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When I heard that Johnny Depp, Michael Mann and crew were going to be in California for the “final” shooting of Public Enemies I was excited. I have been reading about the filming since it started. I have enjoyed hearing and seeing the experiences and pictures from everyone who has had posted on the internet. From the experiences of the extras, HereNotThere’s “insider” posts, to my new friends in Wisconsin… I have lived vicariously through them. I never thought that it would or could actually be something that I could experience first hand, let alone one of the most incredible experiences of my life…….
I decided to venture out on my own to see what this “Depp-Effect was all about. I armed myself with a borrowed and VERY expensive digital camera with a lens that would rival any paparazzi (maybe that’s why they thought I was one!) from my good friend David… thanks love! My own 35mm dinosaur with its big lens and my little pocket digital camera. My checklist consisted of: Water (plenty of it in the cooler), munchies, umbrella, sunscreen, money, paper, pen, photo album of my favorite PE pics, and a few 8x10 pics (Thanks Michelle Martin for allowing me use your pics for my autograph!) And I was off to see what I could see. I had no real “high” expectations, I was hoping to catch a glimpse of some filming, maybe a long distance pic or two of Johnny, perhaps a drive by with his window down and maybe, just maybe a chance to meet him face to face. Whatever I was blessed enough to experience, was going to be grand. I NEVER thought that I would get what the fates had in store for me.
I was in contact with my friend Blazn so that she could update everyone on what was going on with my experience (thanks Vicky, you ROCK!) And as I reached the Santa Anita Race Track I began to wonder what on earth I was doing! LOL… I was alone and not sure what to expect or how to maneuver myself through security, Jerry or what to do.
Once I arrived at the racetrack I was greeted by my first security, I told him that I was there for Public Enemies, he said, “extras park to the right, crew to the left”. Ok, fair enough… as I drove around to the left… I saw basecamp. I parked in the crew area about 100 yards from basecamp. I noticed a lot of extras walking around the parking lot. I looked towards basecamp and got my first glimpse of Johnny… of course I would not have known it was him, had it not been for the ever present Jerry. Johnny was sporting a mustache! At this point my heart starts to race a little… WOW, I am really here! I really get to see something…. I was still nervous and unsure of what to do, so I called Vicky to ask for some pointers! “Go to basecamp”, she said. Ok, not so easy! LOL… I really felt in my heart that it was an invasion of Johnny’s personal space, especially seeing that there were NO fans anywhere in sight. The last thing I wanted to do was become visual to any security.
I decided to head to the track. As I walked around I noticed all the equipment was being brought in and out of a one gate on the south side. I looked around and there was a security guy there checking everyone that was entering… ok, next…. I walked around to the side entrance gate and sheepishly asked the security guy there where the closest restroom was and was pointed inside the gates. Cool, now I was in! After walking around the inside of the park and taking a few pictures of crew and the surroundings, I got to chatting with the security guy at the “equipment” entrance. Robey was very sweet and enjoyed seeing the pics in my album. We chatted for a while and then I asked him about where they were filming. He pointed me in the right direction, but I was still scared that I might not be able to get close. Robey helped me out by telling to check out the satellite wagering room, which happened to be right NEXT to where they were filming. At this point, extras and crew were returning from the lunch break so I was hopeful that I would be able to see something.
The crew moving equipment
I entered the satellite wagering and then found the entrance to the main field and there to my right was the “Club House” area… which was also the PE set. SWEET! I walked around and found a nice location in the seats about 50 yards from the set. I chatted with a couple of nice crew members (PAs I think) and found out that they were getting ready to shoot the horse racing scene ( no dog racing ). I snapped a couple of pics and realized that I had forgotten the “big lens”… out to the parking lot I went… Robey was nice and let me go in and out the “equipment” entrance.
