Ask the Dust


1h 57m 2006

Brief Synopsis

Set under the brutally sunny skies of Depression-era Los Angeles, a tale of obsession that focuses on a city both exotic and vulgar, glamorous and raunchy--a place of heat and dust. Full of imports--palm trees from Egypt and people from everywhere in search of health and wealth, fame and fortune--L.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Adaptation
Drama
Period
Romance
Release Date
2006
Production Company
Cruise/Wagner Productions (C/W Productions); Film Finances, Inc.; Kleinberg, Lange, Cuddy & Carlo, LLP; Lola Visual Effects; Moonlighting Filmmakers Pty/Ltd; Pacific Title & Art Studio; Pangea Media Group; Pangea Media Group; Paramount Vantage; Post Logic Studios; Remote Control Productions; Rising Star; Sessing Music Services; Svengali Visual Effects; Vip Medienfonds Film & Entertainment (Vip Media Funds); Yu+Co
Distribution Company
Paramount Vantage; Acme Film; Angel Films (Denmark); Benelux Film Distributors; Cathay Film Organization; Constantin Film Development, Inc.; Continental Film D.O.O. (Cf); Distribution Company; Filmax International; Gaga Communications (Parent); Gulf Film, Llc; Hollywood Classic Entertainment; Imagem Filmes; Lumière Publishing; Mediapro; Moviemax; Paramount Home Media; Paramount Vantage; PathT International; SND-Groupe M6; Scanbox Entertainment; Ster-Kinekor; Warner Bros. Pictures International; ZON Lusomundo (now part of NOS Audiovisuals)
Location
South Africa

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 57m

Synopsis

Set under the brutally sunny skies of Depression-era Los Angeles, a tale of obsession that focuses on a city both exotic and vulgar, glamorous and raunchy--a place of heat and dust. Full of imports--palm trees from Egypt and people from everywhere in search of health and wealth, fame and fortune--L. A. is the city of first and last resort, where all dreams are supposed to come true. So it is for Arturo Bandini, the ambitious son of Italian immigrants who dreams of becoming a famous novelist and marrying a beautiful blonde, and Camilla Lopez, a Mexican who longs to marry a WASP and shed her last name. In a time when Anglo-Chicano relations hang by tattered threads, Bandini and Camilla collide with one another, fighting the city and themselves to make their dreams come true.

