Exclusive Jeff Moore Interview (part two)

Continued from part one. Our interview with Jeff Moore concludes. Make sure and download Angel Highway's (featuring Jeff Moore) album 'Outside Twin Peaks' from iTunes!

Interview conducted by Brad Dukes...

Brad - Did you have a large collection of props of your own at the time that you would bring into the show?

Jeff - Yes, you know what you do is you have a kit of props that you carry around and you hope that when they ask for something you might have it within your kit to bring. There are a number of things I brought to the show like watches, different things in my kit, mostly I purchased it or rented it or had it made or made it myself. You remember the pig face in Diane Keaton's episode?

Brad - Yes! Jeff - That was purely my idea. What happened in the production meeting is they said "And she should bring out some food, something odd, something different..." they said, you know because that was Twin Peaks. Diane says "It should be something...I don't know..." and I said well how about a pig's head face? She went nuts and that was when I got her on my side and that pig face became part of the show and it was my little touch and I loved that.

"Oh Andrew..."

Brad - What were some of your other favorite props on the show? There are so many that come to mind. What do you remember?

 Jeff - The one that I had a real challenge with and the one I really enjoyed a lot was the box, the mystery black box with the astrological signs and you had to press the right sequence of signs for the sliding drawer to open up. That was probably one of my favorite props because of the fact that it was so complicated and I had to get it made... One of the interesting stories about that was while we were shooting that and Pete drops the box and it breaks right? Well, he drops it way to soon and we only had one of them and we had to put it back together again by magic to finish and carry on, we had to keep having that thing. So it was one of those great props and we watched it like a hawk. Leo's collar was fun. My big deal on that was finding a collar that lit up and then the button. We went through so many choices of what kind of button, it ended up being this cheap little plastic thing that had a light on the end and so that was an interesting prop as well. Then the clown on Leo's bed with the spinning nose, that was a fun find as well. Those are some of the things...there are so many...

Brad - You mentioned Leo, and it makes me think, when you watch that episode where he dives into the cake, did you have like five cakes on hand (laughs)?

Jeff - I think I had three that day. I only gave them three (laughs). That's why I said "You gotta get it in three!" (laughs) That's one of the things you can dictate to them and if they say well, we need five then they gotta' come up with more money. So that means production has to get involved because I can give them three within the budget that production give me and that's how that kind of flows.

Brad - Was Twin Peaks a tightly budgeted show? What was the prop budget for an episode?

Jeff - Thinking back, I think I might have had anywhere between $3500 and $8,000 an episode. Somewhere in there,  It's hard to remember, I still have all of my paperwork but I don't remember what my budget was exactly. We started off pretty low budget, we were barely existing as a show. That added to the fun part of it because you got what you needed with what you had.

Brad - So, I all of the interviews I've ever done, a lot of people have liked to bring in their own props. Do you have any interesting memories of people bringing in their own stuff?

Jeff - No, I mean the only one that comes to mind was one that wasn't really brought in but found was when Piper Laurie and I were out on a location here in L.A. shooting a forest scene and she comes out wearing all her hiking stuff including a leather hat, and we were going up to the set and she said 'Jeff, I need some sort of hiking stick'. I don't quite remember but I ended up presenting her a bunch of sticks I literally found right there, she choose one and just loved it. She mentioned it in the interview at USC and she even asked me twenty years later if I still had that stick. So she remembered that. Clarence Williams III was an interesting actor because he would like to put things in his pocket that you didn't see or it ever came out because that was his character. I remember I did two movies with him and he did the same thing with me on Twin Peaks and he was an FBI Agent and he had to have something like a folded up copy of The Constitution in his pocket. No one ever saw it but I had to have it for him every day!

Body bag sketch by Lynch on ceiling tile. Signed.

Brad - Do you remember if David Lynch, Mark Frost or anybody else requested any props that caught you off guard?

