Hollywood Palms – Shooting Diary

Hollywood Palms   

Friday, December 01, 2000

It’s happening. The money was wired today. The bond company has given us the bond. It’s actually happening.

Now all of the backstage machinations begin and the real fun, weirdness and evil begin.

Hollywood Palms is a script I started writing with Patrick Labyorteaux just about five years ago. Sleep With Me had five writers. They all agreed on the main story and each one wrote a segment. Rory Kelly pasted it all together and they had a script.

I had this nutty idea that we’d agree on a time and location and we’d get five writers to write their own stand alone segments and Patrick and I would paste them in and write a story that somehow connected them all. It would be really fast. We agreed on a courtyard apartment building called Hollywood Palms and that the stories should take place over one evening. Also, if the story dealt with being at the end of something, that would be a bonus.

It took a couple of months just to get everyone to finish their shorts and then when Patrick and I finally put them all together we had a script that ended up being about 200 pages long. No damned good. So we trimmed and pared and called writers and axed if we could trim and pare their stuff. It was a grand experiment and it was going nicely. We got the thing down to around 150 pages.

Patrick mentioned it in a meeting at Dick Clark Productions. Someone there read it and, right out of the gate, they wanted to option it.

Then the first shitstorm began. One of the writers… well, his lawyer, actually… wanted casting approval, full creative control over the entire film, a slew of money, an enormous percentage of the profits, etc. etc. etc.

So, that was a simple decision, we dropped his story from the script and cut about 40 pages in doing so. Well done, sir!

Then we got into this thing with my managers. HBO was looking to do a summer series and my manager was sort of maybe involved. I suggested Hollywood Palms. They thought that was a fine idea, but we needed to do some changes. We put the Dick Clark deal on hold and Patrick and I added a character and wrote a TV version of the script. The character was a conspiracy theorist who sat in the courtyard all day and filled this kid’s mind with conspiracy shit.

Long, long story short: The HBO thing didn’t work out. Lawyers. Great.

So, back to Dick Clark. We did a fast, low money option and our person there promptly left, leaving the script in uninterested hands for a year.

We did a couple of re-writes, making the script shorter, etc. 
We cut the old guy story, then take two other stories and combine them into one story. Now the script is lean and mean.

So it’s now a couple of years later. 1997. Patrick is being managed by Seven Summits management and they want to produce movies and they have a writer client who wants to be a director. Hollywood Palms. They all love it. They want to do it. Cool.

We have a reading. Judge Rheinhold is a client of theirs and he reads the part of Michael in my story.

By the way, I did my segment, which I call “fear of the cow” in Howard Fine’s class right after I wrote it and it killed, killed, killed.

A divorced couple live together. The wife has a date in the apartment. Hilarity and evil ensue. That’s fear of the cow.

Judge reads Michael. He’s great, great, great. Whenever someone makes you use one of their clients it’s never a good feeling, but Judge is great and he’s attached so that’s just great.

After the reading, we realize that the story that has combined the two stories doesn’t have anything to do with the other stories, so we cut it and replace it with another one. I write a part for Matt Adler and we have a locked script.

Now the fun begins.

Patrick and I have some meetings with Jeffrey Nachmanoff about the script. He’s the director and he wants some changes. All directors do. These meetings are also designed to see if we can all work together; if Patrick and I think that Jeffrey understands the movie, etc.

He sort of gets it. The big thing going for him is that he wants to do it at all. He likes the ideas and he likes the writing. He has a few changes he wants to do, tonally and that’s fine. There are weird tone changes, but we’re of the mind that this sort of thing happens in life, anyway. We go back and forth.

So Patrick and I slog through the script again and change, pare, trim, edit… re-write.

We take it back, it’s fine. He’s not completely thrilled; we didn’t do all of the changes, of course, so he’s a little bummed and we all sort of play wait and see.

That’s the thing about this sort of process. You want it to just keep moving forward, so you never really stop it when something you know is wrong happens. If you have something in the script that you like, you just delay as long as possible so there’s just no time left to change it. You just “never get around to it”. It’s way evil and way passive aggressive and it’s one of the main building blocks of show biz. As an actor, one of the first things I ever learned was that if a director gave me a direction I didn’t like, just smile and nod and don’t do it. At some point, he’s going to run out of time and has to move on and your choice stays. It’s a really shitty thing to do. Really shitty, but doing movies and TV is like oil painting in a hurricane anyway so there really are no fucking rules.

I guess I could write about all of the shit that’s gone on for the last two years in detail, but it’s not that interesting to me.

Here are the bullet points.

In Rocktober ’98, a fellow named Etchie Stroh said that he could raise 700,000 bucks to do the movie. Based on that, the casting process began.

While that was going on, Patrick was in the process of getting married to the delightful Tina.

At that time, we all met for some final re-write meetings. Patrick and I did some passes at the Matt/Phoebe story (more on this later) and sort of mapped out changes to Patrick’s segment, aka the Clark Story.

I wrote the part of Matt for Matt Adler. I mean, I wrote it in his voice. It was stuff we’d talked about. Stuff that he thinks and feels. The first battle with Jeff was about Matt. Jeff was extremely hesitant to use Matt. He didn’t even want to see him. It made no sense to anyone, except maybe Jeff. Matt had to come in and audition. He did it perfectly; better than I had expected, even. Jeff said “Well, it was easy for him. It was written for him.” I said that auditions weren’t based on degree of difficulty. If that were true then we should have my dog read for the role and she’d get it because it would be really, really, really hard for her. He made Matt come back and read with some girls, but he’s always had this resistance to Matt playing the part that was written for him. Odd. He ended up offering the part to Matt. It was an ordeal that didn’t need to be an ordeal.

One of the really, really, really evil things in “Hollywood” is the aversion to women in their thirties. The part of Blair in my segment is a woman in her thirties who is maneuvering, much like an actress in her thirties, to “get something” before she’s tossed aside as “not viable”. It’s not a pretty take on things and the part can be played as victim and it makes everyone, especially me as the writer, look like a shithead. If the part is played by someone young, the character is just an evil cunt. When people see “woman” in a script, they automatically start jockeying to cast a young, hot actress. It is fucking annoying. It’s just subconscious. Everyone wants a young, hot actress in their movie. It’s just how things are done. Blair has to be a human being. Young, hot actresses aren’t human. Neither are young, hot actors. So that was a bit of a battle. Can we please audition women and not girls.

The part was never cast in ’98.

I did the Clark re-write to reflect the changes that we’d agreed on. Leaving, obviously, some stuff out that Jeffrey wanted that Patrick and I didn’t think was right. I’d report back to the preoccupied Patrick and talk about it, getting support and ideas. I was also griping a lot to him. Patrick is very calm and I get passionate and nutty, so it’s nice to just vomit stuff out and he processes it and puts it away for me.

I get some friends in to read and Jeffrey’s immediately opposed to it. It bums me out and I just start repeating “you’re getting a movie made, you’re getting a movie made…” over and over. Besides, he’s the director, it’s ultimately his ass, so… Plus, the parts are pretty inconsequential, so if he has someone he likes, he should use ’em.

I start picking my battles. Life’s easier that way.

