(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 5 by Damian K. Lahey
Getting ready for our first full blown production meeting was becoming problematic. Balthazar Spankenstein, still sulking at the bunker, wasn’t going to show. I was too busy getting ready for the meeting to interview people for the Assistant Production Office Coordinator position, so in the meantime, I gave Morrison and my jack-leg roommate Phil Lately a day-playing gig at the office. Phil Lately was a professional adult bum. He needed the money because he couldn’t pay rent. Like most of these types, he fancied himself some sort of writer. I hired him to take some of the pressure off of Morrison and myself. In Wilmington, there were a number of senior citizen age characters that were mentally unstable and got monthly checks from the government to pay their bills and to not make any real attempt to become part of society. While good intentioned, they were hard to be around because they were crazy. Phil liked to have them over to the house where he would grill out turkey dogs and wax poetic. He thought it was great they didn’t know enough to flush the toilet after taking a dump, rambled on about improbable inventions they wanted to build in their basements, and treated the place like one big garbage can. Getting cornered by one of these guys was dangerous. They also got real mouthy when you disagreed with them. I told Phil not to invite any of them over to the office. I could tell he was disappointed, but needing the gig, he decided not to press the issue.
Around this time, Shifto and I had a meeting about his and Spanky’s casting decisions. They’d decided to cast the film with all out of town talent and that aside from a couple conference calls, there would be no rehearsals. We couldn’t afford to put anyone up for any sort of rehearsal period. I was going to once again recommend we cast locally, but bit my tongue. I’d already been burned on that score. As a first time director, I know I would want some rehearsal time. Shifto told me they would know their lines and be ready to go when they arrived. I was starting to wonder how Spanky was going to be spending his time on set. Meanwhile, Biff Frank was asserting his authority from the other film set he was working on. He made lots of phone calls wanting to know what was going on. He was also getting increasingly irritated with Spanky’s bunker mentality and how it was slowing down our progress. He also loathed Studs and wanted me to limit his involvement as much as possible. He too had been involved in Monster In My Boxers.
The last thing I wanted to do was change the date of the meeting. It was important to me that we stick to it. While the crew certainly knew this was a low budget affair, I wanted things to remain somewhat professional. I felt if we couldn’t even stick to the scheduled time of our first production meeting, we had no reason to expect our crew to take us seriously. It was as simple as that. With Shifto, Spanky, and Studs, it was already going to be a difficult task. Biff was going to be working late on his other production and wanted the meeting pushed. He felt if he wasn’t there, it didn’t count. However, I knew some of the gory details of his show. I believed the chance of a reschedule date being pushed was too great. We were going to have the meeting anyway. Aside from passing out contact lists, crew contracts, day-out-of-days and giving a rough schedule and answering any questions, it wasn’t going to be that in depth. I felt I could handle it.
Curley Blonde was getting ready for what would be the first of many tech scouts. This was to take place two days after our production meeting. He was upset that the meeting was taking priority over his tech scout. I didn’t understand what he wanted from me. All he had to do was set up the times with the locations and print out some maps. He liked to make his presence felt at the office by hogging the copy machine as much as possible. It was annoying considering all the copying that needed to be done getting ready for the meeting.
I made the mistake of taking one of my pitiful paychecks and buying the Bruce Springsteen Live In New York CD a couple days before the meeting. While putting everybody’s production folders together, I listened to the album. Shifto came in after what looked like a hectic day of who knows what. Trying to make pleasant conversation to avoid the growing tension that was slowly but steadily eclipsing the production, I mentioned my music purchase. Shifto, waiting patiently behind Curley to use the copy machine, made a comment about how nice it must be to afford things as frivolous as a Bruce Springsteen CD during these hard won days of sacrificial independent filmmaking. He then mentioned the ‘sacrifices’ he and Spanky were making in their lives so that The Last Blunder could take flight. I told Shifto in a not so diplomatic tone that I would spend my money on whatever the fuck I felt like and it wasn’t any of his goddamn business. I wasn’t an investor in the film. I was a paid employee and a poorly paid one at that. If Shifto wanted to give someone a hard time about spending frivolously, he could take it up with strip club junkie Studs. I was there to do a job and do it well. I wasn’t planning my retirement around the film’s performance. Curley Blonde took a break from dry humping the copy machine to mention he didn’t appreciate me speaking poorly of his mentor, Studs. Then Shifto muttered something about me having no respect for certain members of the production. I said forget it. I’d get to the office early in the morning to continue getting ready for the meeting when I had the place to myself.
(I want to thank everybody for reading and hope you continue to read as the misadventures of The Last Blunder continue next week…)