"What's your inspiration?" is often asked of screenwriters and filmmakers. Sometimes they cite other films, or stories, or a location or anecdote from their hometown. Sometimes they shrug. Sometimes they say their mother (always a good answer, if the film they wrote isn't awful).
If the screenwriter has created a prehistoric, madcap, dino-filled flick, however, and they've lived in Los Angeles for any amount of time, it is hard to imagine that the La Brea Tar Pits haven't been at least a little inspirational. A bubbly mass of goo with a few mammoth statues right in the heart of our oh-so-modern city? Ideas go a-flowin'.
Which make the pits -- or at least the park adjacent to them -- the perfect venue for screening outlandish movies with a "scientific" bent (heavy quote usage intended). "B Movie and Bad Science" nights have returned to Hancock Park, and the Natural History Museum is behind the free screenings, screenings that are set to run every Saturday night through August.
"Dinosaurus!" from 1960 is up on Saturday, July 30; "One Million Years B.C." rounds it out on Saturday, Aug. 27. Big-brained people from the Page Museum, which houses the tar pits findings, will talk about science and such and make it all extremely sexy and smart. Which it is. No reaching there.
Of course, remember while you're watching "Dinosaurus!" that those superstars of the Jurassic period are not actually associated with the tar pits. Some visitors show up expecting to get their brontosaurus on, only to find mammoths and dire wolves and mastodons.
But we'd like to make the analogy that the mammoths and dire wolves and mastodons are like the indie bands who go on when the mega-famous act doesn't show. Soon those indies are your favorites, and you feel like you've discovered some hidden gems. Who's with us? Give it up for the mastodons, woo hoo! Yeah. Mastodons.