As obsessive as I’ve been about wanting to fly out to Los Angeles on Nov. 1, my bubble has finally burst. I had three things in mind for this trip: 1) To take photos of the grave sites of the silent film actresses I’ve been pouring over for months, 2) To finally experience the Day of the Dead festivities at Hollywood Forever and also in Rose Hill Cemetery, and 3) Meet people in person that I could interview for the book. Those are the project-related reason for wanting to go to Hollywood again. The other reason is that I miss being out there. There is SO much I want to see that I didn’t get to see or want to see again.
So why did the bubble burst? Why did I suddenly mentally land flat on my butt about the trip I so badly wanted to take? The cemeteries. The reason I wanted to go out there most became the harsh slap of reality. Reality sucks. Thanks, Obama! (this is a tongue-in-cheek reference to a Jenna Marble video on YouTube—I don’t actually blame President Obama for this.)
So I’ve been trying to locate the burial locations for all of these silent stars. It’s been interesting research, but I’ve been all over the place online until my head started to spin. I originally thought, naïve taphophile that I am, that most of the cemeteries would be totally cool with someone taking photos on their grounds. Most cemeteries I’ve been to across the country have no problem with that. And to be in Hollywood Forever was a cemetery and movie star fan’s dream. And yet …
Here’s what I’ve discovered. A number of the cemeteries have policies stating that any commercial photography (among other kinds) must be approved by the cemetery ahead of time. This did not surprise me. Of course, I contact a number of them last week but haven’t gotten a response yet.
Then I spoke with my new pal Bob Marlowe, and he told me that Hollywood Forever (the cemetery I thought would be a ringer) has told him that only photography of celebrities is allowed … and then they told him later that NO photography is allowed. I thought Hollywood Forever would be completely open to allowing photos. I mean, they host movies and concerts (Lana Del Ray is performing two shows there later this month). The big Day of the Dead celebration is coming up. And he’s been told “no photography is allowed”?
On top of all this, there are a number of books out there that feature photos from all of the cemeteries in question. Perhaps the policies came into being after they were published.
My hope is that I’ll meet someone (someones?) who are involved with the cemeteries who can put in a good word for me and help me get photo permission. Because, really, what good is a trip out there to get photos of silent film stars’ graves when you find out you can’t use them?
So as of right now I am no longer actively figuring out a way to go to L.A. in November like I’ve been wishfully thinking. I’m putting it off until I have a new game plan in place for the book. I am not giving up hope, though! I just need a strategy … and some connections.
Don’t worry, I’m still working on the book. And I have another project I’ve been working on I may resurrect in the meantime.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. What do you do when you hit a snag in a project?
I'm the author of a number of cemetery books and am now writing one about the graves of silent film stars, starting with the ladies. Who would you like to see included?
More Silent Film Resources
• Silentology blog