I moved to Aspen and got a job working at Photographer’s Aspen, a small photographer’s cooperative for leading editorial assignment shooters. I helped to market their images for stock. Snuggled in the midst of an Aspen Grove, our old ranch style building also housed the Tenth Mountain Hut Division offices. I had radically changed my life from living in the chaos of New York City to living in one of the healthiest towns in America. I rode my bike to work and religiously hiked up the Ute Trail, the lower part of Ajax Mountain, daily.
My favorite photographer was the extremely talented Nicholas DeVore III. He was eccentric and very mischievous. He put me to the test when I first started working for him and would reduce me to tears. I persevered the taunts and proved to Nicholas that I had a backbone. He became my loyal friend and mentor. He would tell me the stories behind the images of the beautiful exotic woman awash in glorious colors that were collaged on the walls of his office.
We would at times be outraged by Nicholas’s behavior and have to sit him down and severely reprimand him for his need to shock people. He would purr and charm us back to loving him again. One particularly naughty day a beautiful, young woman came into our office for an interview. We were looking for another addition to our staff. As she was leaving Nicholas asked her if her breasts were as nice as mine. Needless to say, she never returned.
After editing slides for a year I decided I needed to place myself in a more social job and got a job working as the Development and Special Events Manager for the DanceAspen festival. I would go out with the dancers after their performances and dance the night away.
From there I moved on to work on Special Events for the International Design Conference in Aspen and became the Hospitality Coordinator for the Aspen Shortsfest. It was a great life living in Aspen and working in the intellectual and cultural core. I would stay up all night long talking with the filmmakers and come home filled with creative ideas wishing that I had time to make my own film.
At thirty-five years of age my life blasted off into a new dimension. I landed my dream job working for Aspen Production Services in film production and started dating my future husband, Wade. I worked on films, print ads and commercials waking up at 4:00am to either snowmobile mock 90 up to the top of a mountain to shoot a Victoria’s Secret Catalogue or to coordinate the parking of the Teamster’s for a film starring Kevin Costner.
My incredible boss, Dede Brinkman, taught me the ins and outs of filming in the wilderness surrounding Aspen. She believed in me and gave me the confidence to work in all aspects of film production from Real People Casting to Location Scouting. My dyslexic mind couldn’t tell the difference between right and left nevertheless, I was drawing up maps and scouting locations by myself throughout Colorado. I was constantly getting lost driving Dede’s tin can of a Suzuki Jeep up one way mountain passes over rivers and rockslides.
I spent every waking hour with the film crews that would come to Aspen to shoot and we would become a big family. I always had to struggle with the let down I would experience when they would leave. Occasionally, I endured the stereotypical infidels of Hollywood who dove into the Aspen nightlife snorting drugs to keep them awake while on location.
I would come home exhausted and tell Wade all my stories of how I argued with Elle Macphearson about the difference between empathy and sympathy while eating at Aspen’s chichi Sushi restaurant and danced with a set designer and his assistant in the driveway of Kevin Costner’s house at 4:00am while listening to the song “Would you…?” by the band Touch and Go. He was very patient with me during these film years and helped me get through the late nights when after a fourteen hour day my job was still not done.
I did make quite a few mistakes along the way but thankfully it was usually with the crew members that had grown affectionate toward me and my silly ways. One evening we were in a beautiful valley shooting the sun set behind the mountains and I heard over my radio, “Wernick, your Saab is in the shot. What are you doing?” My reply, “ummmm, roger that. My car happens to be stuck on the soft shoulder of the road”. Quicker than the bat of an eye, my trusty right hand man, Wingers – who happens to now be in jail for drug trafficking, was there to tow me out of the scene with only seconds left to shoot.
Another time I was the driver for the comedian Kathy Griffin during the HBO Comedy Festival. She comically remarked that she knew I was nervous to be working for her but could I please slow down and not get us all killed.
After a few years of living the life film production companies started to leave Aspen and film more in Canada to save money. My jobs started to slow down and I was able to focus on Wade and start thinking about marriage and a family. I loved my job but was ready to settle down and be more devoted to my man.
It is fun to think about those crazy times in film and I sometimes use the terminology on my family. I tell Wade to meet me with the kids “Having Had” or I ask them what their 10-20 is. I am still trying to run my family as efficiently as I ran those huge productions but find that a family is more complicated. Maybe I should print out the production schedule every night and slip it under their doors for the next morning. If only I could also hire Craft Services and Catering to help me through my day. All I need is a little time and money and I’ll get on that idea!
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