The Weathermen (underground) L-R Joe Ramey, Peter Lev, Mike Friedman, Jerry Roberts, Denny Hogan and guest lecturer/crasher Don Frank Coffey having dinner at Desperado Estates. Dinner & photo credit: Lisa Issenberg
Well, hello there baby, you look so beautiful," Walton Goggins purrs, leaning forward and suddenly going into full-on loverman mode. "Look at you, all done up in that white dress and those white shoes. This is a proper get-up, my dear. You look hot!" The 44-year-old actor is sitting in a downtown Manhattan restaurant, his face hovering inches away from a plate of Burrata; he was sold on the appetizer after being told it's "like Mozzarella's sexier cousin," so he's now whispering sweet nothings at the cheese with an intensity and seductiveness that's almost frightening. You're afraid that he may actually start making out with the quivering dairy product any second now. Then he scoops up a big chunk with his fork, pops it into his mouth, and says, with a familiar Walton-esque whoop: "God-DAMN, this is good!"
For a long time, the Alabama-born, Georgia-raised Goggins was one of those where-have-I-seen-him-before character actors who showed up, stole scenes and, whether he was playing soldiers, gunslingers or detectives, left a spiky-haired impression. Six seasons as Boyd Crowder, the top-buttoned hillbilly criminal on the popular FX series Justified,upped his small-screen profile substantially — and now a key role in Quentin Tarantino's 70mm Western The Hateful Eight is doing the same for his big-screen bond fides. In an ensemble cast that includes Kurt Russell, Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Dern, Goggins stands out as a former Confederate soldier and (possible) new sheriff in town who gets caught up in the film's haberdashery-bound whodunnit. Next to Jennifer Jason Leigh's bruised belle of the ball, he's a strong contender for the movie's MVP and, without saying too much, a major factor in the film's notion that racial strife is part of this country's past and its present.
"We're gonna do what Quentin does on all his sets," Goggins says, before slapping his cellphone down in the center of the table. "You turn these things in at Checkpoint Charlie, and all distractions get left at the door. We're going to have a conversation, you and me." And in between philosophical musings and some steamy Googins-on-fancy-cheese action, he told us all about Tarantino's working methods, why his trans character on Sons of Anarchy is a personal favorite, how he ended up on that Marilyn Manson track and why having a Southern accent shouldn't automatically mean playing a redneck.
“For executing critical weather decisions during the filming of Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight, Mountain Weather Masters was my go-to resource. The “Blizzard” was a focal point of the film, and we needed the most accurate forecasts for planning each day’s production schedule. They delivered…with style.” - Georgia Kacandes, Executive Producer, The Hateful Eight.
The Hateful Eight costume designer Courtney Hoffman takes us behind-the-sartorial-scenes of Tarantino's latest film.
It seems fitting that Quentin Tarantino, a renowned film buff who rose from video-rental-store ranks, paid careful homage to specific westerns while making his own, The Hateful Eight. Explains the movie’s costume designer, former indie wardrobe queen Courtney Hoffman, “What was really unique about The Hateful Eight was that each of the characters comes from a different western almost. We referenced everything from spaghetti westerns to American westerns—Sam Jackson’s costume feels like a spaghetti western, for example. Then you get to the end of the movie, where everything is gritty and real, with the aging and blood and gore and darkness and sweat, you feel like you are in a Sam Peckinpah film like The Wild Bunch.”
Exacting in each element of his films, Tarantino made wardrobe notes in his script that, while mostly helpful, sometimes made realizing that early description difficult. “It took us a long time to find Major Warren, Sam Jackson’s character,” Hoffman explains, as way of example. “In the script, it’s referenced that he has facial hair and a hat like [late western actor] Lee Van Cleef and wears a navy cavalry coat from the Union army.”
While other filmmakers might yield creative direction to department heads, Tarantino pushes his precision through all phases of production. “With Quentin, it’s so imperative that you not only know the script well, you have it memorized,” Hoffman says. “He really treats the script like a bible. He’ll say, ‘This is my bible and you better know your verses.’”