There was another bit of weirdness over Eric Stoltz. In the Clark story, he’s visited by “Famous Guy” who he’s been waiting for and is ultimately sort of passed over by “Famous Guy”. It’s a nice scene and I wrote it for Eric in case the movie ever got made and he was available. It was always one of those things that would be cool for him to do if he was around. When money people hear a “name” they want to attach it to their proposal so they get more money and then the agents can say “So and so is in the movie, blah, blah, blah…”. The other side of that, though, is if you attach yourself to too many movies, you become devalued. The “famous guy” part is, again, just a thing that would be fun if Eric was able to do it. So he said he would, but we couldn’t put him in the credits or in any of the money letters and stuff like that.

I told this to Seven Summits and they agreed. Then I got one of the contracts and it had Eric’s name on it.
“Um. I see Eric’s name on this contract, remember we can’t use his name to raise money, that was the agreement…” 
“We’re just going to use it on this one, it doesn’t matter…” 
“If it doesn’t matter, then take it off, we can’t use his name…” That conversation back and forth for a few minutes, then: 
“If we don’t have his name on this, we won’t be able to raise the money and we can’t make the movie…” 
So, it gets ugly; I’m made to feel like I’m killing the movie and I say:
“Take his name off the contract, that was our agreement.”

And it’s off.

Jeffrey has some great ideas for the Dexter/Riley segments. It could be played really 80’s teen movie (hi, me!), and that’s the trap. So, Jeff looks for different body types than one would normally think of and casts Jay Ferguson as Riley. Jay is a big, scary sort of hulk of a guy and Patrick really based Riley on Gary Riley who played Dave in Summer School. So. It’s a good idea and it will help the segment.

We audition Jeff Russo for Dexter. He’s a sweet guy who was a kid actor but is now in a band called Tonic. I like him because he has a nice quality and as I read the script it seems like Dexter could be the “romantic lead” in the final version, as there really isn’t one and people look for spines like that. Russo’s also nervous about the audition and that’s just great for the character.

Here’s what I learned about auditions: “They” want you to get the gig. They know in the first 10 seconds that you walk through the door if you’re able to do it or not. Once that decision is made, your job is to not blow it. If you walk through the door and you’re not “right” for the part, it is possible to change minds with your reading or meeting, but man oh man, is it ever hard to do. It also doesn’t really matter if you know the lines. It matters that you know the beats and what it’s about. You also have to make decisions about the character and go with it. And, don’t let ’em see you acting. I also learned that it is impossible to get an acting gig. Here’s why:

Agents are evil. Agents are the worst things in the world. They just want power over the production. They will say “We’ll give a script to big name actor, but you have to read a, b and c actor”. So, when you go in, it is probable that no one in the room wants to even see you. You are just wasting precious audition time so they can get a script to a “name”. Plus, the writer wants his friend, the producer wants his friend, the director wants his friend. You’re just fucked going in to read for stuff. It is impossible. Agents want you to see all of their clients and will also sell out one client for another. Twice they said that someone passed on the script when that actor had never read it.

“Oh, he passed, but so and so saw it and would be interested…” Evil fuckers. They should drown.

All of this became moot and unimportant because the money fell through. Three times. We’d be ready to start going into pre-production and it would get pushed back and finally die. It became insanely frustrating to me and I finally would just say “See you on the set” whenever they’d call. Heartbreaking. Heartbreaking.

So. Two years go by. I start forgetting about Hollywood Palms like it’s a bad ex-girlfriend. I’ll get the occasional call from Paul Canterna “it’s gonna happen, buddy…” and I just say “Great, see you on the set!”

Soon after that, I started working with Colin on tightcircle and figuring that the showbiz career was pretty much done. I landed CED as a voice over agent and began doing voice overs and it seemed like that was going to be my bread and butter for a while. I love, love, love working on tightcircle and doing html and computer stuff. It’s an exciting field, plus it gives me something to do each day. And, with the voice overs taking care of rent and putting a little in the bank; ultimately probably more than TV and movies, I began to sort of feel like I could drift out of movies and TV. I got together with Rod Maclachlan and did Light, Sweet, Crude. Tina Ballabio steered me towards Sacred Fools and I realized that I liked writing and directing more than acting in a way and figured that I could keep my artistic life alive through theater and doing stuff with friends. Also, as long as Eric Stoltz has a career, I’ll be in a movie here and there and it’s always more fun working with friends, anyway.

As I stepped back from acting (and you know, if my career was going better anyway, that step wouldn’t be necessary. I’m well aware of that…) I started to really understand my disdain for the powerlessness of it all. It’s just a horrible thing that kills people. And it kills one’s love for life and other people. And it makes you insefuckingcure as hell. There are so many sacrifices in principle that one makes. You bend the fuck over and beg to be used. That’s really it. And, when you do get some recognition or power, there are no guidelines; no rules; no handbook. It’s why people go nutty, nutty, nutty. It is a crazy ass business. Just crazy and it will kill everyone.

So. Voice overs. I don’t have to deal with other actors. I don’t have to memorize anything when I audition. And the director, producers and writers are usually in another part of the country when I do the job. How great is that? And, they pay well!

So, it’s all set. I’ll work with Colin on tightcircle and do a few voice overs a month and my life will be a delight.

Hello, SAG strike. Six months of idiots. Six months of dumbasses. Divisive. Bad. A bad idea. It makes me more of a Libertarian than ever. A union’s main job is to keep people from working. They want to be the nipple.

It seems, at this point, that showbiz is over. For me, at least. With Colin’s help, I throw together a resume for the “real world” and post it on monster.com. I’m pimping myself as a HTML coder with an understanding of database backed web sites. Which is exactly what I am. There’s no lying there. I put my site on as a sample site.

I get a call from a tech headhunter. I have a meeting with a company that has an all in one entertainment box; net, cd player, TV, radio, etc. and they’re building a site and need people. I seem not exactly what they’re looking for. Then I meet with iwin.com.

It is very cool there. It’s a huge floor in a new building in Westwood. Everyone’s zipping around on those annoying razor scooters in the office. It’s young, fun and seems like a great place.

They end up hiring me. Go figure. I’m now “Producer of Email” or some such title. It pays just about as much as I averaged during the run of movies. And, I like the people and the job. I write the copy and code all of the email that goes out of iwin.com So, if you’re a member of the Uproar/iwin network, you’ve seen my work. I have an audience of about six million people. They’re also very cool about supporting my acting habit. The voice over here and there. Coming in late. Leaving early. As long as the work gets done. And I’m way cool with that. It’s pretty much how it worked at tightcircle. And, it seems like the wisest way to run a business.

What’s funny is this: The day I started there the SAG strike ended. I mean the actual day I started. What’s good is that my job there is conducive to me going to my V.O. appointments in the morning. It’s close by and convenient for all.

The very next day, Paul Canterna called and said “Hollywood Palms is back on. For real.”

Etchie Stroh came back, two years later, with the money and is ready to rock. The really good part is that somehow, they let the option run out on the script and neither Patrick nor I cared anymore, so their talk of “if you don’t let us back date the option the movie will die” fell on ears that didn’t care. I wrote them an email saying “I let the child known as Hollywood Palms die years ago. I don’t care anymore, so saying that it won’t get made has no effect on me.”