Crew

Kevin Adcock

Special Effects Coordinator

Daryl Andrews

Stunt Performer

Slamm Andrews

Music Scoring Mixer

Slamm Andrews

Score Recording

Neil Atkins

Cg Supervisor

Paige Augustine

On-Set Dresser

Michael Babcock

Sound Effects Editor

Neil Baillie

Assistant Camera

Cassandra Barbour

Rights & Clearances

Alan Barnes

Rigging Electrician

Bob Baron

Adr Mixer

David Bastiaans

Foreman

Charles Bazaldua

Looping Coordinator

Kenny Becker

Color Timer

Peter Belcher

Camera Operator

Bennie Benjamin

Song

Robert Bentley

Location Manager

Lizzie Van Den Berg

Scenic Artist

Peter Bergren

Sound Recordist

Keah Bews

Production Coordinator

Monique Bezuidenhout

Casting Assistant

Jeff Biggers

Music Engineer

David Bloomer

Photography

Arie Bohrer

Production Supervisor

Sally Boldt

Music Editor

Greg Ten Bosch

Assistant Sound Editor

Jan Bosch

Electrician

Debbi Bossi

Post-Production Supervisor

Mark Bourgeois

Associate Editor

Kevin Braun

Titles And Opticals

Thom Brennan

Assistant Sound Editor

Philippa Bresler

Assistant

Dermot Brogan

Stunt Performer

Jeff Buitenveld

Assistant

Greg Cameron

Rigging Grip

Chris Carpenter

Sound Mixer

Archie Casson

Accounting Assistant

Alan De Castro

Digital Effects Artist

Peter Cavaciuti

Camera Operator

Peter Cavaciuti

Steadicam Operator

Kay Chan

Rotoscope Animator

Albert Chang

3-D Models

Sarah Chang

Rotoscope Animator

Roger Chao

Modelmaker

Catherine Charlton

Dialect Coach

Gary Chen

Rotoscope Animator

Terence Chicken

Greensman

Tom Clary

Titles And Opticals

Bill Coffin

Digital Effects Artist

Karissa Corday

Looping Coordinator

Michael Corker

Loader

Tom Cruise

Producer

Chris Cummings

Art Department Coordinator

Grace Dames

Accounting Assistant

Vicki Davis

Looping Coordinator

Rick De Souza

Costumer

Bernie De Wet

Rigging Electrician

John Demita

Looping Coordinator

Caleb Deschanel

Dp/Cinematographer

Caleb Deschanel

Director Of Photography

Ramin Djawadi

Music

Kira Dominquez

Assistant

Joe Dorn

Adr Editor

David Drzewiecki

Visual Effects Supervisor

Al Dubin

Song

Nick Dunn

Assistant Director

Judi Durand

Looping Coordinator

Eddie Durham

Song

Kerstin Dyroff

Production Manager

Mcdermott Will Emery

Advisor

Anthony English

Video Assist/Playback

John Fante

Source Material

Claudine Farrell

Assistant

John Paul Fasal

Sound Recordist

Lorraine Fennell

Unit Production Manager

Emily Fenster

Visual Effects Producer

Ana Feyder

Casting

Heiko Von Fintel

Visual Effects

Jeff Fischer

Looping Coordinator

Nick Fischer

Assistant

Robert M Fischer

Grip

Vincent Fletcher

Chief Lighting Technician

John Follmer

Visual Effects Producer

Celestia Fox

Casting

Ortwin Freyermuth

Legal Services

Katy Fyfe

Assistant Location Manager

Diego Galtieri

Digital Effects Artist

Jonathan Gardner

Production

Dennis Gassner

Production Designer

David Geoghegan

Digital Effects Artist

Brian Gibbs

Production Accountant

Lee Gilmore

Sound Recordist

David Glasscoe

Coordinator

Anneliese Goldmann

Looping Coordinator

Joanne Goldstone

Production Accountant

Gina Goosen

Assistant

Tommy Gormley

Assistant Director

Don Granger

Producer

Darwin Green

Post-Production Assistant

Kerry Gregg

Stunt Performer

Lathiem Groenmeyer

Other

Andreas Grosch

Executive Producer

Nicole Haeussermann

Production Coordinator

Nancy Haigh

Set Decorator

Galit Hakmon

Coproducer

Susan Hall

Assistant Costume Designer

Brian Hanable

Visual Effects

Jeff Hankins

Rigging Electrician

Tom Hannam

Art Director

Doug Hardy

Special Effects Foreman

Mark Hardy

Grip

Robin Harlan

Foley Artist

Jess Harnell

Song Performer

Barbara Harris

Adr Voice Casting

Scott Hecker

Supervising Sound Editor

Andy Hirsch

Looping Coordinator

Dan Hirst

Stunt Performer

Dark Hoffman

Matte Painter

Phillip Hoffman

Visual Effects

Genevieve Hofmeyr

Executive

Bill Holloway

Visual Effects

Leah Holmes

Accountant

Grant Hulley

Stunt Coordinator

Jurgen Human

Boom Operator

Emir Isilay

Technical Advisor

Kia Jam

Coproducer

Jacomina Jankowitz

Costumer

Laszlo Javor

Song

Laurence Johnson

Post-Production Assistant

Matthew W Johnson

Digital Effects Artist

Richard L Johnson

Art Director

Sally Jones

Script Supervisor

Josh Kent

