A GREAT NEW monthly column by Micky’s sister COCO DOLENZ
This month, I’m going to tell you all about how Micky and I made a super home movie. Read on and find out all the groovy details!
Hi! Last month I mentioned a home movie that Micky and I made. I promised I would tell you about it so here goes. It was a long time ago and I had forgotten all about it, until one day a while back. I was rummaging through our garage cleaning out and sorting all sorts of “memories” and “knick knacks”. Most of the collection was Micky’s. I was trying to locate an old radio of his that he wanted.
Well, in my searching, I found a reel of film, dusty, dirty, and torn in many places. I wondered what it was, so I dug around and found Micky’s old splicing machine. When I ran it through and saw what it was, I flashed on when we made it and how much fun it was, and that I’d like to share the experience with you.
If you were to see the movie (entitled “The Marbles”), you wouldn’t believe it. Never in the motion picture business has there ever been such a closely knit crew. Here is how the actual credits at the beginning looked:
(actually each letter was flashed onto the screen like it was being typed)
Written by …………. Micky Dolenz & Jan Crawford
Directed by ……….. Micky Dolenz & Jan Crawford
Produced by ……… Micky Dolenz & Jan Crawford
Camera ………………. Micky Dolenz & Jan Crawford
Set Design …………. Micky Dolenz & Jan Crawford
Film Editors ………. Micky Dolenz & Jan Crawford
Wardrobe …………… Micky Dolenz & Jan Crawford
Props ………………….. Nancy Crawford
Make up …………….. Mom Dolenz
Music …………………. Mrs. Crawford
Starring: MICKY DOLENZ AND JAN CRAWFORD with Coco Dolenz
See what I mean? I guess you’re wondering who Jan Crawford is. Jan lived next door to us when we were little and he and Micky used to do everything together. We hadn’t seen him in years, when we ran into him at the Monterey Pop Festival. We hardly had any time to talk and never did get his address, so we don’t know where he is now, ’cuz he just sorta vanished.
Now to get on to the show itself. The plot went like this. A miner discovered gold and on his way to stake his claim, he gets killed by a bad guy. Both parts were played by Jan. Only the hands and feet of the good guy were shown, but the bad guy was completely shown. We had to do this, ’cuz we didn’t have enough actors. Micky and I were two local kids who saw the whole thing happen. I am told to “Run and get the Sheriff”!, while Micky tangles with the killer. He picks up a gun, but it’s empty, so he starts to run, with the bad guy hot on his trail. Finally they both climb up on a ridge, and just as Micky is about to get caught, he finds some marbles in his pocket.
He throws them at Jan, but they miss, and land at his feet. Jan steps on them, slips, and falls over the cliff. Then I come back and tell Micky the Sheriff wasn’t there. He says it doesn’t matter and after the camera pans the valley where the bad guy is lying, it ends. I know it sounds sorta morbid, but the way Director Dolenz did it, it was outasite.
Two filming days
The entire movie took all of two days to film. First day out we ran out of film so we had to go home early. Second day we finished. Running time of the show was 3 ½ minutes. Location: Area in the hills up off of Laurel Canyon Blvd. south of Ventura Blvd., for those of you familiar with the area. Micky and I called it Eagle Rock, because there was a gigantic rock full of caves right in the middle of the area, and if you looked at the rock from up on the fire road, it looked like an eagle. We used to go up there a lot, to hike. I remember how difficult it was for my Mom and Mrs. Crawford to get across a gulley to where we were shooting. They had to walk on a little log, which wasn’t very sturdy.
Once at the location, we set up hand made reflectors, made from cardboard covered with tin foil. We also brought along our home made dummy, for the scene where Jan falls off the cliff.
The first day of shooting was really hectic, we were all so excited, and disorganized. I had slid down a hill and torn my pants, and wanted to go home to change for my “Big Scene”, but Micky, running on his tight schedule, wouldn’t let me. I sure was embarrassed. Poor Mom and Mrs. Crawford had to keep up with all of us energetic kids, and they were tired by the end of the day. Course we were, too.
The way the title was arrived at was just by chance. Micky and Jan were discussing how Jan was going to fall off the cliff. They thought of him slipping on a rock or a piece of glass, but Micky said No, that wasn’t dramatic enough. He sat down near me on some hard ground to think about it, when all of sudden he let out a scream. It seems he had some marbles in his pocket and when he sat down, they hurt. He was about to throw them away when all of a sudden he jumped up, almost knocked me off the cliff and yelled, “He falls on the Marbles!!! Jan slips on the marbles!!! I got it!!! Let’s shoot it!!! Action!!! Action!!!” Micky is known to get excited at times. So we shot the scene just as it happened, but instead of just sitting down, he was hiding behind a rock from Jan. Hence the title, “The Marbles”.
Making the movie was really groovy. Micky thought of real great camera angles. He’d take pictures shooting from far away, then zoom up close, or from partially behind bushes. The part where Jan catches up with him on the cliff was very good. Micky crawled up a little ridge, and Jan crawled up after him, pulling himself up by a rope. Actually the ridge was easy enough to climb without hardly any hands, but by getting low, and showing strain on their faces, and by shooting it with the camera real low and slowly moving back, it really looked like they were struggling to get up.
Making this movie, and doing the skits we used to do for our parents was fantastic practice for Micky. I think this was when he really started getting interested in directing. He had finished I think all of the Circus Boy epics by then (and his hair was still blond). So now he wanted to do more than just acting. Maybe it was just so-called Kid Stuff, but he learned a lot about making things look good on film. Now when they’re shooting the Monkee Show, he is often asked for his advice on how to shoot scenes, and other technicalities. For after being on Circus Boy and all the practice he got in his spare time, he really knows a lot about show business. And I think he does pretty good.
Micky and Jan put a lot of work on this show and even if it was only 3 ½ minutes long it took two days to film, and was fast moving and interesting, and Micky made sure everything was done just right. Maybe one day he’ll make that movie again, but on a wider scale. Most likely, though, he’ll write and produce another one. I think he better plan on making it longer. Think so????