Ralph-Michael Giordano recreates classic Hollywood photos with Colorado actors

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Ralph-Michael Giordano
Kendra Buck as Gloria Swanson
Colorado's independent film scene is booming, says filmmaker and photographer Ralph-Michael Giordano, whose exhibition A Colorado Tribute to Classic Hollywood will be featured at Tenn Street Coffee and Books on First Friday, as part of the Tennyson Street Artwalk. Giordano has spent the last six months rebooting classic photographs of Hollywood stars. The new images feature fourteen Colorado actors posing as Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Lana Turner, Elizabeth Taylor and beyond. In advance of the August 1 opening, Westword spoke with Giordano about his photographs and his homegrown homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood.

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Westword: Unpack the title: A Colorado Tribute to Classic Hollywood.

Ralph-Michael Giordano: A Colorado Tribute to Classic Hollywood is an idea I came up with early last year. I wanted to work with a lot of Colorado actors who were appearing in all of these indie film. It's really kind of amazing, because Colorado is experiencing an indie-film renaissance right now. Every weekend, somebody's making a film, whether it's a short film or a feature. There are so many filmmakers constantly creating art, which is really great.

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Ralph-Michael Giordano
John Showalter and Shanna Grace as Charlie Chaplin and Paulette Goddard.
I thought, in a way, this resurgence of filmmaking creativity reminded me of a Hollywood thing happening -- our own version of it. I've always wanted to do a photo shoot -- a kind of a Vanity Fair type of thing -- where you take people and you put them in these positions where they're portraying famous people. I decided, why not do a similar pictorial event, work with these Colorado actors and dress them up as Hollywood icons?

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Ralph-Michael Giordano
Jimmy Lee Combs as Henry Fonda.
How did you find your actors?

I started looking at Facebook for actors that fit the bill. Some were people I've worked with on short films. I'm also a filmmaker. Others, I just met through Facebook. I called them up and said: "Hey, I've seen your work and I'd like you to be part of this project. What do you think?"

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Ralph-Michael Giordano
Kendra Buck as Veronica Lake.
How did they respond?

It's interesting. Nobody said no. Everybody was in because they liked the idea. We kept it a secret. We didn't tell anybody what we were up to. We just said we were working on this photography project. I kept putting teasers up on Facebook as I was working with the actors. It took about six months to complete the project, to get all fourteen actors.

Read on for more photos and thoughts from Ralph-Michael Giordano.

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Tenn Street Coffee & Books

4418 Tennyson St., Denver, CO

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