The Forbidden Zone

It should be noted in advance that this post talks about the ending of the 1968 film Planet of the Apes and contains spoilers.

In the ever long list of places to go and things to do here in California, filming locations are one of my favorite things to go out and visit. The Point Dume Beach, aka the “Forbidden Zone” from Planet of the Apes has been a place I’ve wanted to visit for some time, and we finally made it out there last Saturday, and boy what a day. In the days leading up to our visit I had been doing research on the location as well as rewatching my favorite show, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., and realized that Point Dume was also used in the episode “Bounty Hunters’ Convention”. Then I read that the location is also where Major Nelson finds Jeannie’s bottle in the Pilot of I Dream of Jeannie, another favorite show of mine!

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Warner Brothers Studio Tour

Warner Brothers Studio is the powerhouse behind some of the greatest classic films of all time. Casablanca being at the top. But they also produced James Dean’s three major motion pictures, East of Eden, Rebel without a Cause, and Giant, along with some wonderful television series. And today the Warner Brothers continues to make great and award winning movies and  TV shows. What some people may not know is that you can actually visit Warner Brothers Studios and take a tour of its backlot and sound stages! I was thrilled when I found this out, and Patrick surprised me with tickets over the weekend.

First, I’m always happy when I can visit filming locations, but Warner Brothers’ backlot holds a special place in my heart with its ties to the James Dean’s films, the 1960s Batman series, and my favorite show, the little known series The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. (Some readers may remember that my devotion extended into me making not one but two cosplays of the character of Dixie Cousins.) However, I knew ahead of time that where the majority of Brisco filmed no longer existed. Like many studios, Warner Brothers had a western area on their backlot. Built in 1957, at the height of westerns, Laramie Street, as it was called, had scenes from not just Brisco film there, but the James Garner classic show Maverick (perhaps my favorite role of his), and Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles shot there as well. But as westerns grew less popular, and family sitcoms and one hour contemporary dramas began to take over the airwaves, Warner Brothers saw little use for Laramie Street, and bulldozed it in 2004 to make way for Warner Village, “a New England-style residential street” where the homes are not just facades, but working production offices as well.

However, Laramie Street is not the only location on Warner’s backlot that Brisco used. They shot extensively on their “New York” sets as well, which acted mostly as San Francisco. Including the Westerfield Club, the Horseshoe Club and the hotel where Brisco and Socrates dangle from a window. (All of the screencaps and their counterparts below are shown respectively.)

And like all shows, Brisco also shot on sound stages. Warner Brothers Studios’ stages all feature plaques that have a list of all of the movies and shows that have filmed on that stage. We were lucky enough to pass by one of the ones Brisco used, stage 19.

We also passed by the building used as police headquarters in Batman, as well as building that acted as the police station that an intoxicated Jim Stark was dragged to in Rebel Without a Cause. Which is currently being used as a high school for Pretty Little Liars.

The tour also featured a museum that rotates exhibits. During our visit the first floor was dedicated to Batman, since the new Batman vs. Superman movie is coming out soon, as well as it being the 75th anniversary of the caped crusader. However, the floor was given to Batman films beginning with Burton’s 1989 version through Batman vs. Superman. The upper floor on the other hand was dedicated to Harry Potter. At the conclusion of our tour we visited Stage 48, part museum, part store, part coffee house, that allows guests to gaze upon items from the archives, such as costumes, artwork and props, as well as experience green screen technology, forced perspective use, and sound mixing. I was most excited over the original Scooby-Doo pitch board and the puppets used in The Corpse Bride.

The Warner Brothers Studio Tour is similar in some ways to the tour at Universal Studios Guests. However when visiting Universal Studios you are mostly visiting an amusement park. The Studio Tour is a part of their heritage, and offers a peek into how movie magic is made, but they do not shy away from gimmicks. Warner Brothers’ tour is different in that it stays away from gimmicks, the tour group is smaller, and guests get to step off of their tour buses and walk along portions of the backlot, as well as onto sound stages (we walked onto the stages for The Big Bang Theory and Ellen), so overall, the Warner Brothers Studio Tour feels much more like a real working backlot, rather than a ride, as with Universal, although Universal is still very much a working set. I was so pleased to be able to visit such locations that mean a great deal to me, and I would honestly go back and do the tour again sometime in the future or when interested friends or family visit.

Other notable movies and shows that have used Warner Brothers’ backlot extensively are A Star is Born, Blade Runner, The Music Man, My Fair Lady, Bonnie and Clyde, The Dukes of Hazard, ER, Friends, Gilmore Girls, and Pushing Daisies.  For those wishing to visit the Warner Brothers Studio you can book through their website.

Geek Out!

Alright, it’s my last Wizard World post, and then it’s back to the vintage, I promise. So if you’re not into Batman, Bruce Campbell or Star Wars, or never much cared for costumes, you’ll find this post pretty boring. But let’s face some facts here, I’m a girl with a lot of different passions.