Thanks to Patrick’s attorney, we’re getting paid quite well for the script now. Very cool.

Elizabeth Mitchell is playing Blair. Paget Brewster is Phoebe. Kristen Bauer is Kathleen. Matt Winston is Lewis. Matt, Jay, Patrick, Me, Judge are all still on. We finally were able to make an offer to Eric. We’ll know next week. Weird.

I’ve been rehearsing with Judge, Elizabeth and Jeffrey. He has some great ideas and has added some nice things to our segment.

I sure don’t envy him having to direct this thing on the budget we have. I think it’s around 800,000. It’s enough to buy a really, really nice house, but it sure isn’t enough to make a movie. It’s gonna be tough. 18 days. We begin December 10th. I think I’m just shooting about 5 days; two in December and 3 in January.

Patrick had a little freak out. He didn’t remember that I’d done a re-write and thought that Jeffrey had changed everything. It was pretty amazing. I explained to him that perhaps, with his wedding at the time, he was a bit preoccupied and some of the conversations just might have slipped his mind. It was Patrick’s turn to be the nut and my turn to be the soothing voice of reason.

Patrick’s taking a final pass at his stuff. We’re all hoping that it works. I’m confident that it will, but this is Hollywood Palms. Stranger things have happened.

The jockeying has begun again, as well. Matt has very specific ideas about the part of Matt (go figure) and Jeff seems a little nervous to let actors do their jobs. So there’s a little clash there. I get the phone calls. I am in the center of a lot of this. David Packer, too.

Ah well. It’s just three weeks out of my life, right? How bad can it be? Hahahaha…

Sunday, December 10, 2000

There was a bit of a power struggle with Patrick’s re-write. Patrick is very busy with JAG and his life and hasn’t really been communicating with us as much as we’d like. He turned in a re-write of the Clark character that seemed like a 180 turn on the character.

Before, Clark was a former child actor whose career had just sort of faded away. By the end of the movie, he escapes. He understands, through Lewis, that he needs to live his life and actually do something instead of saying he’s something else and doing that. So, he gets out clean. Everyone else in the building is “dirty”.

Patrick’s new pass had Clark as a former junkie. Plus, lots of dialog that just seemed mean to everyone. Before, Clark was this nice anchor, now he was just another dick that lived in Hollywood Palms. It didn’t set well with any of us and we were concerned that Patrick was going to be immobile and force some sort of me or him.

Fortunately, we were wrong. Patrick came in before a rehearsal and Jeff, William, Paul and myself all sat down and figured out how to make the character more interesting for him to do.

Everyone seems happier. That’s just good. There were some frantic emails and all that for a bit, but it moves on.

The last week or so has been quite a blur. I’ve been putting in extra time at iwin because I’d like to stay there. With the two strikes coming up next year, I just don’t want to be fucked again. I want to be making money. So, I’d like to stay. Who knows what’s going to happen and I feel like I’m too old to gamble with my life anymore.

Coincidentally, I got this enormous commercial for monster.com. I’m clam man. I’ll put another entry.

Anyway, all last week was me juggling iwin, wardrobe for clam man, wardrobe for HP and rehearsals. I also went in to Klong’s studio to record a temp version of the Lil’ Woodie and the Stinker theme song. That’s the fictional series that Clark was on. Little kid with a talking skunk.

Plus, I’m directing a short at Sacred Fools in January so I’ve been trying to coordinate that a bit. Not as much as I’d like. There was a light, sweet crude meeting thrown in there for good measure as well.

Busy week. Good problems to have. Very good problems.

I shot the commercial on Friday. Ten hours in a clam suit in a water tank. Amazing.

Went by the HP set today. Wow. Wow.

We’re shooting at The Ambassador Hotel (hi, Bobby Kennedy). There are little courtyard bungalows. The one they’ve chosen looks exactly the way I’d pictured Hollywood Palms. Amazing. It is amazing.

So, I go there with Jessie today. We drive up and there’s one of those cardboard signs with “Palms” scrawled on it. One of the millions and millions of signs directing crews to the millions and millions of shoots that have gone on throughout history. And the thing we wrote is yet another one. It’s truly, truly stupendous.

There are trucks and trailers and lights and all the shit they have on real live movie sets. Who knew, people? Who fucking knew? We’re shooting six day weeks beginning on Sundays to accommodate Patrick’s JAG schedule. I see him and Matt Winston. Matt W. by the way, is perfect. He had some great ideas at the rehearsal and it was an inspired idea that Patrick had to use him. He’s just perfect.

Jessie and I chat with William Blaylock and Paul Canterna for a bit. Man. Man, oh man.

Some shit has gone down. Some major shit. In the last week, the movie had been shut down twice by the bond company. They were just being shitheels about Patrick being on JAG. As I understand it, and I may be wrong, a bond company guarantees to the bank that puts up the money, that the movie will be completed. If it’s not, the bond company gives the bank the money back. An insurance policy. If you’ve produced a few movies, it’s easier to get bonded. If you’ve produced movies that have gone over budget, it’s harder. If you cast drug addicts, it’s harder. But, if you have big names, it’s easier. It’s just gambling, really. No one knows, but they think they do. There is no formula, but everyone thinks that there is.

Anyway, JAG wouldn’t really guarantee any off days for Patrick in writing, so the bond company wouldn’t take their word. We’re not going to get rid of Patrick, so William just kept saying “No” to the bond co. Finally, they backed down on that.

Then they went after Elizabeth Mitchell. She’s on E.R. now and they wouldn’t guarantee end days for her. Bond co. again; “you’ve got to get rid of her”. William Blaylock: “no”. It would be impossible, plus, she’s great. The bond company said this: (listen up, you actors!) “Every actor is replaceable.”

Amazing.

It’s also just true.

Blaylock finally got some letter from the E.R. show runner and sent it to the Bond Co. The helpful person there said “Anyone could have written this.” As if Blaylock was sending a letter with forged signatures from a TV show that could crush him like a bug.

I pointed out that the person had said that because someone had probably tried it. Amazing.

Anyway. It got worked out. Everything’s okay and the movie’s shooting. I start tomorrow.

Jeff looks as if he’s doing okay. The crew is small and speedy.

Oh. This is funny. Jeff got a call yesterday: 
“You want the good news or the bad news?” 
“Well….” 
“There is no good news.” 
“Okay, why don’t you give me the bad news, then…” 
“I don’t know how this happened and we are working to figure out how to fix this, but we don’t have a dolly for you tomorrow…”

Okay, people. When you’re booking equipment for a shoot of any kind, right after you check the box that says “camera”, you’re going to want a dolly.

Ah well. He has a Steadicam, so he’s gonna use that for his dolly. He has one for the rest of the shoot. That’s just good.

