James Helsing, was, for years, a researcher behind the scenes for Entertainment Tonight and the Emmys. Until he got laid off. James is blessed with an even temper and decided being let go was a sign from the movie gods to close that chapter and focus on his real destiny as a film-maker. He is grateful that he found very few bumps in the road and credits this to the greatness he surrounded himself with both in front of the camera and behind.
As a child of four of five he saw, and was greatly influenced by, The Wizard of Oz, Laurel and Hardy and The Marx Brothers on a black and white television. He took it on faith that Dorothy’s slippers were ruby red. Later, he wanted to be a member of the Partridge Family. How did all this translate into his present work? He did quite a bit of theater in high school with a focus on acting, then directing and producing, all of which followed him through college and graduate school. He was meant to be where he is.
His new film, shot in Van Nuys in a “Ma and Pa” studio takes place in San Francisco, which he, as did Alfred Hitchcock, sees as a perfect murder mystery set. James’s movie opens in the Whitechapel district of London to address several historic Autumn 1888 murders. Yes, Jack the Ripper, a title that James says came from the newspapers to sell newspapers. Jack was a generic enough name, and his fifth victim Mary Kelly was found mutilated, disemboweled with her throat being severed down to the spine and the abdomen almost emptied of its organs. Her heart was missing. She was, in essence, torn to shreds, hence, The Ripper. Segue then to Fall River, Massachusetts and Lizzie Borden, who, James says, was acquitted and no one else charged with the grisly slaughter. Then we go to Los Angeles in 1947 to visit the murder of Elizabeth Short, the Black Dahlia. To hear James talk about his life and his work is not only a wonderful lesson on how to go about making a movie, but also a tutorial on some of humankind’s most gruesome murders (and a little delicious gossip about how Hollywood works). Log on to his Youtube Channel Lombard Street Flickers, clench your fists and get ready for a taste of what he James Helsing is doing.
It is interesting to note that James is basically a detective on the trail of Jack the Ripper, a sleuth looking for the real killer of Lizzie Borden’s father and stepmother as well the facts regarding the murderer of the Black Dahlia. One conversation he has had with a higher power over the years is to ask that when his time comes he be taken to Whitechapel and know who Jack the Ripper was, to know if Oswald pulled the trigger in Dallas that day and if Lizzie Borden did, indeed, murder her parents. Detective, yes, a devoted fact-finder, and research is, after all, how he started out in the world of television. He is now looking for that intersection of fact and compelling assessment to mold into a film that will do what great movies do, swoop down with invisible hands and scoop you right up into another reality.
His love letter? He has a few very creative possibilities. We here at Love Letters Live guessed a “Dear Jack”, but James is a serious man who does not dodge personal challenge. One he would write to would be to his younger self, is to say thank you for taking risks and to the bullies for allowing an indomitable character to develop in him. James’s is a life-story with twists and turns best heard in his own soothing, sweet, intelligent, in-charge voice that could charmingly cajole an audience right into the wonderful world of foreboding. He knows what he is doing and he knows how to share it.