Here are a FEW of the MANY Stories
HERE IS THE FAMOUS LIST THAT WAS DISPLAYED ON OUR GRIP TRUCK
2 trips to the ER
2 wrecked vehicles
6 people losing their real jobs
2 warrants for trespassing
2 scratched BMW's
5 shut downs
$1000's of dollars lost gambling
1 knee injury
7 Producer=1 brain
1 Bad relationship with SAG-They hate us
Here is the fun count:
8132 beers consumed
5 public places we were thrown out of
Over 100 rolls of film shot
$854 won gambling in Casinos
Thousands of photos-mostly blackmail
Frequent flyers miles- we can go anwhere
Several one night stands
lots of junk food
Stories from the CAST & CREW
FROM: NEIL MATHER
I remember the time when I was asked to become an actor/stunt driver.
In the scene, I was to drive somewhat fast around a corner while
evading Colette who was chasing me from behind. To make a long
story short, during the third take with the THIRD BMW and rain just
starting to come down, I decided to go for broke and floor the car ( a
rental of course) around the slippery corner. With the back end
fishtailing almost 90 degrees and a look of terror on my face I was
able to pull the car back in, stopping it from hitting the concrete
wall and sending a producer for a fourth BMW.
FROM: JUSTIN GORENCE
So many stories, so little time. I guess the first thing that
stands out is Tom's commitment to the project. I remember at the
very beginning before we started shooting, Tom called to say there was
going to be a delay and I thought "Yeah, Right! This
is going to happen!!!" But Tom never lost is positive
attitude-- he always said the movie WILL get made!!! I think
even when everyone else doubted, he never did. I know that
positive attitude helped him beat that Solicitation charge in
Oregon..... and that Pedophile stuff in Northern California, and ....
Oh! yeah, the public indecency charges in Nevada.
Yes, Tom is one positive guy.
I also remember all the time and miles I spent in the RV, riding
shotgun with Ran. That thing always seemed to be on it's last
leg, but somehow it kept going -- even if we could only go 20mph
uphill, somehow it made it!!! UH!!!!, that is , until the
transmission fell out.
I guess you really get to know people on the road-- and I mean
REALLY know them. For instance, not many people know that Neil
is a crossdresser or that Chris likes to wear "GURANIMALS"!!!
I always thought he was just well -coordinated.
How about all the meals from the HUFF -N-PUFF. There was nothing
on the menu without fat. I remember one week where it seemed
that lunch consisted of cold cuts for a whole week. I think I
wanted to burn my bike pants after the shoot. I probably wore
those things for two months straight. One thing really stands
out---Those guys made the most of their budget. But the
producers always made it a real priority to take care of us ( Hey , it
wasn't their fault we stayed in a CRACK Hotel in Yakima, that even the
cops were afraid to visit.) But I tell you , even after
finishing up 5-6 months ago, it still feels like a family reunion when
we get together.
PS.. Truckers are probably still talking about the idiots who jammed
up traffic at the Washington- Oregon border.
FROM: COLETTE O'CONNELL
It's just so great that guerrilla filmmaking is alive and well in L.A.
The idea that a group of enthusiastic young people with a dream
to make a movie banded together on the Warner Bros. Lot and made
it happen is fantastic. They also had a part I had to play!!
It had my name written all over it.
I just had this feeling about "BORDER TO BORDER" and wanted
to become a part of it. These guys (the director, Tom Whelan,
and the Producers) looked hungry and I sensed the movie had a shot at
turning into a good black comedy. Little did I know that these
hungry young lions and the rest of the cast and crew were to be my
"Other Family" for over a year. We shot whenever we
had the money, film, the crew had free time, the producers could take
off from their other jobs, it goes on and on.
And then, there were the fights over my character. Was she going
to get the money or not? Was she going to go to Mexico or not?
Was she going to live or die? Was she going to get shot?
Or at one point, they wanted to throw her out of the plane and
show her body hitting the Bay of Mexico. I definitely campaigned
against that one!
It was crazy, but these guys did their job as well as I thought they
would. It came together beautifully. I'm so thrilled that
this little guerrilla move called "BORDER TO BORDER" met
with such wonderful success at it's very first appearance on the film
festival circuit at the NEW YORK INTERNATIONAL INDEPENDENT FILM
FESTIVAL. It won "THE GRAND JURY AWARD for BEST
COMEDY" and I won an award for being a complete psychopath called
"BEST ANTAGONISTIC ACTRESS" ---What more could an actress
ask for but to be in the company of Dennis Hopper who won the
counterpart award for "BEST ANTAGONISTIC ACTOR"
Viva "BORDER TO BORDER"
FROM: AMIT BHATTACHARYA, Director of Photography
"...........seeking D.P. for BORDER TO BORDER, a 16 mm
action/comedy. 20 days shoot in August. Call........."
