The final countdown

Pirates is being made as part of a larger festival, and you can’t have a festival without ceremony. The thing is, when you’re hours from going to camera, the last thing you need is a party with a bunch of people you don’t know who aren’t working on your project.

Thursday night was the hoity-toity hodown for the producers and writer/directors. The mayor was there (I hope he didn’t drive home), along with other people who had done a lot of work to make this festival happen. Christopher Coppola (no sense changing his name) pulled up on his big ol’ bike, and it was nice meeting him and hearing him say he liked my work. He had even sent us an actor, Dog Bone, who has added his own personality to the crew. Other than that, there wasn’t anyone there I was interested in meeting.

OK, that’s a lie. It would be more honest to say that before I got there there was no one I was interested in meeting. I rode there with Rudolph driving, two reluctant partygoers. The event was billed as semi-formal, so while I was at the thrift store that afternoon I had picked up a shirt that buttons up that went well with my last clean pair of shorts. Semi-formal and ready to party, baby! We got there and I grabbed a plate of shrimp and wandered around the beautiful yard, listening to the live music, and generally being ignored by all the other guests. I’m not a mingler, let alone a networker, and these things are all about networking.

So Coppola shows up, and I see him talking to a very pretty woman. “Damn Biker outlaw movie moguls get all the chicks,” I thought to myself. Turns out her name is… um… Nadia. Yeah, that’s the ticket, Nadia. She works for Chris and it turns out it was her job to talk to me. Awesome! This world needs more women who are paid to talk to me at parties. Lots more. Though if there was only one, Nadia would be a good choice. Of course, she had to talk to all the other writers as well, but she enjoyed talking to me the most. Sure, she made all the others think she was having fun, but I could tell.

I did find a couple of other people to talk to, and the beer was free and good, so I was doing all right. I estimate we had been there twenty minutes when Rudolph first suggested we go home. fuego had not even arrived yet, but luckily he had called and said he expected to go home with us. If he hadn’t, we would have been gone before he arrived. I’m ok with being a lurker at parties, but Rudy was getting antsy to leave about the time we pulled up in his truck.

So, while we waited for fuego I lurked a bit more and had another beer. Mmmm. One of the sponsors of the event is a brew pub. I chatted about film stuff with some of the other producers (I have met more producers on the other films than I have writers in the course of working on preproduction stuff. Apparently the other winners are much more hands-off, which baffles me.), discussing how things were going and whether they were ready.

During this time I spotted someone in the crowd who caught my eye immediately. She looked like Rose’s taller sister. (Rose is a bartender in San Diego. She rocks. I still remember her fondly when I hear a glass break. For the uninitiated, search this blog for more about Rose.) She had the dimples, she had the smile. Now there was someone I wanted to meet.

fuego arrived and I used his introduction as an excuse to talk to Nadia again. “Now can we go?” asked Rudy. fuego: “I just got here.” Rudy: “OK… How about now?” Our departure was delayed a little more while we talked to the Mayor (who remembered Rudolph’s name after only a brief encounter previously – a good skill for sure) and chatted with a few others as well. As we were leaving we met Morgan, a pretty blonde film student, and I managed to resist Rudy’s inexorable pull long enough to chat with her for a while.

An aside: some people think that because I co-wrote a screenplay that won a contest and is being made into a twelve-minute video that I can help them with their film careers. It’s the whole networking thing. make every contact you can, because you never know which one of those saps at the party is going to hit big. Some people are more subtle about it than others, but everyone is thinking about it.

Nadia, refreshingly, just seems to be having fun working on movies. Sure, she’s making contacts, but either she’s so good at it she didn’t activate my mercenary gag response or she’s still naive enough to think that enjoying your work and doing a good job are enough to get ahead. Being attractive doesn’t hurt in the biz, either, even if your ambition is to work behind the camera.

Rudy prevailed, and away we went. I did not meet the woman who looked like Rose. Apparently, no one had paid her to talk to me, and she didn’t see me as a rung on her career ladder. A pity. I was even considering the unheard-of, heart-stopping, death-defying act of approaching her, but I let Rudy drag me away with a sigh of relief. Goodbye, woman who looks like Rose. Or so I thought. (<— blatant teaser for next episode).