3-D Artist

Elizabeth Kenton

Dialogue Editor

Sheila Kerrigan

Assistant

Richard Kidd

Visual Effects Supervisor

Elliott Kleinberg

Legal Services

Steve Kofsky

Music

Andy Koyama

Sound Mixer

Robyn Kralik

Digital Effects Artist

Daamen Krall

Looping Coordinator

Marsha Kramer

Looping Coordinator

Wing Kwok

Rotoscope Animator

Carlos Lacamara

Looping Coordinator

David Lam

3-D Models

Robert K. Lambert

Editor

Brett Lamerton

Rigging Grip

Ladd Lanford

Visual Effects Producer

Liesl Lategan

Production Assistant

Chui Lee

3-D Artist

Sam Lewis

Song

Sanit Lin

3-D Animator

Michael Lloyd

Matte Painter

Nico Louw

Sound Mixer

M.j. Magbanua

Unit Publicist

Bizeki Magwanda

Driver

Myrto Makrides

Script Supervisor

Pamela March

Associate Editor

Bernard Marcus

Boom Operator

Sol Marcus

Song

Louise Martin

Art Department Coordinator

Yuki Matsuzaki

Looping Coordinator

Jeremy Maxwell

Looping Coordinator

Jackie Mayou

Extras Agent/Coordinator

Hank Mccann

Casting

Neil Mcclean

Costumer

Jonas Mccord

Producer

William Mcdonagh

Assistant Director

Brett Mcdowell

Grip

Bryan Mcmahan

Colorist

Bill Meadows

Sound Recordist

Jake Mervine

Stunt Performer

Moira Meyer

Costume Supervisor

Sue Michael

Makeup

Guy Micheletti

Grip

David Michie

Looping Coordinator

Andrew Midgley

Visual Effects Producer

Darren Miller

Executive

Sarah Monat

Foley Artist

Pieka Moolman

Assistant Production Coordinator

Robert Morgenroth

Visual Effects Producer

Redmond Morris

Executive Producer

Ernest Mtshakazana

Rigging Grip

Ernst Mtshakazana

Rigging Grip

Josef Myrow

Song

Vincent Ndikumana

Driver

Gavin Nel

Rigging Electrician

Mary Nelson-duerrstein

Negative Cutter

Lawrence Nepfumbada

Grip

Eva-marie Neufahrt

Production Accountant

Thomas Nittmann

Visual Effects Producer

Eric A Norris

Sound Effects Editor

Brian Nugent

3-D Artist

Andrew Orlando

Assistant Property Master

Chris O¿connell

3-D Models

Leah M Palen

Production Coordinator

Mark Pappas

Foley Editor

Hope M. Parrish

Property Master

Jim Passon

Color Timer

Justin Patterson

Electrician

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Genre
Adaptation
Drama
Period
Romance
Release Date
2006
Production Company
Cruise/Wagner Productions (C/W Productions); Film Finances, Inc.; Kleinberg, Lange, Cuddy & Carlo, LLP; Lola Visual Effects; Moonlighting Filmmakers Pty/Ltd; Pacific Title & Art Studio; Pangea Media Group; Pangea Media Group; Paramount Vantage; Post Logic Studios; Remote Control Productions; Rising Star; Sessing Music Services; Svengali Visual Effects; Vip Medienfonds Film & Entertainment (Vip Media Funds); Yu+Co
Distribution Company
Paramount Vantage; Acme Film; Angel Films (Denmark); Benelux Film Distributors; Cathay Film Organization; Constantin Film Development, Inc.; Continental Film D.O.O. (Cf); Distribution Company; Filmax International; Gaga Communications (Parent); Gulf Film, Llc; Hollywood Classic Entertainment; Imagem Filmes; Lumière Publishing; Mediapro; Moviemax; Paramount Home Media; Paramount Vantage; PathT International; SND-Groupe M6; Scanbox Entertainment; Ster-Kinekor; Warner Bros. Pictures International; ZON Lusomundo (now part of NOS Audiovisuals)
Location
South Africa

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 57m

Articles

An Interview with Robert Towne - An Interview with Screenwriter/Director Robert Towne by Marty Mapes


With an Oscar® on his desk for Chinatown and his name on such classics as Bonnie and Clyde and The Last Detail, screenwriter Robert Towne is assured a place in movie history.

He was part of the cadre of 70s iconoclasts who took advantage of a Hollywood system that was still willing to let young filmmakers call the shots. Nowadays, it's much harder to get studio funding for a movie, but for Towne, persistence has paid off. With a little help from Tom Cruise, Towne's long-time dream project, Ask the Dust, is now reality.

Now 71, Towne has a handsome mane of white hair, looking fully the part of artist and intellectual. He smokes thin cigars, speaking between puffs, which makes his speech slower, more deliberate, and more confident. He recently spoke about his early career, about the writing life, and about the book that took 35 years to make into a movie.

