker's to show that they are trying to make these companies Fail! Now I don't know about you, but I don't want to see General Motor's or most of all Chrysler FAIL! ESPECIALLY, under the direction under an Elected Official, somebody that I know that I will not be voting for next year if any one of the auto makers fails all together!! If they do fail it will be from the decisions that are made here at their Re-Configuration in the Chapter Eleven, Rules and Regulations of the Bankruptcy clause! 

If you ask me, the Government took that big chance in loaning that money to the Auto maker, in that they should just be allowing the people that know how to run an Auto Business, Run that Business!! The People that are Elected Cannot even Balance the Checkbook of the American People to the satisfaction that we can have a balanced budget, yet when it comes to anyone else and their money, boy howdy they better have a bowl movement of gold, and it better smell of money and not have any fowl odor of any kind, even if there should happen to be a little gas that might escape when the bowl movement is being laid!! 

BS Ranch


Redlands dealership lands on GM's drop list

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12:45 PM PDT on Monday, May 18, 2009

The Press-Enterprise

At least two Inland dealerships are now confirmed to be on a list of 1,100 that General Motors plans to drop as franchisees by October 2010.

Owner Bill Hatfield confirmed today that his dealership, Hatfield Buick GMC in Redlands, received a letter from GM Friday that it is on the list.

"We're going to contest this," said Hatfield, third-generation owner of the dealership, which has been in business since 1913. "We're going to make our case to them that this is the wrong move."

"But we want to emphasize that things haven't changed, and it's business as usual," Hatfield said. "We're going to take care of our customers as we always have."

General Motors, facing a possible bankruptcy filing June 1, is telling 1,100 dealerships nationwide their franchises will not be renewed. The company hopes closing dealers will cut competition between GM outlets and keep prices up.

As previously reported, Don McCredie, owner of Tri Buick Pontiac GMC in Hemet since 1974, on Friday confirmed his dealership was one among hundreds that GM will cut ties with based on a letter he received from the automaker. He called it "unfortunate."

Hatfield said GM did not give specific reasons why his dealership was picked for franchise termination. The dealership, which employs 25, is located at 301 E. Redlands Blvd. "It's really rough," Hatfield said of breaking the news to employees and customers.

"Maybe GM looked at their dealer list and said this one's near the freeway and this one isn't, so it has to go. I really don't know," Hatfield said. "I think people like a place where things aren't done the way they are somewhere else. I think our customers like the fact that I'm here all day, and they can come in and talk to me if they want."

GM is not releasing a full list of dealers who were sent similar letters. The franchise cuts will affect 20 percent of its current dealer network.

Some Inland dealerships said they received word Friday that they were spared, while others took a lack of correspondence from GM to mean there will be no change in their franchise pacts.

According to the Associated Press, many dealers have vowed to fight, first through a 30-day company appeal process, then possibly in court.

GM's dealers are protected by state franchise laws, and the company concedes it would be easier to cut them if it were operating under federal bankruptcy protection. GM says it's trying to restructure outside of bankruptcy because of the stigma of Chapter 11.

Chrysler dealers have fewer options because the company has already filed for bankruptcy protection, and federal bankruptcy judges generally trump state law.

Last week Chrysler announced it will close 789 of 3,200 dealerships by June 9. That includes Dodge City Chrysler-Jeep in La Quinta.

At least 13 Inland dealerships have closed since March 2008, amid the auto industry's worst sales slump in decades.

Reach Lou Hirsh at 951-368-9559 or