Hoffman created Jackson’s navy cavalry coat, referencing designs from the Civil War, with her own slight palette flourish: a brilliant marigold lining. “Historically, some of the coats did have that that yellow lining. And if you think back to Quentin’s other films—like Uma Thurman’s character in Kill Bill—he is known for his yellow. So it’s kind of that Tarantino yellow.” One of the movie’s standout visuals arrives when Jackson’s character lifts his arms, revealing the pristine lining in his coat—a flash of color that Tarantino had visualized in the script, and had to explain to Hoffman.
“One of the things that was interesting about that coat was that I thought that it should be aged,” Hoffman tells us. “[Sam’s character] had fought in the Civil War, he had tracked a bunch of bounties throughout the snow. It would have made sense for him to have that history on his clothes. But Quentin said, ‘Don’t age my lining. I want it to be pristine.’ And one of the cool things about spaghetti westerns is that their costumes look like they were just bought at the store. It was fun to mix around those pieces with, say, Sam’s aged gloves, which tell the story of where he’s been. That was a really cool Quentin Tarantino-ism that we brought to the aesthetic.”
This chapbook is a collection of weather forecasts produced during the 2014-15 winter for The Hateful Eight, a feature film directed by Quentin Tarantino. The filming took place on Lizard Head Pass and Wilson Mesa, near Telluride, Colorado. Mountain Weather Masters provided two-a-day forecasts, plus hourly updates during storms, to help capture atmospheric story points. We worked closely with executive producer Georgia Kacandes.
We created this book (my wife Lisa did all the work), which includes the haiku of the day, as a gift to Georgia and Quentin. Thanks for the good working relations.
We would like to give a special thanks to dear friend and artist extraordinaire susan x. billings, for allowing us to weave her talent and beautiful artwork into this book.
Mountain Weather Masters
The Hateful Eight production crew was recently besieged by unpredictable and expensive weather obstacles.
While filming the first season of FX’s Fargo in Calgary in 2013, it was so cold—a reported negative-35 degrees with wind chill—that stars Billy Bob Thornton and Martin Freeman risked frostbite if their skin was exposed for more than 10 minutes. Production was canceled several nights when even the Canadians deemed the arctic temperatures unbearable. Thornton joked that conditions were so extreme he started sympathizing with the Donner party.
About a year later, filming again in Calgary, Fargo executive producer Warren Littlefield estimates that temperatures were often nearly 70 degrees warmer when wind chill was taken into consideration. Many days, he recalls, did not even fall to the freezing point. It was a nightmare for a television series named for a city synonymous with dread-inducing whiteout landscapes.
“We were sending trucks into the mountains to load them up with snow and bring them down to our locations,” Littlefield tells VF.com of the second-season shoot. “They’d bring back these huge blocks of snow and then we had kind of a wood chipper that worked through these blocks of snow and ice and then just spit it out into a spray. It’s wildly effective if the temperature drops later in the day so you don’t lose all the snow that you trucked in. . . . We would have a huddle of producers, director, A.D.s, and somehow everyone had different weather apps and everyone had a different kind of sense of what was going to happen.”
Fargo was not the only recent production scrambling to create its own chilly climes. Whether or not audience’s holiday destinations are blessed by the proverbial White Christmas, American moviegoers will have the option on December 25 of seeing two of the year’s most anticipated releases, coincidentally both blanketed by a generous portion of snow. There’s Alejandro Iñárritu’s The Revenant, an ice-cold revenge drama starring Leonardo DiCaprio, set in Dakota territory in the winter of 1823, and Quentin Tarantino’s Hateful Eight, a snowbound western thriller set in Wyoming in the winter of 18-Tarantino. Like Fargo, both productions were in desperate need of the white stuff, and both were, at times, beset by how to get it.
Climate change is no breaking news story—but it’s one that Hollywood, an industry built on the forging of fantasies, is increasingly confronting. And it’s something that a business famed for its control freaks, from auteur directors to studio heads, has no power over. Mother Earth has been throwing Hollywood climate curveballs with increasing frequency, reminding the town that she is more powerful than Ari Gold, Harvey Weinstein, and Scientology combined. And it has the potential, it seems, to get worse. A much-discussed study published earlier this year in the journal Nature Climate Change showed that higher global temperatures had led to a four-fold increase in some extreme heat patterns since the Industrial Revolution, and could lead to even more. Now, as Mother Earth tangibly extends the environmental pandemic to the movie industry, how will Hollywood have to adapt?
