farm photo by Shannon Sedwick and Michael 1-1977
Gilbert Grape ... at Quicksand Farm

What's Eating Gilbert Grape
directed by Lasse Halstrom

Our 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.


and 17 year old Leonardo DiCaprio
during filming (1993)

The 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 that a great movie or what! I loved the maya connection to chocolate.



This 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.

This is a bola Leonardo got for his pop. A Texas Rattler.



Here 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.

Gloria 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."


This is a black and white still photo courtesy of
Darlene Cates...big mamma...
Photo by Peter Iovino

During 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

There 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 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.


The Quicksand Farm set near Austin.

One Meatloaf
..... 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,

Simple Life at Quicksand Farm

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 is the info...... Simple Life 2: Road Trip....episode #206 .....


View the documentary.....A Place Like This

...The Mobile Film School visited our farm to make a documentary in March '07....
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 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.