So. That’s that all up to date:

Lots of madness. Ambassador Hotel. Very exciting. Great, great cast. A script that might be great. An excited director trying to prove himself after four years of waiting. An actor who sort of wants out of the business but seems to be getting drawn back in…

What lies in store? Find out in the next entry of Hollywood Palms…

Monday, December 11, 2000

My first day of shooting. Man, acting is just the worst thing in the world. No wonder I hate it. Jeez. It’s uncomfortable and horrible. All I had was one little, very expository, paragraph. That’s all. Man, it just seemed like I’m tongue tied and in my head and freaked out and yuck. Man. It’s yucky.

Guess I’m out of practice. Hmmm.

I was supposed to be in and out today. But, since we’re on such a tight schedule, if the camera is facing one direction in a room, you shoot all of the coverage of that direction, no matter what scene it is. So, they shot all of the Dexter/Riley stuff with Jay Ferguson and Jeff Russo.

They’re wonderful. Jeff Russo is really sweet and so eager to please as this is, I think, his first movie. He’s trying really hard and I think it might work for the character, too. He’s not as adept on some of the technical stuff, but it’s one of those things where if he just ignores that “pro” stuff, he’ll be fine.

Jay Ferguson never does the same thing twice and it seems to be driving Jeff N. a bit nuts. That’s sorta good. Jeff needs to let go a bit, I think.

When I was at rehearsal at seven summits a couple of weeks ago, I accidentally took the men’s bathroom key. I told Paul Canterna that I’d give it back to him the first day of shooting.

I gave him the bathroom key back today.

So. I was there much longer than I had hoped to be. I didn’t think I’d be there longer than a couple of hours. I was supposed to go in to iwin and finish some stuff there so they could get along this week without me around as much as I am usually around. Fortunately for me, the network was down at iwin so I wouldn’t have gotten anything done, anyway. It is a drag waiting around, though.

I’m in one bit later in the day tomorrow, so I can go in to iwin early and finish stuff up. It’s the second week for the big holiday email contest thing. I designed this email that’s going out to all six million users and, boy, I think I did a crappy job on it. So do the people selling the ad space on it. Ah well.

Eric’s going to play the part of Eric Stoltz. He offers Clark a small part in a movie, blah, blah, blah, anyway, it turns out it’s a sort of insulting cameo to Clark. Eric has a cool line where he says “I do cameos in movies all the time.” It’s my very self-conscious indie film joke.

Eric likes the line. That’s just good. Had a nice chat with him about it tonight. He’s excited for me and I think I might be more excited for me.

Things are going well, eh? A great woman in my life and more jobs than I have time for. Good things. Very good things.

Must sleep.

Tuesday, December 12, 2000 – 7:21pm

It’s going long today. They’ve been shooting the scene where Dexter and Riley beat each other up to make themselves look like they’ve been beaten up. I guess there’s some sort of stunt person here and, as we all know, when you hire someone, they have to make themselves needed. It happened a lot with the stunt person on They Came From Outer Space. A simple slap in the face became this big production.

So. It’s a long day. I got all my stuff done for the next two days at iwin and got here about 4:30. The internal network went down there and there had been no email in the office since Friday afternoon, which was, coincidentally, the day that iwin sent their engineering and email staff on a 3 day cruise to Ensenada, Mexico. Ah well…

Caroline, another 2nd AD sent me home. I caught up on some email and played with the dogs. That was nice and rare.

Now I’m back and Jeff has one hour to finish his day. Man, I hope he finishes his day. There is no time.

I got the check for the balance of my writing fee. It’s in my jacket. It is way cool. It says “Writer’s Fee” on it and everything. All official and shit. Who knew?

The Ambassador Hotel reminds me of this story:

I was a little kid, I guess around 6 years old, I was playing in my room. I had a little army guy or some action figure and I had fashioned the blanket of my bed in to a giant wave. I had the little action figure guy surfing on the blanket and I was singing a song to myself as the role of the action figure guy on the wave: “I’m surfaaaaaannnn! I’m surfannnn! I’m surfaaaaaahn….”

So, my mom storms into my room and says “What is that song you’re singing? Why are you singing that song!?!?!” She’s nearly crying and truly disturbed.

I was a little confused, but I answered: “I’m surfing.”

My mom said “I thought you were singing “I’m Sirhan. I’m Sirhan.”

Like I was this evil Damian kid who was taunting my mom with the name of the guy who killed Bobby Kennedy.

That’s today’s story.

So. Here I am in my low budget independent feature honey wagon. AKA the honey wagon where dreams go to die. Man, it’s dingy.

Good problems to have.

It is stunning just how much the location looks like the apartment building we imagined when we wrote the script. Fascinating. Hmm.

I’m just typing to waste time. It’s now 7:34. He has less than an hour. I think there’s a move downstairs, too.

Come on, Jeff. Come on.

I just realized, I think I’m the only human without any games on his computer.

Doodeedoo…

Guess I’ll go marvel at the location some more.

The craft service woman is a genius or something. She’s the McGuyver of craft service. She made this soup that’s amazing. She makes great snacks. I’ll have to adopt her or something.

I’ve never seen McGuyver. I only know the reference. That seems odd.

Thursday, December 14, 2000

Ah, the hours of the character actor. Come in at 12:30? No problem.

Yesterday, I shot two scenes. The first one was me practicing a bad card trick (hi, highball) that poorly interprets my relationship with Blair. The second was me getting harassed by a phone sex operator for having a debit card. Then, a disturbing phone call with my mom.

I am hoping that Jeff ends up only using one of the two bits as it’s a lot of phone calls and a lot of the same info in both scenes. We needed something in the script to break up a new scene, so I added the card trick and the conversation with mom. It used to be me jerking off to computer porn.

“This is the character you write for yourself?!?!”

Acting when the camera is rolling is so annoying. It just gets worse immediately. If someone is great on camera, you have got to know that they were even better in the final rehearsal before “Rolling!”.

There’s this thing that happens in movies and TV. It might be more prevalent in the indie/low budget world… The performances become secondary to getting all of the shots, getting the lights right, making sure the camera’s not making any noise, getting the dolly move right. All of those other things begin to take precedent over what the point of all of those things are there to record.

You rush through a rehearsal and then they light the scene and then you come back to do one more rehearsal, right before rolling, but then there’s just this one other adjustment that the DP needs or the sound guy needs or props or whomever… It’s so distracting. A couple of times they’d do all of that and want to start shooting but I axed for another rehassle. And, it’s a fine line between being a team player and rolling over. Lots of times I just move on. It’s one of the nightmares or good problem to have, as it were. It must be amazing to do a scene over a couple of days like they do in the big budget world. Where there is rehearsal time on the set with the props.

On the other hand, too many takes seems ridiculous. Arthur Penn says something like “By take 15, the craft service guy is directing the movie”. Something like that.

Just a little calm. Just a little bit of calm.
Anyway, I think I successfully did the scenes as written. The magic trick is just nutty. It might be too subtle for Jeffrey. Not sure. He’s a little in the middle and that may end up working for the movie. I just don’t know.

Did the laundry room scene with Jay Ferguson. He’s great. Man, he’s just perfect and great.

The other thing that’s great is the set dresser. We were going to go to a Laundromat and steal the laundry scene, but somehow, the set dresser guy came up with a couple of washer and dryers and they made a laundry room here at the Ambassador Hotel and Casino. It looked perfect. Just perfect.