I saw this deceptively simple flyer at the American Film
Institute's job notice board in June of 1996. NOT in a million
years could I have imagined that making the call would lead to an
adventure unlike anything I had experienced before.
Just as Hunter S. Thompson applied "GONZO JOURNALISM" to his
brand of writing, we surely defined "GONZO FILMMAKING" with
BORDER TO BORDER.!! What other film crew has used a giant
Caterpillar Excavator to film a perfectly acceptable crane shot or,
"stolen" power from a cabin, using a impromptu distribution
box to light a campfire scene when a generator failed to show up.
From our 1st day in a suburban home in Valencia dressed to look like
the interior of a whorehouse to the last, shooting inserts on the
parking lot of the equipment rental house, it was my task to capture
it all on film. Shooting a road movie is a difficult undertaking
under any circumstance, but to do so with the bare minimum of
equipment and a mostly inexperienced crew borders on lunacy. My
motto soon became "We'll make it work": be it shooting a 500
ASA stock in bright daylight, making a rock strewn gully look like a
campsite or me and my camera crew hanging from the back of a 1978
Nissan pick-up while shooting a chase scene with 2 other cars!!!
Through all this, Tom would often turn to me, smiling and say,
what almost became his mantra, " What the Hell are we doing?
True to it's road movie genre, the production of BORDER TO BORDER
paralleled the "you never know what's around the corner"
sentiment. Quite often, except knowing the scene we wanted to
shoot, we had no idea of where and how. We would just drive
along till a place caught our eye, then figure out the best way to
shoot it. Tom and I became very adept at making these quick
choices. A simple thing like a change of season from the time we
scouted to the time we shot, caused a tree to sprout leaves and block
our shot of the monorail in Seattle. So we scrambled to find
another location which ultimately gave us an ever better shot than we
had hoped for. And then there were times when I would throw all
caution into the wind and roll camera on faith. The first
campsite comes to mind. As the light level dropped by the
minute, I kept opening up the iris while my exposure meter started
flashing error. Finally, I was shooting at what all desperate
cinematographers known as W.F.O or Wide F*&#ing open.
The experience of BORDER TO BORDER went beyond all my expectations.
Aside from the professional satisfaction, I have been deeply
touched personally. The shared adventure of traveling thousands
of miles, eating and sleeping in quaint diners and forgettable motels
and the grandeur of the land has left indelible impressions of me.
I can only hope my future filmmaking experiences will be as
FROM: COREY MILER, Writer
Most of the things that I learned writing a low-budget feature
revolves around the two "ises"--compromise and surprise.
At the beginning, your mind reels with all of the possibilities
that the story and characters bring. Then, shooting begins.
When you can't get the location that best serves the scene, you
compromise and hope the words are enough. You've run out of time
or light, so you cut the scene in half and hope your point still comes
across. An actor bails at the last minute, and you sit back and
realize that filmmaking at any budget is a crap shoot, and that rarely
does a film meet the makers' dreamworld expectations. So, in the
end you are surprised. Surprised that the last-minute location
looks luminous on film, surprised that your scene is actually better
when cut in half, and surprised when the actor you ended up getting
does the part better than anyone you could have imagined. And
that feeling alone is better than anything film school could teach,
because the learning is real.
A story that I most remember: The company was hundreds of miles
away, and I was awoken from a lovely sleep at 1 a.m. by Tom, the
director. "We don't have much time tomorrow, not enough to
shoot a five page scene at Crater Lake. The scene you did, that
was great, just great. But, hey, can you cut three pages out of
it, take out Neil's backstory, make it more of a banter and make it
funnier? Oh, and we need it faxed to the hotel by 6 a.m. before we
leave for location." Clint Eastwood's philosophy has always
been to just make it as good as you can and move on, and that is
something I have taken to heart. Because for all the worrying
going on, it got written. And it turned out well. It also
got cut out of the final film. NEXT.....!!!!
FROM PAUL EPPLESTON,Art
"It was an incredible shoot. I can honestly say that Iíve never
had as much fun on set as I did working with this crew. Yeah, it was
stressful. Yeah, it was long hours. Yeah, Ran and Shawn and I nearly
gassed ourselves out of existence with the leaky Rialto that was
spitting fumes into the cabin on the way to Seattle. But it makes for
such great stories! For myself I found a different career path. One
day up in Seattle we were traveling to location through the forests
and a couple of us were goofing on the radios. A lot of Yogi Bear
imitations: "Heeey Boo-boo, I think this would be a good stop to
find some pick-a-nic baskets, hay hay hay!". Well, I do a pretty
good Boo-boo so I responded and there was dead silence on the radio,
like, nothin. Then everyone wanted to know who was doing the talking.
Eventually Chris Owens came up to me later and asked if it was me.