He recalls the first rays of sunlight in his career. "The first breakout came in '67 with Bonnie and Clyde. I rewrote that and got a little reputation. Then in '71 I did a rewrite on The Godfather. Meanwhile I had written Last Detail and Shampoo and was about to write Chinatown, none of which I could get made. I remember thinking, 'Jesus Christ, who do I have to f**k to get one of these things made? Or is my life over with?'"

And then, within about a year, three of his screenplays (The Last Detail, 1973; Chinatown, 1974; Shampoo, 1975) were produced and well-received, and Towne became a name, not just a struggling writer.

One of Towne's projects from that era -- one that never got off the ground -- was a screenplay based on John Fante's book Ask the Dust, a semi-autobiographical account of a young man trying to make it as a writer in Los Angeles in the 1930s.

Asked about his own days as a starving writer in L.A., he responds "'Starving' is perhaps too strong a word.... Hungry." Nevertheless there were parallels to his own life and that of Arturo Bandini, the protagonist in Ask the Dust.

"First of all, he is a writer, in Los Angeles, hoping to become rich and famous, hoping to live the Great American Dream. He's also self-absorbed. He's narcissistic. He's manic depressive. He's thin-skinned. He's hypochondriacal. I can identify with all of those. And what writer can't?

"And also he feels nuts being unknown and being in a room and calling himself a writer. That's something with which I can identify perhaps more than anything else. I was unknown when I read the book. I'd had a number of screenplays that I couldn't get made. I felt unappreciated. All those things."

Ironically, Towne was still a struggling "Bandini" when he approached Fante about adapting the book, a fact that Fante held against him. Towne recalls their first encounter: "I was looking for material that could fuel my recollections of an early Los Angeles, and I found it [in Ask the Dust]. I was immediately struck by it. I found out that John was alive and well and living in Malibu. I told him that I wanted to adapt his book into a movie. He was less than thrilled. I was utterly unknown, and that was part of it. I mean...

"-- Who the hell are you that says you can adapt anything. What have you done? I've written screenplays; you've done nothing.

"-- But I think your book is great.

" -- And who are you to tell me what you think of my book?

"So we started out that way, and I must say I liked it. If there was any doubt as to who wrote this book... I'm facing Bandini - right now; absolutely this is John [Fante]; this is Arturo [Bandini]. In a strange way, as abusive as he was, I kind of fell in love with him the way I did with Bandini in the book. Because you suspect that underneath he was a very sweet man. And he was."

Luckily, Towne persisted. He also probably got some help from the inside. He says "I think [Fante's] wife prevailed on him, said 'John, it's not like people are beating a path to your door, and he obviously admires you. [He] seems like a nice enough boy; why don't you just talk to him?'

"I thought of John and Joyce in the end of [Towne's adaptation] when Camilla says 'Arturo, in the future, be nicer to people when you meet them.'"

Between those early meetings and finally producing Ask the Dust, Towne has had quite an interesting and successful career. In the 1980s Towne broke into directing. His debut was 1982's Personal Best, about two lesbian Olympic hopefuls trying to emotionally support each other while still having to compete. The frank sexuality was groundbreaking and much-discussed at the time, but even with that novelty 25 years gone, the movie is still excellent; it has aged very well.

Towne went back to writing screenplays in the 1990s, including several for the Tom Cruise machine. In fact, it was Cruise (as producer) who helped Towne finally bring Ask the Dust to the screen. Variety was perhaps a bit cynical when it said "Repeated work-for-hire on Tom Cruise projects such as Days of Thunder and the Mission: Impossible pics evidently earned Towne enough points with Cruise/Wagner for the company to back the venture at Paramount."

But Towne generally agrees, "I mean, look, it was not a quid-pro-quo, ever. But [they're] right to the extent that if I had not done films like The Firm, it would have been harder to attract Tom's attention. And for that matter, he was a producer on [Towne's 1998 film] Without Limits, too."

Towne began shooting Ask the Dust in 2004. In doing so, he created a Los Angeles that looks nothing like the L.A. in, say, Collateral. Towne seems to have captured the time and place incredibly well, granting that I didn't know 1930s L.A. first-hand.

