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Go out with you? Why not... Do I like to dance? Of course! Take a walk along the beach tonight? I'd love to. But don't try to touch me. Don't try to touch me. Because that will never happen again. "Past, Present and Future"-The Shangri-Las

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A Life in the Sinny-Maw, Poot the Second

I was an extra in a corny comedy film a well-to-do young man wrote, directed and produced. I've written about it before, and can only add that this rather ambitious and expensive production (shot on 35 MM film instead of video, for which the filmmaker paid out of pocket!) doesn't seem to be available in any form. Not on Youtube, nuthin. Years later the filmmaker called me and asked if I'd volunteer to appear in his latest, lower-budgeted film, which would be an angry satire of all the local films that won more acclaim that his. I was to appear in a spoof of arty films. I'd wear a diaper and boxing gloves, and box with another grown man in a diaper. I made some excuse about having to clean my apartment, which anyone who ever saw my apartment knows was a lie. Don't ask fat guys to take their shirts off unless you know they're comfortable with it.

Later I got involved in Sidewalk Scramble, this being the "Make a short film in 48 hours" competition. My friend Deb roped me into the Scramble team "Special Needs Offenders of Televideo", a local group of bored youth with prosumer video equipment.

Anyway, I went to the initial writers' meeting and was disappointed Deb didn't show up. I was stuck with two young men and a handful of givens. Givens are things one is given by the Scramble operators, to make sure you didn't spend five months making the film you're passing off as a 48 hour production. Things like a hat that needs to appear, certain lines of dialogue, a sunrise. If you turn your film in without these elements, you don't make the cut. If you incorporate these elements in a clever way, you get points with the judges. I was very excited about the Givens, because as an occasional improviser I was excited by the challenge of weaving a fresh story out of such elements; they were pegs to weave the thread around, and I liked to see what kinds of patterns we could weave. I immediately crafted an improv-style rough-draft narrative that I thought deserved, at the least, a big gold star. The guys shrugged. So we went to the team leader's house.

His DVD shelf consisted entirely of movies you could find at Wal-Mart, and I just about left upon seeing that. I'm no snob about such things, and I like Ghostbusters as much as anybody, but I do think aspiring filmmakers should cast their nets a little wider. Then he offered us food. I was glad; I was hungry. The food was Hot Pockets. I was sad. I said No Thank You. This pretty much set the tone for the rest of our collaboration.

The next day I accidentally on purpose got lost on the way to the filming, but drove around a bunch in an effort to persuade myself I had actually made an effort. A deliberately futile effort seemed ethically superior to just staying home. Nowadays, thanks to my high-functioning Wife's example, I would either show up and do what I'd committed to do, or just call in sick like a real man.

I missed the screening, but friends assured me the short was even more dire than I'd expected. The responsible parties put their every bowel movement on Youtube, yet they haven't posted this Sidewalk Scramble effort, so go figure.

P. S. Deb went on to become a fixture on the local theatrical scene and got to do some work she was proud of.

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