No doggies allowed! ;)
Once I returned to my location with the big lens, I noticed that there was lots of commotion on the set and there he was…. Mr. Johnny Depp himself. I started to snap some pics and then heard the words I didn’t want to hear. “Sorry, but you can’t take pictures with that!” Uh oh… busted! I explained that I didn’t mean to do any harm and he looked at me like I was some parasite paparazzi, LOL, must have been the lens. I told him that I wasn’t one of “those” and said that I would be happy to take my camera back to the truck, all I wanted to do was watch some of the filming. He said that would be fine as long as the camera was gone. Ok…. Done! (I did keep my little digital with me)
Johnny on his way to the set
I returned again and with my binoculars was able to watch them film the horse racing scene. They shot the crowd cheering on their horses. I noticed one of the “out riders” (people who help hold the horse while warming up) looked VERY familiar to me… hmmm. The actors involved with this scene were: Johnny Depp ( Dillinger), Bill Camp (Frank Nitti), John Ortiz (Phil D’Andrea), David Wenham (Pete Pierpont), Stephen Dorff ( Homer Van Meter), Marion Cotillard (Billie Frechette), and Christian Stolte (Charles Makley). I was able to snap a few pics with my little camera, but the distance was a problem. The day was very warm and it was apparent the actors, crew and extras were feeling the heat. Johnny being a gentleman, saw that Marion was suffering and went to get a wet rag thing for her neck…. She was very pleased with that. Later in the day, even Johnny was feeling the heat and cooling himself with a cold soda can on his neck. Meanwhile, as they were in between “rolling” there was a guy that got to hold up a HUGE umbrella (like would be on your patio) over the actor’s heads. (I really felt badly for him!) I can see why they say that filming is a LOT of waiting around… more of the waiting than the actual filming.
Can you spot Johnny and the other cast members
along the rail?
While in the stands I was able to chat with some of the warm up riders (who confirmed that I did recognize the “out rider”), the wife of one of the camera men and a few of the wardrobe PAs. Everyone was very pleasant and chatty. We actually had to move at one point because we were “in the camera’s view”! I did begin to realize at this point that I was the only “not crew”, “not family of crew” and “not connected to anything or anyone” person that was watching the filming. Really? Where are the fans that I have seen at all the previous shoots?
About 4pm I was getting hungry, so I went back to my truck. On my way out I stopped to chat with Robey again. He told me that they were scheduled to wrap about 6pm. Ok, not much time to eat… As I was about to leave, a black Chevrolet SUV pulled up and inside were Buck, Brian (JD’s driver) and another gentleman. They were joking around with me and Robey for a bit and then when they tried to back up he couldn’t find reverse…. We joked about that and all laughed as he finally found the right gear. We continued to joke about it the next few times I passed by the SUV.
After returning again to watch the filming, they had the horses and jockeys in the pass through and there was that familiar face again…. Sure enough, it was an old friend of mine, Cindy. We had ridden horses together many years ago. It was great to see her and catch up. (As we were chatting, Jerry walked passed us, he was all dressed in period clothes…. Hmmm what could that mean?)
Things were starting to get close to the end (6pm) so I headed back up to the grand stands to watch the final shoot….. Once more with the horses running and the final shot of the day and of PE was complete! I heard, “CUT!!!!” “THAT’S A WRAP!!!” and lots of cheers! Hugs all around! I knew this meant basecamp was going to be getting busy so I headed for the “equipment” gate. Again passing the SUV and joking with the guys. I stopped and chatted with Robey and thanked him for all his generous tips and favors and gave him one of the pics from my album which he asked me to sign for him. That was my movie star moment. Then I noticed that Jerry was getting into the SUV so I snapped a quick picture , said my good byes to Robey and headed for the “equipment” gate as the SUV came up behind me…. That’s when I had what I call MY moment with Johnny and Jerry. As they drove by, the windows were up, but I waved at them anyway, and I could see them wave back at me… and me alone as there was no one else around me! It was a perfect moment and I would have been more than happy with it had that been the most I would have gotten.
Johnny and Jerry preparing to leave the track
I headed to my truck and waited to see if Dharma was able to find it. Vicky had told me that Dharma was not able to get in and was looking for me when she learned that I was still inside the park. Dharma and Cat found me and parked next to me. We chatted and tried to get an idea of what to do next as Johnny was now in basecamp and we were not sure really what to do next. There were still NO other fans anywhere to be seen… how can that be? We all agreed that we didn’t want to just walk into basecamp as we all felt it was an intrusion. So we opted to just take a stroll around basecamp to see what might be happening. Basecamp was inside some chained area so we opted to not go inside. We talked about where and when Johnny might come out and figured that it would be best to wait by the road that leads out of the park. Dharma realized that she had forgotten the item that she had brought to be signed, so I offered her one of my pics. We chatted and took some pics and agreed that we would take pics of each other if we did get our chance. I don’t think any of us really thought we would. After all, it was only the three of us. Would Johnny stop and do a meet & greet for just three women?