Eric Holthaus, a meteorologist who works for Slate, says climate change may affect Hollywood in several ways: The frequency of extreme weather makes it harder to predict which areas of the world may have snow, rain, or sunny days during any given month. And Hollywood may not be able to rely on “locations that are nearby and cheap to film, where it has filmed for decades,” as its home state grows drier. Ironically, this means productions may have to resort to the biggest environmental sin of them all—wanton air travel—to find better locations.
One such area, Lone Pine, California, lies three hours north of Hollywood and is nestled against the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Its snow-capped peaks have been featured in over 300 films, including a dozen John Wayne westerns; the Humphrey Bogart movie High Sierra; Gladiator; and Iron Man. But a new survey of California’s 2015 snowpacks suggests the state’s white peaks are endangered.
When weather-dependent productions do stray outside of California and its sound stages, and find themselves atmospherically screwed, they seem to be increasingly relying on expensive means to create their own weather. In addition to trucking in snow from the mountains, the Fargo team also made snow from scratch using machines. But, Littlefield says, running the rented equipment night and day over the course of a weekend cost about $100,000.
“That’s a lot of money for something that you didn’t have to pay for the year before,” he says.
There was also competition for the snow guns with the Revenant crew, which was also filming in Calgary at the time. “There was one point when we needed to get back snowmaking equipment but Revenant had tied it up for the rest of the winter, so it wasn’t even available to us,” Littlefield says.
The Revenant team actually underwent an epic global search for snow that took cast and crew from Calgary to the Ushuaia Peninsula in Argentina. The film was shot entirely outdoors in natural light, in sequence, in weather conditions that often did not cooperate. At one point, the film crew extended a planned production break from two to six weeks because, as The Hollywood Reporter wrote, production “problems had become so evident.” In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, DiCaprio conceded that because of these parameters, the film had a reputation for being “difficult” even in the screenplay stage. Although producers declined to speak to VF.com for this piece, The Hollywood Reporterpublished a story last month about the various production struggles of the film—wildly erratic weather included:
As fate would have it, when the production was counting on snow, it was so warm near Calgary that even attempts to manufacture it or truck it in failed. Later, temperatures dipped to 25 degrees below zero, or minus 40 degrees with the windchill factor. But since the action at that point was set in the autumn, actors were asked to go without hats and gloves. “Everybody was frozen, the equipment was breaking; to get the camera from one place to another was a nightmare,” says Inarritu.
About 1,200 miles south of Calgary, in Telluride, Colorado, Tarantino’s Hateful Eight shoot encountered similar problems in January. As co-star Channing Tatum told Vanity Fairthis summer: “Quentin asked one of the guys that took him onto this mountain, ‘What are the chances of us getting an actual blizzard?’ He said 100 percent. Well, they had a record low amount of snow that year.” The actor joked, “Whoever that guy is, he’s in a box in Quentin’s basement.”
In April, Hateful Eight producer Harvey Weinstein further confirmed rumors about the film’s fraught weather conditions, saying, “Anyone who doesn’t believe in climate control or climate change should be on our set.” Because Tarantino’s script involved interior scenes and sets, however, unlike The Revenant, shooting schedules were reconfigured and the film did not have to halt production like its wintry box-office brother.
Holthaus says that climate change is affecting the globe differently and at different rates. While Canada and Colorado productions were searching for snow last winter, for example, record-breaking amounts of precipitation were falling in the Northeast, with some cities receiving upwards of 100 inches of snow for the season. (Jennifer Lawrence, whose Boston-set drama Joy fell victim to an eight-foot deluge during the brutal winter, joked in a recent interview, “I still have Snowst Traumatic Stress . . . I feel like I’m in Game of Thrones, running around going, ‘Winter is coming again!’”)