Jeff - Yes! Some of the more interesting props that David ever requested was the red rubber bouncing balls that the sailors are bouncing in the Great Northern Lobby. That day, David had decided to rewrite that scene in the lobby there. So he had these guys dressed up as sailors but he didn't have them smoking, I mean, you know he had no idea what he was going to do. All of the sudden during the middle of the rewrite, he calls me over during this two hour coffee break while he rewrites this scene and he says "Jeff, I need you to go out and get me all the red rubber bouncing balls you can find!" He said it in his David Lynch voice and he was one hundred thousand percent serious and I'm semi-laughing but at the same time I knew this was what he wanted. So I went out everywhere I could go in a mad rush to get these red rubber balls, which, by the way, I found the other day while going through one of my kits, and I came back and then the sailors were walking through the lobby bouncing these balls and that's what that turned out to be. Then there was the Smiling Body Bag and that was interesting because that really didn't exist until a day or two before it happened. David had drawn me a picture and we were at the location where it was going to be filmed and the day before I got the bag he said, "I need a giant black smiling body bag" and I said O.K. I knew I only had a certain amount of time to get this. I said, can you draw me a picture? So I'm standing there with Richard Hoover, David Lynch and myself and we're trying to get this figured out because Richard as Production Designer had to build whatever rig it was going to hang on over whatever sink it was going to be over and whatever David wanted and I had to have the prop. So we were all standing there and David was trying to explain it to us, so Richard says to David, why don't you draw it? So David drew it on a ceiling tile that had fell from the ceiling in this old run down hospital we were shooting in, he draws it, he draws this black bag and then as we were finishing and he was explaining everything, "It has to open up Jeff" and "Richard, I need it on this thing..." and then as we were walking away from this meeting, Richard says to me "You ought to have him sign that. It will be valuable some day!" (laughs) So I said will you sign it? He said "Sure!" So he signed it for me. Then I went off and found the body bag, which was a 1930's body bag when, back in those days body bags were zipped down the middle. Now they have an L-zip where they can just slide bodies in. So I was really up against finding that old fashioned bag to get that big smile he wanted. So that was one of those on-the-fly situations, he drew the picture and I found it. Oh there's one more! That would be the golf bag where Maddy's body was in when we sort of knew at that moment that Leland was the killer? Well, he called me in the office way before it and he said, "Jeff, I'm going to tell you something and you're going to kind of know something from this. I need you to find me... because you know, in the script it says Leland grabs a golf bag. We got scripts but sometimes not everything was not on them yet.  So he said "I want you to find me a golf bag I can put a body in." Then David insisted a real human had to get in it and he literally, when I did end up finding the golf bag, put somebody from the office, I don't remember who it was, into the bag to make sure that a body would fit in it. When it came time to film that scene I think we had a human in there to film the hands in the bag...

Brad - Oh, man...

Jeff - ...so, that was a really interesting thing because at that point he was telling me that Leland was the killer.

Brad - What was it like dealing with the aspect of secrecy and all the multiple scripts going around?

Jeff - There wasn't a lot of multiple scrips, that's kind of a myth, they just came out when they were written and they came out slowly sometimes. The mysteries of the scripts were just that no one wants to know who the killer was. The biggest deal was getting scripts late for most people, because the writers were struggling to keep the storylines going and keep everything close to their vest but at the same time they had to communicate with certain departments and the departments they had to communicate with was Wardrobe and Props were the key ones because it always involved somebody in an outfit and it always involved something going on, some sort of prop. So, we were the only departments, besides a few others, that kind of always knew what was coming only because we had to have what was needed then.

Brad - You mentioned filming in that old hospital, do remember any other memorable location filming sites in the Los Angeles area?

Jeff - Yes, Cold Water Canyon, we were shooting up there a lot, they actually shot the opening credits to The Andy Griffith Show up there. That was shot up in Cold Water, we shot all of our Pine Tree stuff up there for Twin Peaks and I enjoyed the history between the two places. The two shows.

Brad - Do you have any interesting stories about working with Mark Frost? David Lynch is the name that always comes to the top with Twin Peaks but what was your experience working with Mark?

Jeff - I had a really good experience with Mark because he also took me to do 'Storyville' with him. Mark and I are the same age, we graduated at the same time and are similar in many ways so we hit it off. He was never really a presence there, he was always upstairs, that mystery guy you never saw much of. When the show finished, David asked me to go do 'On The Air' with him and at the same time, Mark asked me to go do 'Storyville' with him. So I had to finish Twin Peaks, do On The Air and then get ready for Storyville. It was during Storyville that I connected with Frost and he was really a great great guy.

The actual 'Jacoby Coconut' and 'James' Half Hearts!

Brad - Did you have a favorite place to find or purchase props in the L.A. area?

Jeff - Yes, Ellis Mercantile, which no longer exists, was the oldest prop house in Hollywood. Started in 1906 in the days when there was just a dirt road up there and people like Charlie Chaplin were making movies. I found everything I needed and most everything on the show came from Ellis Merc. It was the key to everything in Twin Peaks. Because of it's history, I could go really deep into that prop house and find any period I could think of.

