The Big Empty - Let's Put Baker on the Map!

Last Update: 13 November 2003
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"Let's put Baker on the map!" - Steve Anderson.
 
The Big Empty took four years to go from page to screen and 27 days to
put into the can. And when Steve Anderson wrote the script, $27,000 was
the amount he was actually in debt. In a way, he became the John Person
character in that he had to take make his own big break and make a
movie to pay off his debts. Anderson knew Baker would be the perfect
backdrop for his story.
 
"When I first came from New York, I drove across country," he
remembers. "It was 1989, and Baker was the first town I hit as I drove
into California. It's always a big moment when you are coming out of
Las Vegas and you hit the California border and you're like 'Here we
are, California, the promised land.' And there it is … Baker, this
little truck stop and home to the world's largest thermometer, one gas
station, one motel, and one bar.
 
"I just thought it was an interesting place and it's own special kind
of hell," he continues. "You walk 100 yards outside of town and you're
in this dry desert lake-bed with nowhere to go for hours in each
direction. And there it was, the Royal Hawaiian Motel, in the middle of
the desert. It was very surreal and a very natural film noir setting.
I'm a huge fan of noir films. I've seen every one. But I don't feel
like I've ever seen Baker on film and I've never seen specifically the
Royal Hawaiian Motel, which I thought was great. Having to spend even
one night there would be a chore. And when I started to write The Big
Empty, Baker was the first character I created. I thought 'let's put
Baker on the map!'"
 
Baker is an odd place. The people there are all very nice but there's a
certain sort of craziness to living in the middle of the desert. Three
quarters of the year it's over 100 degrees and the other part of the
year it's around 25 degrees. Steve Anderson was surprised to learn
about some similarities between his script and actual events that have
taken place in Baker.. "Our production coordinator read the script and
asked me if I had spent time there or had interviewed any of the locals
before writing it. Apparently there was a crazy guy named Randy who had
pulled a knife on a few locals. There was also a cop who had gotten
caught with an underage girl who was the daughter of the bar owner. It
was very surreal. It turned out to be very … recognized.
 
"I came across a few real-life truck stop hookers," he adds. "It was
four or five days into pre-production, and we went up there and pulled
up to one of four corners of the town. There was a stop sign and a
young woman standing next to it who was obviously a working girl. She
looked at us and nodded. I came back two days later and a camera crew
was prepping. They needed a model to do some tests on and it turned out
to be the hooker. That night we ran by the motel and she was working
the front desk!"


Press Notes Main Page
Soundtrack Info 
About the Production
Locking in the Actors
Let's Put Baker on the Map!
Subliminally Speaking
 
About the Cast
- Jon Favreau
- Rachael Leigh Cook
- Kelsey Grammer
- Sean Bean
- Daryl Hannah
- Adam Beach
- Joey Lauren Adams
- Melora Walters
- Jon Gries
- Bud Cort
- Gary Farmer
- Brent Briscoe
 About the Filmmakers
- Steve Anderson (Director)
- Doug Mankoff (Producer)
- Gregg L. Daniel (Producer)
- Andrew Spaulding (Producer)
- Keith Resnick (Producer)
- Steve Bickel (Executive Producer)
- Jeffrey Kramer (Executive Producer)
- Steven G. Kaplan (Executive Producer)
- Peter Wetherell (Executive Producer)
- Jory Weitz (Casting Director)
- Scott Scalise (Film Editor)
- Aaron Osborne (Production Designer)
- Chris Manley (Director of Photography)
- Brian Tyler (Music Composer)
- Dondi Bastone (Music Supervisor)
- Kristin M. Burke (Costume Designer)

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