farm photo by Shannon Sedwick and Michael
Gilbert Grape ... at Quicksand Farm
Eating Gilbert Grape
directed by Lasse Halstrom
ecclectic, early hippie decor Texas farmhouse was transformed
into the home of the Grape Family in 1993 for the movie What's
Eating Gilbert Grape. The six month marathon began when I noticed
from the barn that three casually dressed men were wandering
around the farmhouse snapping photos and videotaping. You knew
instantly they weren't realtors, but living near Austin, Texas,
they were probably movie people. We ate lunch at the local 290
Cafe and when I mentioned our farm motto we had been trying
to shake for 15 years "nothing works but us", they were sold
on our place.
Sky and 17 year old Leonardo DiCaprio
swedish director Lasse Halstrom directed this movie. His swedish
friend Sven Nykvist was the cinematographer who worked on many
Bergman films and I believe won an academy award for the cinematography
in "Jules and Alexander". We had seen another movie
of Lasse's titled "My Life As A Dog" which we loved.
It's available on video **** 1/2. My rating. He recently directed
Cider House Rules. Another Academy Award winning excellent movie....we
just saw his new Chocolate...wow ...is that a great movie or what!
I loved the maya connection to chocolate.
shot is of a relaxed Johnny Depp around midnight just after the
last hours of filming on the last day of the shoot. With a wet
head from just having washed the red dye from his hair he courteously
visited my jewelry workshop to say adios. What a dude. Leonardo
was just getting started and turning 17 on the set. Leo got an
academy award nomination for his portrayal as young Arnie...a
mentally challenged younger brother of Johnny.
is a bola Leonardo got for his pop. A Texas Rattler.
is a little of the evolution of the film. It begins with the
book "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" written by Peter Hedges.
Excerpted with permission from Radiance: The Magazine
for Large Women.
Cahill writes from interviews with author Peter Hedges and Darlene
Cates in the same Spring 1995 issue of the magazine
Radiance, "Gilbert Grape's first incarnation was in a dramatic
monologue that Hedges wrote for a faculty recital when he was
teaching at Bennington College in Vermont. "I liked Gilbert,"
says Hedges, and so he decided to continue exploring the character.
But because he was writing the play as a vehicle for some of
his young actor friends, he knew that casting the role of the
mother would be nearly impossible. "I had to create a parent
who isn't seen, but is talked about, and that's when I came
up with the idea for the mother. I thought, We'll just have
her inside all the time."
a black and white still photo courtesy of
Darlene Cates...big mamma...
by Peter Iovino
the eventual writing of the screenplay Darlene Cates came to
the attention of author Peter Hedges. As a result of her appearance
on the Sally Jesse Raphael show the 500 pound Darlene was approached
about performing the role of mother of the Gilbert Grape clan.
Darlene says in Radiance "I was a member of a support
group called TOPS (Take Off Pounds Sensibly). They met at my
home on Saturdays, because I wouldn't go out. The producers
of the Sally Show called the TOPS national headquarters and
said they were doing a show about fat women who didn't want
to leave their home, and they'd like somebody who was still
trying to deal with their weight. TOPS called the regional directors
and our regional director called me and said, "Darlene, do you
want to go to New York?" And I said absolutely not. In the first
place, I couldn't see how I could. They assured me that they
would take care of everything. They would rent a wheelchair,
provide all the transportation, even make me a dress to wear.
Their actual words were: Don't worry, it won't be a problem.
I couldn't see how it wouldn't be, but in a very big act of
faith, I took the step. I had some misgivings, but I also knew
that I had been asking God for help for a long, long time. And
I thought this might be where it was coming from."
Directed by Alan Rudolph
was another movie filmed here earlier named Roadie and directed
by Alan Rudolph with Meatloaf who played the son of Art Carney
who was a Texas iconoclastic inventor. Meatloaf became inadvertently
a Roadie to the stars....it was a time and space oddity....including
Blondie, Roy Orbison, Alice Cooper, Asleep at the Wheel and
other Austin connections. It was based on a wild and wooley
hippified column written by Big Boy Medlin in the Austin Sun,
an underground newspaper. The screenplay was co-written with
Big Boy and Michael Ventura another columnist in the Sun and
peddled out west.
Farm set near Austin.
this was Meatloaf ridding high after
the cult success of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Click image for documentary and story of
Austin in the 1970s,
Life at Quicksand Farm
workers Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie visited Quicksand Farm
to work during the filming of a segment of Simple Life Road Trip...The
girls ran off with our country boys, Sky and Zephyr, to a tanning
parlour...Our french Fullbright exchange teacher Chris (far right)
participated as well. Dijar and Trudy not shown. Our dancing sheep
White Top has since been invited to perform on Pet Star, a program
on Animal Planet. (My sheep training career was cut short by a
hungry dog from the hood.) If you want to rent the video of this
episode or find it online somewhere ...here is the info......
Simple Life 2: Road Trip....episode #206 .....
View the documentary.....A
Place Like This
Mobile Film School visited our farm to make a documentary in
It was the pilot project for the program which creates documentarys
from rural settings across the United States while teaching
individuals in those communities how to document life in those
rural areas. You can view the documentary "A Place Like
This" at the MobileFilmSchool.org
website. Read more about the program and click the image of
our farmhouse with the title...A Place Like This. This background
photo of the farmhouse was taken a few months before I found
and bought this ghosthouse. I was telling telling friends Shannon
and Michael about this old farmhouse I had found in the country
outside Austin...they said they thought it was the same place
they had happened on several months earlier and had some winter
photos. Photo by Shannon Sedwick and Michael.