Now, I just knew him as one of the producers, and I was, and still am,
a little sheepish about getting into trouble so I was toeing the
ground and mumbling "Yeah, sorry". Then he comes back with
"Have you ever thought about doing that for a living?" It
was then I found out his father was Gary Owens, voice of Space Ghost,
Blue Falcon, Powdered Toast Man, etc. and that animation voice was a
valid career. It had never really occurred to me before to pursue that
as a career, but as a result I took a couple of classes and fell in
love with it.
"Itís funny to look back at the pictures now
and see what we accomplished on this shoot. Sometimes I canít
believe what we were getting away with, or what we were doing with
practically nothing. Like up at Donnerís Pass where the Donner party
resorted to cannibalism to survive (we had no such problems thanks to
Craft Service!). One of the cars in our convoy had run into trouble
getting to the location. Unfortunately it had the hero (used in every
scene) helmet for Justinís character. We had another helmet, but
Justinís was yellow and this one was purple, so I spent the next
10-20 min frantically covering the helmet in yellow tape so we wouldnít
be delayed. Just as I was finishing the van showed up, so we didnít
use my creation, but hey, it was worth it. I think some of the most
challenging parts of this project was finding ways to dress a location
with the few props we had and could carry with us believably. In
Seattle, the cafť we shot at was actually a South American specialty
restaurant, but with a little bit of product placement from our good
friends at Java Central, and a couple of Cliff bar wrappers, we were
able to make it a rather believable coffee shop overlooking the city.
I also spent a lot of my time Greeking, or changing brand names of
things into not-so brand names. For example, Visa might become Wisa
after Iím done with it. This is because Visa didnít give us
permission to use their name, so we have to work around it. You
suddenly becomes very aware at the preponderance of advertisements
surrounding you when you have to try to change all of them to say
something completely different!"
Stories from the PRODUCERS/DIRECTOR
FROM: TOM WHELAN, Director/Producer
A lot of times you have to depend on creativity,
and not money, to get you out of trouble while making a low-budget
film. I remember this one time in Lake Tahoe when we had our
first all night shoot on the film. Bob Bajorek, Amit and I went
scouting around the mountains of Lake Tahoe looking for a
suitable campsite location with a place we could draw electricity from
(Since we couldn't afford to have a generator brought up from
Sacramento and there wasn't a place in Reno that had any available).
It occurred to us that if we shot next to some cabins, we could
run stingers from a cabin to the location and get some lights working.
We found the perfect spot for the scene and it just so
happened that there was a cabin about 150 feet away. We knocked
on the door, but nobody was home. We looked in the windows and
there wasn't even furniture inside.
So we went to the next cabin, which was another 70 feet way from
location, and asked if we could pay them some money to use their
electricity. The man looked at us and asked why didn't we just
use the close cabin's electricity. I told him that no one was
home , and looked at me and said, "SO". That was good
enough for us!!! We started off just using the outlets that were
on the outside of the house. Amit eventually said he needed more
juice and then of course the inevitable happens. "Does
anyone know how to tie into the Distribution box?" When we
wrapped out the next morning, we left a thank you note and $50 in
cash. In the end, the scene looked great considering Amit only
had four lights to use.
FROM: RAN BARKER, Producer
We wanted to start filming in Seattle and travel back down, so the
entire crew had to first drive directly to Seattle. Brandon had
acquired a 1970 beat up FLAIR RV with really ugly orange carpet.
I'm pretty sure this RV was not even cool in the 70's. Someone
had to drive it to Seattle from Los Angeles and I got that lovely
task. I recruited Shawn McClintock, Paul Eppleston and Jeremy
Becker to come along and help with the long drive. All the
vehicles drove in a caravan and about 50 miles out of LA, the other
cars pulled over and said that we were weaving, we told them that we
smelled gas and upon further investigation we realized that the
exhaust was leaking into the air-conditioner. We didn't have time
to take it back to LA so we rolled down the window, turned off the air
and continued on. Within two hours everyone in the caravan had
run off and left us and we were on our own. We decided to just
have fun, so we made a sign in the window that read "MTV ROAD
RULES" and took out the video camera and started filming while we
were in traffic, people were honking and waving at us, yelling out
their windows, taking pictures. We made our own little film as
we went. Shawn and I took the first turns at driving and after 8
hours we decided to take a nap on the bed over the cab as Jeremy and
Paul took turns driving. Shawn and I were laying head to feet
and fast asleep when Jeremy hit the brakes and sent us tumbling
forward, my elbow stuck Shawn in the crotch and he surged up in pain
and struck his head on the top of the camper, then Jeremy took off
again send both of us sailing to the ground.
Sixteen hours later, we were able to hookup with the rest of the crew
and as we came out of the RV, dirty, battered, bruised and looked like
we were stoned from all the gas fumes and driving with the windows
down. We were loud and wild and everyone was staring at us.