It was a fairly good day yesterday. Jeffrey did more camera moves than I would’ve; he had some time to play with, so he did. I was hoping that the stuff would just be locked off and I’d get to play. Ah well.

We had to end the day because we had no more film to use. And that is the story of what it’s like on a low budget independent feature film.

When I showed up yesterday, Patrick and Matt W. were doing a scene where Lewis is getting shown the vacant apartment. Patrick seemed in good spirits and they’re just nailing their stuff. Matt Winston is a find.

Today, it’s my first scene with Elizabeth Mitchell as Blair.

I watched her do a couple of final takes with Jeff Russo. Again; they’re nailing it. She’s got the right amount of evil in her to completely fuck with him. He’s just so sweet and eager to please that it spills over perfectly into the scene and his character. Perfect. Jeff Russo is in a band that records and tours and now he’s doing a lead in a movie.

Hi, wish that was me.

Jeffrey is going to play the first 3 page scene with me and Blair in one long Steadicam shot. The entire apartment is being lit and getting this is going to take all day. It will be infinitely frustrating.

She’s not eating because she’s in her underwear. I guess people think that the full feeling inside after you eat shows up outside. It just doesn’t, but I can’t try to explain that to an actress.

Speaking of actress… It’s good that we’re getting this stuff quickly and early, I think. She’s beginning to form an opinion about the character that is going to begin coloring her performance. I started to see it in rehassle, and suggested to Jeffrey that it might be good if we didn’t rehearse with her any more. She’ll be able to get comfortable with moving away from herself and laying on a “character”. Elizabeth is perfect for the part and wants to separate from Blair. It’s tough. I say dive in. Be it. It’s only a couple of weeks.

“How am I like this person?”
“Who am I and what do I want?”
“What do I do in the place that shows who I am?”

Those are the questions. That’s all you need.

Of course, I’m going to be bland. I have this tendency to see what everyone else is doing right and wrong with their characters while letting my own performance sort of slide by. I keep that “observant actor” thing going too long. It has to stop once you’re on the set. I like to observe why people are doing what they’re doing.

Blah, blah, blah… Man, I’m talking about acting like I’m 23. Who cares?

So. It’s a little after 2pm. I have to get into make up and wardrab.

My holiday gifts have started arriving in the mail. I’ve done all my shopping online. It is awesome. It is awesome.

Oh yeah. The really, really cool thing is that yesterday, we sort of overheard that Bush is president and no one gave a shit. Life goes on. One of the P.A.’s started talking about the big conspiracy in Florida to steal the election from Gore. Amazing.

It doesn’t matter. We won. The candidates lost.

Time to get ready, people…

Sunday, December 17, 2000

Today and tomorrow, we shoot the Michael, Jeff and Blair stuff. On a good day, it’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe. On a bad day it’s a bad Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolfe. So. It’s a bit daunting and scary. The moment of truth is nearly here.

Someone wisely scheduled it to be shot as sequentially as could be, so the real hardcore meat of the battle is shot tomorrow and all the pre-battle stuff is today; Michael arrives, I sort of gently harass him, etc.

Bleh.

I’m not as conscious of the camera anymore. It just took a couple of days to warm up to the idea of it again. There’s been more stuff to actually “do”, as well, so that may be a part of it. We’ll see how the meat goes with them, though. I may be wrong.

This is so seductive. Once I’m on a set, it seems so easy and simple to be in stuff. “Yeah, you just write a part for yourself in a movie , then someone finances it and then it gets made… Simple…” This is going to be the most interesting character I’ve gotten the chance to play and I’ve been doing this for twenty years. Twenty. Jeez Louise. Patrick’s been around even longer. It really makes me appreciate this. It’s the exception.

No one works. Ever.

Matt Adler and I were talking about this a while ago; if we knew just how completely impossible it is to get an acting gig, we wouldn’t have tried it. But, everyone we knew was doing it and we were young and indestructible so, fuck it, “I can do that!”. The idea of turning down jobs now, seems so completely nutty. Yet, everyone did it and continues to do it to this day. It’s fascinating. “No, I don’t want to do that movie…”

Wow.

Monday, December 18, 2000

Today is “meat day”. I am cranky. I am cranky probably because I’m nervous about this scene. It is the scene. It is the part I wrote for myself. I have no excuses after this scene. It is shit or get off the pot time with this scene. I guess I’m not nervous. I guess I’m scared.

It’s all been leading up to this scene for what, five years? Twenty years? Man. It’s six pages or so. This “comedy of manners” as Eric called it. We’re all “out-niceing” each other and then, bam, it’s supposed to explode.

I can’t tell if I’m too subtle, not enough, too angry, too annoying. I just don’t fucking know. I want to do this. I want to nail this and move on with my life. It seems like a good time to leave.

It’s so seductive. Why not do it all? Okay, never mind.

I’m cranky with the camera crew. We do rehearsals, they light it, we come in and it seems that every time they re-light it. I wonder if Jeff’s doing this deliberately to keep me on edge. It’s working, that’s for sure. Every time they want to do a “simple” lens change, it’s fifteen minutes. And, that is fifteen minutes where we could’ve done another take. What’s important to me is probably not important to the camera crew.

There is one guy on the lighting crew that pisses me off. He’s always stepping in at the last minute to adjust something, and when he’s told or axed to clear he seems pissed, as if we’re interrupting his important light bulb positioning. He just seems like a dick.

I’m focusing my hate on him. It will help me get through this scene. Who wrote this? Christ.

I was concerned about my lines. I guess I have them down. It’s fascinating that I’m the one person in the cast that keeps changing the dialogue because I don’t have my stuff memorized completely. That’s just a great way to self-sabotage. Yep.

I think I got into an either good habit or bad habit on They Came From Outer Space. We were shooting 10-12 pages a day of pretty much straight dialogue on that so we’d never have the lines down completely and Stuart and I worked so well together that we’d just pick stuff up with no problem. Since then, I’ve never been concerned.

Last year on Honey I Shrunk the Kids, there was that one expository speech that was such a tongue twister, and with a Russian accent, that I was saying to myself over and over for three days and it was still never completely right. Man.

Anyway, I know the lines for this sequence. But then, there’s that horrible thing that happens when the camera gets right up your nose and you just feel like cardboard. And all of that great stuff you feel in rehassle and when you’re just running through stuff by yourself goes out the window and all you can think about is how much you suck.

I keep trying to remember that “watch and learn, people” feeling from Summer School, where I knew I was nailing everything. I felt like that part was written for me and I keep trying to remind myself that this part was written for me. Literally. By me.

I could be at iwin writing HTML.

Fret, fret, fret… Jeez.

So. Judge is amazing. Elizabeth is completely awesome. We’re all sorta saving ourselves. Keeping stuff close to the vest.

We did a blocking rehassle for the crew. They laughed in all the right places. And the right laughs. Familiarity. Shame. All the stuff I want. All the ugliness. Man. Speed, the boom guy, is being awesome. Very supportive and sweet.

McGuyver, the craft service woman, is reading the script and told me she really liked the line I stole from Penn:

“You can do anything if you put your mind to it.” 
“I want to eat the sun.”