Brad - What were the biggest challenges on Twin Peaks?

Jeff - The biggest challenge on Twin Peaks was time which is the biggest challenge on most productions. Time to get what you need and time for when they need it. Money, budgets, getting enough people on your department so that when your out trying to get things going, your two guys on the set have enough help as well. In the first few episodes of Twin Peaks that I did, we also did all the special effects! Rich did the fireplaces, he went out and got a license to do that. We did the smoke in the roadhouse and every other set that needed smoke. We were doing a lot of the special effects until the show turned union. Once that happened, legally we could not do any of those things anymore which was a big break for us. We didn't have to think of doing our props plus, oh yeah we have to do all these smoke and fireplace effects as well.

Brad - You mentioned working on Storyville with Mark. For me in all my research on the show, there's always been a mystery about the timeline. Mark Started Storyville which was at the tale end of Twin Peaks, but do you remember working on the finale in the Red Room? Do you have any stories about putting that together?

Jeff - There was no gap between that. Actually there was...Mark was probably in pre-production but not involved with any crew members at that point. He might have been casting and stuff but he was there until the bitter end on Twin Peaks.  Even though On The Air and Storyville were happening, they weren't interfering with any of the filming times with Twin Peaks. Probably more than anything at the wrap. When the show was over, I literally walked from backstage down to an office to found out about On The Air at the same time reading the script to Storyville. So I was involved with everything in the Red Room, every single episode.

Brad - Do you have any interesting stories about the Red Room?

Jeff - The big thing about that was the floor of course. That was done by David Robinson, the very first Prop Master for the first five episodes of the show. The reason I got the job was because David didn't want to be the Prop Master. He just got the job be default at the start of the show...he wanted to be the on-set painter because it's more artistic in the sense that you can make things look old etc and it's a real cool job. Of course I like props. What I remember most about The Red Room was the construction of the floor, how David Laid it out and how he painted it and his brilliant work. When the velvet came up I wasn't quite sure what was going to go on in there. It didn't read like what I saw you know? The reverse shot I remember because David had them do all that, in the song Outside Twin Peaks you'll hear some reverse guitar in it which of course harkens back to our finger-snapping guy! There's also some finger-snapping going on in there as well! So I pulled a lot of those elements from the Red Room into the song Outside Twin Peaks. Because when I was writing it, that's sort of where I was at in my head. So I carried those things over and I think I got it out in music in a sort of interesting way. I remember writing Outside Twin Peaks and a lot of it took place in that room as a songwriter.

Brad - Do you have any desire to do an album or any other Twin Peaks music?

Jeff - Actually we just finished a track called Glastonberry Grove. I'm also hoping this one song called Four Corners which was written by my Friend Bill Wheat and I, he's in the band...the name of the band is Angel Highway and the name of the album is Outside Twin Peaks. One of the other members of the band is Roger Johnson who has played with Tom Waits, I mean he's just a major player. He was a fan of the show. So I sent him this song, the first version of it, and he just flipped out and said "I love this song! I have to get involved." Like I said before, when I was doing the song, I knew I was going to the Retrospective at USC the next night and I was home alone in my studio and my girlfriend had gone to a wrap party for a television show she was working on...when I played it for Rich (Robinson) who went to the show with me that night at USC, now Rich is an old player with a great ear and I trust his...he knows good when he hears good. I played it for him and the first words out of his mouth was "Wow Jeff that was inspired." I'm thinking, "This is coming out of Rich's mouth?" (laughs) I know Rich, I've known him for 8 years prior to Twin Peaks, we were brothers! I know him as well as I know anybody. So I thought to myself, maybe I do have something here. So at the Retrospective I got a copy to Alex and he got it to Mary to give to David Lynch.

Brad - Do you have any interesting memories of working on 'On The Air'?

Jeff - It was seat-of-your-pants Brad! We sort of rode that one on the Twin Peaks phenomena. ABC had cancelled us, then had given David this other thing right? So the thing about it remember the most was...we used Okowita, the Art Director, so I worked with him, he was also the Art Director on Twin Peaks but I didn't work with him a lot so we worked more with each other and we were really running and gunning all the time. It was a period piece and I remember just barely keeping up with the scripts. Everybody was on the edge of not being ready. Everybody, David...everybody. I mean, it was sort of like "Okay, you're gonna let us do this?" So it was like "Here we go!!" Of course they only aired two or three of them. I also remember working with Squiggy, what's his name who was also in Twin Peaks? David Lander!  He was great and also working with David in pure period.

