I finished ‘Homecoming’ after a year of working on it on and off. It was time consuming because some sections entailed working on every frame individually. You can see it in the parts where there are ghostly images floating around. I am very happy with it! The film was one of those happy accident’s artists talk about having sometimes.
I had headed out to the desert to create a “Dream Movie” on Old Route 66 east of Amboy in the California desert. It was my excuse for a trip to the desert. I am drawn to that area and have made many trips there and into the East Mojave National Park to the north. One of my favorite solo desert exploration haunts.
I set about filming early in the morning so I would have plenty of time for goofing around in the afternoon. I found a tree filled with shoes and another tree filled with bras, so I filmed them. I filmed the road out my window while driving. Some stuff on the side of the road. This and that. It is easy to find things to film when you have no plan. And I had no idea what the Dream Movie was about.
After 3 days of filming, I called it a wrap and headed home. I still had no idea what the film was about, but I did have some good ideas in my head. One was of a Japanese lady in a red convertible driving down the road waving and smiling. It would be the final scene, festooned with Caribbean music. But I had no Japanese woman or red convertible, so had no footage of it. There were a couple other scenes rolling around in my head but they had the same problem. No footage. When all this was taken into context, I had no viable idea.
I headed back west on Old Route 66 thinking about the red convertible, and what my movie was about. There is a little town called Ludlow just before 66 ends and you get on Interstate 40. Town is a very generous label for the place since there are more abandoned houses and buildings than inhabited ones. On the outskirts of town, I was smitten by an old abandoned house that looked fantastic. I stopped to get some film and photos thinking that it may have a part in the dream movie. One last chance for clarity.
I got to work getting film and photos of the place. There was a sheet of plywood over the front door with “NO TRESPASSING” spray painted on it so I stayed outside.
I tried to ignore the white pickup truck that seemed to be heading my way at high speed. But trying to ignore it became impossible when it skidded to a stop near me and an odd-looking man flung himself out. “You’re trespassing, you have to leave!” he said. I apologized and said I hadn’t gone in. “Doesn’t matter, you’re trespassing”’. He explained that he was the town security guard charged with protecting everything. I apologized again and said I was in the area making a film and was drawn to the fantastic old building as I passed by. I tried to engage him in conversation to show I had no malicious intent, but found he was already engaged. He was a man who liked to talk. Really liked it. He completely forgot about throwing me out of town and began telling me tales about the town and the house. Before he was done the house had been a whore house, school house, hotel and private residence. And it was haunted! He had seen the ghostly figure of a young woman walking out the front door and standing on the porch. He said he was not the only one to witness the apparition as others had seen her on occasion.
I encouraged him to talk as we walked around the place setting up my camera and taking photos. He was genuinely concerned that I was getting the best shots possible and said mine would be the second film made at the house, but he said the others had had to pay him because they had actors and directors running around the place and needed babysitting.
As I was leaving, he asked me if I had seen the cemetery. I said “no I had not”. He gave me directions and I headed off to look. It was another great place and I got more footage.
As I headed out of town what I had just seen and experienced began rolling around in my head. And within an hour after leaving Ludlow, Homecoming was completed in my head. It was called Ghost House at the time. The only difference was that I left out the dialog that was looping in my head as the movie formed. I guess I can tell you what the dialog was since you have spent the time to read this. Imagine the voice of an old woman that starts talking about the time the old house debuts and says, “I was a good person. My parents took me to church every Sunday. I went to church every Sunday my whole life! I helped people and was nice. I was a good person! …….. And now I live here”.
The Dream Movie has never been started since I still don’t know what it is about. It still makes me smile though when in my mind I see that lovely Japanese woman driving west down old route 66 in her big red convertible, smiling and waving as the brim of her sun hat bends back in the wind.