SHOOTING STARS: Traveling with ‘Travelator’

  It’s a long way from Serbia to the Strip, but the independent feature “Travelator” has gone the distance.
  Written and directed by award-winning Serbian filmmaker Dusan Milic, the action tale focuses on an impoverished first-person video game shooter (played by Serbian actor Nikola Rakocevic) who becomes a real-life shooter for the Serbian mob — and winds up in Las Vegas, tracking a Serbian warlord and his bodyguards.
  “It’s an action hit man story with some laughs and drama,” explains producer Christos Dervenis of Parthenon Films, who notes that Las Vegas was always the movie’s primary location.
  Except for an opening sequence filmed in the Serbian capital of Belgrade, “the entire movie takes place in Vegas,” Dervenis explains, capturing the city’s “whole visual world” through the eyes of its main character.
  Shooting in high-definition video with a small, hand-held camera gives the movie “a video game kind of look,” according to Dervenis — especially because a special camera mount will capture the protagonist’s viewpoint, creating visual parallels between video games and real life.
  The Las Vegas shoot, which began March 26, is scheduled to wrap Wednesday, to be followed by five additional days of second-unit work.
  The movie’s locations include the Sahara, Fremont Street Experience and the Bada Bing Men’s Club, reports locations manager Ron Carr, whose Las Vegas expertise ranges from the “CSI” and “Las Vegas” TV pilots to the big-screen hit “Con Air.”
  Carr’s only one of several Las Vegans on the production, from actress Kethanya Henderson to assistant director Dusty Dukatz.
Dervenis, who produced the 2006 German drama “Nothing But Ghosts” in Las Vegas, says he learned a great deal from the previous shoot.
  Among the lessons: “This time we only hired locals” rather than bring crew members from Los Angeles, telling Milic “we will be able to make this happen,” Dervenis says. “It was a great experience” last time, he notes. “And it’s much better now.”
  Strait shooting: It’s two shows in two days for the folks at dick clark productions and the Academy of Country Music, who follow Sunday’s live ACM Awards CBS broadcast with tonight’s “George Strait: ACM Artist of the Decade All-Star Concert” at the MGM Grand Garden, to be taped for broadcast May 27 on CBS.
  ‘Basically, it’s economies of scale,” executive producer Richard A. Clark says of the double-barrelled shoot.
  The arena show will have a different stage, but the same lighting, so “it’s only one and a half times harder,” Clark notes.
  “Doing two in a row is difficult only from the perspective of the logistics,” he explains. “It’s a jigsaw puzzle.”
  Road trippers: California TV audiences know Huell Howser for his public television series “California’s Gold” and “Road Trip.” (Some local radio listeners may know Howser from audio excerpts featured on Adam Carollo’s now-defunct radio show.)
  Occasionally, however, Howser’s road leads beyond California. This week, for example, “Road Trip” reaches Southern Nevada for an hourlong look at “all the cool things you can do in Las Vegas without having to gamble,” explains producer Phil Noyes.
  The two-day shoot, scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, will take in a considerable chunk of territory, from Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area to the Clark County Heritage Museum in Henderson, along with the Old Mormon Fort, the Atomic Museum, the Springs Preserve and Chinatown Plaza, Noyes says.
  Although Wednesday’s shoot may coincide with predicted showers — “leave it to us to pick the one day it’s going to rain,” Noyes says — the “Road Trip” crew remains undaunted, vowing to “make lemons out of lemonade.”
  Causing a scene: Luxor’s LAX nightclub provides a suitably scene-worthy backdrop for R&B singer Teairra Mari’s latest music video.
  Titled “Cause a Scene,” the clip will feature Flo Rida, who’ll join Mari Tuesday for the closed-set shoot.
  Wait-listed: It seems fitting that 48 teams, a record turnout, have signed up for this year’s 48 Hour Film Project.
That means registration has closed, but there still is time to get on the waiting list, in case any spots open up for the two-day competition, which kicks off April 17. You’ll find a link — and more information — online at www.48hourfilm.com/lasvegas.

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