"Believe me, it's accurate," he assures. "I lived in L.A. in the 30s. I was alive in the late 30s. I don't remember that," Towne pauses -- he was born in 1934 -- " but I do remember by 1940, and it was the same."

"One of the things that most impressed me when I read the book is it reminded me that there was dust in the air when I was a child. It was a desert. All that foliage had not grown up and you could see dust in the air. There was no pollution, no tall buildings, no tall trees."

In order to create the bygone L.A., he traveled all the way to South Africa. Why there? Towne ticks off the two big reasons: "There was the climate, and the cost. One of the reasons that we were drawn to South Africa was because of all of the commercials that had been shot there. Very film-friendly."

"We built [L.A.] from the ground up. That was the only way it could be done because there's nothing left of it in L.A. We just found two football fields in the middle of Cape Town and built the city from the ground up."

The result is a marvel of texture and atmosphere, particularly if you're familiar with Fante's gritty, urban book. Towne credits cinematographer Caleb Deschanel ("one of the best cinematographers in the world"), production designer Dennis Gassner ("a hell of a production designer"), and costume designer Albert Wolsky, before realizing he'd have to praise everyone on the set.

You can see for yourself what L.A. might have looked like at theaters this spring. Towne wrote and directed his 35-year labor of love. Ask the Dust was produced by Cruise/Wagner (et al.). It stars Colin Farrell and Salma Hayek as the aspiring L.A. writer and his muse.
An Interview With Robert Towne - An Interview With Screenwriter/director Robert Towne By Marty Mapes

An Interview with Robert Towne - An Interview with Screenwriter/Director Robert Towne by Marty Mapes

