(The Last Blunder is a humorous weekly serial detailing the making of a true independent filmmaking catastrophe. I hope all of you who read along find it entertaining and can relate to it to some degree. The names of the participants have been changed. Any comments, suggestions, compliments, or criticisms can be sent to damianATkaverasfilmDOTcom. Enjoy!)
The Last Blunder: Chapter 11 by Damian K. Lahey
Our final production meeting went well and I was pleased with that. I couldn’t believe we had pulled it all together. Our first day of shooting was going to be the following Monday. I decided to throw a dinner party for the department heads that Friday at my house. It was something I liked to do. It was a calm before the storm sort of thing and if it reeked of me sucking up – it was because I was indeed sucking up.
I was going to cook chicken and shrimp with penne pasta. I bought a couple bottles of booze, but aside from that, it was BYOB. Biff wasn’t going to attend. Neither was Karen Hall. She was going to a “real party” for a “real show” with her big shot art department lackey boyfriend. Spanky, Shifto, Studs, and Billy Bold would be absent as well. This is because they weren’t invited.
At this point, I need to introduce you, my gentle readers, to Randall Dillon. Randall was our key electric. He had worked sporadically on a prominent TV series in town and had been fired for being an out of control drunk. He day-played on various other gigs in town to pay the bills. He constantly worked because his girlfriend was a big makeup artist in town and pulled all the strings she could for him. No one understood it. This shit kicker had missed four out of six production meetings. This was because he would get slobbering drunk at this honky tonk across the street from his girlfriend’s house. Don’t get me wrong. He was an all right guy, but he couldn’t hold his liquor. After a couple drinks, he would start whoopin’ and hollerin’, screaming ‘the south will rise again’ at the top of his lungs.
He’d missed our final production meeting because he’d flat out disappeared. His girlfriend had shown up looking for him. It turns out he’d passed out in a ravine outside of his 24-7 watering hole. Some morning joggers had come across his body Law & Order style around eight in the morning and called 911. The fire engines arrived and a paramedic revived Randall with some smelling salts. They offered him a ride back to his house, but he begged them off. He walked across the street to his girlfriend’s house and raided her liquor cabinet with a vengeance. A fifth of vodka, a shower, and an hour of internet porn later, Randall was back at the honky tonk. When confronted with his tab from the previous evening, Randall responded by grabbing a beer from the guy at the stool next to him and chugging it ferociously. The police were called and Randall was thrown into the drunk tank. On the ride home, he promised his girlfriend he’d stop drinking and go to AA meetings. That lasted till he climbed back into his girlfriend’s refrigerator and sucked down beers till he passed out on the floor.
The next day he woke up feeling like crap. A note from his girlfriend let him know he’d missed our last production meeting and that he should call me. He did and was all apologies. There was really nothing I could do to the guy. We weren’t paying him enough and we were shooting in three days. He was excited about the party, though. He said he was going to bring a twelve pack and his world famous potato salad. He was going to use a recipe that had been passed down to generations of Dillons, beginning with his great-great grandfather, Confederate Col. Jeremiah Dillon. Jeremiah used to make his potato salad to boost the morale of his troops during the civil war, or ‘the war that got away’, as Randall liked to refer to it.
I spent the day sipping whiskey sours and getting ready for the party with Morrison and Phil Lately. I persuaded Lately not to invite any of his homeless buddies. I also put him to work since he was incapable of paying rent for the third month in a row. I was using the party as an excuse to not go to the office and listen to Biff Frank complain about us being broke. We only had enough money to shoot for three weeks. I had scheduled the shoot for five, but knew realistically we’d need to shoot for six or seven. It was just dawning on him that we were shooting in three days. He was getting the jitters and to be honest, so was I. Everyone was, except maybe Randall, who was getting ready for what he thought was going to be a five week party. He’d have to settle for three. That was another reason I was throwing this shindig. Guilt. Biff and I weren’t telling anyone they were out of a job till the end of the third week. I didn’t feel good about it. Especially considering what we were paying them.
Everyone showed up and had a good time. I was glad. It’s always good to lift people’s spirits before a no holds barred independent film production. The Savantis were huge Stones fans and brought over Goat’s Head Soup, Bridges to Babylon and It’s Only Rock N’ Roll. The drinks flowed and everyone enjoyed the food. The only person who didn’t bring anything was Salami and she ate and drank twice as much as everyone else, while boasting about how she didn’t spend any money on us because she wasn’t getting paid enough. Biff made a point of calling when things started hopping to tell me about a mistake I’d made on the first day’s call sheet. Biff didn’t like it when people were having a good time and he wasn’t there. But I understood his stress and frustration. He had made some promises to the vendors he knew he couldn’t keep. There was only one ace up our sleeve. Investors were going to be visiting the set weekly. Biff had spent some production money on a gamble. He wanted everything to look as professional as possible to impress the money men so they would give us more cash.
Just as things were winding down for the night, I thought I heard some noises outside. I grabbed a cigarette and walked outside to check it out. We lived in a fringe neighborhood and sometimes when we had social gatherings the dregs of society would come knocking for money. I opened the door and lying on his back in our front yard was Randall Dillon. He was wearing most of his world famous potato salad and the bowl he’d brought it in was shattered on the sidewalk next to him. There was no sign of the twelve pack. Morrison and I carried him into the house so he could sleep it off. After that we called it a night, told everyone to have a safe ride home, and to be on time Monday morning for our first day of shooting.
(I want to thank everybody for reading and hope you continue to read as the misadventures of The Last Blunder continue next week...)