The weekend was quite interesting to say the least. There was a lot to see and do. If I had infinite money and time and magic heels that didn’t hurt after being on my feet for hours on end, I think I would have tried to make it to nearly every celebrity table there was.  Portland’s Convention Center was packed with celebrities from Elvira to William Shatner to four members from Walking Dead and even the legendary Stan Lee was there.  Other booths were packed with all sorts of goodies from action figures to swords and of course comics, because what is a comic con without comics?

My attending cons is solely based upon celebrities. And this year, as mentioned, three of my favorite all-time actors were in attendance, and since the con was three days, I was able to dedicate a single day to each celebrity in terms of attire.  Friday was dedicated to the first love of my life, Adam West, and I wore a vintage Batman tee.

Read on for more fantastic geekery, celebrities and stellar costumes!

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“I’ve Struck a Real Bonanza!”

Back in November I blogged about working on my second Dixie Cousins costume for Portland’s Wizard World Comic Con.  And this last week I put the finishing touches on it…

Selecting a costume from an obscure source is a double edged sword where the benefit is also the downside when it comes down to recreating a costume.  Television shows rarely get their dues when it comes to publicity photos, and The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. had very few, most of which are only available in the DVD booklet, and in terms of the character of Dixie, there are only ones of her in the red and gold showgirl costume (which made making that costume a lot easier) and her purple traveling ensemble. Additionally, the show is so obscure that there is very little information or images on the internet. So I often end up screencaping needed scenes myself, however quality is always an issue for all sorts of technical reasons between the original filming of the show to compressed DVD screenshots. The result is not very clear images to work from.  But this fuzziness also gives me some liberty when making the costume. I have to assume certain things and say “Well, it kind of looks like this. But I’m not sure, but this works out, so I’ll go with that.”  This costume got some good air time in the episode “Brisco in Jalisco” (if you feel like watching the clip that includes this costume, someone actually uploaded it to YouTube!) and I knew where I was going for the most part, but I know future costumes of Dixie’s will be far more brutal in attempting to work out the details.

I had a lot of issues with this costume, especially with the area where the bodice meets the skirt, and I must admit, I am not entirely happy with it, in fact I am far more incredibly happy with the first Dixie costume that I did, so the second one is not always better! A lot of it comes down to time, and impatience.  I thought I had a decent mock up that worked, but when it was translated to the actual fabric, with a zipper, it did not, and alterations had to be made that I felt made the piece unshapely, but any attempts to further alter it resulted in me being unable to get the piece on, and other alterations would have run risk of damaging the fabric, which I couldn’t have because I only had limited quantities of the fabric. So I settled and left the piece alone.

In terms of sewing specs, I had a hard time finding a pattern that looked remotely close to what I needed (and I have yet to learn pattern drafting), especially since I needed to have a pattern where there was a seam under the bust for the underbust netting to be sewn into.  I settled upon a 50s swimsuit pattern, Depew 1001, which I altered.  The underbust netting, fringe business was done by Patrick, who learned old-timey fish net making and altered the traditional design slightly to accommodate a diamond pattern rather than a square one.  A tassel was then painstakingly tied to the end knots of the netting.  No pattern was used for the skirt and bustle.  The necklace is simply ribbon with snaps, and I sewed on a brooch that a friend found on Ebay for me, and the earrings too were purchased on Ebay.  I completely winged the hair piece, simply based off of fuzzy screenshots, and Patrick did my hair for the shoot!  Didn’t he do a fab job!? Unlike previous costumes, I chose not to keep track of the amount of time it took to create, especially since myself, my mother and Patrick all had hands in this piece, and there were mock-ups done of various pieces. But I can only assume it’s over 100 hours of work.

Well, I’m off to attend the first day of the con! Originally I intended to wear a Miss Kitka costume today to meet Batman star Adam West, but that did not come to fruition, maybe another con. So instead I’m wearing a vintage Batman tee to meet the caped crusader himself!  This costume will be worn Saturday to meet Brisco star Bruce Campbell! Stay tuned for my Star Wars cosplay and details on the con either Sunday or Monday! Hope you all have a lovely weekend!

It’s Wizard World Time Again!

…well, almost. It’s certainly cosplay construction time!  I’m not sure how you spent your weekend, but I spent my sewing, and not much else, because the Portland Wizard World Comic Con is coming up again! This time, it’s in January, and since I’m making more than one costume, I decided to start early.  I’m so excited that Bruce Campbell will be returning too! And I’ll be making another Dixie Cousins costume. Her entire wardrobe from The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. is amazing and I want to have it all! Originally I wanted to do her purple traveling ensemble for the con, but when I realized that Star Wars actor Billy Dee Williams was also attending, and I added a Star Wars costume to my list, I realized the multiple piece outfit was going to be too much to tackle, especially with the holidays coming up. So I’m doing another showgirl costume…

This costume is from the episode “Brisco in Jalisco ” and features an emerald taffeta bodice with what I assume are flocked black polka dots.  It was a trial to find the fabric.  I couldn’t find what I wanted at any of the fabric stores in Portland, or on-line.  And my options were turning into buying green taffeta and either felting the polka dots or cutting velveteen into small circles and applying them. Neither of which sounded too appealing not to mention both would be incredibly time consuming.  So, what did I do? I found two dresses on Ebay made of similar fabric to what I needed, and cut ’em up. I’m bound to get flack for this, I know. But my sanity was at stake! Besides, they were contemporary, Made-in-China pieces of crap.  And since I am restricted with that limited amount of fabric, I will not be making the boa, sadly.