Friday was hectic, what with going to pick up the machine gun and a host of other errands. In the intervals I tried to make progress on the magic potato and the associated electronics that comprise the Mysterious Device. As I assembled the parts the design was in continuous flux, and continued to suck down my time in huge gulps. Finally I had a successful test shot with all the parts put together, but I wanted more tests. It wasn’t going to happen, though – there were no more of the right sort of ricket igniters in town, and I couldn’t burn up too many testing. fuego’s advice was something like, “test them while the camera’s rolling.” So, not completely sure the design was reliable enough, I set to work configuring the last of the igniters for four shots while rolling the next day.

The device was not finished when it was time to go to another party. This one was specifically for the writer/directors, and fuego and I were strongly encouraged to attend. Tired and grubby from the day’s work I met fuego at his hotel where we were to board a limo to take up to the party. Sweet! I had a beer while fuego freshened up (at least one of us wouldn’t be grubby and stinky). We met Nadia in the lobby of the hotel, where she was coordinating the limos.

Let me say right here that I am going to be mentioning pretty women quite a bit for the rest of this episode. Nadia was looking great in a slinky little black dress. I was so stressed about all the things I needed to do that I was practically vibrating, but seeing her took some of the annoyance out of having to be social with less than 12 hours to go before the shoot. We were in the last limo, so she joined us. Bonus.

The car was waiting and we hopped in. There were two women in there already, a pretty blonde and a stunning brunette. I was first in, and as more people climbed aboard I was forced to push closer and closer to the brunette. Look at her eyes, not her chest. “I won’t bite,” she said. “That’s too bad,” I replied, with a reasonably confident tone of voice. Look at her eyes, not her chest. Her dress was pink and low-cut. fuego was next to me, then Nadia climbed aboard, then in, followed by a couple more honored guests. Nadia started to make introductions, but the two women stumped her. Apparently they were friends of one of the party organizers and were hitching a ride to make contacts with the limo-worthy. Unfortunately for them they got to meet me. “I’m half-Taiwanese,” the brunette said. “What do you think I can do to break into the asian market.?” “Beats me,” I said, aware of her chest, aware of her smooth leg against mine, aware of her striking face and the brown eyes I was successful at meeting simply because there was nowhere else for me to look.

I’m sure they found better prospects once they were inside the party.

Cast and crew were invited to this party, so I did get a chance to hang with some of the people I would be working with. Dog Bone had some good stories – his colorful past hasn’t finished yet, but I’ll leave him to tell his own story. If he ever writes a memoir, I’ll be first in line to buy it. Soon after we got there, while fuego were at the bar savoring a fine malt beverage, a woman asked me if I was Mike. “No, but I can be if you need me to,” I said, and luckily she understood that the stupid line was a joke. The guy on the other side of her started hitting on her with lines of the same caliber, the difference being that he meant them. I would have talked to her more, but fuego and I had a lot to discuss. We turned our end of the bar into a mini production office and committed the sin of working at a party.

I did do some networking that night, looking for someone who could provide music for our film.

Later I ran into one of the women who had auditioned for Ruthie, one of the top contenders. We had a very nice talk. She was very up-front with her networking, making no bones about it. When I told her that I really had no aspirations in the film biz (not entirely true – I would love to do more with the pirates – but I have other interests that are stronger) she just said, “Maybe that’s why you’ll succeed.” A nice thought. I didn’t mention this, but I was regretting not choosing her for Ruthie. I had been in a rehearsal with our Ruthie just before coming over, and she just wasn’t coming through. Ruthie runner-up (we’ll call her Myrtle) did some ad-libbing that, had she done them in the audition, would probably have won her the role. Ah, Myrtle. Maybe if we get that TV series your networking will have worked after all. It would not surprise me at all if Myrtle found success in the business. She had the toughness to stick at it, and the resourcefulness to find a niche. On top of everything else, she just loves doing it.

Finally, home again. Back to the laboratory (pronounced the mad scientist way) for a few more frantic hours of work on the timer and the potato pyrotechnics, then, bleary and exhausted, to bed – too tired even to dream about pink and black little dresses.