I hope it all gets on film.

I get cranky about having to wait for stupid little stuff because I want to get all of this down. I don’t want to have to rush at the end of the night because we’re taking our time moving a plant in and out of the frame. It seems so pointless and not the way to think when one is making a low budget independent feature.

Now, we’re waiting for 45 minutes while they do yet another re-light. It should all be lit.

I’m interested to see Highball. The entire apartment was pre-lit and on a dimmer with presets, so whichever room we shot in was ready to shoot. That’s how you do a feature film in a week.

They should all be shot in a week.

Or a year. You take a year and you go back and reshoot stuff. You sit around and just wait until it feels right and you shoot it. Then you end up with a turd like “eyes wide shut” and you die before you have a chance to explain yourself.

Tonight on “Dean works himself into a frenzy…”

Maybe I’ll sleep now.

They’re going to fire me at iwin.

Later…

It’s going so well. Damn. It’s just perfect. They’re amazing and the scene sizzles exactly as I’d imagined it. I was talking to Judge after a take, telling him how well I thought it was playing, and felt myself getting teary. He said “You’ve been holding on to this for a long time, haven’t you?”

Yeah.

Man.

So, we’ve done right up until the last couple of pages. This is where the script has a hole. She doesn’t talk. There’s a speech that Michael has and she doesn’t talk and it’s weird. She’s just standing there. I guess that’s her problem to figure out, but it seems like a hole in the script. And, this is where the guy inside of me who wants to be a fucking director tries to step in and stage the scene, but I just tell Elizabeth a couple of things I was thinking about when I wrote it; how this is the first time that anyone outside of the relationship has made sense to her and maybe that’s why she’s listening…

I don’t know. It’s a hole. It’s sloppy writing. The speech seems sort of speechy, too.
Before and after that, however, it is cool. It just sizzles. It’s so cool.

This is so fucking cool. Man.

I hope it’s on film. I sure hope it’s on film. Man.

Tuesday, December 19, 2000

So, that’s done. “Were you there? It killed.”

It’s so amazing watching what actors do to themselves to get in a scene. Judge threw a little fit. Nothing major. There was some low talking going on outside during a camera rehearsal of a monologue that he was having a little trouble with. He verbally went after the first A.D. who took the bullet like a trooper.

As I predicted, we started really, really, really rushing towards the end of the day and it was getting sloppy and frustrating for everyone. There was so much good stuff and it may be a bit sabotaged (you say sabotage, I say sabotayge) by us running out of time. It is so frustrating, especially when there’s such good work going on.

Elizabeth also draws attention to herself by being really, really, really nice and helpful. It’s a fine way to draw attention to oneself. Preferable to showing up on crack, I suppose. But it’s maybe sorta transparent.

How do I draw attention to myself? By being a “good guy”; making everyone happy; being “easy to work with”.

What I really want to do is scream “HEY! TIME OUT FOR ME!!!!!” But, you know, probably not the thing to do.

I took some more photos with Eric’s camera. I like that thing.

They’ve finished dressing the Phoebe/Kathleen/Matt apartment. It looks amazing. It’s way girly. Perfect.

Back to yesterday.

Judge and Elizabeth were just perfect. I started getting a little teary between takes because I’ve been sitting on this scene; this story for five years. And it started bringing up the stuff that was going on when I wrote it. The sadness and anger about Kim and how frustrated I was with that situation. I think that mainly, it was seeing Judge and Elizabeth be so good and respectful of the stuff I wrote.

There’s this part of me that knows that it’s just another little movie. Then there’s the other part that wants to rehearse the acceptance speeches. Then the part that has stuff to catch up on at iwin.

It is so seductive. “We won’t get fooled again…”

“Let’s hear it for violence against women…”

The scene gets uglier as it progresses and I end up sucker punching Blair. And, it just turns one’s mood sour. It just feels fucking gross. Which, of course, is the idea.

She had been freaked out about the punch as she had gotten he nose broken on Frequency. So, she wasn’t going to do it (hi, attention getting device) but ended up letting me know that she trusted me not to hit her and we did it. Chino Binamo is the stunt coordinator and he walked us, very carefully, through the punch. I think it will look really ugly. I hope so.

So that was great. It was great.

And the perfect end to all of this was that when we wrapped, Jessie had shown up to surprise me and was outside waiting for me. Perfect. Just perfect.

Yesterday was the one day of artistic fulfillment that we get once every ten years or so.

If it is not on film, I will beat Jeffrey with a claw hammer.

Wednesday, January 03, 2001 – 3:08pm

Jeff told me this story awhile back: When they made the schedule they decided to schedule it as sequentially as possible; leaving all of the exterior courtyard stuff for the last week. It’s the “battle scene” if you’re a student of pretentious screenwriting “technique”, blah, blah, blah… So. Jeff says “We don’t have a cover set. What if it rains?” to which the UPM replies “It won’t rain.”

It’s nearly 80 degrees. Man, it’s beautiful. It’s like spring. I had to get moved into a different honey wagon because the air conditioner didn’t work in the first room. It is hot. It is hot and the sky is a deep, not-gonna-rain-and-fuck-up-your-movie blue.

Ajay came by. He’s been brilliant on the The Stump and pissed so many people off that Jay Kogen made him write an apology which is, apparently, so heartfelt that no one believes it. Amazing. He has the balls to piss those people off. I’m a puss.

So, he was very supportive and nice. They’re having another kid and they moved way the fuck out to Manhattan Beach so they’re closer to Kelli’s work. He said It’s A Shame About Ray will be screened in a month. That will be neat to see.

So, I’m waiting around. Just waiting around. Like an actor or something.

Chatted with Paget. She’s a sexy nut and that’s good. Patrick seems subdued but extremely happy. The genius art department built a fountain for the courtyard that looks absolutely perfect. Yet again.

I watched Matt Winston and Patrick do some stuff with Paget. It’s frightening how well it’s going.

At Jeff’s a few days ago, I watched some rough assemblage of stuff that’s been shot. The editor is editing (coincidence?!) and has most of it cut together without, obviously, Jeff’s notes and input. Hey, it looks like a real movie. Who knew? Man, it’s exactly like a real movie. How cool is that?

So. I wait. I have the Wendy Kaminer book. I’ll read that.

Just waiting.

Friday, January 05, 2001 – 6:46pm

Came in to do a pick up on the hallway scene with Elizabeth Mitchell. Jeff wanted a couple of close-ups to cut to. I’m all for close ups of me. It’s just a good idea.

Now, Patrick, Matt W. and Eric are doing their scenes. Man, Matt W. is fucking funny. Man. He’s nailing everything.

This is amazing. This will be the fourth time I’ve worked with Patrick: Prince of Bel-Air, Summer School, Ski School and this. With Eric, six times: The Best Times Pilot, the short with Blair Tefkin & Jennifer J. Leigh, Sleep With Me, Kicking and Screaming, Hi-Life, Highball and now this.

(You know, technically, Patrick was in Miserable Beach. He and Stuart Fratkin came by one day and stood in the crowd for the famous bikini contest scene. So, it’s actually five times with Patrick.)