Brad - Any interesting stories from Twin Peaks we haven't covered that you would like to share?

Jeff - One of the things about David, everything goes back to David, I will say this, working with every director, one of things about Twin Peaks was working as a department head in props, I was very privileged to be able to work with each director face to face, one on one because we always had to get everything squared up to what they wanted in that it was exactly what they wanted. A lot of stories go along with Windom and his chess games and all these different things that were happening, I really had to be on top of my game. In working with every director, what's interesting about is because I've done a lot of one hour shows afterwords, I quit the industry for a number of years because I opened up a very successful restaurant in Sedona, Arizona which I'll give you a brief on that later. The thing I remember is each director being excited about working on the show. Each one more than any other director on any other show I've worked on except for 'Pushing Daises'. That was another one of those strange element shows that brought out the fun in directors. What was great about Twin Peaks was they wanted to be there, they wanted to put their touch on it, they loved what was going on with Twin Peaks, so working with each and every director was never a challenge. They were really happy to be there and they really leaned on us to search for what they needed.

Brad - What was it like attending the USC Twin Peaks Retrospective and walking into a crowded room and seeing all these people that are crazy about Twin Peaks nearly 25 years later?

Jeff - You know it's really interesting and I'm glad you asked that question. You know the reason is, Rich and I had gone together that night and we hadn't seen each other in a number of years. You know, I went on to do my restaurant in Arizona and Rich continued on in the business and we recently got connected together on a show, we were working on Scandal for ABC. So we got an invitation, which by the way came from an Instagram photo. We went to the Retrospective together okay? We drove up there just having a good time, feeling good and kind of wondering what's it going to be? We get lost on campus then we find it and we go into the lobby and see all the props in there and wondering "who got all these props?? How did they get this?? This was mine!!" Of course they got picked while I was out doing On The Air. So we walk into the place where they were showing the episodes and it was a full theater. Full. We couldn't sit down. We both walked into the theater and just gasped. Then Piper walks in through the door right behind us and she says "I can't believe how many people are here." Right then she asked me about the walking stick. Which was really funny! Before I said anything to her she said "Hey, do you still have that walking stick?" We walked into that room and we could not believe it. We knew that this is something.

Brad - For all the times you were on the set of Twin Peaks, what were the top two scenes that stick out in your mind for whatever reason?

Jeff - Well, I know of one really intense scene that I was directly involved with. Remember the scene inside the train car with the flashing and the strange lighting with what's her name? Pulaski? We had this set and David comes up to me and says "Jeff, I need some flashing and need something that flashes! What do you have, what can you get?" Rich and I are just scratching our heads and we say "Well, we have some flash paper, you know like magicians use." So we grab every flashlight, every piece of flash paper we could find in my kit from an old magic show, God knows how I had it and where it was from. (laughs) We went in there, we were shooting Twin Peaks on film, and we took in this film tray with the flash paper and Dave had us sitting there underneath her face lighting up this flash paper trying to get flashes you know? Then Stephen and Rich were doing flashlights in all different ways and the lighting guy were doing all different things and that was one of those scenes and then it was also this heavy scene. Besides all these different lighting things going on there was murder taking place and this whole rape and everything going on. That was probably on of the most intense things I did with David on Twin Peaks in the sense that we were right there with him and he was going "NOW!" "FLASH!" You know we didn't quite get what we wanted but I think it ended up looking pretty good.

Brad - I remember watching that in 1990 and it scared the Hell out of me.

Jeff - Well it scared me and I was doing it.

Brad - Do you have any memories of Frank Silva who played Killer BOB?

Jeff - Yes! The thing about BOB (laughs) The thing about BOB! He was in the art department, he was a set dresser and it was the same with the Log Lady, she worked in the camera department. So when David turned his camera on Frank, he knew that was going to be his BOB. He didn't send him to a casting thing, he just decided in the moment to turn the camera around on him and the next thing we know we have our killer. So I just remember him being on set with us working and dressing sets and I remember him there and then all of the sudden he was on the show. He was very soft spoken. The nicest guy you could meet.

Make sure and download Angel Highway's 'Outside Twin Peaks'!

Special thanks to Brad Dukes for conducting this interview!

Very special thanks to Jeff Moore for taking the time to talk with us!


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