With an Oscar® on his desk for Chinatown and his name on such classics as Bonnie and Clyde and The Last Detail, screenwriter Robert Towne is assured a place in movie history. He was part of the cadre of 70s iconoclasts who took advantage of a Hollywood system that was still willing to let young filmmakers call the shots. Nowadays, it's much harder to get studio funding for a movie, but for Towne, persistence has paid off. With a little help from Tom Cruise, Towne's long-time dream project, Ask the Dust, is now reality. Now 71, Towne has a handsome mane of white hair, looking fully the part of artist and intellectual. He smokes thin cigars, speaking between puffs, which makes his speech slower, more deliberate, and more confident. He recently spoke about his early career, about the writing life, and about the book that took 35 years to make into a movie. He recalls the first rays of sunlight in his career. "The first breakout came in '67 with Bonnie and Clyde. I rewrote that and got a little reputation. Then in '71 I did a rewrite on The Godfather. Meanwhile I had written Last Detail and Shampoo and was about to write Chinatown, none of which I could get made. I remember thinking, 'Jesus Christ, who do I have to f**k to get one of these things made? Or is my life over with?'" And then, within about a year, three of his screenplays (The Last Detail, 1973; Chinatown, 1974; Shampoo, 1975) were produced and well-received, and Towne became a name, not just a struggling writer. One of Towne's projects from that era -- one that never got off the ground -- was a screenplay based on John Fante's book Ask the Dust, a semi-autobiographical account of a young man trying to make it as a writer in Los Angeles in the 1930s. Asked about his own days as a starving writer in L.A., he responds "'Starving' is perhaps too strong a word.... Hungry." Nevertheless there were parallels to his own life and that of Arturo Bandini, the protagonist in Ask the Dust. "First of all, he is a writer, in Los Angeles, hoping to become rich and famous, hoping to live the Great American Dream. He's also self-absorbed. He's narcissistic. He's manic depressive. He's thin-skinned. He's hypochondriacal. I can identify with all of those. And what writer can't? "And also he feels nuts being unknown and being in a room and calling himself a writer. That's something with which I can identify perhaps more than anything else. I was unknown when I read the book. I'd had a number of screenplays that I couldn't get made. I felt unappreciated. All those things." Ironically, Towne was still a struggling "Bandini" when he approached Fante about adapting the book, a fact that Fante held against him. Towne recalls their first encounter: "I was looking for material that could fuel my recollections of an early Los Angeles, and I found it [in Ask the Dust]. I was immediately struck by it. I found out that John was alive and well and living in Malibu. I told him that I wanted to adapt his book into a movie. He was less than thrilled. I was utterly unknown, and that was part of it. I mean... "-- Who the hell are you that says you can adapt anything. What have you done? I've written screenplays; you've done nothing. "-- But I think your book is great. " -- And who are you to tell me what you think of my book? "So we started out that way, and I must say I liked it. If there was any doubt as to who wrote this book... I'm facing Bandini - right now; absolutely this is John [Fante]; this is Arturo [Bandini]. In a strange way, as abusive as he was, I kind of fell in love with him the way I did with Bandini in the book. Because you suspect that underneath he was a very sweet man. And he was." Luckily, Towne persisted. He also probably got some help from the inside. He says "I think [Fante's] wife prevailed on him, said 'John, it's not like people are beating a path to your door, and he obviously admires you. [He] seems like a nice enough boy; why don't you just talk to him?' "I thought of John and Joyce in the end of [Towne's adaptation] when Camilla says 'Arturo, in the future, be nicer to people when you meet them.'" Between those early meetings and finally producing Ask the Dust, Towne has had quite an interesting and successful career. In the 1980s Towne broke into directing. His debut was 1982's Personal Best, about two lesbian Olympic hopefuls trying to emotionally support each other while still having to compete. The frank sexuality was groundbreaking and much-discussed at the time, but even with that novelty 25 years gone, the movie is still excellent; it has aged very well. Towne went back to writing screenplays in the 1990s, including several for the Tom Cruise machine. In fact, it was Cruise (as producer) who helped Towne finally bring Ask the Dust to the screen. Variety was perhaps a bit cynical when it said "Repeated work-for-hire on Tom Cruise projects such as Days of Thunder and the Mission: Impossible pics evidently earned Towne enough points with Cruise/Wagner for the company to back the venture at Paramount." But Towne generally agrees, "I mean, look, it was not a quid-pro-quo, ever. But [they're] right to the extent that if I had not done films like The Firm, it would have been harder to attract Tom's attention. And for that matter, he was a producer on [Towne's 1998 film] Without Limits, too." Towne began shooting Ask the Dust in 2004. In doing so, he created a Los Angeles that looks nothing like the L.A. in, say, Collateral. Towne seems to have captured the time and place incredibly well, granting that I didn't know 1930s L.A. first-hand. "Believe me, it's accurate," he assures. "I lived in L.A. in the 30s. I was alive in the late 30s. I don't remember that," Towne pauses -- he was born in 1934 -- " but I do remember by 1940, and it was the same." "One of the things that most impressed me when I read the book is it reminded me that there was dust in the air when I was a child. It was a desert. All that foliage had not grown up and you could see dust in the air. There was no pollution, no tall buildings, no tall trees." In order to create the bygone L.A., he traveled all the way to South Africa. Why there? Towne ticks off the two big reasons: "There was the climate, and the cost. One of the reasons that we were drawn to South Africa was because of all of the commercials that had been shot there. Very film-friendly." "We built [L.A.] from the ground up. That was the only way it could be done because there's nothing left of it in L.A. We just found two football fields in the middle of Cape Town and built the city from the ground up." The result is a marvel of texture and atmosphere, particularly if you're familiar with Fante's gritty, urban book. Towne credits cinematographer Caleb Deschanel ("one of the best cinematographers in the world"), production designer Dennis Gassner ("a hell of a production designer"), and costume designer Albert Wolsky, before realizing he'd have to praise everyone on the set. You can see for yourself what L.A. might have looked like at theaters this spring. Towne wrote and directed his 35-year labor of love. Ask the Dust was produced by Cruise/Wagner (et al.). It stars Colin Farrell and Salma Hayek as the aspiring L.A. writer and his muse.

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Limited Release in United States March 10, 2006

Released in United States on Video July 25, 2006

Released in United States Spring March 10, 2006

Based on the novel "Ask the Dust" written by John Fante; published by NY Stackpole Sons, 1939.

Eva Mendes was previously attached.

Fred Roos was previously attached to produce.

Johnny Depp, Al Pacino and Peter Sellars have all been previously attached to the project.

This project has been in development for over 30 years.

Limited Release in United States March 10, 2006

Released in United States Spring March 10, 2006

Released in United States on Video July 25, 2006