Monday, May 12, 2008

You Wanna Be In Movies, Part 2

Tell me that you don't do things to attract another person. It doesn't matter which sex you're interested in, we all do what it takes to get their attention. Movies, whether homemade or professional, give a person the double shot of ego boost and personal appeal. You look good on screen, the babes have to love ya, if your head doesn't explode first.

Due to the nature of my community, I decided to not tell anyone about getting this movie job. Instead, I told everyone that I was going to a job interview. Which is the way that I looked at it. Too many times, when mentioning that I've been on a film set, like "Milk Money" or "Hart's War", people would turn frosty towards me. Yes, everyone wants to be in movies, but they don't want to hear about you doing it. So, the game plan was to play it low and cool. No mention of the film, until after it was shot. I have enough problems with people as it is, being a writer.

After all, if I got a chance to talk to the star or one of the producers, maybe I could get some more work. They were going to be shooting in a couple of nearby states over the next few months, so there was hope that I might land a speaking role. I also took a copy of one of my screenplays, which I feel is 'right' for the star. You never know when you're going to get your chance, so you should always be ready. Just don't push it on people. If they ask, then deliver.

The way it looked to me, it was going to be a three day trip. Drive down early Sunday, get the haircut and fitted for my clothes, then the shoot on Monday. Spend Monday night at the motel, leave Tuesday morning, visit a high school teacher on the way back home. When you go to high school overseas, you usually don't get to have any reunions, much less see anyone after graduation. This teacher had mentored me when I was learning photography. I wanted to stop and see him, drop off a copy of my book. So, the route was planned and arrangements made with all concerned.

The casting company didn't give me much notice when the shoot date was decided, probably a security thing. They gave me less than a week, which kicked things into high gear around the farm. My dogs would be taken care of by a neighbor. Another neighbor would get my mail. I drove into town to get oil and parts to do a tune-up on my 30+ year old car.

Maybe it was an omen. You know, a warning that things weren't going to go the way you expect them to. The car's a good vehicle, it's just got some wear on it. It was acting up, bogging down when I tried to accelerate. It was due for a tuneup. I stopped at the car parts store, picked up oil and a filter. Then drove off.

I didn't make it more than 100 feet. The car backfired, I looked into the rear view mirror. There was a ball of flames coming out of the engine compartment. My Porsche was on fire!

This made for the fire dance. I popped the engine cover, whipped off my jacket, threw it on the flames, didn't do any good. Ran back to the door, flipped the seat forward and grabbed the fire extinguisher. Dashed back to the engine, flames are higher than ever. Ripped the pin from the extinguisher, aimed at the bottom of the carburetor, pulled the trigger, powder everywhere. The flames snuffed, I stood back, heaved a sigh of relief.

A couple of good old boys pulled up in their pickup truck. They had been sitting in the Kentucky Fried Chicken, about 50 feet away, watching me. They finished their meal, got a bucket of water and came over to help. About five minutes after the fire started. Which would have been enough time for the entire car to be engulfed in flames. That's why I carry a fire extinguisher. They still wanted to help, but I told them I had it under control.
Then, the driver said, "Hey, what'ca gonna do now, get it towed?"
"Nope, I'll get the trailer from the farm and haul it back home. If it doesn't start."

The driver and his buddy both got a laugh out of that comment. After all, I look like a geek, driving a foreign car that's probably nothing but trouble, so I deserve what I get. I just shrugged at them, then starting taking the air cleaner off.

The next half hour was spent cleaning up the carb, getting as much of the extinguisher powder off the engine. None had got inside the carb, just all over the air cleaner. I put everything back together, then started the car. It ran OK, but I knew that it might quit at any time, so I took off down the road.

This was on Thursday afternoon. I had to leave on Sunday morning. I spent the next two days tearing the Porsche's carbs apart, tuning it up, getting my clothes ready and generally burning the candle at both ends. I still had farm work that had to be done, at the same time.

When I fell into bed on Saturday night, it was after midnight. I got about six hours of sleep, got up, loaded the car and left for Chattanooga. There was a fresh fire extinguisher in the back seat.

The last thing I wanted was Porsche flambe alongside the interstate.

It's not exactly my idea of a good meal.

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