(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 8 by Damian K. Lahey
This chapter is going to focus on our prima-donna wardrobe head Patricia Salami. This woman was beyond obese. She was huge. She had jowls and her body was always flush and sweating profusely. My girlfriend prefers the term “curvy”, but there was no way around it. Salami was a porker and not because she had some sort of metabolic problem. She was a porker because she stuffed her face wantonly day in and day out. She also had a horrible attitude. The only thing larger than her body was her ego. She belonged to that category of crew member that believed they were the star of the show. Nobody mattered but her and the ace up her sleeve was that she wasn’t afraid to cause an embarrassing scene in front of everyone on set.
I was in the office doing some scheduling work when Lori, Salami’s assistant, walked in. Lori was actually Salami’s second production assistant. Salami had let the other one go for “scheduling conflicts”. Lori was a married older woman, taking some time off to break into the biz through some unpaid internships. She was confident, smart, and level headed. She was also attractive – all things I’m sure Salami resented.
Lori plopped her production notebook on a chair and told me she was quitting. I asked why. She told me that for the past week she’d been doing Salami’s laundry, paying her bills, doing her grocery shopping, and on one occasion had to meet a black guy downtown to buy some weed and loritabs. I knew Salami could be a handful and was high maintenance, but she’d done costumes on a previous film Biff and I had produced. She was hell on PAs to be sure, but certainly did her job well. What Lori told me was staggering. She told me that not once did she do anything regarding costumes and that Salami told her that once shooting began, she had already promised the paid assistant position to someone else. Lori told me she had no problem with low budget independent productions, but she did have a problem with being treated like third world slave labor. She had a valid point. One I couldn’t argue against.
I felt bad and tried to think of another spot in the production where Lori could fit in but she was done with us. I even asked her to give me till the morning to come up with something else, but she politely declined. I waited till she’d driven off and picked up the phone. Normally, I would have called Biff first. But Biff saw past all of Salami’s faults and defended her at all cost no matter how many crew members complained and griped. There were rumors about Biff and Salami. I didn’t want to know. I picked up the phone and dialed Salami. She answered the phone and as usual, sounded like she had food in her mouth. I told her Lori had come to the office and quit. Salami told me she wasn’t surprised as Lori hadn’t shown much promise as a wardrobe assistant. I calmly let her in on Lori’s side of the story. When Salami didn’t have a response to that, I asked her for the real reason her first production assistant had quit. She told me she was calling Biff and hung up on me.
Curley Blonde came into the office with a bunch of material and gingerly approached the copy machine. The copy machine, you see, had gotten a bad cold since the last tech scout and had to go to the doctor. It had been a little pricey. Curley’s zealous use of the copy machine was a major contributing factor. I was now proofreading his material for errors and such before giving him the green light to print twenty or so copies. The next tech scout was coming fast and Curley Blonde wanted desperately to avoid the humiliation of the previous outing. He had this one planned out real well. This is partially because I’d already gone to the locations with him and pointed out what I knew would work and what wouldn’t. I also typed up a list of qualifying questions for potential locations prospects so they knew exactly what having a production at their house or business entailed. I wanted the scout to be tight with locations that would all work logistically. Choosing would simply be a matter of personal taste. I wanted to avoid any blow ups from Biff and any complaints from anyone else. Spankenstein knew to be on good behavior after the last incident, but there was never any telling with that guy. I also advised Blonde that Billy Bold, Studs Diamonds, and Shifto Jeans were not needed. I was taking every precaution to make this succeed.
Curley wanted to sit with me and look at some maps and photographs he’d taken. I pointed out one place that looked nice, but was too far away for a company move. The phone rang and it was Biff. He was infuriated that I had questioned Salami’s judgment. I told him what Lori told me. Biff laughed at me and told me it was all lies. He knew Salami could be hard to handle, but that? Never. I didn’t believe Lori had lied for a second, but couldn’t argue with Biff too much. The film was period, set in the 1980s. Salami was the best we could afford. I told Biff I wasn’t getting her any more assistants, though. That was his responsibility and I wasn’t going to have any part of it. Biff could work with her on getting her crew together for the shoot. If there were any complaints - he could take them. Biff didn’t like that. He told me that was part of my job. I told him the way she treated Lori was absolutely unprofessional and that it reflected poorly on us. Biff responded by reminding me that anything Lori said was hearsay and since she was a “nobody” who know “nobody” in “the biz”, she didn’t matter and nothing she said could hurt us. Then he hung up. And that was that.
(I want to thank everybody for reading and hope you continue to read as the misadventures of The Last Blunder continue next week...)