It’s cool to watch professionals work. They do the stuff the way it’s written while Jeff tries to catch it all on film. Very nifty.

I feel that there’s some joke missing. I just can’t figure it out. Hmmm. Ah well. That’s Matt’s problem, I suppose.

Patrick came from the JAG set where he said they had 120 million dollars worth of airplanes in the background as set dressing. Our art department has built an amazing fountain for five grand. Amazing. It’s quite a difference.

Things are dying at iwin, it seems. They’ve stopped the catered lunches. That seems like it’s not good. I’m tired.

David Packer’s here to shoot some video of all of this again.

Oh yeah. There’s a big Hollywood Palms sign on the side of the building. It’s very cool. Man, it’s cool.

So. The last couple of days; no big revelations. Nothing major.

Oh. It’s threatening to rain. The occasional drop of water. On the other hand, it’s nearly 70 degrees. It’s spring.

The other funny news is that I booked my first voice over commercial since the strike. The ironic thing is that it’s some anti-deregulation propaganda for Pacific Gas and Electric. When I auditioned for the gig, I kept thinking “this is fucking bullshit propaganda”. But. I am a professional voice over artiste and I will say what ever the fuck you want me to say if you pay me. It’s a TV spot. That’s just good. Hmmm. They can’t all be Enron. That was a nice accident.

Here’s tonight’s story. The crew guy who I thought was a prick came up to me tonight and said “Man, I’ve been telling everyone about that scene with you guys. That stuff that Judge says… it’s SO true. This movie is cool…”

Go figure.

I’ve gained a lot of weight. I’m a big pig with a fat gut. Before I started at iwin I was in the best shape I’d ever been in. Three kickboxing classes a week, working out four days a week. It was nuts. The unemployed actor’s life. Now, I have lower back pain all of the time. I am sedentary. I’ve got to get in some sort of shape, people.

David Packer is shooting stuff. It’s annoying but good that we’ve known each other since 1984. I am four thousand years old.

Saturday, January 06, 2001

The weather’s great. It’s really nice out. Perhaps a little chilly, but you know… the rest of the country is under ice and snow. Fine. I have to wear a long sleeved shirt underneath my t-shirt. That’s how cold it is.

This is the first half of the giant melee in the courtyard. Tomorrow is the second half. Seven characters and three extras in the scene. We’ll be here for a bit, people.

I’m going to miss doing this movie. It’s been great.

Eric worked last night and was great. Everyone was so excited that he was here and was so nice. Talked to him today and he had a great time. He’s amazed at how great the crew is and how efficient and nice they are. And, you know, he’s just right. They’re great. Man, they’re fast. And they continue to be fast.

Watching him is fascinating. He’s so comfortable in front of the camera. Man, it’s just “stage time”. There’s none of that annoyance of the camera and self consciousness. Well, if there is, he hides it. It’s amazing.

So, I’m glad he had a good time. He was one of the first people to read this script almost five years ago. He was one of the first people to give notes on it, too. Pretty amazing. And the back and forth to get him to be in it. The scheduling, etc. It all works out sometimes.

Hmmm…

So. It’s 9 pm. We’ve got about three pages. Three pages with ten people.

J. Warner is here. He was the hero actor in the fast and loose I directed at Sacred Fools. He never asked why when I gave him direction; he just went and did it. He’s a hero. So, they axed me if I knew someone who would be a low-to-no paid extra. Thought of him. He wants some experience in movies. Okay. Cool. Enjoy. You’ll be done at four a.m., sir.

Two more days. And it’s back to the real world. Back to iwin and trying to get people to open the semi-spam email that I send ’em. Trying to design something that looks nice and catchy. Okay. I’ll do that. Until you fire my ass.

The V.O. is a T.V. spot. That’s just good.

Rory Kelly dropped by. Pretty neat. Sleep With Me was what inspired the writing of this script. The SteadiCam guy worked on Sleep With Me. And the prop guy was on Some Girl.

I’m tired. It’s after midnight. It seems as if time is being wasted on stuff that time shouldn’t be wasted on. I’m getting cranky and starting to hate everyone.

This thing happens to me every time I get close to finishing something. I get angry. It’s just because I don’t want it to end. I get all of these feelings of abandonment. I start resenting everyone; like they’ve made some sort of promise to me to love me forever and now they’re leaving.

Sunday, January 07, 2001 – 4pm

Finally: things are interesting.

In the melee, after I get hit by Judge’s character, I’m sitting on the ground and then Dexter tackles me. While we were rehearsing that, I kept saying to Jeff Russo “Maybe not so hard.” And he’d nod and then tackle me just as hard. “Jeff… Maybe you can not put all your weight on me…” After three takes, I felt something sort of snap in my chest.

It’s either a broken or a bruised rib. It hurts a lot.

Here’s what happens when someone gets hurt on a set. It’s fucking annoying. It’s so out of the ordinary that everyone gets really weird. They were talking to me like I was a child. Like I didn’t know how I felt. “Can you move?” Yes, I can move. It hurts. Just have him not put all of his weight on me, please. So the medic who, by the way, is also MacGuyver the craft service woman, was talking about having me go get x-rays at the emergency room. Come on, people. Just ridiculous. I can get x-rays another day. I’ve broken a rib before. There is nothing that can be done about a broken rib. They just tell you to be careful, let it heal and give you pain killers. Because, you know, it fucking hurts.

I don’t want to stop production just so someone in an emergency room can tell me to take it easy.

Plus, it didn’t hurt that badly last night. I wasn’t sure if it was a pulled muscle or what. So they kept telling me I had to go to the emergency room to get x-rays. It’s just stupid. Also, I’m no martyr. I don’t like pain. If it gets really bad, I will go and get x-rays. I do not like being in pain. I told them that if it got bad, I’ll be the first person to say so and I’ll get x-rays.

So we keep going. Then MacGuyver had me sign some form that said I refused treatment and we finished the night.

It hurts. It fucking hurts. I woke up and couldn’t move so well. Man, when I take a deep breath it makes me want to wet my pants.

I called Caroline and axed her where to go to get the x-rays. What I really want are some painkillers. I know it’s broken. I don’t need any fucking x-rays. I need some Vicodin, people. She says go to any emergency room and tell them it’s a Worker’s Comp claim. No way. I don’t want to get into some bureaucratic nightmare with claim forms and shit. I just want some painkillers. Plus, if I file some sort of something it might fuck up the money with the movie. On top of that, we have to finish the movie.

What sucks about this is that THIS is my attention getting device. Getting fucking hurt. I’m getting coddled just like I would if I threw a tantrum and stormed off the set for two hours (like someone did last night). It’s exactly the same. And just as embarrassing. But, I’m getting that god damned attention, aren’t I? Ridiculous.

So I start driving to the hospital and I call Jeff to see what he thinks about the bond company finding out about the claim. He confirms what I think. I should just say that I did it myself and let the insurance, that all the actors say is worth giving up independence for, handle the claim.

We figure out how he can shoot the rest of the scene with a minimal amount of Dean Cameron jostling. See. This is the coddling that I so crave. I wasn’t getting any. Now, everyone is going to be looking out for me.