We decided to drive the rest of the way instead of staying the night
with the crew and soon got back on the road. The next morning we
were near Washington and stopped in to see Jeremy's parents. They
lived in a large old home with these huge weeping willows in front.
As we drove in, I though we could make it under the
trees........... I was wrong........... and we took half of one of
those trees with us - Once we stopped we realized that the tree
we had pruned had a HISTORICAL MARKER on it-- we freaked, thinking we
had killed an historical marker-....... Jeremy put it up on that tree
as a joke years ago.
Mid morning, I was driving and everyone was asleep and I announced
" I NEEEED A COKEEEE" Seeing an exit, I turn off the
freeway and what looked like a straight ramp suddenly became almost a
U TURN. The roads were slick and we could not slow down fast
enough-- by this time--- EVERYONE was awake and watching us slide
toward the side of a brand new pickup at the
intersection.---luckily for us, the light changed and he zoomed out of
our way as we came to a stop where his truck had been..........That
was the last time I drove ......that day.
It took us a total of 30 hours straight to drive to Seattle from
LA.- On the way back to LA, the RV overheated several times, the
transmission fell out and had to be replaced, and we backed into
several other cars, trees and various other obstacles that seems to
get in its way.........when we got it back home-- it still had tree
moss in it from hitting that weeping willow at Jeremy's parents house.
I was glad that I had been a part of the group that drove the
RV, it was like we had earned our stripes. We had an adventure
that the others missed out on. Thanks guys for making the trip so much
There were a few casualties of our trip:
Several branches from an Historical Tree
Several highway markers
49 unhappy motorist-behind us on 2 lane road
1 bike tied to the top that didn't make
1 parking meter
and the Toilet in the RV........................the
FROM: KAREN ROMERO, Producer
"Tom and I went on our first location scout in March/April 1996.
We flew to Seattle then drove over 2,000 miles down to Lake
Havasu, AZ. Along the way Tom would randomly stop the car, jump
out and run across the street. I would sit and wait until I
heard a cry. "This would be perfect!!!" I would
get out of the car and find him climbing the side of a cliff holding
his hands together like a picture frame, as directors do when they
have found the perfect shot. "Come up Karen, this is
perfect," he would say to me as he was about to fall off the
cliff. I would just smile and tell him to be careful, get down
and let's find another place where we can actually get a camera.
This little "cliff action" happened at least 30
"The script called for a whore house. Outside of Reno, Tom
and I pulled up in front of MISS KITTY'S. We sit outside the
door of MISS KITTY'S and go through a routine of "You go in, I'm
not going in, you go in." Then finally Tom pointed out, if
a man walked in and said he wanted to shoot a movie here, they would
think he was some crazyman. So I left the car and walked up to
the door and never expected what happened next. I rang the bell
and the door opened, as I walked in an old woman approached me and
said, "Are you the poolman?" I wasn't sure what to say
because I wanted to look around and see if it was a good location but
I didn't think I could pull off being the "poolman." I
said no, I'm not the poolman but I wanted to talk to someone about
shooting a movie. She said she was under orders to only let the
poolman inside and I had to go. First whore house, first try,
first shut down."
"The second attempt at the whore house was better. I (by
myself) entered the MOONLIGHT BUNNY RANCH. They were very
friendly and really interested in the film. I was inside for
about 30 minutes. Once I cam out Tom couldn't believe I was in
there for so long , he asked if I was okay. He thought I was
being recruited by the house or trying to earn some extra money for
the movie. He was only joking of course."
"Tom and I really wanted to have fun making this film. We
wanted the cast and crew to enjoy the process of filmmaking and not
think of it as just another job. I think if you ask any cast or
crew member they'll agree that we accomplished what we set out to
"Low budget filmmaking can be very difficult but somehow things
always worked out for us. We never had a film permit so we would
just place the camera where we wanted and shot. Most of the time
it worked but once we were shut down because someone called the
police. We kept shooting until we saw the police coming down the
street then we decided it was time to move on to the next scene."
"It was really great working with all our cameos. I never
thought famous actors would care so much about a little independent
film. Rue really came prepared for her role. She told us
she wanted to get into the role by making some jello of her own.
We ended up using some of her homemade jello in the shot."
"In Mexico, only one person knew how to speak Spanish so it was
difficult to get people to do what we wanted. I felt like it was
a big game of charades. Hand gestures and body movements were
"It was tough getting everyone together on weekends but the cast
and crew were willing to join us at a moments notice. I remember
calling everyone at the last minute on a Thursday night for a 7am crew
call for Friday morning. Thank goodness for a very cooperative
"The process of making BORDER TO BORDER was parallel to the road
Neil and Justin traveled, sometimes it was smooth and sometimes there
were crazy turns and you never knew what was around the corner.
But in the end you were extremely satisfied with the journey you had
and the end result, a great independent film."