(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 19 by Damian K. Lahey
We were still shooting at Orton Plantation. The days out there were getting hotter and hotter. The heat seemed to be agitating the parents especially. They were getting more and more vocal about their opinions on the production and its director. Even the kids had started making comments. I’d let the crew know on a one by one basis that Friday was going to be our last day. Most seemed relieved. They couldn’t wait to leave and get on a real show and make some real money. Others had no prospects of getting on a real show and had been paying their dues on the The Last Blunder. They were saddened to see the paychecks end. The only people who didn’t know the party would soon be over was Spanky, Shifto Jeans, Studs Diamonds, the parents, and the actors. It was weird. Spanky was constantly congratulating everyone on the work they were doing and promising that the following week would be easier as we were shooting indoors(???).
There wasn’t a crew member on set that didn’t openly ridicule Spanky and the production. Nobody had any respect for it. Jokes mocking him were no longer kept to after hours parties where we did shots, impersonated him, and clowned his screenplay. No, it was out in the open all day every day. I have to admit I was partially responsible for this. A week earlier, I’d gotten really drunk with some crew members at our house. I was reading sections from the script and explaining how it made no narrative sense whatsoever. Morrison was in the bathroom taking one of his two hour long dinosaur dumps. I drunkenly banged on the bathroom door, telling him to hurry up. He told me to fuck off. I told everyone I’d invented the world’s first disposable toilet! I swung the front door open and threw a copy of The Last Blunder script down and proceeded to whiz all over it. Raucous laughter erupted from the crew. One of the grips, Harry Fagan, said he found something better for the script, too, and ripped out a page and blew his nose in it. More howling ensued! Morrison cracked that bathroom door open and said he’d run out of toilet paper and asked if he could have a couple pages to wipe his ass on! It went on and on…
“The burning” had become the catch phrase for Spanky’s all too common fuck ups. If things got tight on set, we would say something like “we got some of the burning going on here”. “The burning” was applied whenever the shooting came to a standstill because of Spanky’s indecisions. This was often. An example of this would be when Spanky confused a location with a different character’s house in the script. After much arguing, we realized we were at the right place. Spanky had just gotten the character’s names switched around. There was only so much an A.D. or D.P. can do to take control of the set. At the end of the day, it’s the director. And if he doesn’t know what’s going on – no one’s going to know what’s going on. Of course, we’d been fighting this from the beginning.
I’d started fishing around for other work after The Last Blunder, but there was nothing going on. There were rumors about Studs Diamonds mounting a couple of productions in Charlotte or Raleigh. I wanted none of that. Biff saw me as a constant threat to his career as an independent film producer. He didn’t like sharing the power. It was a constant struggle for him. He saw a world where he was the independent film producing monarch and could hire other people to do the work I was currently doing, which didn’t involve sharing a credit with that person or paying them a competitive salary. I also didn’t like the job that much. As I’ve stated before, I’d only gotten into it to learn how films were made. I had some stories of my own I wanted to tell. I saw being a producer on the independent film level as nothing more than over-glorified clerical work. People cared more about the credit than the stories they were telling. I didn’t like that. But what could you do?
On set, the situation with the ticks had gotten out of control. But I have to admit, in a way I was grateful for the ticks. Psychologically, they really made people feel the need to get out of there and it helped soften the blow when I’d broken the sad, wretched news to them. I spent most of the time in the camera truck nursing whiskey sours and getting work done on my lap top. It was too hot outside. All the parents hung out in the craft service tent, which by this point, had been subjected to so much neglect and abuse it reminded one of a Red Cross malaria hospice. By this point, we couldn’t even get Cora to set foot inside. She would slink up to a male crew member in her bikini and shake her ass and get him to haul another bag of ice into that sweltering abyss.
We referred to the craft service area as ‘lil’ Bosnia’ because it reminded us of a third world country – all the stink, sweat, and rot. Biff took the jokes personally. He would announce when he was going to get a donut and a soda. He would then stand in the middle of the craft service tent with pride, trying to woof down the donut before it melted through his fingers. He would make lame attempts at small talk with the parents who hated him and then come stomping back to set, announcing there was nothing wrong with the craft service area. That’s where lunch was going to be served and if we didn’t like it – we could go without!
Only one more day to go. And it couldn’t come sooner.
(I want to thank everybody for reading and hope you continue to read as the misadventures of The Last Blunder continue next week...)