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Monday, 14 April 2014

'My first love was cars & cinema'

Stephen Mitchell in *A Film makers' Life*

The Ferrari 250 GTO is one of the most beautiful and rarest cars of its time, just 39 were built. His Ferrari with the serial number 3987 can be admired today in the Ralph Lauren collection. But Stephen Mitchell has much more to offer than just being the former owner of one of the most valuable cars in the world. 

I am happy that I could win him to talk a bit about his life and his great love for the French cinema.

Julz: How did you come to own your first Ferrari?
SM: When I was 17, I bought my first Ferrari, a Berlinetta Lusso. Two years later, I sold the Berlinetta to buy a Ferrari GTO (serial number 3987).

Jz: Why did you, at this time, choose the car brand Ferrari?
SM: Ferrari became my brand of choice as a result of performance, aesthetics, myth and legend and the sensual experience that driving a Ferrari always delivered.

Jz: I can only imagine, but what did you feel like when you met Enzo Ferrari?
SM: It felt like I was in a movie living a bigger-than-life moment with a legend.

Jz: So tell me, have you ever raced by yourself?
SM: I took part in informal track events at places like Willow Springs Raceway.
His passion for cars and cinema already developed in his childhood in Brentwood California, as a result of the parents of his friends were movie stars. The film by French writer Claude Lelouch "A Man and a Woman, And Now My Love" inspired him so much that he went to Paris for two years to start his own film career with his comedy "Montmartre". In the early 80's, he was known in Hollywood for an unusual television series, (Interview), he created hat had fans amongst A-list Hollywood personalities.

Jz: In what context do you see the mix of automobiles and fashion?
SM: Automobiles became a way of life, a form of expression and the objects around which lasting friendships have formed. Fashion is the expression of aesthetics that, in a way, defines or reveals who we are.

Jz: Who or what inspires you and why?
SM: Inspired thought, innovation and experimentation fascinate me. I love watching a master at work be it in a film, racing, writing or anything else where an individual has managed to transcend the boundaries of an activity.

Jz: You've got many big film personalities interviewed in the 80's. Have you personally gotten anything or direction off these discussions?
SM: I've found that everyone has at least one great story to tell, I suppose the criteria is that if the person interests me, they will interest the viewer.

He made dozen independent feature films, produced and directed the documentary Carrera Panamericana (1950-54), also written two novels, "Ignorance is Bliss" and "Ray D. Shosay's Journal: Dispatches from a (junior) suite in Paris" as well a text book on an acting technique he created Action/ReAction: A unique and innovative technique for actors and the history of its origins. 

 JZ: Your series 'Elysée Wednesday' presented indeed a certain attitude of life-what criteria did you use in selecting the cars? People come up to you all the time I can imagine asking questions like "Did you write a Manuscript for this series or is it more spontaneous?" Will this series continue?

SM: Nothing was written in advance for EW: Drive! I would go out with friends and enjoy the car we had selected for the day's shooting and created the 'story' in the editing phase. Many friends and people I barely knew were offering their cars for me to drive and film and yes, I hope to continue the series.

Jz: You are regular on the Cannes Film Festival but are you there privately or are you searching for new talents?
SM: I love the atmosphere of Cannes during the festival and I enjoy the connections I make there. Usually, I have a project to market but even when I don't, meeting actors, writers and producers is a large part of what I like to do.

JZ: So lastly, tell me what would be your one recommendation to current or aspiring actors/film makers who want to make a successful career of it?
SM:When I asked that question of my mentor back in the early days, he told me, *Live a full life*. I've done exactly that and I've used it all in one way or another in my work as a film maker, whether it was spending time with former mercenaries from the Belgian Congo, talking with actors on a set or the dinner table conversations i enjoyed with friends in Paris, it all influenced what I put on the screen or write into one of my novels.

A photo of Stephen Mitchell at Elysée Wednesday with his friend Matthew Ettinger who owned the Ferrari Breadvan when he owned the  Ferrari GTO.

A preview about the famous Mexican road races in collaboration with Jeanetta Dumouchel.

Copyright © Stephen Mitchell, Cinebank Productions and © Larry Crane


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