After about an hour of watching them load the black SUVs here they came down the road. There were 2 SUVs, not sure who was in the first one, but they drove past us. Then came Johnny’s they started to go straight and I thought to myself, “Well, its not going to happen”. Then the SUV turned right and headed straight for us. We all grabbed our cameras and items to be signed and stood up and waved as they passed us….. no window down, nothing. We waved and I put my hands together to please stop… as they passed I noticed that Jerry had turn backwards to look at Johnny in the back seat. Johnny had his hand up as to motion the driver to stop…. And the SUV did just that! It stopped just past us. OMG! His window came down and there he was! Smiling at us and saying hello. Was I dreaming? We asked Jerry if we could take some pics and he said yes. Dharma asked if we could approach the SUV and again we got a yes. I said that I had a card for Johnny and could I give it to him (the card had my little speech written in it along with the JD/MM pic that Michelle had taken)and again Jerry said yes. Here was my chance…I gave Jerry the card, I snapped a pic… oh no, I had to say what I have wanted to say to Johnny the whole time I have witnessed the filming of PE…….
I said, “Johnny, I would like you to know how many people across the country and the world you have brought together during the filming of PE and the love that we all share for you. We have become friends and I want to thank you for that.” (or something close to it… Cat has the video on the entire exchange). Johnny smiled at me and GOT OUT of the SUV and walked up to me and gave me a hug and said, “Thank you, love, that is the sweetest thing I have ever heard.” OMG! It was incredible! Johnny then hugged Dharma and Cat. Meanwhile, Jerry asked if I had anything I would like to have signed, of course I handed him the pic of JD/MM (Michelle’s pic~ thanks again Michelle for allowing me to do that!) and he asked me how I would like it signed, I said, “Minxie”. Jerry gave me a smile and a laugh and said, “Minxie? I don’t think he will want to sign it that way!” I said no problem and gave my real name. Jerry asked me who took the pic and I told him who had taken it and where, to which he responded, “Is that the gal with the kid?” I thought he meant Osh, so I said no. Johnny then took the pic and asked how I wanted it signed, again I said Minxie, he smiled and asked me how to spell it… as he was writing, I laughed and said, “Well, actually, it’s “Commodore Minxie. Sorry Johnny, my hat is bigger than yours!” He laughed and said, “Lots of people’s hats are bigger than mine!” Then Johnny signed Cat’s book and Dharma’s picture, while I took a pic of Jerry and told him that “Betty Machete” says hello and Vicky were happy to meet them. Dharma then asked if we could take some pics with Johnny (thanks Dharma for having your wits about you, as mine were GONE!) Johnny said yes and even asked his assistant Steven to take the pics. I got a pic and another hug! Dharma and Cat got their pics with Johnny as well. A lady and her 2 girls came over and had Johnny sign some things and pics too. Jerry was saying it was time to go and I got one more hug. As Johnny got back into the SUV and posed for another pic we said goodbye and thank you. I told him how The Libertine was my favorite movie and his acting was the best I have seen, he laughed and said, “Well you are one of 5 who have seen it. Thanks for watching it.” I wished him well and hoped he enjoyed his time off after working so hard on the film. He said thanks again, waved and away they went……just as they were driving off an extra named Kristen came up… she has missed it… I was sad for her and offered to send her some pics of the rehearsal that I had taken along with the pics of Johnny. That made her smile.
This was the most incredible day of my life (short of the birth of my daughter)! I know totally understand the “Depp-Effect”. Johnny has an aura about him that just makes you feel at peace and happy. He is kind, sweet, humble and generous above and beyond the call of duty for his fans. The world needs more people like Mr. Johnny Depp!!! Thank you Johnny for being an incredible human being!!!
I LOVE the look on his face here...
Reminds me of one of his movies
The Man Who Cried
My favorite picture ever!!!!
Shakes, love... this one is for you!!!
Thanks to everyone who has cheered me on and inspired me to take a chance to meet Johnny…. I will forever be grateful to you all!!! You have sent me such wonderful and positive energy that I will never forget. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. And if my day couldn’t get any better, I came home tonight to a package full of cheese curds from my friend Lotus!!!
for being the reason so many wonderful
people have come together!!!
WE LOVE YOU!!!!
Lastly, I did take pics that were during filming and have decided not to post them. All the pics that are posted are during rehearsal or breaks……
Thanks again for reading……
Life is good….