Over the years I’ve expressed my admiration, frustration, and downright disdain with actors. Some are at one side of the discussion, some at the other, some teetering between all camps.
That said, I spend most of my time these days avoiding them. Not those I consider friends. Only those unknown. I’ve found, over my many days, things unknown can piss you off in record time.
And this is a tale that proves that fact.
I got a call from a guy I know asking for a favor. He’s in a bind. He’s booked the equipment, hired a crew, has actors who (he promised) know their lines. What he doesn’t have is someone to run the show.
That’s right, he doesn’t have a professional bully. Also known as director but bully is much a more apt description.
He had one but, due to those confounding artistic differences, they split just before cameras were to roll. I don’t know why it takes that long to get to those differences. He got the script, right? He met the actors, right? He went through pre-production, right? Why does it take until hours before show time for someone to come to the conclusion that their artistic vision is being ignored?
I guess I don’t have those pretensions. I can pretty much tell if I’m going to do something or not right off the bat. The problem here is I have no idea what this is and I’m being pressured to answer right now.
It’s your standard commercial for a local business. The owner telling you about the store, a pretty woman assuaging your fears because the owner looks like he should be on some watch list, and some location shots.
If the owner can put together two words in a row I can get enough to edit around it. I once had an owner come in after 1) drinking all night 2) on a boat 3) woke up there sounding like he swallowed a sea frog 4) with a level of annunciation I hadn’t heard since a friend of mine cut off the tip of his tongue.
Before I answer I ask the most important question to my personal integrity and, yes, maybe artistic vision,
“How much am I getting paid?”
It’s shit but I can do it in a couple hours IF all goes right.
Hey! Hey! Hey! Stop creating your own versions of the hell I was about to inhabit. Yeah, yeah, we all know the potential for a bucket full of ugly is staged over my head but, please, let me tell the story.
It actually wasn’t too bad. Oh, the potential was there. The owner was nervous, unschooled, and, a level three looking offender. The actress was fine. Nothing special. Her recitation was mechanical. I had to force her to stop fidgeting and blinking. I figure right off she got the spot because she was Uncle Krusty’s side cheese (I was right).
As you can see, my pre-production wasn’t off to a good start. Then they started talking to me and it got worse. Giving me their visions. Telling me how to direct a spot with four set-ups that will cut nicely into a shitty local commercial. I’m looking at the cringing producer knowing full well why the last guy left. He didn’t have enough of it to do the job.
That it is bully.
“I’m feeling I should stand there.” She says pointing to a spot that isn’t and probably can’t be lit. I smile and say,
“Fuck that. Get in front of the camera.”
The owner bristles at the way I’m talking to his head cheese.
“You can’t talk to her that way! She has feelings.”
“Yeah? And I have a foul mouth and don’t give a fuck about feelings.” See? No direction, just bullying. “Now, go to your spots or I’ll shoot this shit with cock puppets.”
Finally, a story with a happy ending.