13 thoughts on “The final countdown

  1. What happened to the booty-cam? Did it fall in the pizza? If you’re gonna talk about slinky dresses, we wanna see slinky photos.

  2. Jer…what was the name of the place you went to in SD? I cannot remember it for the life of me…

    Hope you are having a good time with the movie, even though you are busy. Stevie and I bought kayaks, and have been exploring the waterways of the Pacific Northwest.

    And I’m all for picture of women in slinky dresses!! :)

  3. Delia, I also want to see the potato. Ironically, during the shot I was hunkered down behind the bow of the crusader, unable to see the spud. I relied on someone else off camera to cue me when to fire the tater. All I had to go on to judge the success of the shot was the reaction of Nobby Pete. I’m told it came out on film well, and I look forward to seeing the movie.

  4. Not sure if it’s just a glitch with my current connection, but you might want to check whether maybe there’s a minor problem with your HTML. I’m getting the main text in a width a bit wider than your sidebar usually is, and a sidebar about four times wider than it usually is.

  5. Gee, Pat and I just bought a couple of kayaks, although he used up all of his vacation and then some last week doing another Catalina sailing trip, so the Pacific Noerhwest is out of the question for the near future. However, Laurel Ann, if you and Stevie can bring your kayaks to Northern New Mexico, maybe we can all get together at Five O’Clock Somewhere and paddle around on Heron Lake.

    Like Laurel Ann, I agree that pictures of slinky dresses are just fine. Growing up in a magician’s family, I’ve already seen a lot that can be done with potatoes.

  6. Freddy Krieger vs the Eels. Part 7/11.

    It was a hot day. One of those days like a pizza oven with too many slimy spots. She came thru my door wearing nothin but a slinky dress. She had a head like a potato about to pop off in a pirate movie. Maybe it was the eyepatch. I said, “Welcome to Furious Fuego’s Seldom Seen Detective Agency. What can I do for ya?” “How ’bout a job?” she said. I looked nervously at the hook she had for a right hand and said,”What kind of a job?” She replied,”I’m tryin to build a green chile cheeseburger, and…well…you can see I’ve only got one hand.” I could see her eyes start to well up with tears. Damn, her 10 potato eyes were almost cute. Cute like a Char Pei that’d been run over by a Mack Truck. “Doll face, ” I choked out, “I’ve been all over this naked city, and I can tell ya, there’s no hamburger meat to be found. The best I can do fer ya is to take a run thru the park in my Olds 98 and hope we hit some squirrels.” “Mmmm, squirrel meat, ” she oozed,” I’ve nevah had a squirrel meat green chile cheese burgah.” By the sound of her sudden drawl I could tell she was lying. Lying like an exploded pizza carcass on a sour, end-of-day, pizzaria floor. Later….

    We sat together in my office. The stink of fried onions filled the air. She had her hook draped over my shoulder as I held a up a squirrel meat green chile cheeseburger. My eyes welled up with tears. She must of noticed, “You know how to eat a squirrel meat sammich, don’t you Furious?” Her many eyebrows arched seductively, “You just put your lips together, and…crunch.” She crunched into her burger wetly. I let a low whistle echo thru my teeth.

  7. So it’s a 110,000F over most of the country. We’re feelin it here in Durham. As I’m sure Andrew, Brian, and others are. Yesterday I got into my car at the end of the workday. I have a center console full of stuff. Kind of like the junk drawer in everybody’s kitchen. Everything was scattered out of the junk console, like someone had broken into my car and rifled it. WTF? No windows are broken, the doors are all still locked (’cause ya kno, I keep VALUABLE stuff in my beater 1986 Camry!). Then I see the culprit, lying (laying?) wedged between the seat and the console: a shattered butane lighter. Apparently the interior got sooo hot in the middle of the day (newspaper says we hit 101F at RDU airport) that the pressure of the butane overwhelmed the plastic case.

    Bits of lighter are all over the car. It must have been under the VALUABLE stuff and blown it all out.

    Sure am glad I wasn’t in the car at the time.

    I think it is a hold over from boy scout days – you know, always be prepared. I don’t smoke. Anything. So I guess I kept a lighter in case I got stuck in a snow drift. Not bloody likely, unless you count the cigarette butts piled in the gutters of a tobacco growin state.

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