On the other side of the globe, months later, director Baltasar Kormákur was grappling with one of the most fatal effects of these fluctuating temperature waves while filming his biographical disaster drama Everest in Italy. A native of Iceland, Kormákur had initially planned to shoot in his home country, but the glaciers there are becoming blacker and ashier—no longer the crisp, white ice sheets seen in science books—and he did not think it was the right look for his film. (Explains Holthaus: “Over hundreds of years there has been dust or ash or dirt that has blown in along with the snow. And that stuff is staying while the ice and snow are disappearing so it’s just becoming more and more dirty. . . . The experts I’ve spoken with in Greenland . . . say that the dirt or particles in the glaciers are also actually increasing the melt rate of the glaciers.”)
WATCH: 'The Hateful Eight' Gang—Well, Seven of Them—On Making Tarantino's Gutsy, Claustrophobic Western
Cast members Bruce Dern, Tim Roth, Michael Madsen, Walton Goggins, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Kurt Russell, and Samuel L. Jackson enjoy regaling a Hollywood crowd with their stories of shooting the filmmaker's latest, in theaters Christmas Day.
I had the pleasure of moderating a recent Screen Actors Guild panel with seven of Quentin Tarantino's "Hateful Eight" at the Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, where the 70 mm was glorious indeed on that giant screen. (Demian Bichir was coming into town the following day from Mexico.) The cast, who clearly enjoy each other's company, bonded deeply on the wintry location in Telluride, Colorado, where their director forbade anything on set with an on or off switch, said Jackson. They learned to adapt to Bob Richardson's ultra-wide Panavision lens, used for the first time since 1966's "Khartoum," which kept many of them in the shot in that very crowded Minnie's Haberdashery.
During lengthy rehearsals, Russell and Tarantino newcomer Leigh had to figure out how to cope with being chained to one another for much of the shoot, describing themselves as an old married couple. They built trust, as Russell had to beat the shit out of his partner. It's notable how much the gang support and promote Leigh, who does pop out of the cast as bad-ass Daisy Domergue, standing up to her punishment like a man. There's some debate as to who plays the smartest and baddest of the Hateful Eight: is it Jackson or Leigh?
If you watch the video, there are spoilers, so I've reorganized the Q & A transcript and marked the spoilers at the bottom. Read on!
Quentin Tarantino is a scholar of old movies with a particular antiquarian fetish for the ways they used to be made and consumed. His eighth feature, “The Hateful Eight,” was shot on film with antique lenses and is being projected at some theaters in sumptuous, wide-screen 70-millimeter Panavision.
Mr. Tarantino and his director of photography, the three-time Oscar winner Robert Richardson, revel in the tonal and compositional possibilities of the format. The dense colors and clever shifts in focus hold your attention when the dialogue starts to sputter. There is quite a lot to see and hear. Almost three hours long, “The Hateful Eight” has an overture at the beginning — a static title card accompanied by a sinister and swaggering Ennio Morricone score — and an intermission a little past the midpoint.
The movie is a western, a tale of vengeance and double-dealing set in a frontier outpost some time after the Civil War. In spite of the vast screen, the sprawling length and the larger-than-life genre archetypes, it’s a curiously small-scale entertainment. After a preliminary stagecoach ride through snow-lashed mountains, the ragged story settles into a confined space, where the main characters (a motley crew of outlaws and bounty hunters) drink coffee, warm themselves by the fire, and talk about this and that until it’s time for them to start killing one another.
This past December-March 2014-15 I provided weather forecasts and snow safety consults for Quentin Tarantino’s feature film The Hateful Eight, filmed near Telluride, Colorado. I circled the wagons with a few friends who all have many years of experience forecasting weather and avalanches including a soon to retire NWS meteorologist. We formed a weather forecasting/snow safety consulting group to work with the motion picture and television industry. Creating Mountain Weather Masters seemed a good thing to do.
Thanks to my wife Lisa’s artistic and technical skills, a beautiful woodblock print (for the homepage) from friend, artist extraordinaire Susie Billings and wordsmithing by Mike Friedman and me, we put together a cool website. Please take a look and if you’re about to make a film give us a call….