At 19, Stephen Mitchell had already owned three cars – a 3.8 E-Type Jaguar, a Ferrari Berlinetta Lusso and his third, a Ferrari GTO (serial #3987 – google it), which is currently owned by designer Ralph Lauren.
Growing up in Hollywood in the 60s, Mitchell’s early life included socialising with the children of movie stars and being one of the only teenagers to claim stake to a Ferrari. He’d drive it to the movies, to college, on dates and (the best drives would have been) along Mulholland.
The 60s were perhaps the best era – golden age of everything – and Mitchell lived it. Albeit in a mundane Ferrari. Even his father would ask to borrow the car. In a cruel twist of fate, a tragic head-on car collision supported his impressive collection of classics.
When he’s not zipping about in one of his new toys, filming-making and writing are the other hobbies that occupy his days; he’s currently working on his third book.
On a rare sunny afternoon, from his apartment in Sligo, Ireland, Mitchell reviews his life on paper in this week’s “Who.What.When.Where.How.Why.” session.
I bought Bentleys in England and Ferraris & Maseratis in Italy to re-sell in Los Angeles as a teenager. I met Enzo Ferrari, Juan Fangio, John Surtees and Steve McQueen. I ‘grew up’ on the set of Mission: Impossible and other episodic TV series of the era. For a few years, I owned a Ferrari GTO (#3987) that is owned by Ralph Lauren today and is valued at approximately $52M.
I began my film career by writing, producing and directing Montmartre in Paris in French. I founded and ran a repertory company for film & TV for 20 years in Los Angeles. I created a TV series called (Interview) which had fans that included Marlon Brando. I authored the first new acting technique–Action/ReAction–that is not based on Stanislavski’s Method.
I am currently in Ireland writing my third novel and directing four movies simultaneously via a Skype connection that puts me on the set with actors in the Washington, D.C. area. My motto has always been: If you can’t make movies, live your life as though you were in one …
As a filmmaker, I have always been very independent and innovative. The only thing I don’t experiment with is story structure and I hold Syd Field and his ‘paradigm’ in the highest regard.
My films tend to be elliptical and the stories play out in levels of perception; irony playing a large part with Noah Cross’ line from Chinatown being an active ingredient: “You may think you know what you’re dealing with, but believe me, you don’t.”
In the 60s, Claude Lelouch’s A Man and a Woman changed my course irrevocably from Hollywood to France. In the 70s, his film And Now My Love served to remind me that I’d better get a move on. A few years later, I was in Paris making Montmartre.
I grew up in Brentwood, California and a good many of my neighbors were movie stars – Jane Powell, Hugh Marlowe, James Whitmore, to name a few. I went to school with their children and it seemed entirely normal to have a career in the film business.
I think my friends knew better than to say “no” to me – not that any of them would have been inclined to do so. They were actors and outlaws on the periphery of the Ferrari culture in Los Angeles as I was coming of age. At the time, most of them were in their 30s while I was still a teen.
I am a storyteller and though I have written two novels and am working (sporadically) on a third, filmmaking has always held the greatest appeal to me.
I love every aspect of movie-making from working with actors to spending hours editing a scene. I like telling a story that takes you to a truth that is unexpected – mirroring life, you might say.
As much as I enjoy making movies, I love watching them – everything from Lawrence of Arabia to The Big Lebowski – and I will watch and re-watch a good film many times over the years. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched Michael Clayton or Ace in the Hole!
Watching great movies is my inspiration.
Click here for his IMDB profile.