Back in New York after filming East of Eden, James Dean went to see his friend, photographer Roy Schatt, to tell him he wanted to try and make his own movie. Schatt told Dean he was crazy, but went along with it knowing how determined his friend was. On an exceptionally hot day, Schatt and other friends - Martin Landau, Bob Heller, Bill Gunn - attempted to help Dean with his experimental movie. Schatt recalls:
Even in the garden behind my studio, the heat was killing. Our director [Dean] became enamored of the sculptured fountainhead. We were stripped to the waist and sweating as Jim directed us. “Marty, can I have that light here?”; “Bob, bring over that chair!” Jim had no long ears or whiskers: his upper body was shiny and his bespectacled face was topped with sandy hair. But in that heat my mind bent a little and his command sounded like Lewis Carroll’s White Rabbit saying “Mary Ann, bring me my gloves and a fan.” The bright lights and our loud voices brought a lot of heads popping out of nearby windows.