My mum visited over the weekend and has been a tremendous help to me on this so far. She’s navigated me through many an ordeal during this costume so far, and done a bit on it for me after frustration landed me nearly in tears when working on the muslin mock-ups of it earlier.

This costume, unlike the first one, has no beading, which Patrick is quite thankful for, as we are still finding beads from the last one. However, it does feature some underbust fringe/netting business. I don’t knit or crochet or macrame, so I was concerned about how I would tackle this.  I delegated the work of this actually to Patrick, who could spare the time leading up to the final construction, as I battled out modifying a pattern, and creating muslin mock-ups.  He quickly learned old-timey fishnet making which produced the closest thing!

The costume is nearing completion, and I’ll be glad to have it out of the way with the holidays ahead.  I’ll be tackling  my Star Wars costume next and am holding out hope of finding the pieces needed for my third costume.  I’d really rather not have to make it.

I hope you all had a lovely weekend!

“Very Fancy”

So, as you all know by now, I spent last weekend at the Portland Convention Center for Portland Comic Con. And it was crazy.  So crazy, both Patrick and I really failed at taking pictures.  There was so much to see and do and talk about.

Friday found myself dressed as Marion Ravenwood and my friend Jen dressed as Batgirl, and Patrick opted to be lame and not dress up at all… Whatever that’s about.

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The halls of the Convention Center will full of collectable booths from posters to figurines to t-shirts and of course comic books, then there was the artists section where up-and-coming comic book artists could sell their work and interact with patrons.  And then there was the autograph area where people could meet their favorite stars and get autographs.

We all had fun on Friday, and multiple children rushed up to Jen to get their photos taken with her, it basically made her day.  A few weeks ago I bought a wig for my Marion costume, which is actually the Wonder Woman wig, off of Amazon, and it worked out pretty okay (I also put a crap-ton of eyeshadow in my brows to attempt to make them a similar color), I got a few comments and photos taken.  In reality, Jen and I were just a couple of a handful of people who dressed up.  We also got to play a real-life Fix It Felix game!  Which was pretty darn awesome if you ask me!

Saturday was about five times more crazy than Friday, with more people, more costumes and more celebrities.  Jen did not join us on Saturday which was the day for my Dixie Cousins costume to make its debut and Patrick even dressed up as Brisco.

For more on our costumes and Bruce Campbell…

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“Who’s Gonna Help Me File My Claim?”

Last night, after weeks upon weeks of sewing and beading, I finally completed by Dixie Cousins costume for this weekend’s ComicCon here in Portland and today I had photographer and friend Anthony come by to shoot it.  I can’t even express how wonderful Anthony is to work with. He took so many amazing photos, it was so difficult to narrow it down to these! So this is still a pretty picture heavy entry!

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While Dixie wears a large selection of beautiful costumes in the series, this I felt was the most iconic, due to the fact it is the outfit you first see her in when she is introduced in the pilot.  I may venture to make her purple traveling outfit and I really would like to make her other show outfits as well, one of which is a bright teal and gold number which she and her sister wear while doing a sister act.

In terms of sewing specs… I bought Simplicity 2535 off Etsy from eetenpie and used really only the bodice portion of the pattern.  I completely winged the skirt since none of the skirts from the pattern worked. I also totally winged the bustle, using screenshots from the show as reference.  Over 8,000 beads were strung together to make up the fringe, and the whole piece took roughly 110 hours to complete. I like to keep track by watching television shows and movies on DVD and then adding up the running times… Yep, crazy girl, right here.  Additionally, this is my first ever lined piece!  In the show, Dixie has an ostrich feather boa that appears to be a ten ply boa based upon how thick it is, however, those run over $100. And I just wasn’t prepared to part with that kind of cash, so this is simply a turkey feather boa I purchased off Ebay.  I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out. I’ve been dying to make this since I can remember and I just hope it is well received at the Con.

Tomorrow is the first day of the Con and I’ll be wearing my Marion Ravenwood costume. And then Saturday is the big day when I’ll be wearing this and meeting Bruce Campbell! I’ve decided not to dress up on Sunday, seeing as I may bail early due to the fact that it is also the Daytona 500 as well as the Oscars!  Seriously, who plans these things!? Don’t they know there are people out there who love comics/cult classics, NASCAR and movies? Seriously, the only thing that could make it worse is if there was a huge antique show too. God forbid!