He says that has some Vicodin. That’s all I want. I get into the parking lot of the Hospital and realize that if I go in, I’m going to be late four hours and it’s just going to be a headache. All I want is some god damned Vicodin.

When I get here, Caroline akses me about the x-rays. I lied and told her that the line was too long. She gets self righteous just like everyone else did last night and tells me that I have to go.

Eileen, the husky voiced UPM, comes out and says that she can’t make me go and, besides, I signed a refusal form, so it’s not a worker’s comp claim.

It seems as if all of the concern and self-righteousness about me getting to the emergency room was all just a big Cover Your Ass. Amazing.

Elizabeth is driving me a bit nutty. She’s exhausting. She’s very, very sweet, but a bit exhausting.

I don’t want this to end.

Hmmm..

So. Tonight is an even bigger scene where everyone is out on the courtyard. The cops show up and begin hauling folks away. The bungalow apartments here at the Ambassador Hotel and Casino are set way back and they’ve dressed part of the yard area between the bungalows to look like a street from far away; streetlights, etc. There’s no real street, though…

Someone didn’t order a cop car.

The scene has people being loaded in to a cop car. It’s in the script. Someone didn’t order a cop car. C’mon, people.

I called Colin to get Jesse Dylan’s number. Colin, like me and everyone else I know, won’t give out friend’s phone numbers. It’s a great thing until you need someone’s phone number. He called me back with Jesse’s number. So, I called Jesse.

I took a Vicodin about ten minutes ago. Can I just take a moment to express my thanks to modern medicine. All of you homeopathic people… when you’re in pain, go for it, keep taking those roots and herbs and drinking those vials of water containing nothing at all and continue to suffer and die. It just leaves the effective medicine for me. Thank you modern medicine.

Jesse offered a few tips on shooting around the cop car scene where there’s no cop car. Jeff has solutions. I was just calling because I thought that Jesse just might know a transportation person who had a cop car. “Can’t help you out with the car but I sure am looking forward to reading about it.” He kills me.

Man. Vicodin is awesome. Man.

I’m walking around like a drunken cripple. I’m trying to not move my arm because I know that it doesn’t hurt as much because I am, for all intents and porpoises, shitfaced.

Oh am I shitfaced.

I love you. No. Really. I fucking loooooooooooove you, dude. Really.

Hello people. This is Dean Cameron. This is Dean Cameron on drugs. Get the message?

This is probably what it was like working in movies in the 70’s. The director takes you into his trailer to give you drugs. He doses you up before the big scene. This is what it’s like to work with Oliver Stone. “It’ll be good for the scene…”

I love you, dude. I fuckin’ mean it! I fuckin’ looooooooove you!

I am VicoDean.

I had Vicodin when I broke my ribs playing softball a few years ago. Man, it’s so seductive. Everything feels warm and beautiful.

Hey, now I can be on Friends! Cool.

Oy. How can you live and be on drugs? Man. It’s so embarrassing.

Later…

So. I’m completely wasted during the last scenes of Hollywood Palms. Remember that. If it’s my best work, that will be horrible. I’m Robert Downey. I’m Christian Slater. I’m Corey Feldman. I’m just another drug addict doing a fucking movie. Great.

It seems to be going fine tonight. I have no idea because I’m just drugged.

Penn told me about monkeys marking someone. If they make eye contact for any length of time it means that they’ve decided that you’re their enemy and they won’t rest until you’re dead. Judge seems to have “marked” Jay Johnston, the guy playing one of the cops. Judge seems to have decided that Jay, Paget’s boyfriend, is an incompetent day player instead of someone who has done a lot of stuff and is having fun playing a small role. It is an ugly thing to see. I made a bet with Jeff Russo that we’re going to see some ugliness, courtesy of Judge, tonight. Five bucks.

Eric came by with the digital camera. I’ve been taking some photos. Only flowers, though, because flowers are so beautiful and no one REALLY looks at them, dude. Man, I’m fucking wasted.

But seriously… I guess it feels really good, but how can someone just want to live with this feeling? I feel dull. I try to talk to people and I can’t form thoughts. More so than usual. I often get tongue tied and stammer, but man, it’s so bad on this stuff. Man, oh man.

I have to go to iwin tomorrow. And then here tomorrow night for the last night of the movie.

Been sort of hanging with Jeff Russo tonight. He sure is a sweet guy. And, he’s doing a great job in this. He and Jay have really brought some nice stuff to the Dexter/Riley sequences.

I’m tired and drugged. I know that I’m drugged because I’m listening to some Genesis MP3s and they sound great.

Thursday, January 11, 2001

It’s done. I’m back in the real world. I am busy as fuck. Lots of stuff at iwin to do.

My ribs hurt. I don’t think they’re broken, but I’m in some pain and that’s not so good. I’m taking the VicoDean and that’s annoying as it makes me a little sick to my stomach. I’ll be done with it soon and I’m sure I’ll go through some sort of withdrawals. Great. That’ll be fun. Not only will I be bummed and cranky from the post-work blues, but I’ll be kicking painkillers like Elvis or something.

The last night was, well, the last night. Not so great. The knowledge of my return to the real world never makes them great. I was cranky and everyone was just pissing me off. Well. Not everyone. Just two people. Once I get an idea in my head about someone; about what motivates them, and if I don’t like it or I think it’s false, that person is pretty fucked.

Jeff got his crane shots. The place looked beautiful. The weather was with us. It was chilly, but it didn’t rain. It was really obvious that it was the last night.

Judge hired a Mariachi Band to play at dinner for the last night. That was very sweet. I didn’t start shooting until after lunch.

There were some focus problems with the fight stuff, so we had to do some of it again. Jay Ferguson got a little bit too into it and ended up inadvertently hurting me again. Man, it hurts.

I really like him. I see that young actor cockiness that I used to have. It’s very sweet.

Tina Ballabio and Jessie came by. That was great. Jessie hung out for quite a while. People on the set really like her. Well, you know, what’s not to like? She’s just awesome and I’m so lucky to have her in my life.

My fantasy is that this movie gets a big buzz and that I get hot from it and get “in” again. That I’m “dragged out of retirement”… That’s my fantasy. It’s such a nutty thing.

Anyway… the last day notwithstanding, I was part of a miracle. I beat the odds. I hit the lottery. My numbers came up. Any sort of luck metaphor can be inserted here. It was just great. Probably a once in a lifetime experience. A movie I wrote got produced. Who knew?

I’m exhausted and swamped now. I’m directing two pieces at Sacred Fools. One opens 1/30th and the other opens 2/3. Who has time? Plus, Hot Rod is on my ass about doing Light, Sweet, Crude. Lots of fun. Lots of work. All my own doing. I am just exhausted. Man.

These are good problems to have. These are the problems of the 21st Century. These are the good things.

The end is a bit anti-climactic. It’s an end. I have a hard time with them. I want stuff that’s great to go on and on and on. I like being happy. I like having good things happen.

There’s a wrap party on Monday. I guess I’ll go. Hmm. That’s all, I think. I think that’s just about it. We finished.

I’m nostalgic for a month ago…

©dean cameron – 2001