Saturday, May 31, 2008

You Wanna Be In Movies, Part Five

This security cop couldn't be more serious. He was going to throw me off the lot.

I looked around, David was crossing the parking lot, headed towards an equipment truck. He looked toward me and I waved him over. The security cop asked me my name again.
I didn't say anything, as David walked up, "What's going on?"
"This officer wants to throw me off the set for taking photos."
David shook his head, "I'm one of the crew, he's with me. It's OK for him to shoot photos. He's not taking any pictures of the set, only the museum trains."
The cop looked at David, then at me as he growled, "Fine. Just doing my job."
"Thanks officer."
He gave me a dirty look, threw his clipboard back on the seat, dropped his car into gear.
I looked over at David as the police car threw gravel on us as it hurried off, "Thanks, I appreciate it."
"No problem, that guy is just trying to make points."
"Why didn't he stop me when we were looking at the trains and taking photos?"
"Probably too busy to notice. I've got to get the generator set up."
"Yeah, thanks again." David nodded and walked away.

I went back to my car, slid in and put the camera away. There wasn't going to be much to see around here, the sun was dropping, so I left for the low-rent motel.

Motels, hotels, trains, planes, none of them are any good for sleep. Great to meet people, have some fun, but rest, forget it. Never, if you have a choice, get a room next to a stairwell. Unless you like to hear every drugged/drunk loudmouth in the world stumble around trying to get upstairs or fight with the semi-functional ice machine.

On the other side, I had a couple of construction workers. Been on the road together for ten years, punching holes in the ground for elevators in new buildings. The older one came over as I unloaded the car. He wanted to buy the Porsche, right then and there. Offered me cash for it, as long as I would take a check. Uh, huh, sure. What's it drawn on, the Bank of Wishful Thinking? It turned out that he knew quite a bit about Porsches, except that this one isn't for sale.

We talked for a long time, long enough for them to cook dinner on their barbecue grill, mounted on the back of their work truck. They were completely equipped, two large coolers, one for pop, the other for beer, a frig for their food. Steaks, potatoes, condiments. They offered to cook me a steak, but I declined. Told them I was too nervous about going to my 'job interview' the next day. Which led to the inevitable questions about the 'job'.

I fended this off for about an hour, before I finally told them that it was really just a one day background extra part in a movie. They were surprised that they hadn't heard anything about it. They had been in town for over a week and no one had said anything about a feature film being shot in Chattanooga. I told them that it wasn't that big a deal.

I really wanted to try and talk to the producer or a couple of the stars. I have a screenplay with characters that I think they would be interested in playing.

We talked about my screenplay, "A Model Heist" for a while, I explained to them that it's about war veterans who come home to a changed country. They got the idea, nothing is like it was. Which is the way things work, everything undergoes change, that's what life is, constant change.

What they couldn't understand was the stuff they had to watch on TV. Their big complaint was that everything was either a bad copy or rerun of something that was done better, in the old days. I pointed out that TV shows have a lot of writers and they tend to dilute the product. You know the old saying about "Too many cooks spoil the pot".

Then they asked about movies and I had to tell them that it was the same problem. For some reason, executives seem to think that the more writers they add to a project, the better it gets. After they give them notes on how to write it. Which rarely improves the work.

Look at people like Hitchcock; get a good screenwriter, work out the camera angles, rehearse your actors, shoot the damn film.

Now, everyone's a writer, even the actors. Who also want to direct, produce, etc. Which is why I drove to Chattanooga. You have to know as much as possible about the entire movie business, if you want to play in the game. There comes a time though, when you have to cut to the chase and get the camera rolling.

These good ole boys could understand all of that. They just couldn't understand, with all the money and talent, how the majority of new stuff is terrible. Like I told them. Too many people who want to influence the film or TV show and claim that they were the 'creative force' behind it.

That's not even taking into factor that with all the available networks, you have dilution. Stuff gets thrown against the wall that would never be seen in a more competitive situation.I left them to their cable TV programs and went back to the room to do my daily writing. In this case, a journal entry for the day.

At 10PM, I tried to get to sleep. It was going to be an early call in the AM and the construction guys were going to be up before me. Didn't happen, parking lot noises, random shouts and conversations, general crashing and banging of people hauling themselves up the stairs.

After about 6 hours of fitful sleep, I got up and took a shower. Time to get dressed and head for the set.

My first time on camera in a feature film, please get my good side.

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